Bill Stoneman to Retire as Angels GM

Media outlets are reporting that Bill Stoneman will announce his retirement at a Tuesday press conference.

The loonies are already falsely claiming on various fan boards that he was fired, but the truth is that Bill Stoneman appears to be exercising his option to take his retirement after the 2007 season.

It’s been reported all year long that Stoneman had an option in his contract to take a consulting position after the season, or extend his contract into 2008. Angels owner Arte Moreno said many times the decision was Stoneman’s. Bill turns 64 next April, and as a former banking executive has no doubt planned well for his retirement, so why not check out now and enjoy the good life while we can.

Rumors are already circulating about his replacement. I’ve seen some posts on fan boards claiming Stoneman was sacked so the Angels could sign recently deposed Cardinals GM Walt Jocketty, but that’s just their self-inflicted delusion talking. The Angels are likely to promote from within, a philosophy they’ve had ever since Stoneman came in as GM in November 1999, and continued under Moreno’s ownership.

CBS Sportsline reports that farm system director Tony Reagins will get the job, while Fox reported on tonight’s Red Sox – Indians telecast that assistant general manager Ken Forsch will be promoted.

It seems far more logical to me that Forsch would get the job. He’s been groomed for it, and unlike Reagins has experience as a professional player. Ken played for 16 years in the major leagues, including five seasons with the Angels. He was one of the few front-office executives to survive the 1999 post-season purge that led to Stoneman’s appointment. Forsch was named the Assistant GM in February 1998, when Bill Bavasi still ran the show, so he’s been the heir apparent for ten years. According to the 2007 Angels Media Guide, Forsch "is mainly responsible for assisting general manager Bill Stoneman with contract negotiations, player development and waiver and rule compliance."

Reagins comes from a Marketing background. He began his Angels career as an intern in both Baseball Operations and Marketing, but spent much of the 1990s in "various marketing advertising sales capacities" according to the Media Guide. He moved over to Baseball Operations in 1998 and succeeded Darrell Miller as the farm director in the fall of 2001.

My guess is that Forsch will move up to GM, and then several candidates will be evaluated for the Assistant GM job. In addition to Reagins, the other candidates would be Abe Flores and Gary Sutherland. Flores is currently the Manager of Baseball Operations, handling all administrative duties relating to scouting and player development. Sutherland is currently a special assistant to the GM, whose main responsibility is the coordination of professional scouting (i.e. scouting other organizations).

Another possibility would be to see long-time minor league managers Bruce Hines and Tom Kotchman get a shot at a front-office job. Hines is currently the minor league field coordinator, basically coordinating all the minor league player development for Reagins. He currently lives in Arizona, although he grew up in La Verne. Kotchman is a brilliant baseball mind — if I owned a baseball franchise, I’d start by offering Kotch any baseball job he wanted — but he lives in Florida and his wife is a grade school principal there so it’s unlikely they’d be inclined to relocate.

My educated guess? Forsch will become the GM, with Reagins or Flores stepping into the Assistant GM job with the other running the farm system. The only reason Forsch, 51, wouldn’t get the job is if he’s moving on, which seems unlikely.

UPDATE October 15, 2007 7:15 PM PDT — The Los Angeles Times reports that Tony Reagins is the likely successor, to be mentored by Stoneman.

As I wrote above, I think Forsch is more qualified.

UPDATE October 15, 2007 8:15 PM PDT — reports that "Assistant GM Ken Forsch is the most likely candidate to replace Stoneman."

UPDATE October 15, 2007 8:30 PM PDT — Ken Rosenthal at reports “Major league sources say Tony Reagins, the Angels’ director of player development, will become the new GM.”

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