When a team surrenders the season, it’s obvious. One of two things happens that signals a club has raised the white flag and turned their eyes towards next season. Either a team goes on lockdown and starts drawing up contract extensions and planning arbitration hearings, or they have a fire sale and start clearing cap room.
Now, the trade deadline has passed. Opportunities to move players have become far more limited until after the World Series when free agency opens up. From there, it’s anyone’s guess what the Angels will do. Waivers aren’t as big of a barrier to trades as they used to be, and for all of the doors closing, there are still options to explore. But how deep does this knife cut? How many trades and cuts does the team make?
Howie Kendrick was tossed around as trade fodder, as was Erick Aybar. The coaching staff is far from immune as the names of Butcher and Scioscia feature prominently on the execution list. Regarding the front office, Jerry DiPoto probably has a handcart ready to take his belongings home on a moment’s notice. It seems the only people not in danger of losing their job are Arte Moreno, Albert Pujols, and Josh Hamilton.
Maybe the so-called “nuclear” option is what the club needs. Hit the giant reset button on the team. Wipe the last few years away in one swift action. Anyone that’s ever played a video game console can attest to the almighty power of the reset button. All of the efforts, mistakes, improvement, and failures are gone with a press of the button. A clean slate is presented and taking the first step by pressing “Start” to begin the game anew is preferable to dealing with the mess you left behind.
So let’s reset the Angels completely! Tear out the seats. We’ll get new ones. Tell the sponsors “Thanks, but we’re going a different route” and get the competing companies to sponsor instead. You’ve got the Budweiser Pavilion? Now it’s the Coors Cold Zone. The stadium sells Pepsi? Switch it to Coca Cola. Farmer John brand hot dogs? Better call Nathan’s. Yokohama tires? Naw man, drive a Firestone. ESPN Radio and FOX Sports television? Switch ‘em up! The team’s branded in LA? Bring it back to Anaheim!
(…yeah, still a little bitter about that last one).
Let’s go even further! If we’re going to trade away talent, and switch sponsors, let’s go all the way and change everything! Concession workers, sorry, you’re all gone. We’re going to have concession robots instead. Instead of ballcaps, fans will wear fedoras. Say goodbye to “Buttercup” for the 7th inning stretch and let’s bring in some symphonic death metal. Hell, let’s remove the dugout railings (Mo Vaughn hasn’t been on the team for over a decade) and bring back the old LED style, single-color scoreboard. Let’s knock over this Jenga tower of a club and build it from scratch! We’ll change everything we hate, throw out everything we love, and stop just short of stocking Dodgers and Yankees merchandise in the team store.
You can call it re-building. You can call it transition. You can call it “Well, they suck, they’ve gotta do SOMETHING”. Whatever you call it, the Angels are in flux right now. There’s no telling when or how moves will be made, but they are coming. The starting lineups you see in Spring Training will carry many unfamiliar names. You’ll have seen some on other teams. You’ll have seen some in scouting reports. Hell, there will probably be some you remember from a high school or college class you had with them. What’s important to hold on to is that at the core, this is still Anaheim’s team. It’d be easy to hop bandwagons and ride another SoCal team, but that speaks more to an individual’s character than the character of a team. Don’t be Randy Quaid in “Major League” and call for the bulldozers because what was a super-team on paper ended up being a flop on the field. The season is all but over, but the gamesmanship and chess match of finding the right talent for next year's team has only just begun.
Let’s just hope everyone involved is smart enough to ritualistically burn any trade offer that has the words “Mike” and “Trout” too close together.