After being eliminated from playoff contention on the last day of the regular season in 2015, the Los Angeles Angels have had a horrendous 2016 campaign. Expectations were high, and the Angels had playoff aspirations after being so close the year before. Now injuries have taken their toll, with Garrett Richards, Matt Shoemaker, Nick Tropeano, Huston Street, and Andrew Heaney all currently on the 60-day disabled list. Tyler Skaggs has also been limited to nine starts.
But, is that enough to give Mike Scioscia a pass?
Angels general manager Billy Eppler is in his first year, and most new general managers want the opportunity to bring in their own guys. Eppler has given Scioscia his public support on numerous occasions throughout the season. Scioscia has been manager since 2000 and won the World Series in his third year back in 2002. However, that was over 10 years ago, and the recent success of the Angels has not been great.
The Angels have reached the postseason only once since being eliminated in the American League Championship Series in 2009 to the New York Yankees. That was back in 2014, when the Angels had the best regular season record in baseball but were swept in the AL Division Series by the Kansas City Royals. Scioscia is 588-543 (.520) since being eliminated in 2009. They made bold moves over the past few years, signing Albert Pujols and Josh Hamilton to long-term deals, but those signings have not translated to championships.
The closest Scioscia has been to losing his job was a year ago, during a rift he had with then-GM Jerry Dipoto, who later resigned in July. It would be a difficult decision if they ever decide to move on from Scioscia, who is the winningest manager in Angels history. Despite all the previous success, is his job security based on reputation?
This scenario reminds me of when the Minnesota Twins fired Ron Gardenhire, or when the Philadelphia Phillies fired Charlie Manuel. Both were iconic managers to their teams, but the clubs were entering new phases. The Angels do not have to completely rebuild since they still have players like Pujols and Trout who are putting up monster numbers, but sometimes changes are made, especially under new management.
When the Angels’ disappointing season comes to a close, the first decision they should make is if Mike Scioscia should be retained, or start with a clean slate.