Angels name Yankees assistant GM Billy Eppler new GM

(Charlie Neibergall/AP)
(Charlie Neibergall/AP)

According to Bill Shaikin, the Angels are expected to name Yankees assistant GM Billy Eppler their new GM on Monday. The team has since announced the hire. Eppler was said to be the front-runner for several weeks now. He interviewed for the job back in 2011 and was reportedly the runner-up to Jerry Dipoto. Joel Sherman says Eppler will remain with the Yankees through the postseason.

“I cannot adequately express how excited I am for the opportunity Arte Moreno and the Angels have given me,” said Eppler in a statement. “The Angels are committed to Championship Standards. They are committed to being a perennial contender, and many of the pieces are already in place for that to occur. I look forward to a collaborative effort as we look to enhance and advance every phase of the baseball operations department. This is an organization with a tremendous amount of talent on and off the field, and I am excited to begin the next chapter of Angels Baseball.”

Eppler, 40, has been with the Yankees since 2005. He started as a scout and gradually worked his way up the ladder to assistant GM. While serving as head of the pro scouting department, Eppler and his staff were able to unearth cheap gems like Bartolo Colon, Luis Ayala, and Eric Chavez, among others.

Prior to joining the Yankees, Eppler pitched at UConn before an arm injury ended his playing career. He previously worked as a scout with the Rockies before hooking on with New York. Eppler is from Southern California, so joining the Angels is something of a homecoming for him.

Dipoto resigned as Angels GM back in July after a long power struggle with manager Mike Scioscia. Owner Arte Moreno sided with Scioscia, so Dipoto stepped down, which is kinda crazy. There are only 30 GM jobs, after all. They’re hard to get. The Mariners named Dipoto their new GM a few days ago. Eppler was in the running for that job too.

It’s unclear how or if the Yankees will replace Eppler in the front office. The Yankees still have assistant GMs Jean Afterman and Michael Fishman working under Brian Cashman, as well as a slew of advisors, most notably Gene Michael and Jim Hendry. There are countless others working behind the scenes as well.

It was only a matter of time until Eppler was poached by another club — he’s interviewed for several GM jobs over the years, including the Padres last year — and at one point I thought he was Cashman’s heir apparent. That didn’t happen. Eppler was said to be Cashman’s right hand man, so it’s a big loss for the front office.

Mariners name Jerry Dipoto new GM, Billy Eppler remains favorite for Angels GM job

Eppler and the ghost of A.J. Burnett. (NY Times)
Eppler and the ghost of A.J. Burnett. (NY Times)

Exactly one month after firing ex-GM Jack Zduriencik, the Mariners named former Angels GM Jerry Dipoto their new GM, the team announced yesterday. “Jerry impressed us at each step of the process … I am looking forward to having Jerry lead our baseball operations for a long time,” said president Kevin Mather in a statement.

Yankees assistant GM Billy Eppler interviewed for the Mariners GM job not once, but twice, reports Joel Sherman. Jerry Crasnick says Eppler and Dipoto were the two finalists for the job. That’s not the first time that’s happened either — Eppler and Dipoto were the two finalists for the Angels GM position a few years ago, and Dipoto got that gig as well.

The Mariners GM job is off the board, though Eppler still remains the front-runner for the Angels GM job, reports Alden Gonzalez and Jeff Fletcher. He interviewed a few weeks ago and all signs point to Eppler getting the job at some point. Why hasn’t it happened yet? Fletcher explains:

It is likely the Angels and Yankees would both want to avoid even the appearance of a conflict if Eppler were named Angels GM before the teams met in the playoffs.

The Yankees currently have a comfortable lead on the first wildcard spot (3.5 games with six to play) while the Angels are only a half-game back of the Astros for the second wildcard spot. The Yankees and Angels could easily end up meeting in the wildcard game next week. One team poaching the other’s assistant GM right before a postseason matchup wouldn’t be a good look.

Eppler, 39, has been with the Yankees since 2005, starting as a scout before working his way up the ladder to assistant GM. He worked with the Rockies before joining the Yankees. In addition to interviewing for the Mariners and Angels GM jobs this year, Eppler also interviewed for the Padres GM job last year and declined an invitation to interview for the Diamondbacks GM job. He also interviewed with the Angels back in 2011.

While nothing is set in stone, it seems likely the Angels will name Eppler their new GM soon after the season. I have no idea how or if the Yankees would replace him in the front office. They tend to promote from within and I assume that would happen again.

Update: Eppler interviews for Angels and Mariners GM positions

(Leon Halip/Getty)
(Leon Halip/Getty)

September 17th: Eppler met with Mariners brass in Chicago last night, reports George King. Seattle supposedly prefers a GM with experience, though they have a long list of candidates and are covering all their bases.

September 15th: Eppler was scheduled to meet with Angels owner Arte Moreno and team president John Carpino in New York last night, reports George King. Eppler interviewed with the Angels a few years ago, so it seems like the two sides were getting reacquainted more than anything. He is supposedly very high on their wish list.

September 9th: According to Ken Rosenthal, assistant GM Billy Eppler will interview with both the Angels and Mariners for their GM openings. The Yankees granted both teams permission to speak to Eppler, which isn’t surprising. Clubs usually won’t block a chance at an upward move.

Eppler, 39, interviewed with the Angels back in 2011 and was reportedly the runner up to Jerry Dipoto. Dipoto resigned earlier this year after losing a power struggle with manager Mike Scioscia. A few days ago we heard Eppler was considered the front-runner for the Halos GM gig. He’s a Southern California native and could jump at the chance to return home.

The Mariners fired GM Jack Zduriencik a few weeks ago and are in the process of picking a replacement. The Seattle job seems like a pretty good one — great city, great ballpark, and something of a clean slate. The new GM will presumably be able to bring his own people. Scouts, assistants, coaches, etc. With the Angels, the new GM will be stuck with Scioscia. Owner Arte Moreno made that clear when he picked Scioscia over Dipoto earlier this summer.

Eppler has been with the Yankees since 2005. He started as a scout and worked his way up the ladder, getting promoted to assistant GM back in 2012. Eppler has interviewed for several GM openings over the years, including with his hometown Padres this past offseason, and eventually he’ll snag one. I thought he would one day take over for Brian Cashman, but that seems more and more unlikely.

Saturday Links: Waiver Trades, Eppler, 2016 Draft, YES

D-Rob. (Presswire)
D-Rob. (Presswire)

The Yankees and Rays continue their Labor Day weekend series a little later this afternoon. Here are some morning links to help you pass the time.

Yankees were blocked in attempts to add pitching

During the waiver trade period in August, the Yankees were “blocked in every attempt” to add pitching, reports Nick Cafardo. Well, that should say “almost every attempt,” because they did claim David Robertson, only to have the White Sox pull him back. Getting blocked on trade waivers simply means a team with a lower waiver priority (i.e. a worse record) placed a claim on a player. In August, players can only be dealt to the team that claims them off trade waivers. They can be dealt to any team if they go unclaimed.

The Yankees were in first place for 18 of 31 days in August, so I’m guessing the Blue Jays did most of the blocking. Wildcard hopefuls like the Twins, Rangers, Angels, Rays, and Orioles were probably in on the act as well. The only pitchers traded in August were Fernando Rodney, Neal Cotts, Randy Wolf, Oliver Perez, and Eric O’Flaherty. Cotts and Perez are useful left-on-left matchup guys, but otherwise the Yankees don’t have much use for those players. Any attempt to add significant pitching was likely blocked. Aside from Robertson, of course.

Eppler continues to be linked to Angels

Yankees assistant GM Billy Eppler continues to be linked to the Angels, who will hire a new GM in the offseason following Jerry Dipoto’s midseason resignation. Dipoto lost a power struggle when owner Arte Moreno sided with manager Mike Scioscia. Bob Nightengale heard from one “high-ranking Angels executive” that Eppler is considered the front-runner for the job while Alden Gonzalez notes Eppler’s name comes up “frequently” in Angels discussions Ken Rosenthal reports the Angels have not yet asked the Yankees for permission to speak to Eppler, for what it’s worth. Eppler interviewed for the Angels job back in 2011 and was reportedly the runner-up to Dipoto. There are a few GM jobs open right now (Angels, Mariners, Red Sox) and I’m guessing this won’t be the last time we hear Eppler connected to one of them.

2016 draft set for June 9th

The 2016 amateur draft has been scheduled for June 9th, reports John Manuel. That’s a Thursday. The draft has historically been held on the first Tuesday of June, but in recent years the start date has moved around due to MLB Network. The draft started on a Monday in both 2012 and 2015, and on a Thursday in 2013 and 2014. As usual, it will be a three-day event next summer.

Manuel says there has been talk of moving the draft broadcast to Omaha to coincide with the College World Series, which would allow some more prospects to attend, but that won’t happen next year. The College World Series usually doesn’t start until mid-June, which would mean delaying the draft two weeks or so. Not ideal. Teams want to get their players, get them signed, and get their careers started.

YES ratings up 31% in the second half

Apparently the thrill of a postseason race has more people watching the Yankees down the stretch. YES Network ratings are up a whopping 31% in the second half, the network announced. Ratings are up even more in certain demographics, and YES is “delivering the best demo viewership” since 2012, whatever that means. Also, nine of the eleven highest rated game broadcasts have come within the last month. If you win, people will watch. If you lose, many will still watch.

Rosenthal: Angels could look to hire Yankees assistant GM Billy Eppler

(Charlie Neibergall/AP)
(Charlie Neibergall/AP)

According to Ken Rosenthal, the Angels could look to hire Yankees assistant GM Billy Eppler to be their GM after the season. Ex-GM Jerry Dipoto stepped down a few weeks following a long power struggle with manage Mike Scioscia — owner Arte Moreno sided with Scioscia, so Dipoto left — and former GM Bill Stoneman has stepped in on an interim basis.

The Angels lost a potential GM/front office candidate yesterday when Dave Dombrowski agreed to join the Red Sox, and I’m sure he was relatively high on their list. He was high on everyone’s list. (The Yankees also lost a trade partner. Brian Cashman and Dombrowski have hooked up for a ton of trades over the years.) Then again, it seems unlikely Dombrowski would have “settled” for a GM job at this point of his career.

Eppler, 39, has interviewed for several GM jobs in recent years — he was a finalist for the Padres GM job last year before they hired A.J. Preller — and in fact he was reportedly the runner-up to Dipoto for the Angels GM job a few years ago, so Rosenthal’s report makes sense. The groundwork has been laid and the two sides are already familiar with each other. The feeling out phase is already complete.

The Yankees promoted Eppler to assistant GM in January 2012 and I thought there was a chance he was being lined up to succeed Brian Cashman, but Cashman has since signed another contract. Eppler has been with the Yankees since 2005, climbing the ranks from scout to pro scouting director to assistant GM. By all accounts he’s a really smart guy. They don’t call nobodies for GM interviews.

I don’t believe the Yankees can block Eppler from leaving for a GM job — they have the contractual right to block the interview, but that rarely happens — since it’s an upward move, so I guess the questions are a) do the Angels want him, and b) does Eppler want to join the Angels? On one hand, there are only 30 GM jobs. On the other, the Angels are kinda dysfunctional and have an unfireable manager. It’s not a great situation.

Either way, it seems like only a matter of time until Eppler gets the opportunity to be a big league GM. Maybe it’s with the Yankees as Cashman’s eventual successor, maybe it’s with the Angels, maybe it’s somewhere else entirely. (Mariners?) The Angels might not be the most desirable GM job out there, but being a GM is better than being an assistant GM.

6/29 to 7/1 Series Preview: Los Angeles Angeles


Time for the final West Coast trip of the season. That’s right, after this three-game series with the Angels, the Yankees are completely done with the West Coast. Heck, just ten of their final 83 games of 2015 are in the Central Time Zone. Travel gets much easier from here on out. The Yankees swept three from the Halos in the Bronx earlier this month, by the way.

What Have The Angels Done Lately?

The Angels beat the Mariners yesterday thanks to a walk-off wild pitch, which is always wacky. They took two of three from Seattle and are 7-7 in their last 14 games. Anaheim is 39-37 with a -4 run differential overall, good for second place in the AL West.

Offense & Defense

Last season manager Mike Scioscia’s team had the best offense in baseball, one which averaged 4.77 runs per game. This year they’re one of the lowest scoring teams in MLB. The Angels are averaging just 3.89 runs per game with a team 95 wRC+. SS Erick Aybar (78 wRC+) is day-to-day with a hamstring problem and OF Collin Cowgill is out for a while with a wrist injury.

Pujols. (Presswire)
Pujols. (Presswire)

As always, Scioscia’s offense is led by OF Mike Trout (167 wRC+), the best all-around player in baseball. He is quietly on pace for 41 homers this season. 1B Albert Pujols (147 wRC+) leads the league with 23 homers but doesn’t hit for average (.265) or get on base (.334) like he did in his prime. Still, he’s really dangerous. Personal fave OF Kole Calhoun (101 wRC+) hasn’t been able to repeat last season’s success (125 wRC+).

3B David Freese (103 wRC+), 2B Johnny Giavotella (94 wRC+), OF Matt Joyce (67 wRC+), and C Chris Iannetta (64 wRC+) are the rest of the regulars. OF Daniel Robertson (48 wRC+ in limited time) and UTIL Efren Navarro (82 wRC+ in limited time) are splitting time in left with Joyce at DH for the most part. C Carlos Perez (68 wRC+), IF Taylor Featherston (7 wRC+), and IF Kyle Kubitza (36 wRC+) round out the bench with their small sample size stats.

Overall, the Angels have a good defensive club led by Trout and Iannetta. They’re studs with the glove. Pujols is good around the bag — his range is nonexistent at this point — and Calhoun is fine in right. So is Giavotella at second. Freese and Joyce are disasters in the field. Aybar is good when healthy and Robertson can really go get it in left.

Pitching Matchups

Monday (10pm ET): LHP CC Sabathia (vs. LAA) vs. LHP C.J. Wilson (vs. NYY)
The Angels tried to trade the 34-year-old Wilson this offseason but had no luck. Now he is arguably their most consistent starting pitcher, pitching to a 3.92 ERA (3.80 FIP) in 15 starts and 96.1 innings with strikeout (21.1%) and walk (7.3%) rates in line with his career norms. He is getting fewer ground balls (43.1%) than usual and is giving up more home runs as well (0.93 HR/9). Go figure. Wilson has close to no platoon split this season (.301 vs. .295 wOBA in favor of lefties) but has historically been much more effective against same-side hitters. Wilson throws six pitches, including five at least 10% of the time. He offers low-90s two and four-seamers, an upper-80s cutter, a mid-80s changeup, a low-80s slider, and an upper-70s curveball. The cutter is the sixth pitch. That one he’s thrown only 7% of the time this year. The Yankees roughed Wilson up for six runs in seven innings earlier this month.

Tuesday (10pm ET): RHP Ivan Nova (vs. LAA) vs. LHP Andrew Heaney (vs. NYY)
Heaney, 24, was the ninth overall pick in the 2012 draft. He was traded twice in one day this offseason — first from the Marlins to the Dodgers for Dee Gordon, then from the Dodgers to the Angels for Howie Kendrick. So Heaney was teammates with Giancarlo Stanton, Clayton Kershaw, and Trout all in one day. Cool. Anyway, he was just called up, and he limited the Astros to one run in six innings last time out. Heaney had a 4.71 ERA (3.08 FIP) in 78.1 Triple-A innings this season with okay strikeout (20.9%) and walk (7.1%) rates. He’s a three-pitch command lefty with a low-90s fastball, a sweepy upper-70s slider, and a sinking low-80s changeup. Heaney’s not a blow-you-away type. He just locates well and keeps everyone off balance.

Heaney. (Presswire)
Heaney. (Presswire)

Wednesday (7pm ET): RHP Adam Warren (vs. LAA) vs. RHP Matt Shoemaker (vs. NYY)
The 28-year-old Shoemaker finished second in the AL Rookie of the Year voting last season — narrowly edging out Dellin Betances! — but man, he crashed back to Earth and hard this season. I guess that’s not surprising considering his Triple-A performance was never all that good to start with. Shoemaker has a 5.03 ERA (4.62 FIP) in 14 starts and 78.2 innings this year — to be fair, his last six starts have been much better (3.41 ERA and 3.13 FIP) — with an average strikeout rate (20.5%), a good walk rate (5.4%), a below-average ground ball rate (38.7%), and an awful home run rate (1.72 HR/9). He also has no platoon split (.337 vs. .332 wOBA in favor of righties) this year after getting hit around a bit by lefties last year. Shoemaker has upper-80s two and four-seam fastballs, and he backs them up with mid-80s changeups, low-80s sliders, and a slow mid-70s curveball. The changeup is his go-to offspeed pitch. The Yankees didn’t see Shoemaker earlier this month. In fact, the Angels used some off-days to skip his start that series because they didn’t want to run him out there in Yankee Stadium with his homer problems.

Bullpen Status
The Mariners did the Yankees a solid and forced Scioscia to use both closer RHP Huston Street (3.10 FIP) and setup man RHP Joe Smith (2.18 FIP) each of the last two days. Street blew the save yesterday. RHP Trevor Gott (1.96 FIP in very limited time) also pitched yesterday. He is their Nick Rumbelow. The 2013 mid-round pick who flew through the minors with great numbers.

LHP Cesar Ramos (3.33 FIP) and LHP Jose Alvarez (3.71 FIP) are Scioscia’s two lefties but neither is a matchup guy. They’re both starters by trade who can pitch full innings if necessary. RHP Cam Bedrosian (4.38 FIP) and RHP Fernando Salas (3.07 FIP) fill out the relief crew. Joe Girardi‘s bullpen is in good shape thanks to Michael Pineda‘s eight-inning complete game yesterday. Still make sure you check out our Bullpen Workload page for recent workloads. Then head over to Halo Hangout for updates on the Angels.

Yankeemetrics: Heavenly sweep! (June 5-7)

This is how you celebrate when you almost blow a 7-run lead in the 9th inning (USA TODAY Sports).
This is how you celebrate when you almost blow a 7-run lead in the 9th inning. (USA TODAY Sports)

Is it okay to breathe yet?
Yes … but it wasn’t okay for about 30 minutes on Friday night when it looked like the Yankees might do the impossible and blow an 8-1 lead in the ninth inning. Esmil Rogers and Dellin Betances combined to allow six runs in the final frame before the Yankees were able to escape with a 8-7 win in the series opener.

How rare was this near-loss? The last time the Yankees gave up six-or-more runs in the ninth inning and still won the game was June 20, 1986 against the Toronto Blue Jays. Before Friday, the Yankees had allowed a total of four runs in the ninth inning in their first 54 games combined, the fewest of any AL team.

Rogers let the first five baserunners he faced to reach base and was pulled before retiring a batter. He was charged with five runs, becoming the first Yankee to allow at least five earned runs without recording an out in a game since Steve Howe on April 8, 1993 vs. the Indians. The last Yankee to manage that feat without allowing a home run was Tom Underwood on July 11, 1980 against the Rangers.

Dellin Betances finally has a non-zero number next to his ERA after allowing an earned run for the first time in 2015. His streak of 26 straight appearances to begin a season without giving up an earned run was the third-longest by any major-league pitcher in the last 100 years. Only Mike Myers (33 appearances in 2000) and Brad Ziegler (29 in 2008) had longer streaks.

First things first
The Yankees wasted no time in trying to erase the bad memories from Friday’s ninth inning debacle, scoring six runs in the bottom of the first inning and cruising to a stress-free 8-2 win on Saturday night.

It was the fourth time they plated six-or-more runs in the first inning, something that the Yankees hadn’t done in a season since 1948, according to STATS, Inc.

Adam Warren continued to state his case to remain in the rotation, pitching into the seventh inning for the fifth straight time and allowing just two runs on four hits. He’s the only Yankee pitcher this season with five consecutive quality starts and his ERA during this stretch — 2.70 since May 13 — is easily the best among the starters on the team.

Chris Capuano pitched a perfect ninth inning to secure the win, but he had to work hard for the final out as Carlos Perez fouled off seven pitches before Capuano got him swinging on the 13th pitch. It was the longest game-ending strikeout by any major-league pitcher since Billy Wagner on June 13, 2004 against the Twins’ Matt LeCroy.

Bronx broom-ers?
The Yankees finished off their second sweep in a row with Sunday’s 6-2 win at the Stadium. It was the first time the Yankees swept the Angels in New York since August 1995. How long ago was that? The winning pitcher for the third and final game in that series was Sterling Hitchcock!

CC Sabathia won his first game at home in nearly two years, despite getting ejected at the end of the sixth frame. His six-start losing streak in the Bronx was tied for the longest by any Yankee over the last 100 seasons.

It was the third time Sabathia had been ejected in his career. The others came with the Indians, on July 21, 2006 and July 4, 2003. Before Sabathia, the last Yankee starting pitcher to be ejected for arguing balls and strikes was Randy Johnson on Sept. 16, 2005 against the Blue Jays.

Jose Pirela hit his first career homer in the seventh inning off C.J. Wilson, and is now 14-for-25 (.560) vs. left-handed pitchers as a major-leaguer. That’s the best batting average against lefties by any player since Pirela’s debut last season on September 22 (min. 10 PA).