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.