Angels GM Billy Eppler is out after five consecutive seasons of failure and the search is on for the next GM of the Angels. Initial speculation is Dave “Win Now” Dombrowski will take the helm. Others will point to talent up and down front offices from across the league.
But there is front office talent hiding in plain sight here in Anaheim. And the Angels would be wise to recognize that talent and bring him into an interview and consider him for an executive position.
Let’s take a look at that candidate:
He knows the game inside out and backwards. He knows WAR and wRC+ and every other acronym but can also recognize a hole in a hitter’s swing, a tipped pitch, or a bad target by a catcher. He’s spent the last decade getting a first hand look and statistical information on the Angels competition. And he has a relationship with Arte, arguably the most meddlesome owner in baseball.
This guy is a baseball lifer. He grew up in an MLB clubhouse and spent his days as a school kid tagging along behind his MLB manager dad. He loves the game and spent countless hours playing as a youth. He was both a pitcher and a catcher through his college career, giving him insight to all facets of the game. After his college career he entered the minor leagues, for our Angels in fact, where he turned his full time attention to the mound.
Like most minor leaguers he never saw the bright lights of Major League Baseball. But unlike most Ivy League economics majors he experienced the toil, the struggle, and has first hand experience to both help identify talent and improve our system of player development. It is usually the guys who don’t quite make it who can identify that little extra in the guys who do make it. That slightly faster bat, that ability to just miss the barrel, that fastball with the little extra break.
But lots of guys grow up with ballplayer dads and play baseball. What about front office experience? My candidate was the GM of a minor league baseball team. In that role he signed some pretty notable names like Jose Canseco, Jaime Navarro, Jack Armstrong, and Jim Leyritz.
Insight as a former player and experience as a former GM are great, but the Angels are a fairly unique situation in modern day baseball. Owner Arte Moreno is known or widely speculated to hold far more player personnel decision power than most owners. He’s fired scouts right before the draft, spent years refusing to engage in Latin America, and really lacks the ability to take one step back and retool at any time. Anybody stepping into a front office role will need to have Arte’s respect as well as the backbone to tactfully disagree with him from time to time. It would greatly help if the two had an 11 year relationship, like this candidate does.
Anybody who has been paying attention has probably figured out by now I’m talking about Victor Rojas.
In the modern age it is easy to place people into boxes and Victor’s solid job in the broadcasting booth makes it easy to overlook all he’s done in the game, which is actually far more than outlined above. Victor’s experience in all facets of the game is truly astounding. His thorough preparation for broadcasting is also a plus as he’s familiar with every MLB club .
Victor brings a wealth of knowledge and experience along with a working relationship with Arte to the table and I sincerely think he’d be a great addition to the front office.
Rojas is also bilingual and his father’s name still carries some clout in the Latin American baseball world. He could help revitalize the Angels efforts in Latin America and be able to speak with the scouts and agents directly. Being able to charm the parents or grandparents of a prospect is a nice bonus.
Oh, and if the new GM is Dave Dombrowski? Dave himself hired Victor to be the Marlins bullpen catcher in 1993. The two have a previous working relationship and know each other well. Dave would be wise to hire Victor again.
Ok not a bad idea, no wait a minute here, who teams with Gubbi then?
Might be Terry Smith with Jose Mota doing the radio with Mark Langston.
Billy Mac (ducks for cover)
I appreciate your creativeness. I don’t think I’ve ever heard him say anything that leads me to believe he truly grasps statcast data and how to use it.
He mentions EV 1-2 times a game and that’s about where it ends.
👆🏻 I understand that’s not all there is to it, but I want a gm that actually knows the new age stuff.
I appreciate off the wall posts like this! I am not qualified to determine whether or not he’d fit this role but I’d miss him too much in the broadcast booth.
No, I have heard him talk on the air during games for many years. Not sure if he would be able to build a winning team.
Yes, I have never really heard any Angels GM truly talk about how they go about building a winning team.
Looks like just about anyone could fill that position but anyone that turns it down, wasn’t getting enough say on where and what to spend when it comes to talent, and the direction the team is going in.
I have absolutely no idea if he would want to do it or how his skill set fits with it, but I definitely think it’s far too common (almost universal actually) to put people in a box and then limit their opportunities by not thinking outside it.
i certainly think he brings knowledge and good people skills to the role… and both are critical.
if I heard they were doing this, I certainly would be for it.
Too much analytics again……CEO should be in charge not a CFO.
Indians, A’s and Dodger’s doing just fine without Paul DeFraudesta.
Only two guys in sports who seem to know how to use a analyst nerd correctly is Billy Beane and Bill Bellichick in the NFL. But bottomline the final decision maker is the MAN IN CHARGE!! a good comment was made yesterday on the Eppler firing thread that he was a facilitator ( probably true, not a scout guy or talent evaluation guy ). We need a baseball man and a analytics guy can always be found out of Stanford or MIT who’s 35 yr old to be his CFO. Billy couldn’t tell the difference between a elephant and a Cy Young caliber pitcher. 😣
Hurry, quick, we need to hire someone named
William, Bill, or Billy. They seem to be names in the know.
What have you done, Victor and Gubi are like 80% of the reason I watch the games.
I purposely will watch the other team’s feed so I don’t have to suffer listening to Victor and Gubi. Both of those clowns need to go.
😂😂😂😂 what in the honest hell?
I too, tend to not listen to them jibber-jabber about non current or non baseball insider only conversations starting at the bottom of the first inning of mostly all games. Who is the color guy? Who is the playXplay guy? Come on Mr. Owl tell me please.
They’re both terrible.
Bring back Phiz and the Wonder Dog!
Now you’re just trolling.
Yep, does not even watch the games
Lol you’re funny. I guess you don’t watch the games either.
Not really. Phiz and Rex at least made the games more enjoyable to watch.
Phis & Rex also had the benefit of working when we were good (the 2000’s).
Isn’t it amazing that as soon as we traded them for Victor & Gubi we started sucking. I don’t think it was a coincidence! 😉
Then maybe we should hire Physioc to be the GM.
I care more about the team then PBP announcers.
I can put up with Ben Stein as our PBP guy if we had a dynasty team here. 😆
With Big Daddy Vladdy!
Big John from Abilene
There’s no way this is a real take. I enjoy Gubicza, although he’s a fairly banal, run-of-the-mill-former-athlete-as-color-commentator, so I can see not liking him. Rojas is fantastic, though. Maybe I appreciate his acerbic wit more than some, but I can’t see someone thinking he’s terrible.
Listening to Physioc and Hudler call a game is like being trapped in a Disney ride that’s gone haywire.
Yeah, no way it’s a real take that someone can have a different opinion of your own.
The way you felt about Physioc and Hudler is the exact same way I feel about Victor and Gubi.
What is it specifically you don’t like about Rojas? He’s smarter than Physioc, he calls the tone of the game better than Physioc, he is better about paying attention to detail than Physioc, he gets deeper than Physioc into the analytics and other parts of the game.
They’re better than Dodgers Sportsnet LA crew ( Joe Davis & Orel Hershiser)
I listened to them for the first time since I don’t have Spectrum…..UGH!!!!
Wonder Dawg was hilarious, but Phiz was turrble!
Would rather have Charles Barkely than Phiz.
You and I are in the minority. I listen to most visiting broadcasts. Victor and Gubi, to me, are on repeat every game.
Whatever. It certainly wouldn’t be the dumbest action Arte ever took.
As a scout, sure, take a flier on Rojas. But in a leadership role of a FO? You’d want someone with experience and years of experience identifying talent, understanding markets, and building a baseball team. As much as I love Victor in the booth, there’s a completely different skillset required for a baseball ops gig, and that’s not even mentioning how much the game has changed since he played.
I like Rojas very much as a person and tremendously as a broadcaster. I also respect Jeff very much and think his commentary is excellent. So with that said, I do not like this idea at all. I think the team needs some highly experienced front office folks who are true outsiders whom can insist on certain changes rather than an insider-Arte guy.
Yeah, I don’t know that I’d call Rojas an insider to Arte at all, but he just doesn’t have relevant enough experience to succeed in that role.
“Great f’ing song” 😂
I’d hate to lose Victor in the booth. Clearly one of the best play-by-play announcers in the game, even when he and Gubi aren’t succumbing to goofy impulses. I kind of think we need a President of Baseball Operations that can stand up to Arte, and a GM that can smoothly operate to pull off the kind of front office/ roster revamp this team needs.
The whole narrative of “someone capable of standing up to Arte” is a red herring. The best an experienced person can do is tell Arte to either let them do it their way or hire someone else. In that situation, Arte would have no qualms about saying, do it my way or quit. Let’s not forget that is exactly what Dipoto did – he quit after he tried to stand up to Arte and Scioscia and Arte backed Scioscia.
If the next President/GM seems to be getting more leeway or a bigger budget, it won’t be because he/she successfully stood up to Arte, it will be because Arte has finally learned his lesson.
I think this makes it too black or white. Yes, Arte is in control and will ultimately have to relinquish some of that control. But you don’t think he’s more likely to relinquish control to someone who is able to communicate their vision clearly and sell Arte on its merits? I think this is probably even more likely for someone who has years of experience in the job and can point to specific way his previous organization succeeded.
So it’s possible that the right hire can convince Arte to build some organizational infrastructure where someone else, equally qualified as a GM but less of a salesman, cannot.
I don’t know what Rojas would bring to the table. He’s obviously knowledgeable about baseball, but he seems as valuable in the booth as an ambassador (and sometimes critic) of Angels baseball as he would be in the front office. If a new GM/President wanted him as an assistant, I could see that. But it’s not something I think is a slam dunk to succeed.
I mean…maybe? Not the worst idea i’ve heard.
Would hate to lose him in the booth, though. I enjoy his unfiltered Angels commentary and I think we would really miss that.
I agree. It could be a real bummer to not have VR in the booth, especially if he is replace by Marbles Mota or some overly pink douche shill. He’s a major asset where he is.
So there could be an opportunity for a whole season’s worth of Mota-isms? this is tough because I like Victor in the booth but if he would rather take a shot at baseball front office management then I can’t fault him for going that direction. And the few interactions I have had with Jose Mota, I can tell you he is a really nice guy and he has grown on me as an announcer.
Pat O’Neil, you wanna fight about it?
I’ll take anyone in the front office if it means the team is going to be better. But I’ll really miss Victor in the broadcast booth if that does happen.
We have the Pat Riley example. Riley had more success than Victor on the professional sports level but, as we all know, was hired right out of the booth (on Chick’s recommendation, I believe).
Also the Heat head coach.
The difference was Riley had West backing him up, and Spoelstra had Riley backing him up.
Both Riley, and Spoelstra, were grooming themselves for the chance at coach in the NBA.
Vic has been living his life with his family, and having a job he loves in baseball.
Eppler and the Angels made the considerable mistake of believing that they did not have to make a commitment to (1) rebuilding or (2) building a Championship-level club at any cost. Instead, the focus has been being competitive and contending which has landed them squarely in the middle of the pack – which is the worst place to be since the draft choices at 10-15 in the first round are usually crap-shoots and rarely difference makers.
In 2016, shortly after taking over as GM, Eppler made the following statement:
“With the position of this organization and the financial strengths of this organization, it’s not in the DNA here to rebuild,” Eppler said. “We’ll continue to invest. We’ll continue to invest throughout this season, with a mind for this season, with a mind for the future and this winter with a mind toward competing and contending year in and year out.”
Looking at that statement, what does “competing and contending” mean? Does it, in fact, translate to “selling” 3 million tickets year in and year out? If so (and I do believe that goal is paramount over all others for this Organization) then Arte and his billboard meddlers are equally, if not more, to blame. To ask a GM to be competitive and contend every year rather than allowing them a 5 year plan during which a rebuild might occur is a tall task. Particularly when the Organization has no real depth. Essentially, the job of the GM then becomes to fill in the gaps on a year-to-year basis, signing pitchers to one year deals and hitting the waiver wire in the hope of fielding a “competitive” team. This is a very tall task for a GM particularly from a pitching perspective.
Is “competing and contending” hovering around .500 so that playoff tickets can be sold and that money utilized to lock in season ticket holders for the next season?
All of this leads to the future. It doesn’t matter if it is Victor Rojas or Billy Beane or Dumbo or whomever. Until the Organization takes a clear position on a direction and not focus on the amount of season seats sold and/or 3,000,000 fans, it will be listless. It will exist in that terrible middle from which it is nearly impossible to emerge in MLB. The worst place to be in baseball is to be around the 15th best/worst team – you do not get access to the impact draft picks and its deja vu, year after year. This team either needs to commit to a Championship (and spending whatever it takes) or a rebuild – which would possibly include trading Trout. I would prefer the former since I would love to see Trout hoist the trophy similar to the memory of I have of Salmon doing so.
Arte purchases and resells his own tickets. I don’t think he gives two shits about season ticket holder outside of the top tier levels. Which anyway are sold out for the remaining future.
Team competitive. Visiting fans happy. 3,000,000 sold. That’s what he wants.
And that’s my point. Competitive gets you middle of the pack. It’s good enough to draw fans. The problem is that middle of the pack is the vortex of hell that is really difficult to escape from.
Arte “If it ain’t broke …”
I don’t see any reason why Victor would want the headaches that come with being a GM. As a broadcaster, he has the offseason off to spend with his family, it’s not a 24/7 job, and he doesn’t have Arte meddling.
He doesn’t even start to broadcast until the last week of Spring, and more likely at the Freeway Series.
But… would Victor want to take on that work load? Especially with his family life and his wife’s recent health scare? To me family is bigger than baseball and Victor may not want to take on a year round, 14 hrs +/- a day, grind and lifestyle change.
I can assure you he would. Kim is doing well now. One daughter is married and the other is on her way to college in a few months. Victor is in a great spot in life right now and has the ability to take on more work.
Just to be clear he didn’t put this idea in my head. In fact I told him about this story idea a few weeks ago and he asked me to hold off because it might appear he was angling for a job that wasn’t open. I had a good talk with him yesterday after the game and he gave me the OK.
I’ve just had the pleasure of getting to know Vic pretty well over the last few years. We’ve had an ongoing dialog, he’s met my family, I even did some copy editing on his Big Fly site before it launched. And I’ve been impressed by what all he’s done in the game and how connected he is more times than I can count.
I like Rojas, but .. let’s please hire someone who has spent years working under incredibly successful Presidents/GMs. Rojas can take a role in that FO as needed, but let’s not make him into one of the top executives.
My dream is still to hire someone like Alex Slater with the Dodgers, but if we indeed are going the Dombrowski route, then let’s hope he hires someone like Alex Slater (or Logan White from the Padres) to be his General Manager. I appreciate Dave’s desire to win, but I hope he can hire a man who will help keep him in check and, more importantly, decide which prospects to trade which to keep.
If you look at the Dodgers, for example – they do make trades from their farm system in “win now” moves, but they’ve been rather good about avoiding trading future stars. They trade good future regulars (like Alex Verdugo), but they have held onto the Cody Bellingers, Walker Buehlers, etc.
We need someone who can strongly guide Dombrowski in those decisions. I believe a mix of “going for it” along with farm building is ultimately the ideal path.
An assistant GM spot would likely be my ideal pick for him. He gets a chance to use his skills and connections but also the chance to learn how a front office works without taking on full responsibility for a team. I really like him if the new GM is from out of the organization as a conduit to Arte, who respects him.
+1 and it isn’t like we are out to hire one person. We need expanded BASEBALL OPERATIONS STAFF not just one general manager.
I agree in principle. We need a whole roster for FO, not just one “star” who would deal with everything all by himself. Having said that,I don’t really know how much know-how about, eh, FO stuff VR would bring to the table. It’d be nice idea if he had a FO role for all the reasons Jeff brings up, but he certainly won’t be a game changer and losing him from broadcast booth would suck…