On Tuesday, two months after the start of the 2022 season, the Angels fired coach Joe Maddon. In his third season managing for the club, winning the World Championship as a coach on the bench in 2002, Maddon led the team to a great start 27-17. After two weeks and 12 consecutive losses, the 68-year-old is gone, the latest unexpected move from a franchise that has defined them for the better part of the past decade.
It’s strange to think how different the angels’ gaze 14 days ago, and even strange to think during that time that their very outstanding and distinguished leader could be seen. General Manager Berry Minassian said this during his press conference on Tuesday afternoon, in which he said he had not imagined such an outcome three weeks ago.
“It’s something I thought would never happen for three weeks,” Minassian said, adding that he had called team owner Arte Moreno on Tuesday morning to give his recommendation for Madon to be fired. “I woke up today, feeling that this was the right decision.”
Minassian is only in his second year with the organisation, but this kind of impulsive decision-making fits right in with the club’s recent past. From 2000 to 2007, Angels had one director and one general manager: Mike Ciuscia and Bill Stoneman, respectively. In the midst of this stretch – during which the team fought the playoffs four times and won their only World Championship title – Moreno bought the franchise from The Walt Disney Company. In the years since, what was once a solid foundation has eroded into a volatile process marred by dysfunction at nearly every turn.
Since Stoneman left his position after the ’07 season, the Angels have had four general managers, each of whom has had to work under significant friction with the other influential voices of the team. Stoneman’s successor, Tony Riggins, was reportedly told by Moreno that he had to make a now-infamous deal for Vernon Wells in 2011 or else he would be fired (he resigned at the end of the season). The team’s incoming general manager, Jerry DePoto, abruptly resigned mid-season in 2015 amid a long power struggle with Scioscia. Dipto is also ranked by the inauspicious signings of Albert Pujols and Josh Hamilton, which Moreno is said to have directed.
Each of the first two GMs after Stoneman had to work alongside a manager they didn’t hire. However, Billy Ebler got a chance to choose his own manager after Scioscia retired after the 2018 campaign. He chose to go with Brad Osmos, who only predicted one season before being fired and replaced by Madon in a move that, once again, was dictated by Moreno. Eppler was fired as GM shortly thereafter after the 2020 season.
A similar type of power struggle between GM and the managers could have played a role in Madon’s dismissal. Shortly after the Angels announced the decision, Madon spoke with the athleteKen Rosenthal said part of his frustration with the Angels job was that he felt advanced data had been imposed on the coaching staff — “I’m in analytics, but not so much that everyone wants to shove it in the throat” — and that he expressed his frustration with Minassian. Speaking to reporters Tuesday, Minassian said he wasn’t aware Madon was feeling this way.
“she did” [feel we were on the same page]. “No disconnect was ever mentioned,” Minassian said. “Joe made the squad, Joe made the show decisions. I’m a big believer that this is a manager’s job and not a front office job. We deliver information. We have a great group, we have a hardworking front office…Joe and I had a great relationship. If that’s his point.” And he said it, I didn’t see it, but it wasn’t expressed to me.”
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Upon taking control of the organization, Moreno brought with him John Carpino – now in his thirteenth season as team boss – as first vice president. The two worked together for billboard company Moreno, which was successful enough to allow him to buy Angels in 2003. Together, the two are some of the most influential decision-makers in the room. Alongside Minasian, they decided to turn the wheel again and send the franchise into a new direction with over 100 games remaining in what, not too long ago, was a promising season with another impulse option.
Once an outspoken public presence, Moreno hasn’t appeared much with the media in recent years. As recently as 20 months ago, Carpino hinted at a fundamental flaw in the way the Angels conduct their business, saying, “Something is not right in our organization.”
“Obviously we’re not doing it the right way,” Carpino told Orange County RegisterJeff Fletcher in September 2020. “We don’t win games, so there’s something not right in our organization. So we have to look at it. You have to look in the mirror and find out, ‘Okay, what’s going on here that’s why we don’t play this week or deep in October? ?”
Apparently, turnover is not among the aspects of the organization that have been identified as in need of change. There are many short- and long-term ramifications of this latest move, but among the most immediate is what this means for Shohei Ohtani’s future with the team. The ruling MLS player of the year is set to hit free agency after the 2023 season, and with the team in a state of disarray and lack of leadership – all amid a seven-year drought – it’s fair to wonder whether Maddon’s dismissal will hurt the prospects he chooses to stay around. 16 months from now.
Minassian said he had no interaction with the players or coaches before making his decision, but Otani said on Tuesday that he appreciates Madon’s time with the team.
“Obviously, that’s not all Joe’s fault,” Otani said, for every the athleteSam Bloom. “The players, me, are partly to blame, because I was playing weak. I just want to say thank you to Joe, I appreciate everything he did for me.”
Perhaps the angels will come out of the recent chaos they have been through at last in the right direction. The last time the team made a management change mid-season was in 1999, when Terry Collins resigned during the final month of that season. Collins was replaced, by chance, by Madonne, who was then the team’s coach on the bench. A few months later, Scioscia and Stoneman arrive to usher in an era of stability the team has not known since.
Concluding his media presence Tuesday, Minassian tried to show a tone of optimism, noting the talented players on the squad’s roster and the fact that there are still 106 games left on the schedule. The Angels are only 1.5 games away from the field, and a successful season could still be had under interim manager Phil Nevin.
“We’ll get out of this,” Minassian said. “And we’ll win a game.”
The last part of that statement is almost certainly true: The Angels will win a game again this season (probably). Getting out of this mess – which the team has created for itself over the past decade or more – will require much more than firing a manager.
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