The Josh Hamilton debacle will likely climax Monday afternoon.
The curse of Buttercup triumphs again.
On a $125 Million contract, Arte Moreno will get a rebate of seven million dollars from the Texas Rangers and six million dollars that HamBone would have paid in California state income tax.
For his $112 Million, Arte got 31 HamBone home runs, tons of bad press, the enmity of the players union and one season of Jason Vargas for Kendrys Morales (traded immediately after the HamBone signing).
And he's lost the trust many fans once had in him. Perhaps for good.
With his influence at its nadir and his status in the game at a low ebb, the unthinkable has arrived: It might be time for him to sell the Angels. His $183 Million investment in 2003 is now worth over a billion dollars just twelve years later, according to Forbes Magazine. As a Vietnam Veteran he must understand Gerald Ford's declaring victory and abandoning Saigon. It might be time for him to pat himself on the back for making the Angels a top tier franchise and hop on a helicopter headed back to Tempe.
Because the Hamilton saga is not the end of Moreno's coming troubles.
The clock is ticking on what to do with Angel Stadium. Bad blood still simmers over his abandoning Anaheim as the team's name. Imagine what is coming when he announces he is leaving Anaheim. The lucrative possibilities of developing the current stadium site might add to the worth of the franchise. While Moreno is currently not talking to the city, you can bet that new ownership would be welcomed heartily a decade after Arte tossed away the city's name from the team - rendering it a mere contractual appendage. Could Arte declare victory with a $2 Billion sale of the team and rights to the land and get out of Southern California? That would be more than enough to buy a controlling share of his hometown Arizona Diamondbacks.
When Arte let Tony Reagins fire Eddie Bane in 2010 he probably had no idea the farm would be bare, with successor Ric Wilson producing only C.J. Cron, Mike Morin, Nick Maronde and Michael Roth (and the long-since-traded reliever R.J. Alvarez). Depending on the next few Red Sox drafts (yes Bane now reigns in Boston), Arte's legacy might be as the man who fired the man who drafted Trout. Might be better to save face now than sit in his Anaheim office with egg on it.
The General Agreement with the Players Union expires on December 1, 2016. We can expect Arte Moreno to be a pit bull in regard to pushing for concessions after what he has been thru (completely self-inflicted by the way) in the Hamilton opera. It is known he supported Jerry Reinsdorff's position of confronting the union in opposition to Bud Selig's quest for labor peace in the person of Rob Manfred. Will there be any pressure from MLB on Arte to sell? Considering how many feet he put in his mouth over the Hamilton situation, ownership will not want Moreno's "Loose Cannon Carpino" mouthing off right into a players' strike. It is at the point where maybe he just can't be trusted to operate for the good of the game.
As a lifelong fan, if you had described Arte to me in 2001 it would have been an unimaginable dream. The honeymoon was long and lovely. I can't quite put my finger on when it all started to fall apart... but maybe it began with dumping Rex Hudler, or not re-signing Vladimir Guerrero, or adopting Buttercup - a feelgood song of failure - as the team's theme song... so sometime after the 2009 season... not a specific date or incident, as it did not all just happen at once, but the past few years have seen a shift in what Arte represents. He has gone from a lovable visionary to a corporate crank in about six years.
Gene Autry ran the team from its inception until 1986. His wife Jackie ran it thru 1996. Disney sold it in 2003 to Moreno. You can't take it with you, Arte, and at 68 years old, the time for one last new beginning may be less daunting than what lies ahead in an empire you are single-handedly undoing. You fired the guy who drafted the one player keeping you from being the worst team in baseball. You signed HamBone. The Vernon Wells trade is still in the rearview mirror. We just can't trust you anymore.
Autry founded the team, Jackie preserved it, Disney won a ring and Arte made it a winner. Maybe he should just leave us all wanting more. He has been the greatest owner in team history, but the honeymoon is long over and he might want to hit the showers. He aspired to make the team a west coast Yankees but recent events make him seem to be just a Saint Bernard short of being a mustachioed Marge Schott.