If there is one word which described the ancien régime of the Angels under former GM Bill Stoneman, it is “complacency.”
Powered by a seemingly never-ending stream of prospects and the adept National League style managing of Mike Scioscia, the Angels were able to contend year after year despite never making any significant trades and rarely making splashes in the free-agent market.
Trade deadline after trade deadline, offseason after offseason, the Angels would rest on their laurels and stand pat, confident (somewhat justifiably) that their up and coming young talent would keep them in contention.
The problem was that despite making the postseason almost every year out of the short-stacked AL West, the Angels rarely had the true superstars needed to win it all. And this despite having hoards of blocked prospects that teams were practically knocking down Stoneman’s door to trade for.
He just couldn’t bear to part with any of his players. Ever. And eventually many of those prospects just rotted in triple-A until they were too old and missed their shot at big-league stardom.
Which is what makes today’s trade for Mark Teixeira so surprising.
Because if ever there was a time you would think the Angels would not make a trade, it was this year. After all, they already had the best record in the entire major leagues. And they already had an overcrowded outfield/DH/1B situation, with good players and big-name veterans galore.
But Bill Stoneman isn’t around anymore, and new GM Tony Reagins, not satisfied with merely mauling the hell out of the league, decided to go for the jugular this time, shipping everyday first-baseman and rising star Casey Kotchman and a B-grade pitching prospect to the Braves for Tex.
You could just see Stoneman thinking, “Wait just a minute here. Kotchman is still young! He will get even better with time! And we still control him for several years, where as Tex is sure to walk after two months! And we already have the best record in the league!”
But Reagins is more vicious than that. He wants to win more badly. He doesn’t care what it takes.
That is the kind of you-can-never-be-”good enough” mentality that separates the decent francishes from the dynasties. The Angels could have been a dynasty under Bill Stoneman if he had been even a little bit less of a, well, stone, when it came to making deals. Now under Tony Reagins, they just might become a dynasty yet.
And with all the young talent they still have in the pipeline, that is a scary, scary thought for the rest of the AL.