If you could come back as a fan of another baseball team, and could not choose the Mets obviously, who would you pick? The team I’d pick is a team I’d love to see the NY Mets begin modeling their franchise after. A Big market team, an energized fan base, a team built with speed, pitching, fundamentals and solid player development. I’d be a fan of the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim.
The Angels in one way are pretty similar to the Mets. They are the second class citizen in gigantic sports market. Other than that, they are pretty much polar opposites.
Anybody know the story of Arthur Moreno, the Angels owner? In 2003, Moreno became the first Hispanic to own a major sports franchise when he bought the team from the Walt Disney Company. He’s a Vietnam War Veteran, and a University of Arizona graduate who built his financial empire by working his way up the ranks within an outdoor advertising company called Outdoor Systems which is now currently owned by CBS. Actually you can find a lot of this information in his biography or on Michael Scott’s favorite website, “Wikipedia.” Those are all nice facts, but you know what the most important to me is? When he bought the team, he wanted to win. Now granted, the name change and everything was probably a disaster, but if that’s his worst move as owner of this team, who wouldn’t trade that for what we have right now? Oh, he’s also the owner who capitalized on the Mets being fearful of Vlad Guerrero’s “back injuries.”
Fred Wilpon became owner of the NY Mets due to his involvement as founder for Sterling Equities which is a real estate investment company. Wilpon was the Mets President for 22 years prior to purchasing the Doubleday share of the team in 2002. I’d love to write a big paragraph about Wilpon like I did about Moreno, but he’s just not that interesting. He’s been associated with this team since 1980, and in comparison to Moreno, Wilpon’s plan has always seemed to be about expanding the business, and I don’t mean the business of winning championships.
Tony Reagins (42) is the General Manager for the Angels. Did you even know that? Following a 5 year stint as Director of Player Development (we’ll get to that,) Reagins was promoted from within the organization after the 2007. Bill Stoneman, the former VP and General Manager would assume a role of Senior Advisor to the Angels. Reagins is only the 4th African American General Manager in MLB history.
Omar Minaya (50) is the General Manager for the Mets, we all know that. Minaya’s baseball background is a minor league career that lasted a shorter amount of time than it will take me to finish this article. Minaya’s was a member of the Texas Rangers scouting staff in the mid 1980’s, where he was instrumental in the signing of Hispanic players such as Sammy Sosa (DR), and Juan Gonzalez (PR) (what do those two have in common?) Minaya then as we know spent time as the GM for the Montreal Expos after working under Steve Phillips in the mid 1990’s.
On the Field Manager:
At 50 years old, Mike Scioscia is quickly becoming the godfather of American League Managers. Sosh was hired in 1999, and this January he signed an impressive 10 year contract to remain with the Angels. Sciosia was a solid ballplayer, not a superstar, but a solid player who knew the game and knew how to play it. He paid his dues on the field and behind the plate, and then he paid his dues as a coach within the Dodgers organization. He is a very respected manager both by players and other managers alike. He is the winningest manager in Angels history, and in 10 seasons he has managed the Angels to only two seasons under .500 in which they won 75 and 77 games respectively.
Jerry Manuel (55) was a low level major league ballplayer for roughly 5 years. His major league career makes Scioscia look like a Hall of Fame player. He, like Scioscia paid his dues in the coaching field. Manuel spent most of his time within the Expos organization. He was a coach for their Triple A team, but then spent most of his time as an infield instructor or minor league field coordinator. He was hired as their AA manager in 1990, and earned Manager of the Year honors. Manuel then worked his way to become the Expos third base coach from 1991 until 1996 when he later moved on to become Jim Leyland’s bench coach in Florida. Thanks in part to a Marlins World Series victory, Manuel was pursued by the Chicago White Sox whom he’d manage for 6 seasons, earning Manager of the Year honors in 2000.
Player Development & Free Agent Signings:
This is a spot where the Angels obviously excel well past the New York Mets. If you take a look at their current roster, they have 6 out of 9 everyday players under the age of 31. Of those 6, four of them were drafted or signed as amateurs by the Angels. Napoli (17th Round), Morales (undrafted), Kendrick (10th round), Aybar (undrafted). They acquired Bobby Abreu, Torii Hunter, and Vlad Guerrero all via free agency, and acquired Chone Figgins and Juan Rivera in low level trades.
You want to talk about pitching? The Angels have four pitchers that could be classified as number one pitchers on most Major League rosters. John Lackey is the oldest at age 30, and he was drafted by the Angels in the 2nd round of 1999 draft. Joe Saunders checks in at 28 years old, drafted 12th overall in the 1st round of 2002’s amazing draft. Jered Weaver is just 26 years old, drafted by the Angels with the 12th overall pick in 2004. That year, the Mets drafted Phillip Humber, and the only pick above the Angels that turned out to be as expected is Justin Verlander. Finally, Ervin Santana was signed as an amateur free agent out of the Dominican Republic in 2000.
I don’t think I need to go over the enormous differences in their roster compared to the Mets, do I? Every year it seems you know the Angels are going to be a threat. They spend money in the right places, they make smart baseball moves, and they develop the talent in their system. I’m not a real proponent of minor league W-L record is a strong sign of how your team will do in the future, but even with the Angels having most of their young talent developed and on the big league level, the Angels have a .476 winning percentage in the minor leagues compared to the Mets having a .434 winning percentage. (AAA, AA, A adv., and A used)
Okay so we’ve covered the owner, the GM, the manager, the roster and the player development. Let’s end it on this note. The Angels blow the Mets away in terms of fan relations. Their ticket costs according to the ESPN Franchise rankings, is the 5th lowest in MLB. They have 75 promotions, in 81 home games this season, with many of them being fun filled giveaways. Now, I used to work in this industry, so I for one do not go to games because of the giveaway. However, I do recognize the fan appreciation value of a giveaway. Have you ever sat and watched an Angels game on television? Doesn’t it just look fun? We have a brand new ballpark, and we practically had to beg the Mets to put up Mets pictures in the concourse! We’re not the Yankees, we don’t want to be the Yankees. The Mets fan is a fan that just wants to actually enjoy the ballpark, and fall in love with our team again. We’re not asking for a championship every year, we’re not. We’re asking for a product on and off the field that we can be proud of. A team that makes us as fans feel appreciated and not the butt of a Stephen Colbert joke (pretty funny, did you see it last night?)
From every angle, the Angels do what the Mets should be doing. Heck, their current team roster practically mirrors the image in which the Mets should be built to win at Citi Field. By no means do the Angels have the best roster of players in baseball. What they do is they get the most out of their players, because their lineup compliments their manager’s style of play, and they have that style of play down pat. They win games, they provide the fans with a great atmosphere, they do their homework both in the free agent and unsigned amateur market, they draft and develop well, and they spend money because they realize their brand is built when they win ballgames. That’s what Arte Moreno has done, that’s what Mike Scioscia brings to the table, and that’s what the Angels fans have, and we do not.