Interview conducted by Lou Garcia – Angelswin.com Representative
November 12th, 2008
So it has been about a year since the last time we hooked up with the General Manager of the Los Angeles Angels, Tony Reagins opened his office for us again to answer a variety of questions ranging from his first year as GM, the Angels direction this off-season, who may contribute in ’09 from within, while sharing about Obama and what it means to be just the 2nd African American General Manager in Major League Baseball.
With no further ado, Angelswin.com-Lou Garcia with GM Tony Reagins talkin’ Angels Baseball and more below.
Angelswin.com: Excellent first season as the General Manager of the Angels, Tony. What was your favorite memory of the year?
Tony Reagins: Well, it’s tough because it had a lot of highs and lows. Probably the best memory was clinching the division. That was a fun time just to see the players release that energy after battling through Spring Training and the season so that was probably one of the highlights.
Angelswin.com: Yeah, I don’t think some people realize just what a long haul it is to actually get there.
Tony Reagins: Yeah, it is, it’s a very long haul and it starts right now in the off-season. This is really a 12 month operation. You don’t just show up to Spring Training and roll the balls out and get it done. It’s a long process.
Angelswin.com: So what is a typical day for you right now in the off-season?
Tony Reagins: I’m still talking to the other GM’s, just kind of feeling out the process. We had a good chance to see one another face-to-face at the GM meetings last week, so that was good to speak face-to-face with some of the guys. You’ll go through the process of making some phone calls and trying to prepare the club for next season.
Angelswin.com: What is something you learned going through your first season as General Manager that you weren’t really expecting?
Tony Reagins: Just going through the process. It’s a process that, having not gone through it, things happen in cycles. So understanding the cycle, understanding the different timelines and deadlines that you have to meet. All of that. I had an idea, but having to be the guy that implements that stuff was, not a challenge, but something that you just hadn’t gone through.
Angelswin.com: Do you think that was the most difficult part of the job?
Tony Reagins: I think there’s different challenges and different aspects. Relationships with different agents, players, the coaching staff … there’s different challenges.
Angelswin.com: How difficult is it when you’re dealing with agents because they have one agenda, you have another, and they do overlap at times but at times they don’t.
Tony Reagins: At the end of the day I think both parties have the best interest of the player at heart. So when you understand that, trying to understand their position, I just learned to understand the agent is going to be an advocate for the player and a fierce advocate, and I have to be an advocate for the club and this organization because at the end of the day you just try to make the best situation for both the player and the organization.
Angelswin.com: What’s the most enjoyable part of the job?
Tony Reagins: Winning. I think that’s one of the things that I have to continue to learn to manage as far as wins and losses . The losses become much more difficult and the wins, they’re sweet, but they don’t last very long. So just being able to be on more of an even keel .
Angelswin.com: Is it easier to turn the page after a win?
Tony Reagins: The page gets turned quickly whether you like it or not.
Angelswin.com: So what do you think the team’s weaknesses are now and as fans, what can we expect for the off-season?
Tony Reagins: You can expect us to, and not just this year, but for years to come, to be competitive and contending. I think the commitment that not only Arte has shown, but also this coaching staff, there’s been a commitment to the fans that we’re going to put a quality product on the field. As far as what the team is missing, we definitely have interest in Mark and he is very good at what he does and we think he’d be a significant piece in our lineup, but if that doesn’t happen we’ll go look in other areas.
Angelswin.com: Would you consider him Plan A?
Tony Reagins: I consider him a plan …
Angelswin.com: Is he a guy you would build a team around?
Tony Reagins: We’re not looking to build around any one player. I think you play as a team and win as a team. I think what’s important is that you put the pieces together and they flow and they operate as you expect them to operate. I think building a team around any one player … I just think that this is overstated and I think it’s a team concept.
Angelswin.com: What about the way he plays?
Tony Reagins: I think the way he plays has an influence on our lineup. He doesn’t give away many at-bats. Normally you’re going to get a quality at-bat out of Mark and it’s a patient at-bat and sometimes that effects what’s ahead of him and what’s behind him.
Angelswin.com: Do you think other players have learned from him to perhaps take the walk when it’s there?
Tony Reagins: I don’t know, in that short span, a month and a half to two months I think he may have had some influence, but I don’t know how much.
Angelswin.com: What about the organizational approach ? Seeing him take at-bats like that, do you think that’ll have any influence on how it filters down to the minor leagues or even other players on the roster?
Tony Reagins: I don’t know if it’s one specific player that says, ” Hey, you got to take walks” because we’ve always been an aggressive team, but we think there is a place where seeing more pitches is more important than just the walk. Seeing more pitches and driving that opposing pitcher’s pitch count up is important, so seeing more pitches is probably more important than just the “walk”.
Angelswin.com: If for some reason you aren’t able to re-sign Mark, are there any regrets on the trade?
Tony Reagins: No. You really try not to look back. You make a deal and you make a decision and you have to live with that decision whether it works out or doesn’t work out. When we’re in that mode, we were trying to win a World Series and again, trying to do everything for not only this organization but for our fans. But we just came up short.
Angelswin.com: On that note, how frustrated do you think the front office and Arte Moreno is losing again not only in the 1st Round, but to the Red Sox again ?
Tony Reagins: Whoever the opposition is, I don’t think whether it’s the Red Sox or anybody else, when you lose in a short series in the 1st Round it’s not fun. I think we’re all frustrated because we felt to a man – players and coaches and I think a lot of people in the industry felt that this team was probably one of the best teams in baseball. We didn’t play well in that 1st Round and when you don’t play well you don’t have a long stay in the postseason.
Angelswin.com: Does the A’s acquiring Matt Holliday have any influence on the team’s decision as to how far you’ll go to re-sign Mark ?
Tony Reagins: What any other organization does doesn’t have any bearing on what we try to do.
Angelswin.com: What about pitching? As it stands now, it looks like you’ll be looking for a 5th starter. Is it something that you think can be handled from within the organization or will you be looking outside for another starter?
Tony Reagins: You know, that’s a possibility. We have youngsters that are capable of being the 5th starter. Really what we’re looking for in a 5th starter is somebody who’s going to give us innings and give us a competitive outing each time out and we have pitchers internally that can do that. It remains to be seen whether that materializes in that manner, but we really pride ourselves on pitching well and catching the baseball. Historically we’ve pitched well and we think we have four real good young pitchers along with Lackey, who’s getting a little bit older now. We should be fine in the pitching area.
Angelswin.com: Any chance of looking at a front-line starter as far as a free agent?
Tony Reagins: You never say no on really any opportunity . Some opportunity may present itself that we weren’t expecting but makes sense for us, and if that’s the case and it materializes we’ll act on it.
Angelswin.com: Is there any concern with Nick Adenhart? He struggled up here which most pitchers do when they first come up, especially at his age, but when was sent back down to Salt Lake he was walking a lot of batters. Is there any concern with his control or maybe mentally?
Tony Reagins: I think that’s an important aspect. I think most players when they get to this level physically have the tools to compete and compete at a high level. But what separates them is the mental side of it. The mental preparation and being able to execute pitches, throwing the baseball where you want to and at what time you want to in the count. I think those are areas that Nick needs to continue to work on. I like his stuff, like his ability, he’s healthy, he just has to put it all together. We haven’t given up on him by any means.
Angelswin.com: You mentioned that there were pitchers within the organization that you think can actually step in and contribute. Who else would you consider in that position?
Tony Reagins: Obviously Dustin Moseley has done it before so he could be an option. Shane Loux is an option. Adenhart’s an option. Anthony Ortega is an option. Nick Green has struggled in the off-season so he’s probably a longshot. Those type of guys are probably capable of doing that role.
Angelswin.com: As far as Frankie’s concerned, we really haven’t heard anything as far as any kind of negotiations ..
Tony Reagins: That’s a good thing.
Angelswin.com: That we’re not hearing about it?
Tony Reagins: Yeah
Angelswin.com: With this organization, I guess it is!
Tony Reagins: (laughs) Right
Angelswin.com:… because usually when we hear something it’s wrong anyway.
Tony Reagins: (more laughter)
Angelswin.com: Well, if he doesn’t come back, do you think Mike’s comfortable having Jose Arredondo close or do you think it’s something where he would turn to Scot Shields and maybe give him the first crack at it since he’s done it before, albeit on a limited basis and he’s been here for quite a while?
Tony Reagins: We think both players are capable of getting those last 3 outs at the end of a game, but we haven’t turn the page on Francisco yet, so it’s just a matter of how this whole off-season plays out as to what the roles will have in the bullpen.
Angelswin.com: Another player we haven’t heard much about is Juan Rivera. Is there any chance he comes back? I mean, he’s one player we haven’t heard anything about, not only from this organization but from the outside looking in.
Tony Reagins: Good player. Healthy he’s a real good player. Yeah, there’s a chance that he returns. There’s a chance that he goes elsewhere. He’s going to have the right in a couple of days to shop his services so we’ll see how that plays out.
Angelswin.com: Speaking of that, we’re reading you’re waiting to give Mark Teixeira an offer until he hits the open market. Was this the strategy all along or is it something that just kind of played out that way?
Tony Reagins: We’ve had discussions with Mark’s people and we’ve just understood how this was going to take place. It’s not something we did not expect. The off-season’s still very young.
Angelswin.com: What about Brandon Wood? Is he somebody you’re looking at playing the shortstop position or is he more suited to play 3B? Or is it something that you’ll just wait and see what happens in the Spring?
Tony Reagins: Well, the good thing about Brandon is that he showed last year that he could come up and play here. I think the more repetitions he gets the better he’ll become, but he can play short or third and that gives you some flexibility to do things.
Angelswin.com: So you do think he’s capable of handling the shortstop position at the major-league level?
Tony Reagins: Is he capable ? Yes.
Angelswin.com: What about Sean Rodriguez? Where does he fit in?
Tony Reagins: Good player. Versatile. He can move around the diamond, he can play 2nd, he can play short, he can play 3rd, he can play the outfield. In a young player you like that versatility. Again, you saw him last year and when he got a chance to play regularly he did a good job. Defensively he was fine. He struggled a little bit on the offensive side, but he got better later on and drove the ball. So there’s good opportunities for him. He’s playing Winter ball and doing very well so we’ll see how that goes.
Angelswin.com: Staying with the outfield, is there any concern in the organization that it hasn’t produced any power-hitting outfielders in quite a while?
Tony Reagins: Power, it doesn’t grow on trees. It’s like the last tool that shows up and we haven’t produced a high-level impact all-star for a while. But I think if you just focus on that area you get kind of shortsighted.
I think we need to get good players across the board and continue to try to develop those players that can impact our club in the major leagues in a significant way. So there are some young players that we really like. Whether they have power, that remains to be seen. But there’s some that have power potential.
Angelswin.com: What about Kendry Morales?
Tony Reagins: There’s one right there.
Angelswin.com: Is he somebody that can maybe move to the outfield?
Tony Reagins: It’s a possibility. We know that he can go out there and play either corner. Again, he’s playing Winter ball as well.
Angelswin.com: Is that something he’s working on?
Tony Reagins: That’s something he’s going to work on a little bit, yeah.
Angelswin.com: Has there been any kind of decisions made as far as players that will or will not be offered arbitration or is that something that’s up in the air ?
Tony Reagins: Yeah, I think it’s a case-by-case basis that hasn’t taken place yet.
Angelswin.com: OK, that’s about it on the baseball side of things. What about inner-city programs? Are the scouts, yourself, the organization involved much in that?
Tony Reagins: Yeah, there’s a couple of programs that we’re involved in. We’re involved in the Buck O’Neill Scouts Association which is really geared to getting not only inner-city kids but coaches an introduction into the game of baseball and giving them a venue to come and express their opinions and dialogue about their struggles.
Actually, we’re having our meeting this weekend along with the clinic at the Urban Youth Academy in Compton, and that’s another area where we try to support and do things, but the game in the inner-cities is important so that’s something we’ve contributed to and find value in.
Angelswin.com: Now I know you’re extremely busy, but do you get an opportunity to go out and speak to kids, schools or different organizations? Being an African-American General Manager is a top position and a very well-respected position.
Tony Reagins: Yes, I do. I get a chance to get out in the community and do a lot of stuff back home in the desert. So, yeah, whenever I see an opportunity I like to get out there and talk about the Angels.
Angelswin.com: Recently Barack Obama was elected as the first African-American President, last year after being named the GM of the Angels we now have 2 African-American General Managers in Major League Baseball … what does that mean to you?
Tony Reagins: It just shows that you can do anything and anything can happen. You just have to work hard and when the opportunity presents itself you prepare yourself for it. In very general terms, it just shows that there’s opportunity out there for everyone.
Angelswin.com: Thank you for that. A couple more questions…. What is your favorite Tempe restaurant?
Tony Reagins: Favorite Tempe restaurant…..(laughs) if I tell you that you guys might show up there.
Angelswin.com: Come on, we’re not that crazy!
Tony Reagins: City Hall. That’s not necessarily Tempe, it’s Scottsdale. Where do I go in the city of Tempe?
Angelswin.com: Don’t tell me Diablo Stadium hot dogs either.
Tony Reagins: Hmmmm, I never really go eat in Tempe. I usually go to eat in Scottsdale or Chandler.
Angelswin.com: OK, last question… favorite menu item at Del Taco?
Tony Reagins: Favorite menu item? Combo burrito.
That concludes our interview with Tony Reagins. Post your comments and engage in discussions with other Angels fans regarding this interview on our community forum.