Scioscia: 'I'm committed to being here'
MLB.com talks to longtime skipper about Angels' season and his status
ANAHEIM -- Mike Scioscia will soon learn whether he'll be back in 2014 for his 15th year as skipper of the Angels, the only team he's ever managed. The Halos are concluding what owner Arte Moreno recently termed another highly disappointing season, their fourth in a row without making the playoffs.
The 54-year-old Scioscia has a 1,231-1,031 record, the 2002 World Series championship and a contract through 2018 -- with an out clause after the '15 season. But he's well aware that no deal is worth the paper it's printed on if Moreno deems that it's time for a change.
When asked to evaluate the job he's done this season, Scioscia said:
"That I've done? I'm going to put it this way: I'm very frustrated with the way the season has gone. And we're all accountable, and we're all a part of it. And we're going to work hard to get this going in the right direction. You're always looking at yourself. That's definitely a part of the evaluation process you do as a manager. Like I said, it's been a frustrating season, and we're going to work hard to move forward and get things going in the right direction."
As the end of the season nears, MLB.com has had two interview sessions with Scioscia -- including one on Monday night -- about the travails of the team and his personal journey.
MLB.com: How have you handled all this emotionally?
Scioscia: It's been a frustrating experience, but this schedule keeps you going. You have to be able to turn the page and get to the next game. I think as a staff, we've done that, and the players in that clubhouse have done it. It has to start with the manager, and that's something I've put a lot of focus on: turning the page and getting to the next game, especially when some frustrating events take place.
MLB.com: How do you do that when there's so much external buzz about the status of your job?
Scioscia: Well, when you're not meeting expectations, there's always going be chatter out there. You really have to filter out all distractions, come to the ballpark and focus in on what the team has to do to play a game. You look at the day-to-day challenges and the bigger challenges, and you address those. You're presented with a whole new set of challenges when a team is perceived to be underachieving because of the frustration level that can easily seep into a clubhouse. And you have to be prepared for it. Any other way to approach this, I believe, is the wrong way. That's something I've tried to keep in mind.
MLB.com: Reading about you recently, where did it get started that you're now being tagged with the label "control freak?" There seems to be this notion that you try to control other people and areas of the organization.
Scioscia: As a manager, there's a certain amount of control you're responsible for.
MLB.com: In the clubhouse?
Scioscia: Exactly. There are factions that need to do their jobs within the organization. It's the only way an organization can function. What I'm responsible for is something that I have pride in and we're taking care of. I'm no more controlling to the extent than any Major League manager has to be.
MLB.com: What happened last year in the transition from Tony Reagins to Jerry Dipoto as general manager?
Scioscia: Well, it was a huge transition. It wasn't just Jerry, obviously. There's a new scouting department. There's a new front office. I don't think our relationship is much different as far as giving opinions and how they're received. Everyone is going to have differences of opinions on individual items or individual things, but we're absolutely philosophically on the same page about what our organization needs to do to move forward. That's not an issue.
MLB.com: Talking to Arte about this, he seems to like the tension that's created by Jerry bringing in new ideas, and also your more traditional approach to the game and longtime experience in the organization. He wants you guys to meld and take advantage of it.
Scioscia: I think we do, to an extent. There's a lot of new [baseball] science out there, and there's a lot of old fundamentals. We have to be on the cutting edge of what we do as an organization. I know we've been moving forward in that direction, even before Jerry got here. There are a lot of progressive things we've always done in the organization, and we need to keep moving to there.
MLB.com: How's your relationship with Dipoto on a personal basis?
Scioscia: It's fine. I give my opinion…
MLB.com: Do you go out to dinner?
Scioscia: No. He doesn't travel as much as maybe Tony did, or Bill [Stoneman]. But believe me, our relationship is not an issue.
MLB.com: How did you handle the Mickey Hatcher situation when he was dismissed as hitting coach last year?
Scioscia: I said it very publicly. I don't think there's anything more to add. I was disappointed with the move. I told that to Jerry. I don't think it was Mickey's place to be made a scapegoat. I wanted to make sure that Jerry knew the way I felt. That's been probably the one big disagreement we've had. We're past that.
MLB.com: How long did it take to get past that?
Scioscia: It didn't take long. We had some talks on it. We had a game that night. It just keeps going with the schedule.
MLB.com: How about Moreno? How much discussions have you had lately with him?
Scioscia: Arte has been very supportive. He continues to support me. When we have a good game or a good series, he'll say, "Hey, keep going. Great game!" But I know there's a level of frustration that he's feeling. He's got some big decisions to make.
MLB.com: Arte said a month ago that an evaluation was already underway.
Scioscia: You're always being re-evaluated in this game. I think you have to be accountable for your performance. I'm sure that's some of the things Arte is looking at, and what he will base his decisions on. I've really enjoyed being around this Major League staff. We talk baseball every day. We talk about what we see in the team and what we project. That doesn't stop. That evaluation that we do with the team is ongoing.
MLB.com: Where do you think you're headed here?
Scioscia: I don't know. I love this challenge here. I've made a commitment to stay here, and I still feel the same way. A lot of things are always going to be out of your control when you're struggling. Right now, we've tapped into some of the talent in this room in the last month and have played better baseball. Hopefully, that's indicative of things we can do in the future.
MLB.com: So pitching was the biggest problem, and now it's starting to come around?
Scioscia: Just look at it. The amount of time we lost Jered Weaver. The amount of time we lost Jason Vargas. Trying to find a balance with our fourth and fifth starters when Joe Blanton and Tommy Hanson were struggling. I think you're seeing the evolution of a guy like Garrett Richards finally starting to feel comfortable now. It's the evolution of a rotation that was definitely hampered by injury and ineffectiveness, coming full circle and pitching the way we expected it to. Coming out of Spring Training, we said the rotation was the heartbeat of our club. We've seen that firsthand the last 15-20 games.
MLB.com: For a second year in a row, you guys got off to a tough start. It's hard to dig out of that kind of hole, and when you do, to try to sustain it.
Scioscia: It's tough to work your way out of it, for sure. And believe me, we've looked every which way -- at what we've done in Spring Training, to how many at-bats guys have gotten. We've looked at it for the last three years. We've talked with guys to make sure they've gotten what they need. There's a level of frustration about some of the starts we've gotten off to. We're going to do everything we can to try and change that trend.
MLB.com: What do you want to get more proficient with?
Scioscia: Some of the offensive things over the last four years we struggled with. If you lose somebody like Kendrys Morales for two years, you're trying to fill that void. This year, Albert Pujols has been hurt. Josh Hamilton got off to a slow start. I don't think you have to go too deeply to see that beginning with our starting rotation, we have not done some of the things we need to do. And then you go to the bullpen. At times, it's performed the way it could, and at times, we've struggled to hold leads. We never had Ryan Madson. Sean Burnett was injured. There are plenty of things to look at. I don't think it's going to be tough to define what the issues are. The solutions are obviously going to be where the rubber meets the road, and hopefully we'll get there.
MLB.com: How do you get there?
Scioscia: Obviously, there's going to be a lot of things our front office will look at. Some depth issues have cropped up. I'm sure some of it's going to come in-house, from inside the organization, and some of it might have to come from outside of the organization.
MLB.com: So you think some roster changes are necessary?
Scioscia: Roster changes happen every year. There isn't a roster in the entire industry that doesn't change every year. Do not quote me as saying that roster changes are needed. That's not what I'm saying. There are some depth issues we ran into that I know Jerry is aware of, that Arte is aware of, and I think they will be addressed.
MLB.com: Are you confident that staffing is going to be the same going into next season?
Scioscia: You always hope to get another opportunity. I love the challenge here. I'm committed to being here. We're going to keep focusing on baseball until we hear of a decision.
Barry M. Bloom is a national reporter for MLB.com and writes an MLBlog, Boomskie on Baseball. Follow @boomskie on Twitter. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.