Another Side To Arte And The Angels
It has been a common exercise in the media of late.
With the McCourt divorce case throwing the Dodgers into chaos, people have paused to praise the Angels and Arte Moreno, who seem to be doing everything perfect by comparison.
Unless, of course, you look a little closer and notice that things are far from perfect deep inside the organization in Anaheim.
The rest of the country’s sagging economy has nothing on the Angels, who seem to be loping respected people off their payroll at an alarming rate.
The latest was Ned Bergert, who’d only been with the club for 36 years, 20 of them as the head trainer. To those of us who’d been around the team, Bergert was the epitome of a professional and loyal employee. In May 2005, he received a prestigious award from the
National Athletic Trainers’ Association for achieving a degree of excellence in his field.
But after all those years and all that loyalty, Bergert, at age 55, was handed a pink slip. He wasn’t alone, either. Gary Sutherland, who’d been with the team 11 years and served as special assistant to the general manager, was also let ago.
This happened not long after Eddie Bane, the team’s director of scouting since 2003, was fired. Widely respected in the baseball community, Bane didn’t stay unemployed long. Reports surfaced this week that he has accepted a new job with the Detroit Tigers.
Then there was Nancy Mazmanian, who was only one of the better public relations people in Southern California, if not the country. It has been a couple of years now since she was told her services weren’t needed, although there wasn’t a more devoted, harder working or efficient employee of the team at any level. There are a lot of us who still can’t figure that one out.
The thing is, some of these moves come off as cold and heartless. Several of those dispatched are at an age where it is difficult to get any new job, let alone one that pays as well. Then there is the insurance coverage they no longer will have as they move into their later years.
No one — except Moreno — knows why all this is happening, although it does seem some of the people who had been on the job a long time have been replaced by younger people. And yes, the presumption is those younger people are working for considerably less money than those who proceeded them.
Money has to be at the root of this, although in Bane’s case it seems more likely that he and GM Tony Reagins had philosophical differences. If true, that’s interesting, because Bane is a longtime baseball man who only a year and a half ago drafted Mike Trout late in the first round. Today, there are many who think Trout is the No. 1 prospect in the major leagues.
Reagins, meanwhile, received his college degree in marketing and began his career with the Angels 19 years ago as an intern. He’s had success as head of the club’s player development department, but he has not had anything close to the extensive scouting background of Bane.
The real point here is that while Moreno talks about spending money freely to acquire players and recounts all he tries to do for his season ticket holders, things cannot be comfortable for his current employees, many of whom have to be looking over their shoulders in light of what has gone on of late.
Are the Angels well run in comparison to the bizarre McCourt Show across town? No question.
But are they really the model for a perfect baseball organization?
I’m betting there are more than a few disgruntled ex-employees who would love to tell you what they really think about that.
— STEVE BISHEFF