Alexander: Was the Angels firing Joe Maddon too hasty a decision?

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Did the Angels, and particularly General Manager Perry Minasian, hit the panic button too soon?

Yes, that sounds strange in the throes of a 12-game losing streak, one which dropped the Angels from the AL West lead to 8½ games out of first and 1½ games out of a wild card spot going into Tuesday night. And evidently, Manager Joe Maddon wasn’t expecting the news Tuesday morning when Minasian showed up at his doorstep to fire him.

“A little bit. Actually, a lot,” Maddon told Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic, when asked if he was surprised. “You always rely on people in charge to read the tea leaves properly. This time, they did not. You didn’t even have to ask me. You can ask any of the players or coaches. They’re the ones who really know.

“Perry was in a tough spot. I understand that. Let me just put it that way. …”

The context there suggests that the second-year GM might not totally have decided on his own, or at least might have heard enough from the top of the Angels’ organizational pyramid – specifically, owner Arte Moreno and his lieutenants – to be persuaded to act.

We’ll get to the question of whether this was a hasty decision in a bit. But there seems to have been a difference of opinion in how heavily to lean into analytics, and if this sounds familiar in Anaheim it should. It’s never as simple as old school vs. new school, and analytics wasn’t the sole issue back in 2015 when GM Jerry DiPoto stepped down, but his relationship with Manager Mike Scioscia began to turn when the communication between the two began to break down, and analytics – specifically the volume of it being dropped on the players – was indeed a factor.

Maddon would talk periodically of his appreciation for some of those old school methods that run up against sabermetric philosophy. As he put it a few weeks ago: “If you want to get more people interested in our game, play baseball, do it all, play all the components, all facets of the game. And I think that’s what we’re doing right now. I know that’s what we’re doing. That’s all we talked about in spring training.”

He told Rosenthal on Tuesday, “I’m into analytics, but not to the point where everybody wants to shove it down your throat,” and added that he’d suggested to Minasian that he should “just try to reduce the information you’re giving, try to be aware of who’s giving the information and really be aware of when it’s time to stay out of the way.”

That’s easier to sell when you’re 27-17 than when you’re 27-29.

Sunday afternoon in Philadelphia might have been the killer, and it had less to do with sabermetric principles than the simple baseball equation: When the bullpen breaks down, the manager gets the blame.

Maddon summoned closer Raisel Iglesias to get a five-out save with a 6-2 lead, one out in the eighth and the bases loaded at Citizens Bank Park, a second-guessable decision but not necessarily danger-laden. But Iglesias gave up a game-tying grand slam to Bryce Harper.

Then Jimmy Herget gave up a three-run walk-off homer to Bryson Stott in the bottom of the ninth, the Angels’ losing streak had become 11, and … well, you know the drill.

News flash: The crystal ball doesn’t work any better in the dugout than it does in, say, the press box. Or in front of your TV. We’re about to find out how well the one in Minasian’s office works.

Remember, this tailspin has coincided with a career-worst slump by Mike Trout: A .113 batting average (5 for 44), .183 on-base percentage and .204 slugging percentage (one double and one homer among his five hits) going into Tuesday night. Before the losing streak began the three-time AL MVP had a .328/.425/.674 slash line and an OPS of 1.099.

Also keep in mind: Outfielder Taylor Ward, the sensation of the first month and a half, has been hurting and went back on the injured list last weekend. Third baseman Anthony Rendon has had wrist problems most of the season and went on the IL with inflammation in the right wrist a week ago. Shohei Ohtani, trying to follow up a one-of-a-kind MVP season, hasn’t yet come up to, or close to, that level either on the mound or at the plate.

So, was this too hasty?

Consider that the 2019 Washington Nationals were 19-31 on May 23 and the rumblings were that Manager Dave Martinez was this close to getting fired. He wasn’t, they wound up winning the World Series, and that achievement helped Rendon get his big contract with the Angels.

Another example, closer to home: The 2002 Angels lost 14 of their first 20. They also won it all, giving bench coach Maddon his first World Series ring (and he’d add another as Cubs skipper in 2016, overcoming a 108-year hex).

And a third example: Last year’s Atlanta Braves were considered toast when Ronald Acuña Jr. wrecked his knee in July. They were three games under .500 as late as Aug. 1, before GM Alex Anthopoulos’ aggressiveness at the trade deadline and a 16-2 August run changed things. They, too, won the World Series. And they didn’t fire their manager, Brian Snitker.

Maybe Perry’s got some aggressive moves up his sleeve. Or maybe we’ll see how much of a panacea a new voice will provide.

Phil Nevin, a former Golden Spikes Award winner just up the freeway at Cal State Fullerton, has been promoted on an interim basis. As a player, Nevin was … well, let’s just say he could be emotional in a broken water cooler sort of way.

Maybe the tone in the clubhouse and dugout is about to get a little louder and more intense. And maybe at this point, that’s what the Angels need.

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