CHICAGO – It’s the most prominent item on Billy Eppler’s resume, so it’s impossible to ignore.
Despite how many want to see Eppler get this chance with Forests, how many believe he can succeed as the next general manager of the team – and that’s quite a number, based on a (very unofficial) people survey both remotely and here at MLB Owners Meetings – this would be his second hit in the big chair. His first shot went badly and resulted in five consecutive losses to Angels before being fired by owner Arte Moreno after the COVID shortened 2020 campaign.
Mets could officially announce Eppler as the new head of baseball operations as early as Thursday, as long as he passes the background check, and soon after that there will be a press conference where Eppler will answer media questions. Many of these questions refer to his kingdom with the Angels, which involved more than messy situations and unfortunate transactions.
Eppler will, of course, join in to guide the Forests forward. Yet these payrolls have a ritual of dealing with the past, taking into account what has happened, and looking ahead. Eppler is sure to be asked about these topics during his time in Southern California, among others:
1. The death of Tyler Skagg
Apologies for downplaying this tragedy by grouping it into less dramatic objects. However, the sudden death of the pitcher in June 2019 (at a team hotel in the Dallas / Fort Worth area) from a mixture of fentanyl, oxycodone and alcohol, opioids allegedly supplied to him by an Angels media relations officer, occurred in club baseball. operations department when Eppler led it. The case is still pending.
2. Mickey Callaway
Angels hired Callaway as their pitching coach for the 2020 season after Joe Maddon became manager on Moreno’s orders. Callaway, who was fired from Mets ’management positions after 2019, worked for one season in that position before The Athletic exposed undue communication with female journalists throughout his career as a coach and manager. Major League Baseball suspended Callaway during the 2022 sexual harassment campaign. Just as his new boss Sandy Alderson has faced questions about Callaway’s due diligence since Alderson chose him as Mets ’skipper for the 2018 season, so does Epplerk.
3. Sticky stuff
Bubba Harkins, a longtime Visiting Clubhouse manager at Angel Stadium, was loved throughout the field for decades… until MLB began fighting illegal sticky substances that helped feeders grab and spin baseball. Eppler fired him in March 2020, and Harkins later went bad, throwing Yankees ace Gerrit Cole (among other things) under the bus and suing MLB for defamation.
4. Free Agents and Extensions
Eppler’s biggest extension, Mike Trout, and the best free agency deal, Shohei Ohtani, may oppose any other similar acquisitions / holdings in the entire industry during that phase. However, another major expansion, in November 2017, that prevented import trader Justin Upton from using an opt-out clause, has suffered a setback: Upton performed excellently in 2018 and then generated undercompensation over the next three years. Zack Cozart, his most expensive free agent contract before Anthony Rendon, was bombed; Rendon registers a terrible 2021 with five years left in his mega-contract; and big-name, year-long gambits like Matt Harvey, Trevor Cahill, and Cody Allen failed. If the pitching agreements represented low risk, their failure with insufficient list depth prevented Angels from rising and Eppler from flourishing.
5. Amateur sketch
None of Angels ’first three drafts in Eppler’s 2016-2018 season have made a significant impact on the major leagues, although four of Angels’ top five players, according to MLB.com, were selected during Eppler’s reign. Unfortunately, Eppler failed to select and develop anyone in five years.