There hasn’t been much to love about Los Angeles Angels baseball in recent years, and looking back, there hasn’t been a winning record since the 2015 season. It stands as the longest stretch of losing in club history.
With a 73-89 finish this year, the Angels finished in fourth place, 17 games behind the Houston Astros, who locked up an American League West crown on Sunday. The list of negatives goes well beyond the record compiled over a disappointing 162-game slate, and reaches into front office confusion which impacted the Major League roster.
The Angels most recent playoff series came in 2014, when then-manager Mike Sciocia’s 98-win roster was swept in the AL Division Series round by the Kansas City Royals. They’d follow up that letdown performance with an 85-win year in 2015, beginning their run of missed postseasons.
With a handful of coaching changes since, the Angels have backed up their troubled ways with the record to reinforce it. Since 2016, the posted a 555-639 record, good for a .465 winning percentage.
That ranks as the fifth-worst in the AL, and the ninth-worst in Major League Baseball. They trail only the Royals, Detroit Tigers, Baltimore Orioles and the Chicago White Sox who’ve all been worse.
Owner Arte Moreno has been a consistent piece in all of this, boasting a litter of high-priced signings that either haven’t performed, are well past their prime, continuously battled injuries, or don’t have help around them.
The last point looms largest, as the Angels farm system routinely ranks near the bottom because of their razor-thin margins on their top slab of talent. Out of necessity, their top prospect pieces have been called up to the big league roster, which has had its plus and minus instances.
Because the 2023 season ended in such unspectacular fashion, the crossroads of the franchise are bleak. Having to decide whether they should run it back, or to gut the roster is a question to be answered by Angels general manager Perry Minasian this offseason.
With them deciding to decline manager Phil Nevin’s option for the 2024 season could possibly be a turning point in their understanding that this roster isn’t built to compete, nor should they plan on it. Mike Trout has given the Angels everything he’s had since 2012, and it could be time when they finally throw him back to the ocean.
The downsides to that would be a lack of star power within the franchise, but that is an option they’ll be likely to field phone calls about. Trout being a trade chip is a conversation that might’ve been best had when he wasn’t sidelined with various ailments that have kept him off the field, too.
Their young core of Logan O’Hoppe, Zach Neto, Nolan Schanuel, Chase Silseth, Reid Detmers, among others, are bright spots, but there isn’t much left in their Minor League ranks. An eighth losing season since 2016 has to be enough to finally do what Moreno has been unwilling to do before. Simply, but slowly, build from the ground up.
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