Joe Maddon fired by Angels: Manager out in midst of 12-game losing streak, says he was surprised by decision

Joe Maddon fired by Angels: Manager out in midst of 12-game losing streak, says he was surprised by decision

Mired in the longest single-season losing streak in franchise history, the Los Angeles Angels made a change at manager Tuesday afternoon. The team announced Joe Maddon has been relieved of his duties, and third base coach Phil Nevin will serve as interim manager. Maddon’s firing comes on the heels of Angels’ 12th straight loss Monday night, a 1-0 defeat to the Boston Red Sox at home. 

This is tied for the longest single-season losing streak in franchise history and the second longest losing streak overall, behind a 13-game losing streak spanning the final 12 games in 1988 and the first game in 1989. They were still the California Angels back then.

The Angels are 6-18 since their 21-11 start, and FanGraphs puts their postseason odds at 29.9 percent. They were 81.4 percent as recently as May 15. The Halos are 1 1/2 games behind the sixth and final American League wild card spot, though there are two teams ahead of them in the standings and three teams within 1 1/2 games behind them.

The 12-game losing streak has been a Murphy’s Law losing streak in which anything that can go wrong is going wrong. Anthony Rendon and Taylor Ward are out with injuries, meaning the lineup is extremely thin behind Mike Trout and Shohei Ohtani, and the rotation has come back to Earth following an encouraging April and first half of May. The bullpen has blown several leads too.

Runs scored per game

5.06

3.54

4.41 (12th in MLB)

Runs allowed per game

3.59

4.67

4.23 (16th in MLB)

Run differential

plus-47

minus-37

plus-10 (15th in MLB)

The Angels are running a franchise record $188.6 million payroll this season, and with Trout and Rendon signed long-term at big dollars and Ohtani set to become a free agent after next season, the club has little choice but to push ahead and hope to make a run at a postseason spot this year. The organization’s sense of urgency is apparent in the decision to replace Maddon.

Hired prior to the 2020 pandemic season, Maddon went 130-148 (.467) in parts of three seasons in what was technically his third stint as Angels manager. He briefly managed the team on an interim basis in 1996 (8-14) and 1999 (19-10). Maddon played in the Angels farm system before beginning his coaching career with the organization in 1980s, and gradually climbing the ladder.

Maddon is the second manager fired this season and the second manager fired in the last week — the Philadelphia Phillies fired Joe Girardi last Friday. In their first series under interim manager Rob Thomson, the Phillies swept Maddon’s Angels this past weekend. Girardi and Maddon are the first managers fired at midseason since the St. Louis Cardinals fired Mike Matheny in July 2018.

Similar to the Phillies and Girardi, the Angels gave Maddon a star-laden yet top heavy roster that was short on depth. Both teams have obvious roster construction issues, but, like Girardi, Maddon did not seem to do the best he could with the personnel available to him. His lineup and bullpen decisions left a lot to be desired, especially lately, during the 12-game losing streak.

The Angels did not make the postseason under Maddon and the team has made the postseason just once in Trout’s 10 full seasons. That was a three-game sweep at the hands of the Kansas City Royals in the 2014 ALDS. The Angels have not won a postseason round (or even a postseason game) since 2009.

Prior to returning to the Angels in 2020, Maddon enjoyed very successful managerial tenures with the Tampa Bay Rays (2006-2014) and Chicago Cubs (2015-19). He led the Rays to their first ever American League pennant in 2008, and of course managed the Cubs to their first World Series championship in 108 years in 2016. 

Maddon spoke to Ken Rosenthal shortly after learning of his termination and said this when asked whether he was surprised by the decision: 

“A little bit. Actually, a lot. You always rely on people in charge to read the tea leaves properly. This time, they did not. You didn’t even have to ask me. You can ask any of the players or coaches. They’re the ones who really know.

“Perry (Minasian) was in a tough spot. I understand that. Let me just put it that way. I would really rely on the sentiments of the coaches and the players.”

Maddon also said he wants to continue managing. “Of course I want to manage,” he told Rosenthal. “I’m really good at it.”

As for Nevin, 51, he was in his first season as Angels third base coach after spending the previous four seasons with the New York Yankees in the same role. This is his first MLB managerial job, though he has extensive managerial experience at the Triple-A level, and he has interviewed for several big-league manager positions in recent years.

Maddon, 68, was in the final guaranteed year of his contract, which included a club option for 2023. With a 1,382-1,216 (.532) career record, Maddon is 31st all-time in managerial wins and 31st all-time in games managed.

The Angels will play the second game of their four-game home series with the Red Sox on Tuesday night.


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