With the Los Angeles Angels, it’s a sale and everything must go.
Tuesday’s bombshell news that owner Arte Moreno was now looking to sell the team sent Angel fans into a frenzy (most of them happy, ok, all of them happy). It means that the franchise can hit the reset button, heck, they can unplug the whole computer and download a new operating system.
Expect the price tag to be somewhere in the $2.5-3 billion range. Forbes lists the Angels’ value as $2.2 billion, but Moreno can and will get more for his franchise.
Once it is no longer his franchise, it will mean that everything is possible, down to the name. Moreno changed the Angels name to the clunky Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim at one point, but maybe a new owner will restore the classic California Angels name (I like that better). The Angels have been locked in on a self-imposed salary cap of $183 million, and with Moreno out, does that mean that even the Angels stars are going too?
Fans have complicated relationships with their favorite team’s owners. Fans want to win. We hope they want to win, but owners need to make a profit too, and for some, dollar signs trump championship trophies.
Moreno always seemed to be the type of owner who was hands-on, that’s what fans want, but his decisions didn’t pan out. He gets the blame, and now he gets to get out.
Angels Flying Too Close to The Ground
Ahh, Angel fans remember May? May? The Angels were 27-17 in mid-May and competing for first place in the American League West with the Houston Astros.
As I write this, they’re now buried in fourth place and going nowhere. Since mid-May, they have gone 25-54, a winning percentage of 31 percent.
By now, you know the story, the Angels still have two of baseball’s marquee stars in Shohei Ohtani and Mike Trout, but still have found a way to stink.
Over the years, Moreno has lavished hitters with big deals that haven’t panned out. The Albert Pujols deal was too much, too long (10 years for $240 million). I’ll give him a pass on the Josh Hamilton deal (5 for $125) because of so much potential there. But Justin Upton ($106 million)? Anthony Rendon ($245 million)?
And somehow off the field things were worse.
Hush Money And A Stadium Deal
Moreno is many things, but we have to say he’s a businessman and how do professional sports owners make serious coin in 2022? Well, I should say, more serious coin, because they already get plenty from TV contracts etc.
Through real estate. They want the stadium their teams play in, and the land surrounding it to develop for businesses. They can charge rent for the businesses forever.
Moreno had a deal in the works with the Anaheim City Council for the Big A and surrounding land for $320 million. But Anaheim Mayor Harry Sidhu looked like he was playing both sides of the deal (and probably getting a little something on the side). Sidhu professed his innocence, then resigned….because, when you’re innocent, that’s what you do.
The deal fell through.
If you’re Moreno you’re looking around and seeing a bad baseball team, no stadium deal and constant complaints? Even if you have a billion in the bank, that’s no fun.
What’s Next for the Angels?
In its story detailing Moreno’s decision to sell, Forbes.com called the Angels an “underappreciated asset.” That’s mumbo jumbo for a team that can make even more money than it is now.
Angel fans have to be seething by seeing everything the Dodgers are doing now just a few miles away, spending money, packing the ballpark and looking like World Series favorites. The Angels are right next door with a good stadium, big stars and a large fan base.
There are big money people in Los Angeles, Big Money. There will be no shortage of people willing to buy the Angels. Does Clippers owner Steve Ballmer want in MLB? He may have a spare billion laying around.
Ohtani and Trout are two incredible assets. I think trading either of them is a dumb idea. I do think bringing back the halo and the name California Angels works though. You are what you are. No one thinks of the Angels as the Los Angeles Angels.
I think Moreno did what he thought was best for a long time, and it never worked out. And when you’re involved in sketchy business deals, then that stink is hard to wash off, even if you are legitimately innocent.
Right now the Angels stink, and the best way to get rid of that smell is for Moreno to sell the team.