Since purchasing the team from Disney, owner Arte Moreno has remade the Angels into one of, if not the most fan-friendly organizations in the sport. Parking for Dodgers' games is $15; parking in Anaheim is a mere $8.50. Hot dogs are a few bucks less, as are beers, and the Angels engage the fans in a series of contests throughout the game. More importantly, however, is the fact that the team, primarily under the leadership of ex-GM Bill Stoneman, kept the majority of their top young talent, while remaining in contention every year!
Manager Mike Scioscia is perhaps the best field-leader in the game, and the teams' patience with their young talent has been a benefit to them, particularly this season, as prospects Ervin Santana and Casey Kotchman are reaching the heights expected of them in prior seasons. They were able to trade one of the games' best shortstops, Orlando Cabrera, to the White Sox for pitcher Jon Garland, adding another starter to what has been their biggest strength. It turned out to be prophetic, as top starter John Lackey missed substantial time to start the season, and #2 starter Kelvin Escobar has yet to pitch this season and, when he does come back in a few weeks, will be relegated to the bullpen for the rest of the season. And yet, the team just rolls on, in first place, regardless of who's knocking on their door, and with at least seven outfielders (Anderson, Hunter, Guerrero, Rivera, Matthews, Quinlan and Willets) and, eventually, six starters (Garland, Santana, Lackey, Saunders, Weaver and Escobar) with top prospect, Nick Adenhart, ready for promotion soon (or trade bait).
Their main free agent at the end of the season will be top reliever, Francisco Rodriguez, who will probably end up re-signing with the halos as they're not in the habit of losing many players that they really want to keep and, in spite of protracted negotiations that haven't gone well to date, I'm sure new GM Tony Reagins wants to keep the best young reliever in baseball on his team for many years to come.
The Angels are the organizational model every team should model themselves after, and I hold out hope that Omar will rebuild the team in a similar fashion, even after all we've been through the past 4 seasons in the "win-now" atmosphere that is New York. Hey- I could think of a lot worse teams to model ourselves after...
Now, as always, Let's Go Mets!!!