Tyra Banks' television show
has it's time and place. Sorry hormonal teenage boys but this is not it. Our beloved Metropolitan Baseball Club of New York
is in disarray, and the franchise needs an organizational model to look to as an example going forward. I am writing today to suggest the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim
as that model. The reasons range from the ridiculous to the sublime
.The New York Mets
are, in most every sense of the phrase, the second team in their city. Established as an expansion franchise in 1962, they play in a city that is home to (as the YES Network
likes to say) the "most successful franchise in the history of professional sports." The New York Yankees
have won 26 World Championships (as of this writing) and have called New York City home since 1903. The Mets came along 59 years later and trail in championships by 24.
The Angels are the second team in their city too, in fact until 2005 they hadn't dared to include the prefix "Los Angeles" in their name since 1964. Established as an expansion franchise in 1961, they share a metropolitan area with one of the most storied franchises in the history of Major League Baseball, the Los Angeles Dodgers
. The Dodgers arrived in Los Angeles only 3 years before the Angels, but have existed as a franchise in the major leagues since 1884, and have 6 World Championships. The Angels have 1.The Angels as a model you ask? They only have 1 championship, that's 1 fewer than our Mets you say. True. But what the Angels have done successfully in the 21st century that the Mets have not is learned how not only to survive but to thrive as the second team in their own city. The Angels won their World Series in 2002 which was the first of 6 post season appearances in an 8 year span including 2009. The Dodgers have reached the post season 4 of the last 6 years. Clearly it is feasible for 2 franchises in the same city to enjoy success simultaneously.
How do the Angels thrive in this situation? Many reasons. While this reason is perhaps not the most likely, it is worth noting with the recent talk of the Mets changing their uniforms
in 2010 that the Angels themselves changed uniforms in 2002, their championship year. You can credit the Rally Monkey
or Thunder Sticks
if you wish, I prefer to credit the uniform change.
Perhaps more likely than uniform changes or noisemakers is the Angels organization from top down. Many frustrated Met fans, unhappy with the club despite it having won more games than any team in the National League from 2006-2008, derisively refer to the club as "Los Mets" and proclaim that Omar Minaya
has made the Mets into some sort of a "latin ballplayer retirement club" while conveniently ignoring all the non-Hispanic players the organization has acquired. These same people may not react well when informed that the first Hispanic to own a major professional sports team in the United States is Arte Moreno
, the owner of the Los Angeles Angels.
Moreno took over the club early in the 2003 season (the Walt Disney Company
sold high after the championship). Current and any future Met owners would be wise to note what Moreno did first when he took over: he endeared himself to his team's fans by cutting ticket and beer prices, and through his signing of then 28 year old slugging free agent outfielder Vladimir Guerrero
to a 5 year $70 million dollar contract after the Mets decided Guerrero's health was in question and passed. The Mets have recently announced price cuts for their 2010 tickets, but the Mets are coming off a 90-plus loss season and it is not ownerships' first year in place. The Angels did it coming off a World Series victory.To be fair the Mets ownership (led by Fred Wilpon
) has not been reticent to spend money. Since Moreno's first full season as owner of the Angels (2004), their average annual payroll has been $107,318,109 while during the same time period the Mets annual payroll has been $116,908,463. In fact, according to Forbes magazine
as of April 2009 the Mets were the second most valuable Major League Baseball franchise behind only the Yankees (for comparison purposes, the Dodgers were #4 and the Angels #6
). But it's not the money you spend, it's how you spend it (even Yankee GM Brian Cashman
would admit this in a candid moment).The Angels current general manager Tony Reagins
was promoted from within, formerly serving as director of player development. Clearly the Mets are in no position to promote their own most recent director of player development named Tony.
Mr. Bernazard punched his own ticket out of town
earlier this season with his odd and inappropriate behavior. The current Mets general manager Omar Minaya will either have to experience a renaissance of sorts or will have to be replaced from another source while the Mets sort out their player development situation. If the Mets happen to be reading this and are looking for suggestions I can tell them the Angels current assistant GM is Ken Forsch
and their director of player development is Abe Flores
.The Angels are not afraid to admit an organizational mistake. They locked up OF Gary Matthews Jr.
to a long term contract and he has largely been a bust. They could've taken the easy way out and determined that with Matthews' large contract on the books, they simply couldn't add more high priced talent. But instead they signed OF Torii Hunter
to a lucrative long term contract. His 2009 resurgence notwithstanding, many Met observers pined for the Mets to bring in another second baseman last offseason to replace Luis Castillo
. The Mets could have brought in Orlando Hudson
, but unlike the Angels they allowed the presence of Castillo's long term deal on the books to justify not bringing in a helpful player. The Angels will get the player they need to help them and worry about the other issues later. The Mets can learn from that.
The Angels current field manager Mike Scioscia
took over the club in 2000, without prior major league managing experience, and with the support of his organization Scioscia has evolved into a well respected and successful manager who has wisely been retained by the organization through ownership and general manager changes. As of this writing he has a career .555 winning percentage (898-720), 1 World Championship and 6 post season appearances. Scioscia has overseen the Angels during what is unquestionably the most successful era of the franchise.Former Chicago White Sox
manager Jerry Manuel took over the Mets in mid-2008 and led the team to a 55-38 record and within 1 game of the post season. His total managerial record with the Mets is 123-130 (.486) and his overall career record is 623-601 (.509) with 1 post season appearance. While Scioscia is known most for his tough but fair style and his baseball acumen, Manuel is perhaps best known for his eyeglass frames and his Dr. Hibbert
laugh. The Mets would do well by installing a manager in the dugout who commands respect like Scioscia does and supporting him from the top down. Unfortunately for the Mets, Scioscia is signed with the Angels through 2018. But again, in case the Mets are reading they may wish to know that Scioscia's coaching staff includes Mickey Hatcher
, Ron Roenicke
and Alfredo Griffin
On the field, the Angels artfully maintain a balance between talented youth and veteran experience. Since their championship season of 2002 the average age of either the pitchers or hitters as separate groups (pitchers and hitters ages are noted separately at baseball-reference.com
) has never exceeded 29.8 years. In 2009 the Mets average age of both groups dipped below 30 for the first time since 1997,
and while I believe this is a step in the right direction I also must attribute it somewhat to extensive roster call-ups due to injuries.
The 2009 Mets had injury issues of historic proportions resulting in record roster turnover. 53 different players came to bat for the Mets in 2009, second most in the history of the franchise and the most since 54 did so in 1967. To expect them to overcome that adversity with an appearance in the post season is too much to ask in my opinion.
The 2009 Angels experienced their fair share of adversity as well. Not as overwhelming as that of the Mets, but they did have noteworthy problems keeping a starting pitching staff together and one of their expected replacements died suddenly in an automobile accident
. While they did not have to get through 1/3 of the season with 3 All-Stars on the disabled list simultaneously, they were able to overcome the adversity they did face through a combination of quality ownership, a solid front office, a well respected manager and coaching staff and a 40 man roster filled with players capable of contributing when called upon.
The 2009 Met season is now over. It may have been a speed bump, a crossroad or God forbid a speed bump in a crossroad. To avoid it being a speed bump which sends them careening down the wrong crossroad into a generation of bad baseball the Mets organization would be wise to study the example that their sister "#2" baseball team out west has set. The ownership should keep in touch with it's fanbase while staying out of the baseball side, hire intelligent and respected baseball people for the front office and coaching staffs and then give those people the support, financial and otherwise, to do their jobs. And they should feel free to poach the Angels system while doing so.please note this was written Saturday afternoon 10/3 so some statistical information sighted may have changed slightly in the interim