For weeks, there is no Angels news. Then, Spring Training workouts start, as pitchers and catchers take Tempe, and the baseball buzz begins to grow and seemingly out of nowhere, we're hit with eyebrow-raising stories left and right. At least, that's how things seemed to play out in the first two days of Angels spring training 2016.
Yesterday, it was Jerry Dipoto's blunt honesty about the situation he left in Anaheim; and to a lesser degree, the rabble focused on Arte Moreno's refusal to talk to any reporters. Moreno declined to talk to reporters, which was understandably irksome to the scribes sent their to cover the team; enough so that newly-minted Rams reporter Mike DiGiovanna got a little knock on him into the Twitter ether. Of course, Arte wasn't shutting out ALL the reporters. One lucky beat reporter was deemed worthy to ask questions to the billionaire billboard man, and that reporter was MLB.com's Alden Gonzalez.
The interview gets right to the point, asking Arte Moreno why he felt the need to go uncharacteristically frugal this off-season, and the answers weren't about the much-ballyhooed luxury tax; instead, it was basically "we need to save all the money we can because we spent it all like a drunken sailor". Yes, it's Monday morning in Arte Moreno's America and the last 5 years was his Lost Weekend, and now he's waking up to the stark realization that the world is still here, his wallet bared no trophies and now he has to scrounge around the floor for looking for talent, all while a Josh Hamilton-sized headache is practically pounding out of his skull.
"It has never been about that," Moreno said in an exclusive interview with MLB.com, refuting multiple reports and a widespread belief that he is categorically against exceeding that mark. "It has never been with the threshold."
"We have a budget," Moreno said. "And every year, I've overspent our budget."
"Does one of these guys give us a better chance to win? Sure they do," Moreno said of the big free agents. "But the reality is, are they a guarantee? And what we end up with is we end up with debt, we end up paying tax, and then it restricts what our flexibility is going forward."
According to Gonzalez, no specifics were given, just that even in the light of drawing 3 million fans per year and having a tv deal worth billions, the Angels are doing their best to stay out of the poor house. Baseball Man Arte had his time in the sun, playing with the human toys, but now Business Man Arte has risen from whatever Arizona golf course birthed him, ready to stand pat and try to weather a financial insufficiency.
He's not even talking rebuilding though, and resolutely shot down any idea of the Angels trading Mike Trout (that Halos Heaven meme was fun while it lasted). He just thinks brakes need to be pumped a bit, but he also is quite high on the 2016 team's chances. Naturally.
The fact that the owner of the Angels is worried about "debt" is just another bit of groan-inducing prattle from Angels brass, but it's kind of scary to think about them being in any SERIOUS financial trouble, right? Perhaps it was not debt as the regular old proletariat like myself understand, but "debt" that has many more machinations and connotations than meets the eye. Or perhaps he's talking about MLB's debt service rules, instituted and put in place to make sure teams can cover their obligations.
Either way, Arte is out in Tempe, throwing out just enough meat on the rabid fan bone to get us talking again...it's kind of his thing. And he's doing all that talking to only MLB.com, and not those pesky Times or Register reporters. If you had any conspiracy theory in your head that Arte has a...let's say "predilection"...towards a certain outlet that might cater to him and make him comfy, this will only further get your Arte Moreno goat.
Baseball is in the air. And so is drama. Such is life as an Angels fan these days.