Los Angeles Angels: A Joe Maddon return is a match made in heaven

After spending 31 years in the Angels system before leaving to manage, a Joe Maddon return to Anaheim makes way too much sense.

The year is 1975. Stevie Nicks and Lindsey Buckingham join Fleetword Mac, the Vietnam War is winding down, and a young catcher named Joe Maddon signs with the California Angels. 

While Maddon’s playing career never advanced past Single-A, his impact on the organization and the opportunity the Angels provided Maddon are undeniable. Maddon spent his 20’s, 30’s, and 40’s coaching and influencing future Angels from Mike Witt and Devon White to Jim Edmonds and John Lackey. His impact on the Angels’ championship in 2002 as Mike Scioscia’s bench coach cannot be overlooked.   

This success with Scioscia as his bench coach led to his first MLB managerial position with Tampa in which he managed the Rays to their first and only World Series appearance.  Five years later Theo Epstein and the Cubs called and Maddon led the Cubs to their first World Series championship in more than one hundred years. 

Now, Scioscia is gone. Brad Ausmus filled the role for one season in which the Angels lost more games than any Angels in team the past 20 years. The sudden availability of Joe Maddon had more than a little to do with Ausmus not getting another season to prove this worth. Clearly, Maddon is the target for Billy Eppler and the Angels.  

Maddon was successful taking over the 1999 Angels club from Terry Collins, leading the team to 19 wins in their final 29 games. Maddon was a finalist for the full-time position when the Angels selected Mike Scioscia as their manager that following winter.   

Hopefully, for the Angels’ sake, the Halos will come to terms with Maddon quickly and not overlook him again like they did 20 years ago. It just makes too much sense to have Maddon leading Mike Trout and Company to their second World Series title. 

This Week 

The Angels completed their difficult 2019 season with a loss to the division-winning Houston Astros, finishing their season 70-92. This was their worst season since prior to the Mike Scioscia era in Anaheim. This led to the immediate dismissal of Ausmus.  They will begin their process of searching for a new replacement for Ausmus with Joe Maddon leading that list.   

The Angels’ 92-loss season does have a bright side as that ranks them with the 10th worst record in MLB and will provide them with the 10th overall selection in next June’s MLB player draft. This ranking also protects their first-round selection from needing to be surrendered if the Angels sign a top free agent this off-season. This is important as the Angels are likely to pursue Gerrit Cole, Madison Bumgarner, and other top free agent pitchers this Hot Stove season. 

Former Angels pitcher and pitching coach Mike Butcher was relieved of his position as pitching coach of the Arizona Diamondbacks this week. As the Angels search for a new manager, Butcher, who served as Angels’ pitching coach from 2007 to 2015, might be a candidate to rejoin the Angels. Butcher served as pitching coach for Joe Maddon in Tampa Bay during the 2006 season before returning to Angels in that role. 

Angels Down in The Farm 

Isaac Mattson has done nothing short of impressing since being the Angels’ 19th-round selection out of the University of Pittsburgh in the 2017 player draft. After three successful seasons pitching out of the Panthers’ bullpen, Mattson pitched well for the Angels’ rookie league and Single-A clubs his first two seasons in the system. This year, he only needed to pitch eight games at High-A Inland Empire before striking out 30 batters in 20 innings and earning a promotion to Double-A Mobile. He continued to have success with several multi-inning relief appearances throughout a season that finished at Triple-A Salt Lake. 

Now Mattson is finding that same success pitching for the Mesa Solar Sox in the Arizona Fall League. Through his first three appearances for Mesa, Mattson has struck out eight AFL hitters in four-and-a-third innings while allowing only two hits and one walk in those three games. Mattson is a player to watch this month in Arizona and will likely be a pitcher the Angels will look at extensively next Spring Training.  

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