Angels fire general manager Billy Eppler
The Los Angeles Angels fired general manager Billy Eppler on Sunday. The move was expected since the team failed to reach the playoffs for the fifth time in five seasons with Eppler at the helm. Rumors have been swirling that long-time executive Dave Dombrowski is the top candidate to be Eppler’s replacement. No other names have been mentioned and the team has yet to comment on possible candidates.
The only real surprise is that the Angels recently extended Eppler’s contract for another year. According to ESPN’s Alden Gonzalez, a source confirmed to ESPN that the team had extended Eppler through the 2021 season sometime this summer. Yet, the story again centers around the fact that the Angels missed the playoffs. More specifically, the team has failed to get superstar Mike Trout to the postseason once again.
Billy Eppler Made Big Moves
The Angels hired Billy Eppler in October of 2015. Since then, the team has had five straight losing seasons. The Angels went 332-376 (.469) during Eppler’s tenure as general manager. Worse, the team wasn’t close to first place in the AL West. On average, the Angels were 25 games behind the division winner during the previous four seasons. In the shortened 2020 season they still finished ten games back of the division-winning Oakland Athletics. Despite what happened on the field, Eppler was a huge part in franchise-altering transactions.
Billy Eppler signed Mike Trout to a lifetime deal. Trout has mentioned on numerous occasions that he has a great relationship with Eppler. Trout said their relationship “goes beyond baseball” just a day before Eppler was terminated. This alone makes him one of the most important people in franchise history.
Billy Eppler signed Shohei Ohtani. The whole world wanted to sign the two-way phenom from Japan, yet Eppler was able to convince him to join the Angels. While Ohtani has had difficulty staying healthy, his rookie season is still one of the most anticipated seasons in baseball history.
Arte Moreno’s Important Decision
Billy Eppler’s great work isn’t confined to the headlines. He changed the analytics department for the better. This led to a revival in the team’s farm system. What once was annually ranked near the bottom of the league has now become league average due to Eppler’s love of highly skilled athletes in the draft.
Now, owner Arte Moreno has a major decision on his hands. His next general manager will be the fourth one he has hired since he purchased the team in May of 2003. Rumblings in the baseball industry have began to question Moreno’s methods. Multiple sources have mentioned the difficulty every general manager has had in working for him. Some point to how well ex-general manager Jerry DiPoto has done since taking over the same role for the Seattle Mariners.
In the end, the Angels are Moreno’s team. If the rumors are true, Dave Dombrowski is the top choice for the position. Dombrowski has had incredible success during his career so it will be interesting to see if Moreno will lessen his grip on the big decisions to land someone as respected as Dombrowski. If not, the Angels will likely end up with another first time general manager Moreno can more easily control. If that happens we might be reading a similar article four or five years from now.
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