Mike Napoli, More Than Vernon Wells, May Have Cost Tony Reagins His Job
Tony Reagins is out as the general manager of the Angels after taking over the position in October, 2007. What’s sad, is that much like his predecessor, Bill Stoneman, Angels fans are celebrating the news of his demotion. Fans never want to celebrate the firing of a front office executive because that generally correlates to the team performing poorly. That was the case for the Angels, who missed the playoffs two straight years for the first time during Arte Moreno’s tenure as team owner.
The baseball world first questioned Reagins’ sanity when he traded for Vernon Wells, who had perhaps the worst contract in the entire league. Taking a chance on the former All-Star may have been a worthwhile pursuit if the team were getting a discount, but Reagins unfathomably took on Wells’ contract without asking for any compensation in return.
Not only were the Angels stuck with the remaining four years and $84 million left on Vernon’s deal, but they also GAVE AWAY players in return. When Tony Reagins is getting robbed, he doesn’t just give the burglars what they want, he shows them the safe and hands them the combination, too. The Angels inexplicably gave Toronto Juan Rivera and Mike Napoli, a decision that in my opinion, cost Reagins his job.
Simply acquiring a contract like Vernon Wells’ was already a fireable offense. For a team that came up short in the free agent bidding of Mark Teixeira, CC Sabathia, Adrian Beltre, and Carl Crawford, I can think of many better ways to have spent Arte Moreno’s money. But once Mike Napoli got flipped from Toronto to division rival Texas, Reagins was toast.
Initially projected to be a backup catcher and DH option, Mike Napoli became one of the Rangers’ best hitters by the end of the season. He finished second in the American League in OPS behind Jose Bautisa. He pounded 30 home runs in limited at-bats, hiting more home runs against the Angels than any other team. Want to know something interesting about Napoli’s performance against the Angels? All six of his home runs against the team came in Anaheim, a nice little “screw you” to management for trading him. Each home run he crushed against the Angels was more painful than the previous one, and each dinger was more of a reminder of how badly Tony Reagins had screwed up.
The Angels may have been able to live with another three years on Vernon’s contract, hoping he’d turn things around. But seeing Mike Napoli blow up — in your face no less — turned a horrible gamble into one of the worst trades in baseball.
Congratulations Mike Napoli, your awesomeness likely sealed the fate for one Tony Reagins. And my, do Angels fans wish we had you back.