Joe Maddon is the new Angels manager

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UPDATE, 11:38 AM: It’s official. The Angels have announced that Joe Maddon has been hired and has agreed to a three-year contract. There will be a press conference next week.

9:54 AM: Jon Heyman reports that the Angels are close to a deal with former Cubs’ manager Joe Maddon.

Not a shock.

Ever since Maddon left the Cubs it’s been strongly suspected that the Angels wanted him and that he wanted to work for them. Indeed, it was only when it became clear that the Cubs would let Maddon walk that the Angels fired Brad Ausmus after only one year on the job.

Maddon, 65, spent 31 years in the Angels organization as a player, scout and minor and major league coach before moving into managing at the big league level with the Tampa Bay Rays, leading them to the 2008 AL pennant. After that, of course, he moved on to the Cubs where he led them to a World Championship in 2015.

The Angels job is not going to be an easy one for Maddon and wouldn’t be easy for anyone else for that matter. The club has posted four straight losing seasons despite employing the best player in the game in Mike Trout. Pitching has been a major problem and it will take considerable work, likely over multiple seasons, for that to turn around. And that’s before one takes into account the current scandal rocking the organization in the wake of Tyler Skaggs’ death, which has led to an ongoing legal investigation and general turmoil.

Still, an organization in crisis is better served with a strong leader, and Maddon’s reputation in that regard is plain. It’s also a plus that he, quite clearly, wants to be in Anaheim. All of which is to say that this will be a good hire for the Angels, even if the club faces challenges that merely hiring a good manager cannot address.

Rays’ Erik Neander named Executive of the Year

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At the GM meetings in Scottsdale, Arizona on Monday, Rays GM Erik Neander was named the recipient of Major League Baseball’s Executive of the Year Award for the 2019 season. The Yankees’ Brian Cashman was the runner-up while the Athletics’ Billy Beane and the Twins’ Derek Falvey tied for third place.

Neander has worked for the Rays since 2017 but has operated in his current role since November 2016, taking over for Matthew Silverman who was promoted to president of the Rays alongside Brian Auld.

The Rays had, by far, the lowest payroll in baseball at $53.5 million, according to USA TODAY. Neander’s peers voting him Executive of the Year on the same today the league had to curtail its awarding of a prize belt to the team that suppressed salaries the most in arbitration is… certainly interesting timing.

At any rate, Neander’s Rays went 96-66 in 2019, finishing in second place in the AL East behind the 103-59 Yankees. The Rays claimed the second AL Wild Card and defeated the A’s to earn entry into the ALDS where they lost in five games to the Astros. It was the Rays’ first playoff appearance since 2013 and their regular season win total was second-most in franchise history behind the 2008 team (97).