Mike Scioscia is out as Los Angeles Angels manager, he announced after the club’s season-finale, 5-4, victory over the Oakland A’s on Sunday at Angel Stadium, ending a tenure of 19 consecutive seasons.
Scioscia’s exit is part of a cavalcade of departures that could include many of Major League Baseball’s most veteran skippers.
“First of all, I want to make an announcement,” Scioscia said to open his postgame media conference finally giving validity to a rumor that surfaced several months ago. “I’m not going to be returning to the Angels next year. And after speaking to [his wife] Ann and my family, I think it’s the right move for me and the right move for this organization.”
Already, the Toronto Blue Jays have parted ways with John Gibbons, the Texas Rangers let go Jeff Bannister, and the Baltimore Orioles seem poised to jettison Buck Showalter after their 115-loss season.
Other managers on the hot seat include Seattle’s Scott Servais, Arizona’s Torey Lovullo, Kansas City’s Ned Yost, and Philadelphia’s first-year Gabe Kapler. The Mariners, D-backs and Phillies all were in the hunt for playoff spots this season before individual collapses took them out of the race.
The Royals lost 104 games only four years after Yost led them to back-to-back American League pennants and a five-game World Series victory over the Mets.
Even Dave Roberts of the Los Angeles Dodgers could be in jeopardy if his club doesn’t make it deep into the playoffs again this year. Last fall, they lost a seven-game World Series to the Houston Astros. Roberts is in the final year of his $1 million a season contract with the Dodgers holding a club option for 2019.
The Giants announced earlier this week that Bruce Bochy would be back to fulfill the final year of his contract in 2019 despite finishing with 89 losses, coming after last year’s 98-defeat debacle. Bochy will be in his 23rd season, the first 12 with the San Diego Padres.
During that process, though, the Giants fired general manager Bobby Evans and are now talking about restructuring and updating a baseball operations department that was responsible for winning the World Series three times in five years from 2010-14.
Bochy makes $6 million a year. Scioscia just concluded a 10-year, $50 million deal.
“I have a deep passion for this game,” Scioscia said Sunday. “I love managing.”
That sentiment hardly matters. The high-paid manager is the dinosaur of the business.
Last year, the New York Yankees fired Joe Girardi, the Boston Red Sox clipped John Farrell and the Washington Nationals shed Dusty Baker after all three veteran managers had taken their teams to the playoffs. They were replaced respectively with Aaron Boone ($1.15 million), Alex Cora ($800,000) and Davey Martinez ($850,000).
The Yankees and Red Sox are back in the playoff, which start with the Wild Card Games in both leagues on Tuesday and Wednesday. The Nationals are not, and Martinez has two year remaining on his deal.
Scioscia’s 2002 Angels won the World Series in seven games over the Giants, coming back from a 3-2 deficit. The Angels, born in the first wave of MLB expansion in 1961, have made only that one World Series appearance.
Because of various reasons, not the least of which was a plethora of pitching injuries, the Angels have only made the playoffs once since 2009, the last time they won a postseason game.
Much has been made about the fact that the Angels have only ascended to the playoffs once during the seven-year Mike Trout era. Despite a series of MVP seasons for Trout, including the current one, the Angels made an American League Division Series last in 2014, losing in three games to the Royals.
The last two years they finished 80-82, despite injuries to their entire starting pitching staff. Two-way sensation Shohei Ohtani made only one start after June 6 because of a right elbow injury and is set to undergo Tommy John ligament replacement surgery this week. Ohtani will be the fifth Angels pitcher this season to have the procedure.
“This game is about the players, it’s not about the manager or the coaches,” Scioscia said. “This game is about the players and it always will be. For 19 years we’ve had guys who put it all on the line whether we were going good or going bad. And that’s what I’m going to take away. That was so inspiring to me on a personal level.”
The soon to be 60-year old former catcher went out with the grace that’s expected. He finished with a 1,649-1,428 record and .536 winning percentage during the regular season, having passed his mentor Tommy Lasorda earlier this season on the all-time wins list. Lasorda had 1,599 victories in 21 years managing the Los Angeles Dodgers.
But those lengthy tenures with one club would seem to have perished with the likes of Lasorda and Scioscia, who began to well up as he spoke about his years with the Angels franchise. That tenure began in 2000 when Disney was the owner and spanned the entire time since late 2003 when Arte Moreno took over.
“I’ve had an incredible 19 years. It’s been just awesome,” he said. “There’s a lot that goes into a ballclub. I think every manager is concerned with the environment. I can tell you that for 19 years the environment around this ballclub has been second to none. It’s been incredible.”
Scioscia generated an incredible managing tree from his coaching staff. His one-time bench coach Joe Maddon went on to bigger and better things with the Tampa Bay Rays and Chicago Cubs, ending that club’s tortured 108-year World Series championship drought in 2016. Likewise, Sciosocia’s pitching coach, Bud Black, managed the Padres for the better part of nine seasons and has now taken the Colorado Rockies to back-to-back postseasons for the first time in that club’s history.
Ron Roenicke, once Scioscia’s third base coach, went on to manage the Milwaukee Brewers, and is now Cora’s bench coach in Boston.
As Scioscia broke down in tears reminiscing about the relationship he had developed with many of his coaches – including the current group – Scioscia said, “I’m actually happy. I’m sorry this happened.”
Stopping to collect himself for a moment, he added about those coaches:
“I’m really proud of them.”
Right back at you, Sosh.