May 16, 2012

You don't have Mickey Hatcher to kick around any more

Say what you will about Mickey Hatcher; but know this, a good man lost his job yesterday.  His detractors were many and they were loud and they were harsh. Whether or not Hatcher was deserving of such criticism is up for debate –but the consensus among Angel nation is pretty clear – he almost certainly had to go.

While a great many Angel fans are dancing in the street today; I have a different view.  I want to remember the man for the way he carried himself.  Despite the constant criticism, Mickey Hatcher never appeared angry, frustrated or even defensive.  He always seemed to be smiling and positive.  He certainly showed more class than many of his detractors.

Hatcher’s dismissal raises a boat load of questions and there is certainly no shortage of speculation in around baseball right now.  How will this move impact Mike Scioscia’s authority?  Why now?  Did this come down from Arte Moreno himself or is this Jerry Dipoto sending a message to the players and coaches that there is indeed a new man in charge and he’s not messing around?

I am in no position to judge whether or not Mickey Hatcher was a good hitting coach.  Is there even such a thing?  I know about as much about hitting as I do piloting a space ship.  I do know that the Angels have had an approach and philosophy that was all about being aggressive and making the effort to put the ball in play. 

It’s a style that I have loved to watch; and yet – it has appeared to me that so many things; maybe too many things had to always go right for the Angels offense to be successful.  I also know that Mickey Hatcher got his marching orders from Mike Scioscia and the Angels’ approach wasn’t necessarily Hatcher’s – it was most definitely Scioscia’s.

It’s a new day and it will be interesting to see how things unfold from here.  All eyes will be on Scioscia to see how he responds to all of this.  This can’t be easy.  Clearly he and Hatcher are close and have been through a great many things together.  I won’t blame him if he’s a little on edge, all things considered.

A lot of people are going to make this all about him and I believe that will make him uncomfortable.  People are going to talk about his contract that runs through 2018 (although he can opt out after 2015).  The focus and the scrutiny are going to be more intense.  Scioscia doesn’t strike me as the kind of guy, who likes having the focus on him,

Think about this – whenever the Angels are part of a national broadcast and there is an interview of a manager in the dugout – you don’t see Scioscia on camera.  He has always put his coaches in the position to answer the questions that are being asked.

Scioscia never makes it about himself.  When Nick Adenhart died and reporters asked over and over again about how the team was handling things – Scioscia always said “it’s not about us – it’s about Nick’s family and doing what we can to help them.”

When you know that about Scioscia it makes this situation all the more interesting.

On XM radio’s Power Alley this morning – Mike Ferrin and Jim Duquette spent the first half hour of their show talking about the whole thing and Duquette said it’s clear to him that for the first time ever – Mike Scioscia is on the clock. 


I say “wow” because Duquette is probably right.  How did it come to this?  All the good will that was developed from 2002 through 2009 is gone.  Again, it’s a new day.

Baseball may be America’s favorite pastime; but the blame game is probably a close second.  Lots of fingers are being pointed these days in Anaheim and there is unrest and frustration the likes of which I have never seen.

Angel fans have gone from the highest of highs with the announcement of Albert Pujols coming to  Anaheim to the lowest of lows with each and every time the Angels get shut out (8 times now).  Something had to give and unfortunately for Mickey Hatcher – it was his job.

I am curious as I’m sure most of you are about how Scioscia is taking this, but I also know that we aren’t likely to ever know.  I imagine the world is a little bit of a lonelier place for him right now and that he is searching within himself for answers. 

And then t here’s Jerry Dipoto.  Since his arrival the team has shipped off long time Scioscia favorite Jeff Mathis to Toronto, acquired a high on base percentage type of hitter in Mathis’ replacement – Chris Iannetta; demoted Jordan Walden; shipped Kevin Jepsen to AAA; released Bobby Abreu, promoted Mike Trout and put him at the top of the order, and fired Mickey Hatcher.  Dipoto also signed Albert Pujols, C.J. Wilson, LaTroy Hawkins and acquired Ernesto Frieri.

And let’s not forget that Dipoto totally cleaned house in the front office.  There is no question what-so-ever as to who is in charge and whose will is being exerted in Anaheim.

Mike Scioscia’s fingerprints are all over the organization.  His philosophy and style of play has been infused at every level.  He has been the face of the organization for many years now.  When you think about the Oakland A’s – Billy Beane immediately comes to mind.  When you think about Red Sox recent run – you associate it with Theo Epstein.  For the Rangers – the face is Nolan Ryan.  In most cases – the face of an organization isn’t the manager, unlike in Anaheim.

Jerry Dipoto clearly has a plan and he’s definitely on a mission.  He too has a philosophy and it appears that it is direct conflict with the way Scioscia approaches the game.

Can the two co-exist?  I’m not sure.

The public perception of Scioscia is that he is stubborn and unwavering.  Whether or not that’s true to who he really is remains to be seen.  If true – his tenure in Anaheim may be in peril.  Something has to give and if it comes to that it will be a sad day because I believe Scioscia is the best thing that has ever happened to the Angels, period.

At the end of the day we all want the same thing – we want the Angels to be back on top – not only in the west, but in all of baseball.  The expectations are high and they should be. 

The most disappointing thing about all of this is that instead of talking about how well the Angels are playing; we are focused on all the things that have made this season a disaster so far.  That’s incredibly sad.  It was supposed to be like this.

The organization is experiencing growing pains and we should emphasize the word “pain” for sure.

In closing, I wish Mickey Hatcher well.  I will always appreciate his enthusiasm and happy-go-lucky nature.  I admired the way he handled adversity.  We should all be so classy.


  1. Bob in section 514May 16, 2012

    Kudos to you for an excellent analysis that I believe is spot-on. I'm glad to see that even you are starting to realize that everything is not hunky-dory in Halo land. Angels fans should be grateful that we now have a competent GM who is astute enough to understand that things could not continue on their present path. Hopefully, this will be a wake up call to Scioscia, the coaches and players that the season is slipping away even though it is only May. My criticisms of Scioscia have been well documented in this space. And again, James, I am not questioning his managerial ability or his past accomplishements. I just believe he has gotten stale here and the players no longer are responding to him. We'll see if that changes now or if more shakeups are needed. A good manager/coach adapts his style to the talent on his team, not the other way around. If, in fact, Hatcher's firing is indicative that DiPoto is stripping power away from Scioscia, in my mind that is a good thing and is long overdue.

  2. Bob in section 514May 16, 2012

    One more thing, James. Following is a quote from DiPoto which should make every true Halo fan smile. "We're all accountable, to a certain extent, for what we've been given as our responsibility. I'm included in that. Mike's included in that. Obviously Mickey's included in that, and this is a move that we're making in an attempt to jump-start an offense and to instill a philosophy that we believe has the power to last." One of the biggest problems I have seen with the Angels the past 2 1/2 years is a seeming lack of accountability. Firing Tony Reagins was a great first step. The actions & words of DiPoto are so refreshing because they show that he is paying attention and will not tolerate the apathy & lack of results that we have seen on the field this season.

  3. Jerry Dipoto has placed notice that he will be last in line to be fired if the team continues to stumble.

    I remain unconvinced that the Pujols signing, so far a total disaster, was not Arte Moreno's idea. If so, it will be Scioscia and Dipoto who pay the price for it.