Whicker: If Joe Maddon wants another major challenge, Angels qualify

first_imgThere are no bionic elbows in Joe Maddon’s suitcase of message T-shirts. There is no Crack Me A Pitcher package, in which you add an egg to some prepared ingredients, and suddenly a 15-game winner emerges from the microwave.If Maddon really is interested in managing the Angels, who ended the Brad Ausmus Era after one season and 90 losses on Monday, he must know that he is not moving into Wrigley Field and handling a Cubs roster that is on the historical verge.He will be managing Mike Trout and Shohei Ohtani, which is a fine baseline.But he will inherit a pitching staff which deserves counseling for homer-related PTSD, and there are few “next men up.” It’s difficult to hear the hooves of the cavalry. In the entire Angels’ minor league system, only 12 pitchers logged 100 or more innings and none more than 129. Only three of those had a walk rate of under three per nine innings. Only two had a WHIP under 1.200.That’s the way of the world in baseball these days, but it isn’t working for the Angels. Since Bane left, the Angels have drafted only three pitchers who have become significant. They traded Sean Newcomb to Atlanta for Simmons, and Mike Clevinger (42-20) to Cleveland for Vinnie Pestano.The third is Griffin Canning, the second-round pick in 2017. He pitched 119 innings for UCLA that year, but only 113 in the Angels’ system in 2018. He got through 90 innings for the varsity this season before he was disabled.In a professional sense, can Joe Maddon come home again? Only if he has the taste for a teardown. So Maddon, if he comes, will have a certain degree of autonomy. Although he has a fascination with analytics, he will insist that he gets to run the games.San Diego also needs a manager, and Philadelphia, close to Maddon’s beloved hometown of Hazleton, would be attractive if it fires Gabe Kapler. If Maddon, 65, says he wants to manage five more years, it might take every second to make the Angels watchable.This was the Angels’ worst record since 1999, the year before they hired Mike Scioscia. Through 2010, they were 178 games over .500.After that season, scouting director Eddie Bane was fired. It has taken a while for Bane’s talent pool to evaporate, but the Angels are only 26 games over .500 since then, and they now have four consecutive sub-.500 seasons, for the first time since 1974-77.This season was nightmarish and tragic for reasons beyond anyone’s power, especially the passing of pitcher Tyler Skaggs on July 1. Gold Glove shortstop Andrelton Simmons missed 59 games, infielder Tommy La Stella played only 80, and outfielder Justin Upton played an ineffective 63.But the pitching was a moonscape. Only Trevor Cahill (5.98 ERA) pitched over 100 innings. Felix Peña was the top winner, with eight.The Angels managed quality starts (six innings, three or fewer earned runs) only 22 percent of the time, by far the lowest in baseball. Sure, they used the “opener” concept, but not because they wanted to.Only 15 starters were able to throw 100 or more pitches in a game, seven fewer than anyone else in the American League. In 2014, when the Angels last were in the playoffs, 73 starters did.Perhaps the Angels feel they can patch this up if Ohtani becomes a reliable starter and if they spend wildly for Gerrit Cole, formerly of Orange Lutheran High, who went 16-0 down the stretch this year for Houston and has thrown 412 innings and led the A.L. in strikeouts-per-nine innings the past two years.Related Articles Angels’ Mike Trout working on his defense, thanks to Twitter Angels offense breaks out to split doubleheader with Astros Jose Suarez’s rocky start sinks Angels in loss to Astros center_img Angels’ Shohei Ohtani spending downtime working in outfield Angels’ poor pitching spoils an Albert Pujols milestone Maddon’s five-year contract with the Cubs ran out, without renewal. He won 58 percent of his games there and the first World Series since 1908. You would think they would rename skyscrapers after someone like that.Those who knock Maddon for his easy-riding style and his clubhouse theme weeks have forgotten that he began this managing adventure in the dungeon.Tampa Bay had never won more than 70 games in a season when it hired Maddon in 2006. After two seasons of slingshotting stones at the Red Sox and the Yankees, Tampa Bay won the American League championship in 2008.Before that, Maddon was an Angels lifer and was Mike Scioscia’s bench coach for the championship team in 2002 and in the fat years that followed.His only connection with the Angels today is with owner Arte Moreno. Almost everything that General Manager Billy Eppler tried this year backfired, including the hiring of Ausmus. Newsroom GuidelinesNews TipsContact UsReport an Errorlast_img

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *