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Takeaways from Perry Minasian’s first press conference as Angels general manager

“Anywhere we feel like we can gain a competitive advantage and improve our chances, our odds to win games, we’re going to do that,” Minasian said.

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New Angels general manager Perry Minasian during his introductory press conference at Angel Stadium in Anaheim on November 17, 2020.
Photo credit: Angels Baseball

The Angels introduced new general manager Perry Minasian on Tuesday in Anaheim, and while he’s less than a week on the job, a few themes emerged from his press conference.

The pitching

“I think pitching is first and foremost, and with pitching comes around prevention. We can’t lose sight of that either,” Minasian said. “We have to play quality defense, we have to catch the ball. Catching is beyond important. Game calling, game planning, positioning, all the things that entail run prevention, we’re going to attack.”

Angels pitching ranks

2018 4.15 (19th) 4.36 (21st)
2019 5.12 (25th) 5.04 (28th)
2020 5.09 (25th) 4.49 (17th)

Angels pitchers over the last three seasons ranked 22nd in the majors in both ERA and FIP. They enter 2021 with a rotation of Dylan Bundy, Andrew Heaney, and Griffin Canning at the top, the first two of whom are free agents after next season. Canning, a second-round pick in 2017, is the only pitching draftee by the Angels from 2015-17 to make the majors.

Angels owner Arte Moreno mentioned the Angels’ MLB-leading 14 blown saves, and the importance of holding leads, so one could expect some investment in relief pitching this winter, whether by trade or free agency.

“We’re going to be open to everything. We’re going to try and make this team as good as it can be, in any way, whether that’s offensively, defensively, on the mound,” Minasian said. “Anywhere we feel like we can gain a competitive advantage and improve our chances, our odds to win games, we’re going to do that.”

The process

Moreno said the Angels had between 38-40 applicants for the general manager position, which was narrowed down to 18 candidates, all of whom were interviewed by Zoom. Minasian made each successive cut in his first-ever interview for a GM job.

Minasian’s three-plus decades in the sport started as a batboy with the Rangers, where his father was the clubhouse manager. His roles in MLB have included clubhouse attendant, staff assistant to the major league coaching staff, scouting, then director of professional scouting with the Blue Jays from 2011-16. Minasian was special assistant to the GM in Toronto in 2017 before moving on to the Braves, first as director of player personnel, then as senior vice president of baseball operations and assistant general manager the last two years.

“I do think my background is a little different than most. I have been in a big league clubhouse for 30 plus years of my lifetime. I’ve seen different clubs, I’ve seen different personalities, different players,” Minasian said. “Me being around as long as I have, I feel like that’s one of my strong suits and it will come in handy.”

What’s interesting is that Joe Maddon, the coaching staff, and Mike Trout were among those consulted during the GM-hiring process.

“Right after the end of the season, John Carpino spent about three hours with Joe, taking the plusses and minuses of the season, a little bit of a Q&A, what our needs were,” Moreno said. “The most important thing was to be able to communicate with Joe and his staff on the field. We would be focused that the communication from the GM’s office down to the field, we’d have a good, solid bridge there.”

One might read into the situation that perhaps the communication between Maddon and former GM Billy Eppler was relatively lacking, though Maddon praised Eppler in September after the latter was fired. More importantly, Minasian will need to win, something that eluded Eppler, with five losing seasons in his five years on the job.

“This is not a 100-loss team. This is not a 5-, 7-, 10-year rebuild,” Minasian said on Tuesday. “This is going to be a competitive club.”

The payroll

To be competitive in 2021, the Angels need to add several pieces. They need a frontline starting pitcher, bullpen help, a starting middle infielder, and likely more.

That will require spending, which Moreno hinted would not be a problem.

“Let’s put it this way, it’s not going down,” Moreno said.

The Angels’ payroll at the start of 2020 was roughly $192 million per Cot’s Contracts, before pro-rating for the shortened, 60-game season. As it stands, the four players under contract for 2021Mike Trout, Anthony Rendon, Albert Pujols, and Justin Upton — will make $116 million. If the 11 arbitration-eligible Angels are paid the average of their MLB Trade Rumors projections, the Angels will have roughly $145 million committed to 15 players, which means there’s some room to improve if Moreno’s words ring true.

As for the infrastructure, the Angels were described as “aggressive” in layoffs and furloughs in 2020 in baseball operations, scouting, and team employees. Minasian, again in only his first week on the job, didn’t have particular details as to how some of those roles might be filled, if at all, other than to say he’d be filling his staff over the next few weeks.

“We will have the necessary funds to put together a really good club,” Minasian said. “There are areas I’d like to improve. We’d like to increase employment, whether that’s scouting, whether that’s analytics, those are conversations we’ll have down the road.”