Joe Maddon takes aim at Angels, MLB at large for analytics emphasis: ‘It’s absolutely the front office’s game’

Former Angels manager Joe Maddon sent some mixed signals about his dismissal from the team earlier this season.

Maddon, notorious for his quirky leadership style and “will-try-everything-once-if-it-sounds-fun” attitude, was fired after starting 2022 with a 27-29 record. He was fired in the middle of a slip after a promising start for the Angels, who chose Phil Nevin instead. Since then, the Angels have played 26-38 and will miss the playoffs for the eighth consecutive year.

All of this despite Shohei Ohtani continuing to do things baseball has never seen before and Mike Trout sitting with the team in the middle of his 12-year, $426.5 million contract. As GM Perry Minasian and owner Arte Moreno seek answers, Maddon has some obvious advice.

“The infrastructure needs to be improved. There’s a lot of things that need improvement,” Maddon said in a feature with Tampa Bay Times’ Marc Topkin. “These guys obviously can’t do it alone. It’s the non-sexy stuff that needs to get better. They’re not just bright, shiny objects—they have.”

Where Maddon really struggled, though, was the numbers-driven approach the Angels — and other MLB front offices — have taken in recent years.

MORE: Aaron Boone’s frustration boils over as Yankees woes continue

“If people keep blaming the shelters for a lot of the things they see, they have to understand that they shouldn’t be doing that,” Maddon explained. “Because the manager has so many voices in the back of his mind early in the game, it’s not his game as it used to be. It’s absolutely the front office game.”

As MLB continues to change and evolve the metrics it focuses on, Maddon went so far as to say that general managers should spend some time in the dugout.

“It’s at the point where a GM should really just put on a uniform and go to the dugout,” Maddon said, “or their main analysis membrane, he should go to the dugout.”

Which managers were fired in 2022?

MLB has seen several managers fired mid-season this year.

  • Joe Girardi (Phillies)
  • Joe Maddon (Angel)
  • Charlie Montoyo (Blue Jays)
  • Chris Woodward (Rangers)

In addition to Woodward, the Rangers also fired longtime GM Jon Daniels. In terms of layoffs, the Phillies have benefited the most, with Rob Thomson impressing on his managerial debut. The Blue Jays are also in the midst of a playoff push with John Schneider at the helm.

MORE: White Sox manager Tony La Russa is doing it again

What are the Angels’ prospects for next season?

With a timely deal for outfielder Brandon Marsh, the Angels reinforced one of the worst farming systems in MLB with catcher Logan O’Hoppe, who was sensational at Double-A Rocket City with a .306 batting average and a 1.179 OPS.

Minasian seemed optimistic about the Angels’ 2023 ambitions.

“We’ll see. I do (think we can win in 2023),” Minasian said after the trade deadline (via The Athletic). “I still think there’s talent here. Health plays a big part in that. We have to find a way to stay healthy. And it’s up to me. We have to find more depth. I have to build a better roster.”

Depth is of course the key issue. With Trout struggling with injuries again this season, Ohtani has remained the team’s only bright spot. And with his free agency looming after 2023, the clock is ticking in Los Angeles. Aaron Loup and Ryan Tepera have struggled this year and are also under contract until next year.

In other words, Los Angeles has a lot going on, especially with a payroll that’s set to be high as early as 2023. The lack of team depth and a farm system are ominous.

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