What Im Hearing: Sports Reporter Bob Nightengale gives his predictions for MLB’s individual awards.
The Los Angeles Angels, after having one manager for 19 years, now will be looking for their third manager in 12 months after deciding to fire Brad Ausmus after one season, a person with direct knowledge of the decision told USA TODAY Sports.
The person spoke to USA TODAY Sports on the condition of anonymity because there has been no formal announcement.
The Angels cancelled their scheduled year-end news conference Monday with general manager Billy EpplerÂ and are expected to officially announceÂ Ausmus’ firing by mid-week.
The Angels lost 90 games, their worst season in 20 years, and Ausmus is paying the price despite having two years left in his contract. The Angels plan to hire an experienced major-league manager to replace Ausmus, with Joe Girardi, Joe Maddon, Buck Showalter, John FarrellÂ and Ron Washington the leading candidates.
Itâ€™s grossly unfair to solely blame Ausmus for the team’sÂ collapse, with the death of pitcher Tyler Skaggs, widespread injuriesÂ and under-performances, but whoever said baseball is fair?
The Chicago Cubs just fired Maddon after leading them to four consecutive playoff berths and their first World Series title in 108 years. The Boston Red Sox fired GM David Dombrowski after three consecutive playoff berths and a World Series title last year. The New York Yankees fired Girardi two years ago after leading them to within one game of the World Series in 2017.
Now, itâ€™s the Angelsâ€™ turn to play the blame game.
Certainly, itâ€™s a plush job in Anaheim, California,Â having the best player in baseball, Mike Trout, under contractÂ through 2030Â and Shohei Ohtani back on the mound and in the field next season.
Sure, maybe no one is going to topple the powerful Houston Astros anytime soon, but the Angels want to win, want to win nowÂ and have the money to go on a shopping spree that would make the pretty people on Rodeo Drive envious.
You want a stud pitcher to lead the staff? Well, Gerrit Cole will be a free agent in a month. Heâ€™s from Southern California. And heâ€™s all yoursÂ for about $225 million. Angels owner Arte Moreno has never been shy about paying stars, whether itâ€™s bringing in Albert Pujols, Josh Hamilton or retaining Trout, and he likely wonâ€™t stop now.
And the biggest managerial star on the free-agent market happens to be Maddon, the two-time World Series manager and three-time manager of the year. Maddon, 65, spent 31 years in the Angelsâ€™ organization as a player, minor-league manager, scout, roving instructor and major-league coach.
Maddon is coming off a five-year, $28 million contract with the Cubs, and Moreno wonâ€™t blink to spend that kind of money to land him.
Yet, MaddonÂ may prefer to win right now. The New York Mets are expected to fire manager Mickey Callaway this week. The Philadelphia Phillies are considering making a move with manager Gabe Kapler. The San Diego Padres also have an opening and are strongly interested in Maddon.
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