The hiring of Ron Washington is the type of short-term thinking that has come to define the Los Angeles Angels since Arte Moreno officially bought the franchise during the spring of 2003. Those Anaheim Angels were the defending champions. Washington is taking over a club with a hellish trajectory. The Halos’ farm system is in a drought and Moreno overpaid for a losing roster that’s delivered meager results. Accepting this job makes sense for Washington. He’s been chomping at the bit for another chance to lead a club, but this was the oddest fit.
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At his introductory press conference, Washington harkened back to his halcyonic Rangers days and echoed general manager Perry Minasian’s stance on building on top of the Angels’ unstable foundation.
“If you remember now — I was in Texas, and guess what we did? We ran the Angels down,” Washington told a large conference room of media members, team employees and current and former players. “Now I’m in California, with the Anaheim Angels — well, the Los Angeles Angels. I’ll get that in my head. Once we get things together, we get these guys together in spring training and start to work, our whole focus is gonna be to run the West down. And you can take that to the bank and deposit it.”
No matter what city the Angels are associated with, these are still the Moreno Angels and his Halos are years away from making a difference. This is a club that has one of the shallowest farm system talent reservoirs in all MLB and simultaneously boasts one of the most cost-ineffective rosters in baseball surrounding Mike Trout. They needed a younger, more vibrant manager than the 71-year-old Washington.
The Angels were not a club built to win in the short-term with Shohei Ohtani under contract and they definitely won’t be if he decamps in free agency this winter. This isn’t an avenue to harp on Washington’s advanced age, however, the two-year clock for Washington doesn’t bode well for Los Angeles. It’s not entirely clear which direction they’re going as an organization.
It’s been nine years since the Halos appeared in the postseason, and 14 since they last won a playoff game. The implication is that this club is going to continue down the same path they’ve been on since Trout was promoted to the big leagues in 2012. Instead of trading the now 32-year-old and launching a rebuild, the Angels are hiring a septuagenarian to lead competitive pro baseball’s version of a quick get-rich-quick plan.
The aggressive offseason that Minasian has hinted at gives the impression that they’ll double down on their harebrained deadline trades of two of their top prospects for Lucas Giolito and Reynaldo Lopez. Lopez and Giolito were supposed to facilitate their playoff push, but were waived in September. The Moreno Angels live to eat egg off their own faces.
Washington’s hiring is even more perplexing considering his scandal-ridden stint with Texas and his baffling departure. The last time Washington was in charge of a club, he abruptly resigned as manager of the Rangers before the end of the 2014 season. A report from then-Scoop Sports CEO Jamie Kelly said the issue was “due to an impending legal issue stemming from an alleged sexual assault of a reporter.” The murky allegations were given more weight when then-general manager Ron Daniels didn’t refute those allegations, choosing only to say he was given permission to say it was not drug related. However, Washington later admitted to being unfaithful to his wife.
His battles with drug addiction and continuous relapses while serving as manager of the Rangers often overshadowed their four-straight 90 win seasons and consecutive World Series berths. In 2009, Washington failed a drug test and offered his resignation to Daniels.
Since Mike Scioscia resigned after 18 years at the helm, the Angels’ managerial position has been a game of musical chairs. Since 2017, Washington has served as third base coach of the Atlanta Braves. However, in the wake of Dusty Baker’s retirement, he’ll be the oldest manager in baseball. For a playoff-ready club that could use Washington’s wisdom, like the Astros utilized Baker’s, this would be a logical hire. However, the Angels are turning to Washington to be their fifth manager since 2018. Given all those potential conflicts, this seems destined to be another ill-advised move for the Moreno Angels.