February 23, 2024

The World Series is something of a baseball convention, where two teams play for the championship while the sport’s movers and shakers congregate to debate the great questions of the day.

One of those movers and shakers here asked me one of the great questions of this day: What are the Angels doing?

The Angels probably won’t have Shohei Ohtani much longer. No secret there.

Beyond that: The Angels have no manager. They have a general manager with one year left on his contract, and they removed his top assistant. The pitching coach is gone and two coordinators who oversaw minor league pitching are gone, too.

Arte Moreno, the Angels’ owner, is getting input from some of the team’s most respected former players, including suggestions to consider Darin Erstad and Gary DiSarcina for manager.

Here is a suggestion from the World Series: Bring back another former player, Dan Haren, to figure out how to get the best from what has been a disappointing crop of young pitchers.

That has been Haren’s specialty with the National League champion Arizona Diamondbacks.

“You can’t beat Dan,” Game 3 starter Brandon Pfaadt said. “We’re lucky to have him.”

Zac Gallen, the Diamondbacks’ Game 1 starter, is 28. He will finish in the top 10 in Cy Young voting for the third time in four years.

Pfaadt is 25. He made his major league debut in May, and his regular season was not pretty. But, in four postseason starts, he has a 2.70 earned-run average, with three walks and 22 strikeouts.

The Angels are not rebuilding, much as they should, so their chance to succeed next season depends largely on the young pitchers who regressed this season, and on reinforcements from within.

Patrick Sandoval is 27. José Suarez is 25. Reid Detmers is 24.

Angels pitcher Reid Detmers delivers during a game against the Chicago White Sox at Angel Stadium in June.

Angels pitcher Reid Detmers delivers during a game against the Chicago White Sox at Angel Stadium in June.

(Gina Ferazzi / Los Angeles Times)

In 2021, the Angels selected a pitcher in all 20 rounds of the draft. Two have made the majors, each with a 0.4 WAR.

Brent Strom, the Diamondbacks’ acclaimed pitching coach, deserves much credit for the success of the Arizona staff. But the Diamondbacks pitchers also praise the work of Haren, who concentrates his efforts in strategy and game planning.

Haren showed up in Reno, the home of the Diamondbacks’ triple-A affiliate, two weeks before Ryne Nelson made his major league debut, to familiarize Nelson with the scouting reports he would provide.

“If it wasn’t for him, I would not really have known where to start and where to look and what are good stats to look at,” Nelson said. “He pitched at the highest level for a long time and was really successful. Being able to learn from him has been very beneficial.”

That was one of the sources of tension within the Angels: front-office staffers delivering what some in the clubhouse regarded as orders from above, rather than suggestions. The information might be the same, but it is no secret that many players prefer to hear it from one of their own.

Haren, a three-time All-Star, is one of their own.

“We’re completely prepared going into every start because of him,” Pfaadt said. “He gives us the whole scouting report, whether that be things that the hitters have done since the All-Star break or what-not. He’s able to break it down into the best way to pitch each guy.”

Said Merrill Kelly, the Diamondbacks’ Game 2 starter: “I think, as baseball players, we feel more comfortable when it’s coming from a baseball player. I’m not a scholar by any means, so when I have a guy from Yale or Princeton or something like that trying to translate their vernacular as far as how they look at baseball, to me it might not translate as well as it should.

“So, when I know it’s a guy who’s been in the trenches and knows how to get people out personally — not only on a computer, but also on the mound — I think it holds a little more weight for me.”

Mike Hazen, the Diamondbacks’ general manager, said Haren can do more than game planning.

“He is extremely smart, and driven,” Hazen said. “He can do anything. He is extremely talented.”

Whether Haren would be a fit in Anaheim, well, who knows? He could be a good pitching coach, or perhaps an organizational director of pitching, a key position in such organizations as the Baltimore Orioles and San Francisco Giants.

Haren lives in Irvine. Bringing him home would be a natural fit.

First, however, Moreno ought to decide what he plans to do with Perry Minasian. A general manager entering a lame-duck season is a detriment to attracting candidates with options to work elsewhere. Who would want to take a job when that job might expire a year from now, if Moreno hires a new general manager and that person hires his or her own people?

Miami skipper Skip Schumaker, for example, would be an outstanding hire as manager. He is unhappy the Marlins parted ways with general manager Kim Ng, and the Angels ought to find out whether the Marlins would let him out of his contract. But would he really come to the Angels if his boss could be ousted in consecutive years?

The Angels are about to hire their fourth manager in six years. Stability is the only way to attract the best candidates, and only Moreno can decide whether he wants to pledge that.

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