SUNDAY, 3:38pm: In response to Nightengale’s report, Scioscia told media (including Mike DiGiovanna of the Los Angeles Times): “This is insanity. That’s it.”
12:58pm: Scioscia decided before the season began that this will be his final year as a manager with the Angels or anyone else, Bob Nightengale of USA Today reports. He plans to retire at the end of the season, according to Nightengale.
10:38am: For what it’s worth, Scioscia denied Rosenthal’s report on Sunday, telling media members (including Jeff Fletcher of the Orange County Register): “Nothing has changed since we talked last October. That’s the best way I can put it. There’s always chatter out there. The only word I have is poppycock. That’s all it is.”
SATURDAY: Angels manager Mike Scioscia, who’s in the last season of a 10-year, $50MM contract, is expected to step down at the end of the campaign, Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic reports (subscription required). Scioscia’s not under pressure from the club to walk away, according to Rosenthal. Rather, the soon-to-be 60-year-old would depart of his own volition, and it’s unclear whether he’d be open to managing elsewhere in the future.
Scioscia, the longest-tenured manager in baseball, has been atop the Angels’ dugout since the club hired him prior to the 2000 season. The union between the Angels and Scioscia, a former Dodgers catcher, has been fruitful. The franchise won its only World Series title under Scioscia in 2002, taking out Barry Bonds and the Giants in a memorable seven-game set. The Scioscia-led Angels have also gone to the playoffs in six other seasons, each of which included a division title, and combined for a 1,625-1,402 regular-season record. Only 17 other managers have won more games than Scioscia, and 12 are enshrined in the Baseball Hall of Fame.
While the Scioscia era has gone well in the aggregate, recent Angels teams haven’t been able to approach the early success the franchise had with him at the controls. Despite having the majors’ best player, center fielder Mike Trout, dating back to his breakout 2012 season, the Angels haven’t won a playoff series since 2009. They haven’t even won a postseason game with Trout, who was part of the most recent Angels playoff team – the 2014 club that Kansas City swept in the ALDS.
With Trout in his third-last year of team control, the Angels made several key moves this past offseason to return to prominence. Most notably, the Halos signed Japanese-born superstar Shohei Ohtani, a starting pitcher/designated hitter who was the majors’ top free agent in the offseason. Ohtani has wowed as a two-way player, but a right elbow sprain has kept him off the mound since June 6 and limited him to 49 1/3 innings. He’s among a host of Angels who have dealt with injury issues this season, which has helped lead to an underwhelming 55-57 record. As a result, the Angels are well out of the playoff race, trailing the AL West-leading Astros by 15 1/2 games and another division rival – the Athletics – by 10 1/2 for a wild-card spot.
Barring a miraculous comeback (and a change of heart from Scioscia), it appears his tenure in Anaheim will conclude in disappointing fashion and with a fourth straight non-playoff season. The Angels’ next skipper will be taking over for a team icon, one who has garnered AL Manager of the Year honors twice. Rosenthal notes that individual may come from inside the organization, though he does expect the Angels to explore outside candidates, too. The Halos hired former Tigers manager Brad Ausmus last winter as a special assistant to GM Billy Eppler, and he stands out as their most obvious in-house Scioscia successor. Otherwise, fellow Eppler assistant Eric Chavez or Scioscia’s bench coach, Josh Paul, could be possibilities, per Rosenthal.
Regardless of whether the Angels’ next manager ultimately comes from within, the club shouldn’t have difficulty attracting interest in the job. Led by Trout and Ohtani, there’s enviable talent on the Angels’ roster, and the franchise has consistently run high payrolls under owner Arte Moreno. This year’s team entered the campaign with the game’s seventh-most expensive roster, but unfortunately for the Angels and Scioscia, a dreary ending appears to be in store.
Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.