By Stu Matthews, Angels Nation managing editor
These jobs are make or break. And usually a major league GM only keeps his job by winning. Minasian, 41, is keenly aware of his opportunity and responsibility in Anaheim.
In a half-hour Zoom call with reporters Wednesday before the Angels’ game with the Seattle Mariners, Minasian addressed a number of concerns up and down the board, but primary of these was; Winning.
The Angels have suffered four consecutive losing seasons, and the game’s premium superstar, Mike Trout, has yet to play in the postseason since 2011. Minasian said everyone is aware of the goal, and its importance.
“I think if you asked (Trout), he’d tell you it’s more than just him,” Minasian said. “There’s a lot of people here that want to win — you know, that’s what’s exciting.
“Obviously Mike wants to win. He’s expressed that, I understand that. But Anthony Rendon didn’t sign here to lose. He wants to win, too. He’s a winning guy, he’s been in the postseason a lot and he expects to get back to the postseason.
So winning is Number One.
But Minasian was also prepared to talk about obstacles — particularly the heated competition in the always difficult American League West Division. “I think it’s just a tough division,” the Angels GM said.
Minasian broke down all the rivals: “Houston has been on an outstanding run. They’re well-run with James Click and his staff — a pretty impressive group. They have a lot of quality players, some young arms and they’ve won a lot of games, so I don’t see them going anywhere.”
“Oakland, I think, is one of the best-run teams in baseball. David Forst and Billy Beane and what that group is able to do is pretty amazing. They’re tough. They still have a lot of quality players and they’re always in the mix, they find a way.”
“Seattle’s ascending with young talent. And we saw it last year and I think we’ll see more of it this year. Jerry Dipoto has them on the right track.”
“In Texas, it’s the same thing. They’ve got some really young players who are interesting. I think the Chris Young hire was an outstanding hire and I’ve known him for a long time. He’ll do wonders there.
“I think it’s a really difficult division and I think we’ll be competitive. But that’s why you play the games — we’ll see.”
Minasian has taken some flak from the Angels punditry on Twitter and social media for a less than overwhelming off-season in terms of acquisition.
But while he likes the makeup of his current Angels squad that way it is assembled, he remains on the lookout for ways to improve the roster at any time.
“Absolutely, I think that’s always a possibility,” Minasian said. “Part of our job as a baseball operation staff is to expore every area we possibly can, whether that’s inside or outside. And that’s something we do on a daily basis.”
Like everyone else, Minasian is a big fan of Shohei Ohtani and he’s very impressed with the Japanese youngster’s incredible spring.
“I’m not surprised how well he’s playing,” the GM said. “I was very confident with the work he put in this off-season. I felt like he was going to come in and have a very productive spring training.
“I like where he’s at body-wise. He’s a lot stronger than he’s been in the past. I like where he’s at mentally. I think he’s in a really good place, very confident.
“I like where he’s at as far as teammate-wise; he’s interacting with the guys and I think he’s enjoying himself on a daily basis.
“Shohei is having a great spring and hopefully it carries over.”
Most importantly, Minasian emphasized communication between himself, assistant GM Alex Tamin and manager Joe Maddon. Minasian and Maddon both said they felt all communication channels were open and receptive.
“I think how we relay information, not only to coaches but to players is really, really important, and you have to learn each individual,” he said. “And Joe’s been outstanding with that. A big thing for us is just simplifying things and finding what’s really important.
“It’s something that is really important — and again, I go back to just my experience being in a clubhouse and being in a dugout.”
For his part, Maddon was on the exact same page as Minasian. The Angels skipper has said he’s grown “close” to the GM and admires Minasian’s background of having grown up in the game of baseball, as opposed to having come — as so many modern GMs — from a university background or analytics factory.
Said Maddon: “It’s been a pleasure — this unification is strong. We’re definitely aligned philosophically — we could almost complete each other’s sentences sometimes.
“It’s been really interesting — he gets it as far as how I see things. He’s really sharp, and a great evaluator. It’s been fun.”
All of this sounds good.
“No update yet,” Minasian said. “It’s a very important topic — I get it. But there’s nothing to update right now. I will do so when the time comes.”