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Despite long tenure, it’s time for Scioscia, Angels to part ways

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What do the Los Angeles Angels and manager Mike Scioscia have in common? Well, they have both been huge disappointments during the 2018 season.

Ken Rosenthal of the Athletic reported on Saturday, August 4th that the manager was going to step down from his position at the end of this season. However, in an interview with the Orange County Register on Sunday, Scioscia denied the rumors and referred to them as “poppycock.”

In the off-season prior to the 2018 campaign, the Angels were the talk of the town. Many analysts predicted that they would be in contention for a wild-card berth thanks to the additions of infielders Ian Kinsler, Zack Cozart, the re-signing of Justin Upton and landing the two-way Japanese sensation Shohei Ohtani. Many would argue that on paper, this was the best team built around superstar centerfielder Mike Trout.

Unfortunately for Trout, this year’s Angels roster was unable to provide the necessary support as it looks like the two-time MVP will miss another postseason for the seventh time in his eight-year career. Los Angeles currently sits in fourth place in the AL West at 58-58 and are 10 games out of a wild-card berth as of August 8th.

A lot of the blame can be put on the front office’s faith in Scioscia to lead this team. While the manager has had plenty of success in his 19-year career with the organization, he has struggled to win in recent years. The Angels have one playoff appearance in the last nine years and were coming off back-to-back losing seasons, the first of Scioscia’s career.

Sure, the plethora of injuries did not help but the writing on the wall was there before the season began. There needed to be a change of management in order to lead this revamped Angels roster to the playoffs. The recent trend around the MLB has been to hire younger, inexperienced managers that can relate more with the players and the evolution of the game.

You don’t have to look far and wide for examples of this strategy benefiting an MLB organization. Managers of west coast teams such as the Arizona Diamondbacks’ Torey Lovullo, Los Angeles Dodgers’ Dave Roberts and division rival Seattle Mariners’ Scott Servais, all have had success despite having no prior managerial experience.

While fans in Orange County may be reluctant to say goodbye to their long-time manager, the need for a culture change in the clubhouse is necessary. To coach for as long as Scioscia has with one organization, is difficult to accomplish in any sport. In the modern era, only Gregg Popovich (NBA) and Bill Belichick (NFL) have been able to coach for as long as Scioscia has with one organization. But both of those coaches have five championships each to show for while Scioscia has one.

Scioscia’s lone World Series victory, six division titles and close relationship with Angels owner  Arte Moreno, has allowed him to keep his job for so long, and will most likely prevent Scioscia from getting fired. But the time has come for the two parties to move on whether it is during the season or at its end.

Because of the disappointing start to the year, the Angels find themselves in an awkward position. The trades of everyday starters Martin Maldonado and Ian Kinsler at the deadline showed that the Angels have thrown in the towel for the 2018 season. While the non-waiver trade deadline may have passed, the Angels still could remain active and sell other notable players in hopes for a decent return package.

Looking ahead, they still have Trout, Upton, Ohtani and Andrelton Simmons signed through the 2020 season. While they currently do not have much support surrounding these players, the front office could take the aggressive approach in this upcoming off-season by landing some marquee free agents. However, finding a manager that best suits this team has to be the first priority.

The other way to look at it for the Angels, who have one of the worst farm systems in the MLB, is they could sell their prized possession Trout, this offseason and land a huge package of top prospects in return. It is unclear what Trout’s plans are when he becomes a free agent but many believe he will want to play for a bigger market team and leave Anaheim.

The sad reality is, the Angels may have wasted a few of Trout’s best years because they failed to provide him a manager capable of leading a team to the playoffs. The window for the Angels to be relevant again is closing in a hurry, but the sooner they move on from Scioscia, the greater chance they have of becoming a playoff contender with Trout still on their roster.

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