Astros Enjoy Stability as AL West Incompetence Continues


Angels owner Arte Moreno is exploring selling the team, which is another reminder of the continued organizational incompetence of the Astros’ AL West rivals.

News broke on Tuesday afternoon that Arte Moreno, owner of the Los Angeles Angels, is considering the possibility of selling the team. This is the latest example of a frequent trend regarding organizational turmoil in the AL West, and it seems to have affected every team in the division except for the Houston Astros.

The Angels have been a big disappointment over the course of Moreno’s tenure but unlike some other poorly-run teams in the AL West, it’s inaccurate to claim that Moreno didn’t try hard enough to build a winning team. He oversaw megadeals for Albert Pujols and Anthony Rendon, as well as the recruitment of Shohei Ohtani and the record extension for Mike Trout.

However, the Angels have made the postseason just once during Trout’s entire 11-year tenure with the team, and despite finishing as the number one seed in the AL, they got swept out of the ALDS. The greatest hitter of this generation has been a big-leaguer for over a decade, and he still hasn’t won a playoff game. That’s a tragedy. Moreno, as ESPN’s Jeff Passan notes in his report, is an extremely hands-on owner, and the constant failure to build a winning team around Trout (and now Ohtani) can be blamed on him, albeit not exclusively.

For at least more than a single season, the Angels should have been a challenger to Houston’s recent dominance in the AL West, but they didn’t come all that close. They have had a record that is way on the wrong side of .500 since Ohtani joined the organization. Since their lone playoff appearance of Trout’s tenure, the Astros have won over 130 games more than the Angels. There is no excuse for getting dominated to that degree while having the best hitter in the game.

Since the Astros’ treacherous rebuild of the early 2010s has started producing winning teams, the  Angels haven’t been the only poorly-oiled machine in the AL West. The Seattle Mariners haven’t been shy to make big moves either, but they still haven’t made the postseason since 2001, the longest drought in North American professional sports.

Oakland A’s owner John Fisher was in charge of multiple successful Moneyball-sequel-like teams during the late 2010s, but the degree to which he has waved the white flag in 2022 has soured his reputation beyond any point of recovery. The Texas Rangers only have a few early playoff exits to show for current owner Ray Davis’ tenure, except for the 2011 AL Pennant-winning team which lost the World Series less than a year after he bought them.

They just entered a rebuild as well, but it’s clearly not living up to their standards. Just months after spending half a million dollars on two players in free agency, they dismissed both their manager and their president of baseball operations, which puts the immediate future of the team’s on-field product way up in the air.

The point of all this is the fact that for the first time in many years, there could actually end up being a consistently competent organization in the AL West other than the Houston Astros. They deserve all the credit in the world for their success of late, but every other team in the division has been mired in some sort of dysfunction for a while.

Of course, the Astros haven’t been free of controversy. Their sign-stealing scandal and the extremely ugly fallout of former assistant GM Brandon Taubman’s time with the team were things that they deserved to be called out for. However, they’ve achieved both stability and success since James Click took over as GM, and since the mid-2010s, they’ve been the winningest franchise in the American League.

It isn’t known what exactly will happen to the Los Angeles Angels if Moreno can successfully sell the team. Moreno has been the face of their struggles for years, though, and the news has been met positively by their fanbase. Regardless, the whole situation is a reminder of the fact that the AL West has been a sea of dysfunction that the Houston Astros have avoided on the field for quite some time. Astros fans should be thankful once again, for it doesn’t get much more organizationally stable from a baseball perspective than it is right now in Houston.

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