Unless you happen to be talking to Tony Reagins’ mother, you won’t find a single person who doesn’t think the Angels did the right thing by parting ways with their embattled general manager. What you will get differing opinions on is exactly why it is Reagins was fired.
We all know how catastrophic his trades for Vernon Wells and Scott Kazmir were. His negotiations with big name free agents are the subject of punchlines across the league. The contracts he did actually work out mostly blew up in his face. Even a die-hard Reagins apologist would have a hard time disputing those claims, so it is safe to say that Arte Moreno definitely had cause to kick Tony to the curb. That’s not the question here. Ridding himself of Reagins is merely a means to an end for Moreno, we just don’t know what that end is.
One mystery about the Tony Reagins era that may never be solved is just how much say Reagins really had. There are large factions that believe Tony was nothing more than a puppet for Mike Scioscia. Yes, Tony was making the phone calls and dealing with agents, but he was only doing so on behalf of Scioscia, some would have us believe. Other factions will say it was Arte Moreno who was really pulling Reagins’ strings. Of course, there are also reports that insist Reagins really did have autonomy that Moreno would never impinge upon unless massive money was involved.
Depending which of those three lines of thinking you subscribe to no doubt influences why it is you think Reagins got the pink slip on Friday. Was he a puppet or was he his own man? That is a HUGE question to answer when it comes to figuring out what the Angels plan to do with the future of the franchise.
If Reagins really was the guy calling all the shots, then there is hope. Arte Moreno must have finally realized that for all the good moves Reagins made (and he did make some), his missteps have been so damaging that he could not afford leave the club under Reagins’ rule for another season. The offense has generally been poor throughout Reagins’ entire reign and the bullpen has gone to hell and seems to be getting even worse. Reagins has tried fixing both and failed. Therefore, Moreno wants a new face with fresh new ideas to get this team back into annual championship contender status.
The more cynical amongst us that saw Reagins as nothing more than a puppet, they know better. Whoever it was that was pulling Reagins’ strings, be it Moreno or Scioscia or both, getting rid of Reagins won’t matter because the puppet master(s) still remains. Since, by this theory, Reagins was just doing what he was told, then he was not fired, he was sacrificed. A loyal soldier whose head was made to roll as a public showing that the franchise will no longer stand for poor personnel moves. With him gone, the same people making the bad decisions remain, but the angry mob will at least be satiated for a short while since they’ve been given their pound of flesh.
I hate to say it, but I tend to agree with the cynical point of view. Maybe Reagins had some autonomy, but I have a hard time believing that he had final decision on roster moves. Mike Scioscia is the true leader of this franchise and I don’t envision any scenario where he is not heavily consulted on roster changes. Heck, Arte Moreno even said Scioscia would be prominently involved in selecting the new general manager; that should pretty much tell you all you need to know about how the franchise totem pole works. As for Moreno, he too has blood on his hands here. He is the one who vehemently shouted down the Carl Crawford contract that he found so ridiculous. I don’t blame him for this since it is his money being spent, but don’t tell me that the general manager is free to do as he pleases when it is so obvious that Moreno plays a large role in the team’s major dealings. Did either of them tell Reagins to go and get Vernon Wells? Maybe, maybe not. But did both of them sign off it, or at least allow themselves to be talked into signing off on it by Tony Reagins? Hell to the yes.
Where my cynicism ends though, and perhaps where my myopism begins, is the thought that firing Reagins was a PR stunt. My gut, and nothing more, tells me that Reagins being fired was an indictment on the entire Angel decision making process. At some point Arte Moreno had an introspective moment and realized that he, Reagins (the protege of Bill Stoneman who is still an involved advisor, by the way), and Scioscia had all become too comfortable with each other. Instead of being separate individuals with differing points of view that challenged each other, they had devolved into a level of groupthink that led to the same mistakes being made over and over. Getting rid of Reagins wasn’t about punishing him for his incompetence so much as it was forcing the Angels to bring in someone from the outside who wasn’t already atuned to the “Angels way.”
At least that is what I hope happens. Maybe they will bring in someone who isn’t scared to tell Mike Scioscia he can’t have his favorite toy, Jeff Mathis, anymore. Maybe they will bring in a guy who can convince Arte to finally put his money where his mouth is and make a “big splash” move that is an actual big splash. That is what thi steam needs and I hope Moreno and Scioscia get that now and cleared out Reagins so that they could make it happen.
If not, well, then I will be the guy slamming his head on his desk when I read that the Angels promoted their next general manager from within, as read to us in a press release by Baghdad Bob.