If there is one player in baseball that is a superstar talent, that transcends cultures and the sports world in general, that player is Shohei Ohtani. Ohtani is one of those players that you need to see to believe. The first baseball player in over 100 years to pitch and hit full-time, Ohtani dazzles fans of the sport with his God-given talent and ability. On one side of the ball, he can throw 100 miles per hour and keep hitters off balance with his nasty splitter in the dirt. On the other side of the ball, he can hit the ball 450 feet into the second deck and steal bases with above-average speed. If his marketability wasn’t already high enough in the United States, he is a cultural icon and hero in his home country of Japan, while approaching baseball with a humble mindset and self-deprecating persona which other players are drawn towards. He is one of one, and baseball is lucky to have such a star.
Unfortunately, Ohtani has never made the postseason. Baseball is still a team of 26 after all, and even a player as special as Ohtani cannot solve all of the Angels’ problems. It’s hard to believe that year in and year out, a team that could contain Shohei Ohtani and Mike Trout, regularly misses out on October baseball. The problem with the Angels has always been two people. Owner Arte Moreno and General Manager Perry Minasian.
Let’s start with Perry Minasian. The current GM has not made many good moves to help the team since he was hired. The pitching side of things has been especially alarming. Minasian has never been able to bring in solid pitchers to surround Shohei Ohtani in the rotation. Over the past three seasons, he signed Jose Quintana, Noah Syndergaard, Michael Lorenzen, and Tyler Anderson. All of them either flamed out or are currently still struggling with the Angels. Minasian has also not done a good job developing younger pitchers either. They have gotten inconsistent performances from Reid Detmers, Chase Silseth, Griffin Canning, and Patrick Sandoval. All of this has put a lot of pressure on Ohtani’s plate to perform, and he certainly did that when he did pitch.
Minasian has also struggled to find hitters to help Ohtani and Trout. Hitters such as David Fletcher and Jared Walsh regressed under Minasian’s watch. Taylor Ward showed some flashes, but it was never sustained. Acquiring Brandon Drury was a nice little move, but it wasn’t enough to help the results. Due to the veteran players not producing, Minasian was forced to bring up young hitters such as Nolan Schanuel, Zach Neto, and Logan O’Hoppe earlier to the big leagues than expected. They all did not contain a whole lot of minor league experience, compromising their development as they had to learn in the big leagues on the fly. It was a total mess. In fairness to Minasian however, he was stuck with Anthony Rendon, and I don’t think any GM could have solved this issue.
Rendon was signed to a 7-year 245 million dollar deal by the previous management after Rendon helped the Washington Nationals win the World Series in 2019. At the time, he was one of the best hitters in the sport, while being in contention for the batting title every year. Once he was Angel, he fell off a cliff in production and also suffered multiple injuries. To make matters worse, Rendon was evasive with the media and his attitude was very combative and upset, which increased drama around the team.
Minasian probably could have released him under different ownership, but with Arte Moreno running the show, that would never have happened. Moreno is a notoriously cheap owner when comes to helping grow the organization from the bottom up. He only pays money for big names and then limits the budget on everything else. The Angels are behind other teams in terms of analytics technology and supporting their minor league players. His low budget also does not help Minasian and any of the previous GMs he has hired to help surround the team with secondary and tertiary moves that help create a winning club for multiple seasons. Moreno is essentially handicapping his success, and the bad results are entirely self-inflicted.
2023 was no different than any previous Angels’ season with Moreno and Minasian at the helm. They were playing mediocre baseball the first 4 months of the year, while Shohei Ohtani was crushing it yet again. Ohtani was a free agent at the end of the season, and they had a choice to either trade him at the deadline or stay put and collect pieces and try to contend once last time. Management decided to contend and traded for Lucas Giolito, Reynaldo Lopez, Randal Grichuk, and CJ Cron in a last-ditch effort to win. That decision proved to be the wrong one, as the Angels fell in the standings and were increasingly on the outside looking in for the postseason. Management put all of their acquired players at the deadline on waivers at the end of August, as playoff teams got talented players for free. The Angels ended up trading key minor league prospects, for 1 month of players. The decision to go for it blew up in their face and was a complete embarrassment.
The Angels are on the way to missing the playoffs again. Shohei Ohtani hurt his elbow and underwent surgery to repair it. He has no intentions of re-signing in Los Angeles and will most likely be playing elsewhere going forward. The Angels will receive no compensation when Ohtani leaves. Mike Trout is rumored to be in conversations with the team regarding his future. The Angels are a sad story of having two ultra-talented players, one of them being a multicultural icon, and doing not enough to help them in terms of effort and making good decisions. The Angels fans will not be in their seats as they have been when Ohtani leaves for New York, Boston, or the other team in LA. They have little to root for going forward, and both Moreno and Minasian are both responsible for this mess. Their only hope is Arte Moreno will have the guts to sell the team. Only then, will the Angels dig out of the deep hole they currently find themselves in.