Washington's goal with Angels? 'Hit the ground and make it happen'

November 15th, 2023

ANAHEIM -- As Ron Washington took the microphone for the first time after being officially introduced as Angels manager on Wednesday at Angel Stadium, it would have been easy to mistake his initial comments as a pep rally or a motivational speaking engagement.

Washington gave a rousing opening speech and his leadership skills were on full display, as it became increasingly clear that Washington was hired for his ability to both motivate and communicate. Washington, 71, wants the Angels to get back to their winning ways and dominate the AL West much like his clubs did when he managed the Rangers from 2007-14, finishing first or second in the division every year from 2008-13 and advancing to the World Series in 2010 and '11.

"Once we get things together and we get these guys together in Spring Training and start our work, our whole focus is going to be on running the West down," Washington said. "And you can take that to the bank and deposit it."

General manager Perry Minasian, who joined Washington at the podium, said he was looking for "respect and belief" in his new manager and he believed Washington was the perfect choice.

Minasian keeps a notebook next to his bed so he can scribble down ideas in the middle of the night and started to compile some of the best traits he'd seen in managers he'd worked with in the past -- such as Sparky Anderson, Tom Kelly, Tommy Lasorda, Bobby Cox, Cito Gaston and Bobby Valentine. Washington kept checking every box and Minasian realized he was the exact kind of candidate he was looking for in a manager to replace Phil Nevin, whose option wasn't picked up for 2024.

"Nobody has more respect from players than Ron Washington," Minasian said. "And I think you've just experienced it. When he talks, people listen. He's got a way of connecting and giving people confidence and I think he's gonna get the most out of our players. So I'm really, really excited to work with him."

Washington and Minasian have known each other since Washington took over as Rangers manager in 2007, as Minasian was working there as a staff assistant until being hired as a scout with the Blue Jays in '09. They also were reunited in Atlanta's organization, as Minasian was an assistant GM there from 2017-20 and Washington served as third-base coach with Atlanta from 2017-23, winning the World Series in '21.

So they already have a strong relationship and it was further cemented during the interview process for the job. The two went to dinner in Washington's home city of New Orleans the week before the GM Meetings and set up a more formal interview with Angels brass that included owner Arte Moreno and president John Carpino in Arizona at the GM Meetings.

Moreno picked up Washington at the airport in Arizona and the two hit it off on the way to brunch, where they were joined by Minasian and Carpino. Washington was formally offered the job and said it was an easy decision to take it because of the club's vision for the future.

"I learned [Moreno] is committed to bringing back good baseball to the region, and I think that's what everybody here wants," Washington said. "Now we have to make his vision come to fruition. His vision is the same as my vision, and so we just have to hit the ground and make it happen."

Washington said his next order of business is getting in contact with his new players, especially Mike Trout and Anthony Rendon. He said he views those two players as the club's leaders and wants to get them on the same page.

He's also working on hiring his coaching staff, as Eric Young Sr. will be his third-base coach and Ryan Goins will be the infield coach. Bo Porter is also in talks to be the club's first-base coach, but nothing is official yet.

But Washington wants his coaches to help instill an identity for the Angels, much like they had under longtime manager Mike Scioscia, who was known for his fundamental clubs that played aggressively but fundamentally sound.

"My style is that everything under baseball, we're going to be a part of it," Washington said. "I think it was the style Mike had when he was here when they were successful. Mike was here the last time they brought joy to this organization, so now I want to bring that passion and joy back to the community."