Angels owner Arte Moreno apparently feels he has found a winning combination in manager Mike Scioscia and general manager Tony Reagins, because he has signed both to long-term contract extensions in the past few years.
You can't argue with their results thus far, although their relationship has fallen short of its ultimate goal: the World Series.
The Angels have won the American League West in each of Reagins' first three years since he took over for Bill Stoneman, who remains in a consulting position with the team. They finished two wins short of the franchise's second World Series appearance this past year.
Scioscia's reach extends well beyond that of most major league managers. Reagins speaks with him on a daily basis regarding trade and free-agent matters. Scioscia gives input into organizational matters that some managers aren't asked to comment on. Part of their unique relationship comes from Scioscia's micromanager personality, and some of it comes from his unique standing within the organization.
In many ways, Scioscia's mug has become the face of the Angels.
Manager and coaches
Before the 2000 season, when Stoneman hired a former Dodgers catcher with no major league managing experience, the Angels were one of baseball's sad-sack organizations. It took them 18 years to make their first playoff appearance. It took them 41 years to win their first playoff series (and their first World Series).
In 10 seasons, Scioscia has guided the Angels to six playoff appearances, three visits to the AL Championship Series and one world championship.
The 2009 season was his most challenging for a multitude of reasons, and the baseball writers rewarded him with his second manager of the year honor.
Within a week of Opening Day, the Angels were rocked by the death of 22-year-old pitcher Nick Adenhart. Scioscia and a handful of players traveled on a private plane Moreno chartered to attend the memorial service in Adenhart's Maryland hometown. Scioscia also spoke at a memorial service for the rest of the team at Angel Stadium shortly after the trip.
In addition, injuries to the Angels' rotation and bullpen forced Scioscia to come up with an ad hoc rotation through the early months of the season.
Scioscia, going into his 11th season, is the longest-tenured manager in the AL. As soon as Bobby Cox steps down following this season, he will be second to the Cardinals' Tony La Russa among all active major league managers in terms of longevity.
The Angels have been hurt by some attrition in the coaching ranks. Former bench coach Joe Maddon, now managing in Tampa Bay, and former pitching coach Bud Black, now manager of the San Diego Padres, were two of the brighter minds in the organization. Most of Scioscia's coaches, including hitting coach Mickey Hatcher, bench coach Ron Roenicke and first-base coach Alfredo Griffin, played with him on the Dodgers.
Reagins was a bit of a surprise choice when Stoneman announced he was entering semiretirement. Reagins, now 42, was the team's farm director and had spent virtually all his career inside the organization in various capacities.
When he signed his extension this past November, Reagins stated his goals: "Our expectation is to be the best team in baseball. So, I think you have to say that settling for anything less than a world championship is something we don't desire. We want to be the best."
He has proved more willing than Stoneman to part with young players in order to swing trades. He acquired first baseman Mark Teixeira and pitchers Jon Garland and Scott Kazmir. He awarded the biggest contract in franchise history to center fielder Torii Hunter (five years and $90 million) before the 2008 season.
Some have criticized Reagins for an inactive offseason. He has acquired designated hitter Hideki Matsui and pitchers Joel Pineiro and Fernando Rodney, but watched ace John Lackey, reliever Darren Oliver and hitters Chone Figgins and Vladimir Guerrero depart.
Reagins has benefited from working for Moreno, who has spent more freely than any other Angels owner in the team's nearly 50-year history. The Angels' payroll entering 2010 is expected to be in the $119 million range, slightly more than in 2009.
Mark Saxon covers the Angels for ESPNLosAngeles.com.