11:32 pm: According to Rhett Bollinger of MLB.com, the Angels have a press conference scheduled for 12 pm PST tomorrow afternoon, which, if one is to read between the lines, could be something of an inflection point vis a vis Ausmus’ future with the club. Bollinger’s counterpart at The Orange County Register, Jeff Fletcher, notes that this press conference was scheduled five days ago, and had been expected to be a forum for Ausmus and Eppler to discuss the season and offseason (Twitter links).
10:25 pm: Per Mark Feinsand of MLB.com, the Angels are ’contemplating’ the job status of one Brad Ausmus (link), with sources indicating that a decision is expected to be made on the manager’s fate within the next 24 hours.
Last we had heard in regard to Ausmus’ security with the org, Maria Torres of the Los Angeles Times was relaying that the former catcher’s job was safe for 2020. Just today, the manager seemed nonplussed when presented with rumors about his potential firing that originated from Buster Olney of ESPN and Ken Rosenthal of Fox–two reporters working in presumably less proximity to the clubhouse than Torres. It’s hard to characterize this intersection of rumors as anything more than murky, but Feinsand’s depiction of a 24-hour window at least sets the stage for some kind of impending resolution to the situation.
Hired just this last offseason, Ausmus ultimately guided the 2019 Angels to a dreadful 72-90 record in his first year in Anaheim. Still, the former Tigers skipper could be forgiven for his current team’s struggles. For one, the impact of the July 1 passing of pitching Tyler Skaggs simply cannot be quantified. Skaggs was expected to be a crucial part of the team’s rotational mix, after a 2018 season in which he posted 1.3 WAR across 24 starts as a 26-year-old; aside from the on-field ramifications of Skaggs’ untimely departure, it’s hard to imagine how team morale must have been affected by the tragic death of such a close colleague and friend. The Angels were a game below .500 entering the All-Star break, but limped to a 27-44 record in the second half.
Elsewhere on the club’s roster, GM Billy Eppler tasked Ausmus with a bullpen that submitted a collective 5.10 ERA this year–good for 25th among major league teams. It’s also fair to say that the word “rotation” was very apt when describing the club’s starting situation. Los Angeles’ Opening Day rotation consisted of Skaggs, Felix Pena, Chris Stratton, Matt Harvey, and Trevor Cahill, but none of those players would be starting games by season’s end, in large part due to ineffectiveness. Starting pitchers under Ausmus posted a 5.58 ERA this year, a mark better than only Colorado and Baltimore. Offensively, the club missed outfielder Justin Upton for much of the year, while big-money slugger Albert Pujols once again provided negligible on-field value to the Angels lineup.