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Angels GM Minasian: Nevin not to blame for team's latest flop

Ronald Martinez / Getty Images Sport / Getty

ANAHEIM, Calif. (AP) — Manager Phil Nevin wasn't the reason for the Los Angeles Angels' massively disappointing season, general manager Perry Minasian says.

Nevin was simply the face of their latest failure, and that was enough to compel the Angels to part ways with their fourth manager in six years before they begin their next attempt to build a winner after nearly a decade of losing.

“Tough decision to make, (but) something that we felt like needed to happen,” Minasian said Tuesday. "We didn’t win enough games. In sports, when you have certain expectations and you don’t meet those expectations, there are changes. By no means does that mean Phil is to blame. He’s not. It’s all of us, me first and foremost. I’ve got to do a better job putting the club together.”

Nevin was dismissed Monday, a day after the Angels finished 73-89 in their eighth consecutive losing season and their ninth consecutive non-playoff season, both the longest skids in the majors. Minasian said he made the decision in consultation with owner Arte Moreno, whose franchise has made the playoffs once since 2009.

Moreno spent the past offseason exploring a sale of the Angels, only to pull the team off the market. Despite another failed year and the looming specter of Shohei Ohtani's free agency, Minasian repeatedly intimated the Angels will not undergo a thorough rebuild, but rather will try again to win by supplementing their current core.

“(Moreno) is as motivated as anybody to put a good team on the field, and I believe he did that this season,” Minasian said. “He really made a big investment in this club, did everything in his power, gave me the opportunity to bring in a lot of different players.”

Despite being five games over .500 at the trade deadline and spending into luxury tax territory in a desperate bid to make the playoffs with Ohtani for the first time, Los Angeles crashed out of the race in early August.

Minasian and Ohtani had a one-on-one talk last weekend before Ohtani left to continue his rehab one month before free agency. While many baseball observers are all but certain the two-way superstar and AL home run champion is headed elsewhere, Minasian and the Angels still believe they’ve got a shot to keep the unique talent who chose them in late 2017.

“Watching him play day in and day out has been a privilege,” Minasian said. “I believe this is a place that he’s enjoyed playing, and this is a place that he loves, and he’s got a group of teammates that he enjoyed his time with. And sure, is he disappointed we didn’t win? Absolutely. Everybody is. There were high expectations. … But you get the feeling that this is a place that he really, really appreciates, really respects, and we’ll just have to see what happens over the course of the offseason.”

Nevin certainly wasn’t responsible for the latest wave of injuries that engulfed the Angels, although this wasn’t an obvious playoff team even at full strength. Minasian, who is entering the final year of his own initial contract, blamed himself for the Angels' roster construction and organizational depth, saying he needed to acquire more talent to weather a full season.

The Angels had the second-worst injury record in the majors, both in days lost to the injured list (2,346) and player trips to the injured list (42). Los Angeles also used a franchise-record 66 players for the second consecutive season, largely due to those injury losses.

Ohtani, three-time AL MVP Mike Trout and third baseman Anthony Rendon all finished the season with lengthy stays on the injured list. While Ohtani tore a ligament in his pitching elbow in late August and eventually stopped hitting in early September, Trout played in just one game after breaking his hand on July 3, and Rendon didn’t return after injuring his leg with a foul ball on July 4.

Rendon, whose $245 million contract has surpassed Albert Pujols' deal as the epitome of Moreno's poor use of his own money, has played in 200 of the Angels’ 546 games since he signed because of innumerable injuries — and he has a .758 OPS when healthy.

Minasian vowed to “take a deep dive into the medical and ask ourselves, ‘Why?’”

"When we were healthy, we were a pretty competitive club," Minasian said. “There's no secret here. We need Mike Trout. We need Anthony Rendon. We need those guys to play more, and they know that. It's something that we've talked about, and they're going to go into the offseason and they're going to do everything in their power to be ready to go for next year. They know what they mean to this club.”



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