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Stoneman has no regrets about his run as Angels GM

MLB.com @Alden_Gonzalez

ANAHEIM -- In the spirit of Groundhog Day, former Angels general manager Bill Stoneman was asked about the one trade he still regrets, and he struggled to come up with an answer. The Angels won a World Series and made the playoffs four times in his eight years at the helm, and Stoneman was mainly known for not making trades.

"My philosophy was, really, to build it from within," Stoneman said. "That was a philosophy that I arrived here with, and I continued to operate with that."

ANAHEIM -- In the spirit of Groundhog Day, former Angels general manager Bill Stoneman was asked about the one trade he still regrets, and he struggled to come up with an answer. The Angels won a World Series and made the playoffs four times in his eight years at the helm, and Stoneman was mainly known for not making trades.

"My philosophy was, really, to build it from within," Stoneman said. "That was a philosophy that I arrived here with, and I continued to operate with that."

But Stoneman gave the question some thought anyway.

He brought up Bobby Jenks and Derrick Turnbow, two hard-throwing relievers who dealt with arm issues, got claimed off waivers and found success elsewhere.

He mentioned other "goofy things," perhaps a reference to dumping a malcontent in Jose Guillen and adding another malcontent in Gary Matthews Jr.

But trades?

There was the Mo Vaughn trade to the Mets for Kevin Appier in December 2001. But Vaughn and Appier each produced one solid season for their new teams and little else. It was basically a wash. So, not that one.

Then Stoneman finally thought of someone: Jim Edmonds.

When Stoneman took over after the 1999 season, he inherited four All-Star caliber outfielders in Tim Salmon, Garret Anderson, Darin Erstad and Edmonds. What he needed was an infielder, though, because shortstop Gary DiSarcina was coming off an injury-riddled season and second baseman Randy Velarde had been traded the previous July.

"We didn't really have anybody for shortstop, we didn't have anybody for second base," Stoneman recalled. "So I said, 'Well, we're going to have to end up using an outfielder.'"

Edmonds, a local legend, had made an All-Star team, won two Gold Glove Awards, batted .294/.363/.517 and averaged 23 homers and 73 RBIs with the Angels from 1995-99. But he was also a year away from free agency and coming off a 55-game season.

So, on March 23, 2000, Stoneman sent Edmonds to the Cardinals for second baseman Adam Kennedy and starting pitcher Kent Bottenfield.

At the time, Salmon said the trade "looks pretty good so far. … But if Jim wins the National League MVP Award, Bill will have to live with that one."

Edmonds didn't win an MVP, but he came close. And along the way, he finally tapped into the potential so many saw in him, batting .292/.406/.584 while averaging 35 homers and 98 RBIs over the next six years in St. Louis. During that stretch, Edmonds made three All-Star teams, won six Gold Glove Awards and twice placed in the top five in NL MVP voting.

The Angels got what they needed, though.

Bottenfield, a former All-Star at the end of his career, struggled mightily during that 2000 season and retired shortly thereafter. But Kennedy came up huge in the 2002 playoff run that led to a World Series victory and cemented himself as a franchise cornerstone over the next four years, solidifying a position the Angels badly needed help with.

"Jimmy played really well for St. Louis," Stoneman said. "But what we got back was what we needed at second base, and Adam Kennedy was awesome for us for quite a long time and ended up being an MVP in the [2002 American League Championship Series]. I don't know. Was there one that blew up on me? I'm trying to think of one."

He couldn't, which is never a bad thing.

Stoneman stepped down as GM after the '07 season, then spent the next eight years in a part-time advisory role. When Jerry Dipoto resigned last July, Stoneman, 71, was called upon to serve as interim GM and basically smooth things over for the final three months.

"When I was sitting in the chair, I was basically keeping it warm," Stoneman said. "The full-time guys who were here were the guys I was really leaning on."

Stoneman is back in his comfortable advisory role now. He comes into the office once or twice a week during the offseason and will report with the team for Spring Training in Tempe, Ariz. During the season, he plans to spend a lot of his time at the Minor League facilities.

"It's really what I love doing," Stoneman said, "because to me, the Minor Leagues are so important."

The big decisions are now left to the new GM, Billy Eppler, and that's perfectly fine with Stoneman.

"Heck, my next birthday is 72," he said. "I'm starting to enjoy traveling a lot, and that's the one thing you cannot do when you're a full-time GM. That sucks up all your time. So I was happy to be back, just doing the temporary stuff. Billy and I get along great."

Alden Gonzalez is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @Alden_Gonzalez and Facebook , and listen to his podcast.

This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Los Angeles Angels