Angels GM Billy Eppler and owner Arte Moreno both suggested today that the organization expects to retain manager Mike Scioscia for the 2017 season, with reporting via Mike DiGiovanna of the Los Angeles Times and Jeff Fletcher of the Orange County Register. (Jon Heyman of Today’s Knuckleball also reported earlier this week that Scioscia’s job was safe.) Though neither made any firm statements in either direction, the pair of key figures expressed satisfaction with Scioscia’s work in the midst of a disappointing 2016 season.
Now in his 17th year in charge of the Halos dugout, Scioscia has overseen a team that currently owns the lowest winning percentage in any of his seasons as the skipper. The team did post a winning record last year, and ran up 98 wins two years ago, so it isn’t as if there hasn’t been recent success. And Scioscia owns an overall record of 1,467 wins against 1,246 losses.
“I have no reason to believe Mike wouldn’t be here managing our team next season,” said Eppler. “I think he’s done a great job. He’s dealt with multiple plates of adversity and handled them with energy and passion. He’s kept guys optimistic, driven, and I think that’s the mark of a good leader.”
Certainly, the poor results this year have deeper-seated roots than any errors in running the ballclub on a day-to-day basis. The organization’s farm system is stagnant and the team has a lot of unproductive money on its books — though it does employ the best player in baseball, Mike Trout, under favorable contract terms. Injuries have also played a major role in 2016, sapping the Angels of several top starters.
Moreno focused on those unavailable hurlers in his assessment, noting that “it’s pretty hard to win when you have no pitching.” He still seems confident in his long-time manager, who is still under contract for two more campaigns under his massive, ten-year extension.
“I’m not going to say anything [definitive] because I haven’t sat down with Billy [Eppler] or Mike, but I don’t see any reason why he wouldn’t be [back],” said Moreno. “… He has a contract. My expectation is he will be here, but I haven’t sat down with him.”
The Angels owner went on to say that he still thinks the current roster core is primed for contention in the near-term. “My belief is with a few moves, we can be highly competitive,” he said. Of course, the missing arms will need to come from somewhere, and Moreno observed that “there’s really not a lot of free agent pitching” to be had this winter. Whether or not Scioscia ultimately comes back for yet another campaign, Los Angeles obviously has its work cut out in revamping the roster this winter.