The Los Angeles Angels ended a 12-game losing streak by firing manager Joe Maddon on Tuesday. At this point, the front office felt they had no choice.
The Angels had the best record in baseball just a few weeks ago, as evidenced by our MLB Power Rankings. They dismissed their manager now, in the midst of the season’s biggest losing streak.
But how did we end up here in the first place?
Los Angeles’ two stars, Mike Trout and Shohei Ohtani, are the foundation of the team. They’re based around these two players, in whom they’ve invested a significant amount of money (and more to come with Ohtani).
Prior to a game against the Boston Red Sox a few nights ago, Trout had been in a career-worst 0-for-26 slump. Ohtani hasn’t been as good as he was in 2021, when he won AL MVP and became one of the most popular baseball players.
So far, Ohtani has a.242/.322/.445 batting average, an OPS of.445 and an OPS+ of 122. All of those measurements, which appear to be critical in both basic and sophisticated statistical circles, are far from his game-changing 2021 campaign. His ERA is 0.80 points higher as well. Taylor Ward and Anthony Rendon’s injuries haven’t helped matters.
The Angels’ pitching has been atrocious in the last 12 games. Los Angeles’ bullpen, which used to be Maddon’s team, has blown a few leads when handed one, but those have been few and far between due to the starting rotation’s inefficiency.
Even promising starts from players like Noah Syndergaard were in vain, as the club lost 1-0, extending their losing streak.
Joe Maddon was fired by the Angels for a variety of reasons
The Angels’ scapegoat is Joe Maddon. That’s all there is to it.
Although the veteran coach may not understand why he was fired, Los Angeles needed a change to save the season, and the front management delivered. The question remains as to whether this was the proper decision.
Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic says that Maddon was shocked when the front office decided to let him leave with so little notice.
“A little bit (surprised). Actually, a lot. You always rely on people in charge to read the tea leaves properly. This time, they did not. You didn’t even have to ask me. You can ask any of the players or coaches. They’re the ones who really know…It was a great clubhouse. It is a great clubhouse. There was no dissension, no finger-pointing, none of it.”
Given the nature of the business, the 68-year-old shouldn’t be surprised. The Angels have the eighth highest payroll in baseball. Trout and Ohtani, on the other hand, are at the peak of their careers. While we might debate the semantics of whether Perry Minasian is spending his money well, ownership certainly needs results right now. As a result of their big goals, experienced coaching staff, and even Maddon’s rehiring in 2019,
Despite this, Maddon hinted at a rift between himself and the Angels’ front staff, while also avoiding any harsh parting blows. In a game that delves even deeper into data, Maddon warned that Los Angeles may be doing so to an unhealthy degree, according to Rosenthal.
“I’m into analytics, but not to the point where everybody wants to shove it down your throat. Real baseball people have felt somewhat impacted by all of this. You’re unable to just go to the ballpark and have some fun and play baseball. It’s too much controlled by front offices these days.”
So, perhaps Maddon’s departure was inevitable, and Minasian chose to expedite the process while his squad was on the slide. It sounds very similar to the Cardinals’ split with Mike Shildt following a playoff appearance last offseason.
Some fences can’t be repaired.
What’s ahead for Joe Maddon in the MLB?
It’s too early to forecast Maddon’s future, but he assured Rosenthal that even at 68, he’s not done coaching. If he’s willing, he’ll get a chance to work as an in-game television analyst later this season.
But has Maddon, of all people, missed the game? Many people think that the manager is ahead of the curve when it comes to analytics and coaching techniques that people had never thought of before, but he also says that he has fallen behind in Los Angeles.
However, the answer I gave above is significantly more likely. The Angels have dropped their last 12 games. They know that players like Trout and Ohtani aren’t going to wait in Anaheim forever to win a World Series. They might be getting a new stadium soon. Due to their hot start to the year, the pressure has been growing over the past few weeks.
Phil Nevin isn’t a long-term solution either. Perhaps LA has a foretaste of what’s to come. But Maddon, who, despite his stubbornness at times, is open to analytical coaching concepts, is far from finished if he wants to manage again.
The question is, where are you going?