Perry Minasian didn’t need to delve into the analytics to explain the Angels’ mistakes this season and answer the question that constantly hovers over them:
How could a team that boasts three-times most valuable player in the American League, Mike Trout, and two-way sensation Shohei Ohtani — the unanimous 2021 MVP and likely second-place finisher this season behind the New York Yankees’ home run king , Aaron Judge – Blessed To Miss The Playoffs Again ?
His answer was born out of common sense and stating the obvious.
“We have two of the best players to ever put on uniforms. There’s no secret,” the Angels general manager said. “But we need more. It’s not a two-on-two game. If it were, I love our chances.”
“It’s everything. We need more of everything,” he said during a season-closing press conference Thursday at Angel Stadium.
At least he got so much right as he summarized a season gone so wrong after a teasingly good start, a season that saw manager Joe Maddon surprisingly fired when the team was 27-29 and through a losing streak fought, which handed a club record of 14 games.
Coincidentally or not, Maddon’s criticism of Minasian’s dogged, numbers-driven philosophy surfaced Thursday via si.com’s excerpts from a book Maddon co-wrote with Tom Verducci, “The Book of Joe: Trying Not to Suck at Baseball & Life.”
Maddon objected to pre-game “choreography” by Minasian and assistant general manager Alex Tamin, who decided what helpers were available for each game and limited Maddon’s flexibility with his bullpen, according to the book. Maddon also said Minasian called the dugout and coach Mike Frostad told him to take Trout out of a game the Angels turned into a blowout on May 9. Earlier in the day, Trout said he had groin pain, but later told Maddon he was fine, so Maddon had let him in until the eighth inning. Maddon confronted Minasian the next day and told him never to dictate lineup decisions again, although front office influence over dugout decisions is now common. “I plead guilty to having philosophical differences with Perry,” Maddon said. “You don’t take it personally. It’s a business.”
Minasian declined to say whether Maddon’s version of events was true.
“I won’t go into that. I enjoyed working with Joe. We had a really good relationship. I thought we had a really good relationship,” Minasian said.
“He wrote a book. He’s trying to sell it. I get it. I wish Joe all the best. I hope he makes the New York Times bestseller list.”
With this book ticked off Minasian’s reading list, he will have more time to figure out how to change the pathetic course of a team that squandered the best years of Trout and Ohtani. That’s challenge enough. Minasian must achieve this while knowing he only has Ohtani under contract for one more season – and without knowing what his budget will be if owner Arte Moreno sells the team.
It’s not clear what happened since Moreno announced in August that he had engaged Galatioto Sports Partners as financial advisors to explore a potential sale. Minasian said it was not up to him to ask where the process was. “It’s beyond my job description,” he said.
But it will affect whether he can hold Ohtani. And probably whether Ohtani wants to stay long-term.
If it’s more of the same next season – more of the pitching issues the Angels had this season, the same weak at-bats in what should be the heart of their batting order, and the same lack of depth of quality throughout Line-up – who could blame Ohtani for wanting to leave to play for a challenger? “I’d like to have him here for a long time,” Minasian said. His off-season actions could heavily influence Ohtani’s decision.
It’s not about spending money. Moreno did not refuse to spend money. The trouble was, too often he didn’t spend it well.
It should be difficult to find two Superstars and just build around them. The angels got lucky in the difficult part and can’t pull off the easy part. Minasian used a basketball analogy, noting that successful duos like John Stockton and Karl Malone, Scottie Pippen and Michael Jordan, and Kobe Bryant and Shaquille O’Neal were great players, “but there were some really good supporting actors around these guys. That is the same.”
Minasian focused on his bullpen after last season. He secured Raisel Iglesias a four-year, $58 million deal and signed veterans Ryan Tepera and Aaron Loupe as free agents. When the team collapsed, Iglesias became more valuable as a trading chip and it was traded to Atlanta. He’ll be in the playoffs. The angels won’t.
“That didn’t work out,” Minasian said of the bullpen buff plan.
“You know, there is no secret formula. You have to be able to compete in all areas on a daily basis: bullpen, rotation, lineup, bench, depth, all those things. And we didn’t do that. And again, that falls right on me. So, nobody runs away, nobody hides from it. I understand the work that needs to be done.”
By this time next year, Minasian said he hopes to discuss a postseason roster and who plans the Angels’ playoff opener. That still felt a long way off Thursday, so close to the end of another year of wasting the remarkable talents of Trout and Ohtani and the reminder that baseball isn’t a two-on-two competition.
https://www.latimes.com/sports/angels/story/2022-10-06/angels-perry-minasian-mike-trout-shohei-ohtani Elliott: Minasian has work to do to make Angels postseason bound