Jeff Fletcher of the OC Register just published an interesting follow-up article to last night's news that the Angels were letting Mike Butcher walk. In case you didn't hear, new GM Billy Eppler had issued a statement saying the team was not going to be bringing back both pitching coach Mike Butcher, and hitting coach Don Baylor, for the 2016 season. This was met with almost unanimous praise for the newly crowned general manager(at least the Butcher firing), but Fletcher's newest piece hints that the decision may have come from ABOVE Billy Eppler.
Jeff Fletcher spoke with Mike Butcher, and even amidst his sudden departure from the organization, he seemed to be quite happy with Eppler, and apparently had no qualms with Mike Scioscia:
"I like the guy," Butcher said of Eppler. "I like the individual. He’s a leader. He’s got a plan and he’s going to execute the plan."
Eppler said Tuesday night that the Angels simply decided to go another direction with both Butcher and hitting coach Don Baylor, whose contract also isn’t being renewed. Eppler said that he and Scioscia had been in regular communication, and that the Angels longtime manager had accepted the organizational decisions.
So if we're to take his word, he was on the same page with Eppler and hadn't hit the skids with Mike Scioscia, yet the organization still wanted to move in a different direction. Fletcher intimates that this means the decision came not from Billy Eppler, but from higher up on the Angels food chain:
Butcher said Wednesday that he and new general manager Billy Eppler "hit it off" and that he continued to have a good relationship with Manager Mike Scioscia, which certainly leads to the inference that the decision to let him go was probably made above Eppler.
Who is above Eppler? He's the general manager, right? If we're to believe our own conspiratorial rumblings here at Halos Heaven, Mike Scioscia is above Billy Eppler and is the de facto GM...but him and Butcher are, apparently, doing just fine and were in constant contact so far this off season. That just leaves one more guy that could wield that much clandestine, omnipotent power: Arte Moreno.
Did Arte Moreno make the decision to kick Butcher to the curb? Perhaps at one of Moreno's boozy, Arizona country club kickbacks recently, Mike Butcher made an off-hand comment about how much he hates billboards and/or red polo shirts...two of Moreno's favorite things in the world. Either way, he rubbed someone the wrong way and while he has some stalwarts of the organization sticking up for him, someone up on high thought he was dead weight.
Perhaps it's a little premature to crown Billy Eppler as the savior we want him to be, for he could just end up being the controllable, automaton mouthpiece Moreno has always been looking for.
I want to believe, though. Don't let it be true, Billy.