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Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Stoneman steps aside for Reagins

Successful Angels GM resigns to become consultant for club
By Lyle Spencer / MLB.com

ANAHEIM -- A door to a world of new challenges opened on Tuesday for Tony Reagins, selected to succeed Bill Stoneman as general manager of the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim.
Stability, continuity and seamless transition were identified by club owner Arte Moreno as the primary reasons for staying inside the organization to replace Stoneman, who will serve as his advisor on baseball matters.

"This organization is not broken," Reagins said during Tuesday's press conference at Angel Stadium, presided over by Moreno. "I don't need to come in and try to reinvent the wheel.

"We know where we've been and where we're going. We're committed to remain steadfast to bring a championship contender to Angels fans across the country, year in and year out."

Stoneman was the GM for eight years, producing four playoff teams, three American League West champions and a World Series champion in 2002.

Referring to diminished energy and the desire to free up more time for family and other interests, Stoneman introduced Reagins after emotionally thanking numerous people who made his eight years as GM memorable.

"I've known Tony since coming on the job here," Stoneman said of Reagins, the club's director of player development for the past six seasons and a member of the organization for 16 years. "This is one of the brightest, most energetic and dedicated guys I've known. He's able to get things done, and he understands the game very well, [understands] players very well.

Ken Forsch, Angels assistant GM for 10 years, will remain in that capacity, and Gary Sutherland, special assistant to the GM, also will stay on, Reagins said.

Abe Flores was promoted from manager of baseball operations to fill Reagins' role as director of player development, with player performance analyst Tory Hernandez also gaining a promotion to Flores' former role. Eddie Bane will continue as director of scouting.

Reagins is the 10th GM in franchise history. He is the first African-American to hold the position for the Angels and the second African-American GM in the Majors, joining Ken Williams of the Chicago White Sox.

Reagins has worked closely with Angels manager Mike Scioscia since the system provided six rookies for the 2002 club, Reagins' first year as director of player development.

Scioscia sees Reagins continuing the work Stoneman has done in creating a consistent winner in Anaheim.

"Bill's done a great job of laying the foundation for what we are right now," Scioscia said via conference call. "I know Tony has the same vision for where this organization should go.

"Tony has a lot of similarities to Bill in his sense of duty and diligence. He's not afraid to take chances, and he's a good [talent] evaluator. He's going to be great at this position. Tony's a good communicator, terrific with people. He's got the key components for a general manager."

Moreno said the organization would do everything "within reason" to give Scioscia what he needs to bring another championship to Southern California, adding that he "felt it was important to give Mike more responsibility."

Asked if he anticipated playing a more prominent role in personnel decisions with a less experienced GM on the job, Scioscia replied that he and his coaching staff always have had input on player moves.

"We've been given some terrific clubs, and I don't think that's going to change," Scioscia said. "To say I'm going to have a larger role, I don't know how I could have a larger role without moving into the general manager's chair."

That, he added, is something that has not come up in conversations with management, and he is not interested in leaving the dugout or having a dual role.

Repeating his state-of-the-Angels message delivered after they'd been swept by Boston in the American League Division Series, Scioscia said the club's primary offseason need is improving its slugging percentage.

"Although we made the most out of the offense we had," the manager said, "a little more batter's box offense, particularly in slugging percentage, is what we need at the Major League level.

"With outside sources, that's the No. 1 priority we're going to address, getting deeper in the batter's box."

He added that injury-free seasons from Garret Anderson, Casey Kotchman, Howard Kendrick and Gary Matthews Jr. could help significantly in that department. Each missed significant time with various injuries in 2007.

Matthews, Anderson and relief pitcher Justin Speier were among those attending Tuesday's press conference.

Working his way up from the ground floor, Reagins joined the organization in 1992 as an intern in baseball operations and marketing in 1992. He became a full-time member of baseball operations in April 1998, rising through the ranks.

"Under his direction, the Angels' farm system has developed the core of talent graded one of the top five in baseball the last five years," Moreno said. "I feel it's important to continue to build from within. It makes it easy for me to keep Bill at my side to help with baseball decisions and help Tony move forward.

"We talked about this when I bought the team [after the 2002 season]. We felt stability was important to the team. That's one of the reasons we felt this was an important decision."

Stoneman assumed the job on Nov. 1, 1999. Seventeen days later, Scioscia was named manager, and the two have worked in tandem to direct the most successful run in franchise history.

During the final week of the regular season, after the Angels had wrapped up the AL West title, Stoneman talked about what an exciting season it had been and that he was happy in Anaheim under Moreno.

"The decision is one I've known for quite a while I was going to have to make," said Stoneman, who had the option to remain in the GM's chair had he chosen to do so. "As time went on, I realized I'm getting older, and you really don't have the energy you once had.

"You have to face that as a fact. In order to do this job, you have to have a ton of energy. There are so many elements you think about. The main thing was, I was worn down and was coming to that realization.

"I don't have the same energy I brought into this job. It was really time for the betterment of the Angels to step aside for somebody who was a lot more energetic -- yet knows the Angels as well as I do -- to take over and provide a seamless transition in behind the scenes operations here."

Three other high-profile general managers -- Atlanta's John Schuerholz, Minnesota's Terry Ryan and St. Louis' Walt Jocketty -- recently have walked away from their jobs, citing the job's multiple and time-consuming demands.

Stoneman, 63, pitched for eight seasons in the Major Leagues and authored two no-hitters for the Montreal Expos. He took the Angels to unprecedented levels of success by focusing on player development and building from within while going outside to add key free agents such as Vladimir Guerrero, Bartolo Colon, Orlando Cabrera and Matthews.

Reagins has been chiefly responsible for the club's Minor League system, which includes seven affiliates and a club in San Pedro de Macoris, Dominican Republic.

Reagins, 41, is a graduate of Cal State Fullerton University. He's a native of Indio, Calif., where he was an all-CIF tailback on the Indio High School football team in the mid-1980s. He played American Legion baseball in Indio.

Reagins was joined at the press conference by his wife, Colleen, and their daughter, Kennedy.

Lyle Spencer is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.


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