Why Joe Maddon was fired in LA and where we may see him next

The Los Angeles Angels put a cap on a 12-game losing streak Tuesday, firing manager Joe Maddon. The front office felt they had no choice at this point.

Just a few weeks ago the Angels had the second-best record in baseball, which was reflected in our MLB Power Rankings. Now, in the midst of the longest losing streak of the season, they fired their manager.

But how did we get here?

Everything for Los Angeles starts with their two stars — Mike Trout and Shohei Ohtani. They are built around these two players, who they’ve invested quite a bit of money in (and more to come with Ohtani). During said stretch, Trout was stuck in a career-worst 0-for-26 slump prior to a few nights ago against the Boston Red Sox. Ohtani has yet to reach his 2021 form, which saw him win the AL MVP and establish himself as one of the faces of baseball.

So far, Ohtani is slashing just .242/.322/.445 with an OPS of .445 and OPS+ of 122. All of those metrics — seemingly essential in both basic and advanced statistic circles — are far off from his trend-setting 2021 campaign. His ERA is also .80-points higher. Injuries to Taylor Ward and Anthony Rendon haven’t helped matters.

Pitching has been abysmal for the Angels in the last 12 games. Formerly Maddon’s club, Los Angeles ‘ bullpen has blown a number of leads when given one, but those have been few and far between due to the inefficiency of the starting rotation. Even seemingly-good starts from the likes of Noah Syndergaard went to waste, as the team lost 1-0, extending their streak of sorrow.

Why did the Angels fire Joe Maddon?

Maddon is the Angels fall guy. It’s that simple.

The veteran skipper might not understand why he was fired, but Los Angeles desperately needs a change to salvage this season, and the front office delivered on that. The question remains whether or not this was the right change.

Maddon was surprised by the front office’s decision to let him go on such short notice, via Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic.

“A little bit (surprised). Actually, a lot. You always rely on people in charge to read the tea leaves properly. This time, they did not. You didn’t even have to ask me. You can ask any of the players or coaches. They’re the ones who really know…It was a great clubhouse. It is a great clubhouse. There was no dissension, no finger-pointing, none of it.”

The 68-year-old shouldn’t be too shocked given the nature of the industry. The Angels payroll ranks eighth in baseball. Meanwhile, Trout and Ohtani are in their primes. While we can argue the semantics of whether or not Perry Minasian is spending that money in the right places, ownership clearly demands results now. Hence the lofty goals, veteran coaching staff and even Maddon’s hiring back in 2019.

Yet, Maddon still hinted at a disconnect between himself and the Angels front office, while also being sure not to take any harsh parting shots. In a game further diving into analytics, Maddon said that Los Angeles could be doing so to a fault, also via Rosenthal.

“I’m into analytics, but not to the point where everybody wants to shove it down your throat. Real baseball people have felt somewhat impacted by all of this. You’re unable to just go to the ballpark and have some fun and play baseball. It’s too much controlled by front offices these days.”

So, perhaps Maddon’s departure was coming down the road, and Minasian opted to instead speed up the process with his team in the skid. It sounds awfully similar to the Cardinals’ split with Mike Shildt last offseason coming off a playoff appearance.

Some fences just can’t be mended.

MLB rumors: What’s next for Joe Maddon?

It’s too early to correctly predict Maddon’s next destination, but he told Rosenthal he’s not done coaching, even at 68. An in-game television analyst role surely awaits him later this season if he’s open to it.

But has the game passed Maddon, of all people, by? The manager tabbed by many to be ahead of the curve of analytics and previously-inconceivable coaching techniques is also the same man who said he fell behind in Los Angeles.

Yet, the far more likely answer is the same one I outlined above. The Angels have lost 12 straight games. They know the likes of Trout and Ohtani will not wait around forever to win a World Series in Anaheim. They could have a new stadium on the way. Pressure has ratcheted up of late, especially due to their hot start to the year.

Phil Nevin is not the long-term answer. Perhaps LA already has an idea of what’s to come down the road. But Maddon — a man who, despite being stubborn at times, is open to analytical concept in coaching — is surely not done if he wants to manage again.

The question is where?

Source: FanSided

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