After three consecutive years of missing the playoffs, Los Angeles Angels manager Mike Scioscia will likely have to deliver in 2013—or else.
Arte Moreno has publicly stated Scioscia’s job is safe through the coming offseason. Considering this is Scioscia’s first season with a largely revamped team, Moreno is likely waiting to see if Scioscia can work out a winning formula through the winter into next season. General Manager Jerry Dipoto will also look to bolster the Angels’ awful bullpen, whose components were prone to devastating meltdowns at any given moment in 2012. Playing in an immensely competitive American League West didn’t help matters much for the skipper, either.
But for all the factors working against Scioscia, the sheer boatload of talent on the Angels this season had many pegging the Angels as favorites to win the World Series. A playoff appearance, at the very least, seemed to be in the stars.
Some things are beyond a manager’s control. Injuries happen, players slump, pitchers struggle. But the fact of the matter is Scioscia is the team’s leader. Plenty rests on the manager’s decisions, attitude and philosophy.
In the Angels’ sluggish April, the team’s play (and its overall demeanor) was completely flat. The team suffered lackluster starts from its rotation and a lineup incapable of generating enough runs to make up for any the poor starts. And as the Angels struggled, the blank expression to which Angels fans have become so accustomed was pasted on Scioscia’s face. The look once embodied the cool-as-ice manager who won a World Series and three consecutive American League West championships. In 2012, the look embodied a team without fire.
As the weather warmed, though, so did the Angels. Led by rookie Mike Trout, the Halos transformed into playoff contenders.
Along the way, though, Scioscia revealed a few glaring flaws in his management style. He left starters in for too long. He pulled relievers when they were dealing. He relentlessly used Ernesto Frieri in the closer role, even when it was clear the fireballer was gassed near season’s end.
If Scioscia hopes to retain his job after his 2013 campaign is over, he will have to prove he can be the engine which drives his team toward the postseason. With so much talent aboard, the bar is now higher than it’s been in a long time for Scioscia. The ultra-competitive AL West will leave little margin for error, and any managerial mistake would be magnified significantly.
Mike Scioscia has proven valuable in his tenure as manager of the Angels. But with pressure mounting for the Angels to succeed, he has shown his managerial style can be a hindrance. His good graces from the 2002 World Series are not infinite, so he must prove to the organization and its fans he is capable of managing this team without being a hindrance.