Joe Maddons firing went deeper than a 12-game losing streak

  • Senior writer ESPN Magazine/ESPN.com
  • Analyst/reporter ESPN television
  • Author of “The Last Night of the Yankee Dynasty”

Los Angeles Angels owner Arte Moreno’s impetuosity is renowned in baseball — from his sudden, frantic pursuit of then-free agents Albert Pujols and Josh Hamilton, copious front-office changes and near-constant zigzagging of organizational priorities. So at first glance, yes: His team’s 12-game losing streak looks like the perfect trigger for a volcanic boss to oust a manager.

But the team’s decision to fire Joe Maddon and replace him with interim skipper Phil Nevin goes beyond Moreno — and its roots run much deeper than the past two weeks of bad baseball.

For months, evaluators around the league had been reporting unhappiness over Maddon’s day-to-day decisions, a sentiment leaking more and more frequently out of the Angels organization.

Even this winter, by the time this year’s delayed spring training finally began, Maddon was regarded by many in the industry as a true lame duck, in the last year of a three-year, $12 million deal he signed before the 2020 season. That was a few months before GM Perry Minasian joined the team, which had created an element of tension among stakeholders. In the parlance of baseball — Maddon was not Minasian’s guy.

It was Moreno who had been responsible for Maddon’s hiring, after forcing the firing of former manager Brad Ausmus (GM Billy Eppler was pushed out after that 2020 season). But like anyone else who had been part of nearly a decade of the Angels’ unrelenting losing, Maddon had begun to fall out of favor. Before the start of the season, a former Angels official predicted, “The only way he continues is if they make the playoffs. Short of that, he’s gone.”

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