September 28, 2005
Stoneman Rock Solid
He gets little attention compared to GM’s with most other teams, but Angel general manager Bill Stoneman has now crafted his third playoff team in four years … a better job than more celebrated colleagues in LA, San Francisco, San Diego and Oakland.
And Stoneman has used just about every tool a GM has to acquire talent.
Team owner Arte Moreno supplied the money, but Stoneman chose to spend it on Vladimir Guerrero and Bartolo Colon. He and Moreno were repaid with an MVP for one and possible Cy Young Award for the other … plus two divisional titles. Stoneman brought in Orlando Cabrera and Paul Byrd, less expensive but still important free agents who made key contributions in the September stretch run.
The Steve Finley and Esteban Yan signings didn’t work out as well (like earlier signings of Kevin Appier and Aaron Sele). But Stoneman has shown some skill over the years in turning errors into opportunities.
When free agent Jose Guillen, who was having the best season of his career, turned surly at the end of last season, Stoneman was able to trade him to Washington for Juan Rivera and Maicer Izturis. Both have been solid players for the Angels this season.
Stoneman's trade of Jim Edmonds to St. Louis looked like a disaster when the pitcher the Angels got in return – Kent Bottenfield – flamed out in 2000. But the minor leaguer who also came over in the deal – Adam Kennedy – has turned in six fine years as the Angels’ second baseman. Stoneman also was saved when his 2001 trade of Darin Erstad to the White Sox for Chris Singleton and jon Garland was vetoed by then-team boss Tony Tavares.
And Stoneman has found talent in unlikely places. Chone Figgins, perhaps the MVP of the Angels this year, came over in a minor league trade in 2001. David Eckstein – who’s now in St. Louis – was the Angels’ sparkplug in 2002 and 2004. He was picked up for pennies when Boston released him in 2000. Backup catcher Jose Molina became an Angel in 2001 after the Cubs cut him loose.
As for home-grown players … : Most of the stars from the Angels’ farm system – Garrett Anderson, Bengie Molina, Darin Erstad, Jarrod Washburn, Scot Shields, Francisco Rodriguez, John Lackey and Robb Quinlan – were signed years ago when Bill Bavasi was either the farm system director or the GM, and Bob Fontaine was in charge of scouting. Fontaine was also the guy who brought in Jim Edmonds, Tim Salmon, Troy Percival and Troy Glaus.
Stoneman’s own collection of farm system talent is just arriving in the big leagues now … with pitcher Ervin Santana the pick of a crop that includes 1B Casey Kotchman and 3B Dallas McPherson. Santana has 11 wins as a rookie starter, including the pennant-clinching victory on Tuesday. Kotchman’s stats in limited play this season might open the way for Darin Erstad to return to the outfield next season. McPherson was hurt for most of this year, but he’s the reason the Angels didn’t re-sign Troy Glaus. And there’s more talent on the way, topped by catcher Jeff Mathis.
What Stoneman has NOT done is the one thing most fans wanted him to do. He hasn’t tried to make big mid-season deals to bolster his team … even if the team is struggling. In 2002, 2004 and 2005, he willingness to stand pat ended with a plaoff appearance.
Maybe it’s patience … or reluctance … or confidence. Whatever it is, it’s working for Bill Stoneman.
Posted by Nick Roman at 7:48 PM
Bill Stoneman does deserve more credit for the job that he has done, but Stoneman does not seem to care much for the limelight, and I think he's perfectly happy to let the results on the field and in the stands speak for him.
I have to point out that Kevin Appier was not a Stoneman signing. The Angels got Appier in exchange for Mo Vaughn, who was a Bill Bavasi/Disney signing. And the Erstad to the White Sox trade was vetoed by Michael Eisner, who was afraid of the backlash in light of the firestorm of criticism that was ignited by the Edmonds deal. Tony Tavares was just Eisner's mouthpiece in the matter, and as proof of Tavares' inability to quash a bad deal, I give you the Expos' ridiculous trade four seasons ago when Tavares allowed Omar Minaya to trade Brandon Phillips, Grady Sizemore and Cliff Lee to the Indians for rent-a-pitcher Bartolo Colon.
What Stoneman learned from all those years with the Expos, mainly in the front office handling contracts and other financial matters, is that you have to be careful with the farm system. By comparison, if you look at the Nationals today, the farm system is weak, and a lot of that is due to decisions that were made after Stoneman left. The Expos went through a number of GMs in the time that Stoneman was a club v.p., but the one constant was the talent coming up from the minors, and I don't think you can discount Stoneman's role in maintaining it. The same appears to be true of the Angels today. As an example, the story that has been floated is that he refused to trade Ervin Santana for Mike Sweeney of Kansas City when everybody was screaming that the Angels needed offensive help this season.
Nonetheless, thanks for giving Bill Stoneman a well-deserved moment in the spotlight.
Posted by: Andrew Torres on September 29, 2005 7:40 AM