Laurila: Q&A with Billy Eppler on rebuilding the Angels

From SABR member David Laurila at FanGraphs on February 16, 2017:

Thirteen months ago, we ran an interview titled Billy Eppler on Taking the Reins in Anaheim. At the time, Eppler was a first-year general manager, 100-plus days into his tenure. He’d come to the Angels from New York, where he’d spent 11 years in the Yankees front office. Armed with a background in scouting and player development, and a degree in finance, he was being entrusted to rebuild a moribund farm system while staying competitive in the American League West.

Progress has come slowly, at least on the surface. The Angels struggled in 2016, winning just 74 games and finishing in fourth place. Pitching injuries were a culprit — they remain a concern — while an offense led by the incomparable Mike Trout scored fewer runs than all but five AL squads. As for the prospect pipeline, Rome wasn’t built in a day. Keith Law recently ranked the Angels’ farm system, which was dead last a year ago, 27th of the 30 organizations.

Eppler didn’t make a splash over the offseason — there was nothing as notable as last winter’s Andrelton Simmons acquisition — but there were some meaningful moves. Cameron Maybin is now an Angel, as are Danny Espinosa, Martin Maldonado, and Luis Valbuena. In the opinion of some, Eppler’s club can contend this season if the pitchers — particularly Garrett Richards — remain in one piece.

Eppler discussed the team’s direction, and the philosophies set forth by his “Office of the GM” earlier this week.

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Originally published: February 16, 2017. Last Updated: February 16, 2017.