Los Angeles Angels: How long until the fans turn on the front office?

ANAHEIM, CA - JULY 12: An early arriving Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim fan has a section to himself before a game with the Seattle Mariners at Angel Stadium of Anaheim on July 12, 2019 in Anaheim, California. (Photo by John McCoy/Getty Images)
ANAHEIM, CA - JULY 12: An early arriving Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim fan has a section to himself before a game with the Seattle Mariners at Angel Stadium of Anaheim on July 12, 2019 in Anaheim, California. (Photo by John McCoy/Getty Images) /

The Los Angeles Angels suffered potentially awful news on Thursday in regards to Griffin Canning, which circles back to a front office that could be losing its fans.

The expectations are high for the Los Angeles Angels this season, at least among the fanbase. With the addition of National League MVP runner-up, Anthony Rendon, the Angels appeared poised for the team’s first playoff appearance since 2014 and first playoff win since 2009.

The one pitfall of the team is the starting rotation, which does not bolster a true “ace” with Shohei Ohtani on an innings limit while also being rather thin. The front office made some additions in Julio Teheran and Dylan Bundy, and fans hoped it would be enough.

It is going to get tested early as the Angels could potentially be without one of their key arms for the 2020 season. Jeff Fletcher of the Orange County Register tweeted that Griffin Canning suffered some kind of pain in his elbow and that he is set for an MRI.

It is impossible for Angel fans to hope for the best considering the long list of recent Angel pitchers that have had to undergo Tommy John surgery. If that is necessary for Canning, he would join Garrett Richards, Shohei Ohtani, Andrew Heaney, Tyler Skaggs and J.C. Ramirez as recent Angels to have Tommy John.

Matt Shoemaker also had forearm surgery that kept him out of action for a lengthy amount of time.

While unfortunate, this potential injury instantly makes Angel fans think of one thing: the axed Ross StriplingJoc Pederson trade from the Los Angeles Dodgers, which Angels’ owner Arte Moreno admitted that he pulled out from, without specifying the reason.

Many believe that Moreno simply grew impatient with the Mookie Betts side of the trade, which took five more days to be completed than initially reported. Five days.

Was Stripling going to be this irrefutable ace that changed the tide of the entire pitching staff? No. But he is a former all-star with some pretty impressive career numbers and some pretty good advanced metrics.

Stripling certainly would have been a welcomed addition right now with the potential loss of Canning.

The frustrations from the fans about the front office pulling out of that trade, when the Dodgers were essentially giving away some of their depth to free up salary-cap space, is only the start. This is a team that has had the best player in baseball for almost a decade and has not won a playoff game in over a decade.

This is a team that, for whatever reason, has constantly had to deal with injuries to various starting pitchers and position players alike. Sure, injuries happen and a team cannot control that. But at some point it becomes a trend, and this became a trend with the Angels a long time ago.

Is it the training staff? Is it poor scouting and not recognizing concerning signs from drafted players and outside additions? Is it overworking the players in the minor leagues? There is no real clear-cut answer, but what is clear is that something needs to change with the Los Angeles Angels, and it starts with the front office.

It isn’t just the injuries, as the front office does not have the best track record. Albert Pujols, Josh Hamilton and Vernon Wells all got massive contracts and underperformed. Justin Upton is massively overpaid now there have been countless other misses, such as Zack Cozart and Matt Harvey, to give two recent examples.

There have been some great players that the Angels simply let go as well. Kirby Yates developed his splitter with the Angels in Spring Training and they released him; they traded Mike Clevinger to the Cleveland Indians for Vinnie Pestano (who appeared in 19 games for the Angels).

Heck, the team’s drafting has been pretty poor as well. They had one good first-round pick last decade and that was Jo Adell. The rest were either traded, never reached the top-100 or simply have not panned out, yet.

It isn’t surprising that despite being one of just five MLB teams without a playoff win in the decade, the Angels have failed to build a good farm system, in large part because the front office seems to be in love with signing massive contracts and reshuffling the team every season.

Yet last season, when they had a chance to add Dallas Keuchel to a one-year contract, the Angels did not even budge, likely because they did not want to go over their own internal budget.

Sure, the team signed Anthony Rendon, but that felt like a move to sell tickets and a quick pivot from Gerrit Cole. Moreno and company knew the Angels needed pitching, but after missing out on their only pitching target (despite several other options), they pivoted and gave Rendon more money than anyone else.

Does Rendon make the team better? Absolutely. But with the Angels’ track record of things, there should be some worry that in 2-3 years that contract is awful and the team still is without a playoff win.

Every year there is the same narrative. The narrative that “well, if everyone plays to the best of their ability then we can be a playoff team!” That doesn’t work. No team, ever, in the history of baseball, has seen every single player play up to their full potential. It’s baseball, and the Angels consistently create a top-heavy roster with no real depth that gets exposed midseason.

“[I gave up on the front office] Last month when they backed out of the Stripling trade. I’ve been over it,” a diehard Angel fan friend of mine told me. It is hard to blame him, the Angels have had very little success despite hitting one home run by drafting Mike Trout.

Something needs to change, and they’ve tried everything. There have been coaching changes, personnel changes, roster changes, even a GM change. The one thing that has not changed is the culture of ownership.

Next. The potential market for top starting pitchers. dark

Maybe, just maybe, that is due for a change as well. The Los Angeles Angels very well may need it.