Owner Arte Moreno, frustrated with the Angels’ fourth consecutive losing season, was the one who ultimately pushed for a managerial change, reports Jeff Fletcher of the Orange County Register. And although the timing of Brad Ausmus’ dismissal as Angels manager aligned rather conveniently with the news that Joe Maddon was out as Cubs manager, general manager Billy Eppler said in a conference call yesterday that Ausmus’ status was being debated even before the availability of other veteran candidates (i.e. Joe Maddon) was known.
Perhaps most interestingly, Fletcher adds that while there’s been heavy speculation about the Angels and Maddon, there had been no contact between the two sides as of Tuesday. Maddon wasn’t fired and is technically under contract with the Cubs through the end of October, although the Cubs organization clearly wouldn’t stand in the way of him talking with other teams at this point.
A lack of contact between the two sides certainly doesn’t mean that there won’t be any at all. To the contrary, it’d be a genuine surprise if Maddon didn’t emerge as a viable contender for the job. At the same time, the fact that the two sides haven’t even talked suggests that Maddon to the Angels perhaps isn’t set in stone. To that end, MLB.com’s Rhett Bollinger lists Angels special assistant Eric Chavez, Astros bench coach Joe Espada and former Yankees manager Joe Girardi as possible candidates. Girardi, who publicly voiced a desire to return to the dugout just this morning, knows Eppler quite well from the pair’s days with the Yankees. Eppler, though, made clear yesterday that he needs to sit down with Moreno and team president John Carpino to formulate a list of interview candidates.
Furthermore, Eppler was emphatic in taking accountability for the Angels’ poor season. “I want to make it clear Brad is not solely responsible for the result of our season,” said the GM in yesterday’s call. “The majority of our short-term acquisitions that we made this past offseason did not produce to their forecast. And those failures lie with me.”
Indeed, the trio of Matt Harvey, Trevor Cahill and Cody Allen proved unproductive, although Eppler did make some shrewd pickups over the past year. Right-hander Hansel Robles has proven to be one of the more successful waiver claims in recent memory, and Eppler nabbed another waiver gem just prior to Opening Day when he claimed Brian Goodwin off release waivers from the Royals organization. Those additions might’ve provided some bright spots this season, but the team’s starting pitching situation remains bleak and will surely be an area of focus for the Angels as the offseason approaches.