Unless you happen to be talking to Tony Reagins' mother, you won't find a single person who doesn't think the Angels did the right thing by parting ways with their embattled general manager. What you will get differing opinions on is exactly why it is Reagins was fired.
We all know how catastrophic his trades for Vernon Wells and Scott Kazmir were. His negotiations with big name free agents are the subject of punchlines across the league. The contracts he did actually work out mostly blew up in his face. Even a die-hard Reagins apologist would have a hard time disputing those claims, so it is safe to say that Arte Moreno definitely had cause to kick Tony to the curb. That's not the question here. Ridding himself of Reagins is merely a means to an end for Moreno, we just don't know what that end is.
One mystery about the Tony Reagins era that may never be solved is just how much say Reagins really had. There are large factions that believe Tony was nothing more than a puppet for Mike Scioscia. Yes, Tony was making the phone calls and dealing with agents, but he was only doing so on behalf of Scioscia, some would have us believe. Other factions will say it was Arte Moreno who was really pulling Reagins' strings. Of course, there are also reports that insist Reagins really did have autonomy that Moreno would never impinge upon unless massive money was involved.
Depending which of those three lines of thinking you subscribe to no doubt influences why it is you think Reagins got the pink slip on Friday. Was he a puppet or was he his own man? That is a HUGE question to answer when it comes to figuring out what the Angels plan to do with the future of the franchise.
If Reagins really was the guy calling all the shots, then there is hope. Arte Moreno must have finally realized that for all the good moves Reagins made (and he did make some), his missteps have been so damaging that he could not afford leave the club under Reagins' rule for another season. The offense has generally been poor throughout Reagins' entire reign and the bullpen has gone to hell and seems to be getting even worse. Reagins has tried fixing both and failed. Therefore, Moreno wants a new face with fresh new ideas to get this team back into annual championship contender status.
The more cynical amongst us that saw Reagins as nothing more than a puppet, they know better. Whoever it was that was pulling Reagins' strings, be it Moreno or Scioscia or both, getting rid of Reagins won't matter because the puppet master(s) still remains. Since, by this theory, Reagins was just doing what he was told, then he was not fired, he was sacrificed. A loyal soldier whose head was made to roll as a public showing that the franchise will no longer stand for poor personnel moves. With him gone, the same people making the bad decisions remain, but the angry mob will at least be satiated for a short while since they've been given their pound of flesh.
I hate to say it, but I tend to agree with the cynical point of view. Maybe Reagins had some autonomy, but I have a hard time believing that he had final decision on roster moves. Mike Scioscia is the true leader of this franchise and I don't envision any scenario where he is not heavily consulted on roster changes. Heck, Arte Moreno even said Scioscia would be prominently involved in selecting the new general manager; that should pretty much tell you all you need to know about how the franchise totem pole works. As for Moreno, he too has blood on his hands here. He is the one who vehemently shouted down the Carl Crawford contract that he found so ridiculous. I don't blame him for this since it is his money being spent, but don't tell me that the general manager is free to do as he pleases when it is so obvious that Moreno plays a large role in the team's major dealings. Did either of them tell Reagins to go and get Vernon Wells? Maybe, maybe not. But did both of them sign off it, or at least allow themselves to be talked into signing off on it by Tony Reagins? Hell to the yes.
Where my cynicism ends though, and perhaps where my myopism begins, is the thought that firing Reagins was a PR stunt. My gut, and nothing more, tells me that Reagins being fired was an indictment on the entire Angel decision making process. At some point Arte Moreno had an introspective moment and realized that he, Reagins (the protege of Bill Stoneman who is still an involved advisor, by the way), and Scioscia had all become too comfortable with each other. Instead of being separate individuals with differing points of view that challenged each other, they had devolved into a level of groupthink that led to the same mistakes being made over and over. Getting rid of Reagins wasn't about punishing him for his incompetence so much as it was forcing the Angels to bring in someone from the outside who wasn't already atuned to the "Angels way."
At least that is what I hope happens. Maybe they will bring in someone who isn't scared to tell Mike Scioscia he can't have his favorite toy, Jeff Mathis, anymore. Maybe they will bring in a guy who can convince Arte to finally put his money where his mouth is and make a "big splash" move that is an actual big splash. That is what thi steam needs and I hope Moreno and Scioscia get that now and cleared out Reagins so that they could make it happen.
If not, well, then I will be the guy slamming his head on his desk when I read that the Angels promoted their next general manager from within, as read to us in a press release by Baghdad Bob.
Mr. The Monkey and I used different math through much of the article but our graph lines for "Change" intersect at paragraph eight. Our graph lines for "Hope" also intersect there. Reagins may be a terrific organizational guy who could operate at the VP of Operations level or something but I'm not so sure he had a wonderful grasp of talent evaluation. I'd feel a little more comfortable if the search centered a little more around people with more player development experience. I can think of a few three- and four-for-one trades where the Angels may have under-evaluated the talent that left, meaning they overpaid by too much. Let's see if Hope and Change work out better this time.
If it's a PR move (and I think it is) I have to wonder about the timing. Arte won't do the new guy (or gal, if it's Kim Ng) any favors bringing them in at this point. There's nothing to trade and not much helpful to sign in free agency. This leads to dumb ideas like Bowden's Bourjos-for-Wright deal. Trade four more cheap years of Bourjos' spectacular and exceptionally helpful (to this fly ball oriented pitching staff) talent for one season of Wright? If they tried that Wright would decline the option sure as shootin' and bolt for an east coast team as soon as '12 was finished. Yuck!
I can see making a run at Mark Buehrle if he's asking a reasonable price, that would sew up four rotation spots and leave the fifth for a battle between Williams and Richards and competition is good. There's not really enough out there that the Angels need, though, so let's not be signing guys (and losing draft picks) just to say there was a move made. Too bad they don't trade draft picks in baseball.
I hate like Hell to say it but with incredibly limited options out there I might have to hold my nose and accept Slappy Callaspo as the third baseman next season. Which brings me back to the headlines for today; he never loved that chick he knocked up. If he had he would have slapped her around until somebody called the cops.
I once again, after some sabbatical weeks, come here and have to agree to almost every word Rick types here. Hell, a GM is not a team President/CEO, let alone the owner, so it is at least justifiable that Moreno should give him some guidelines, like "forget about Crawford, he doesn't worth it" or "don't you dare fooling around with Boras, you know we don't deal with him". It's not like he's putting his nose in what should be Tony's business or the fact he doesn't trust Tony, he is THE BOSS, and you gotta do what he wants you to do because he pays you for it.
Also, Sosh is the one who would and will line the players up to the games. He's the one demanding players, it's his job. Say it, we need someone good at LF, we have to promote Conger... Of course I'd never ever part ways with Napoli without having a pretty good deal, let alone in order to land a mediocre, largely overpaid OF. The fact that Nap's role would be very restricted, specially considering everyone expected Morales to be back this year makes me think. Sosh perhaps asked to move him as he didn't want to deal with that. And that's where things went wrong.
With all the rights Sosh could have being the team manager (remember it's more than just "team coach"), I believe I should actively refuse to do that because it was against my belief. Then I would ask my boss. He'd have the final word. (note: I'm talking about parting with Nap, not the trade itself)
You know, that's not the way it works nor worked. You know, Tony was probably "convinced" to do this and did it without asking much... Destabilized by that, he went onto a free fall.
I must say I don't blame him for Kazmir, he was a former cy candidate, before being 27. Most people in this age manage to return to good shape, even if it's not the same player again. I doubt any scout would say he had no salvation, even if they knew he wasn't playing it well anymore. Risky. I like to risk sometimes. But I do blame him for not actively pursuing deals even when people (Sosh/Moreno) say you don't need to upgrade somewhere. A good deal is always a good deal, at least if you can pay for it. And you ought make your efforts to make it happen. Tony didn't, and it doesn't matter if it was due to external interference or to his inept character for this business. He didn't do what he gotta do. Now he's outta here.
Yeah, we may never know how much "help" Reagins had from above with some of these decisions but I will say that most of the huge money deals he didn't complete actually turned out better for the club. Even "missing out" on Tex should have worked better for us but for that freak injury to Morales and we certainly can't blame Reagins for that. BTW, if we are hating on V-Dub for his OBP, how do we think they feel in Boston about Crawford's sub-.300 OBP and virtually ALL of his offensive stats plummeting as well as making the most famous outfield error in recent Sox history? Anyway, I agree with Alan that I'd picture advice from above as little more than the guidelines Alan mentioned.
Reading the Best and Worst deals Reagins got us into led me to believe we place more blame on him than he may deserve. Or not. These lists don't accurately quantify the loss of personnel in trades or his ability/inability to patch the smaller holes on the fly, e.g. the bullpen. Kazmir should have worked out much better than he did and I can blame no one but Kazmir himself. And signing Hunter is on the "bad deal" list? Really? Maybe he got overpaid a little but I think the author was stretching things to fill out the first nine places and by number ten thought to himself, "Crap! I thought Reagins did a worse job than that! Uhhh, much as I like him, I'll throw the Hunter signing on there at ten."
Again, the new kid is in deep doo doo and I hope isn't seduced by the thought of trading Bourjos, Conger, Richards or any of the few younger options they might have. Maybe, MAYBE I could see something involving Trumbo but only if and when they see Morales can return to something like full form. I'd kind of like to see them use Trumbo at first most days and work Morales back slowly, starting him at DH most days. But that's just me.