Well, the day has finally come when the Scott Servais-to-Seattle rumor waves have begun to break and crash on the Angels' sunny, Billy Eppler-led shores. We had all done the mental, Jerry Dipoto math on this since the day our former GM got hired by the Mariners as their new GM. Scott Servais PLUS hired by Jerry Dipoto MINUS the support from Mike Scioscia DIVIDED by the front office upheaval EQUALS Servais being head hunted and spirited away to the Emerald City. Ken Rosenthal had the scoop on what we all saw coming down the red polo pike:
Sources: Scott Servais strong front-runner for #Mariners’ managerial position.— Ken Rosenthal (@Ken_Rosenthal) October 22, 2015
In the past 4-5 years, Ken Rosenthal has been on top of many breaking Angels rumors, so when he says "strong front-runner", I tend to listen and go ahead and take it as a foregone conclusion. The one thing that might be up in the air is the managerial position part; perhaps he's being courted for just a similar front office job in the Mariners' organization, but for the sake of this post, let's just assume Rosenthal is 100% on the money. In which case, happy trails, Servais. You were a remnant of an already-dismantled era of Angels baseball, The Dipoto Years, and it was really just a matter of time that Dipoto would want to get his band back together.
Servais was actually the first guy Jerry Dipoto hired back in 2011, when he got the job as Angels GM. Servais had been working with the Texas Rangers previously, and had famously turned their farm system around from one of the worst in MLB to one of the best. He was also the architect of the Angels way of doing things...as in, he actually wrote a playbook called The Angels Way(mimicking a similar franchise style guide of sorts made famous by the St. Louis Cardinals), a tome that would dictate how and why the Angels farm system was going to turn itself around, from one of the worst in the league to one of the best.
Okay, so maybe that didn't exactly come to fruition. The Angels farm system is still one of the weakest in MLB, but it wasn't entirely in the hands of Servais. With huge signings like Albert Pujols, C.J. Wilson and Josh Hamilton, the Angels gave up precious draft picks. Servais would have to work with what he had, but as a master of player development, that was literally his wheelhouse. Still, it was a mostly empty exercise that has yielded very few success stories and resulted in numerous questionable draft choices by his staff. The Angels Way move prove to win out in the end, but we've yet to see any dividends.
All that said, Servais was a knowledgeable force in the player development field, and had the Jerry Dipoto seal of approval. He had three main tenets of baseball he believed in: Spend, big and small; try everything; get every coach in the system on the same page. It was a "less is more" approach, in many ways, made the best of a bad farm club situation. But the payoff never really quite came in his time here, all while he butted heads with Mike Scioscia and saw the guy who hired him resign and take a gig in Seattle.
If ever there is a time to cut bait on the Halos, it'd be now. And if the rumors are true, he's going to be stepping out of the background and into the managerial spotlight for the first time in his MLB career. This would leave only Matt Klentak left out of the big Dipoto hires, but he himself is being courted for other baseball jobs on restructuring teams. Billy Eppler will have a clean slate, for better or for worse, and now he not only has a pitching coach and hitting coach to replace, but also an assistant GM and player development people.
I can guarantee one thing out of this: Mike Scioscia is going to be ferociously competitive when it comes to beating the Mariners over the next few years. Maybe a divisional grudge against former co-workers will light a fire under him, and give Eppler the chance to bring in some new baseball brains. Or maybe the Mariners will eat our lunches over and over again. Grab your popcorn in 2016...this is gonna be good.