A few weeks ago, when the Angels convened for their season-ending organizational meetings, there was a spirit of open-mindedness that hadn't been around for years, according to a veteran member of baseball operations.
The Angels, tired of seeing organizations run by bright, free-thinking minds overtake them, are sensing the need for change. That's why Tony Reagins is now an assistant to chairman Dennis Kuhl and not the Angels' general manager.
Here's an idea that might really move this team back into the elite: End the era of one-party rule.
Angels president John Carpino indicated the team will cast a wide net in its search for Reagins' successor. The last time the Angels had this opportunity, when Bill Stoneman stepped aside, they opted for the loyal team employee, Reagins, who had started as an intern and worked his way up to farm director. Instead of ushering in fresh ideas, they stuck with the status quo.
The Angels have gone against the trend in the rest of the league and invested most of the power in the manager's office. Mike Scioscia has input in personnel decisions most managers do not. When the Kansas City Royals asked for minor-league pitcher Will Smith in the Alberto Callaspo trade two seasons ago, one scout objected, saying he liked Smith's upside. Scioscia shot him down, calling Smith's repertoire, "vanilla." Smith, 22, was 13-9 with a 3.85 ERA at Double-A Northwest Arkansas last year.
It's not that building baseball operations around Scioscia is inherently wrong-headed -- he prepares as well as any manager and pays attention to the tiniest details -- but this is a good time to go to a power-sharing arrangement. It's called "creative tension," and it's been lacking around this organization for far too long.
The only way to make this work is to bring in a GM with some cachet. It doesn't have to be a former GM, like Pat Gillick, or even a big name. It could be a young, well-educated assistant with a vital new idea, one that might clash with Scioscia's views, but could move this organization ahead. It will take someone who believes in his ideas and is willing to go against conventional thinking.
It's time for the Angels to take a leap of faith and for Scioscia to come along for the ride.