Bill Stoneman, who finished his playing career with the Angels as a sore-armed pitcher 25 years ago, returns to try to help bring together a last-place team in disarray.
"This is a big job; I know that. There are a lot of immediate concerns, a lot of work to do," Stoneman said during a news conference Monday, one day after he was hired as general manager.
Stoneman, 55, spent the past 16 years as an executive with the Montreal Expos.
His initial chore as GM will be to hire a manager. He also must be concerned with re-signing longtime pitching ace Chuck Finley, who is eligible for free agency. Stoneman then can concern himself with the roster of the team that finished 70-92 with a clubhouse rife with bickering.
Manager Terry Collins, complaining about the dissension, quit Sept. 3. General manager Bill Bavasi followed him out the door Oct. 1.
"I'm excited about the challenges that lie ahead," Stoneman said. "I've come from an organization that, while it had certain limitations, also excelled in the development of individuals into quality major league players."
Stoneman, who said he has been assured a lot of autonomy in his new job, has compiled a list of managerial candidates, although he would not reveal who is on the list.
Thought to be among the candidates are New York Yankees coaches Chris Chambliss and Willie Randolph, Oakland coach Ken Macha, San Diego coach Davey Lopes, and former Cleveland manager Mike Hargrove.
"A lot of people know when to bunt, when to hit-and-run, stuff like that," Stoneman said. "But we're looking for a communicator, someone who will bring the players and the coaches together and have them pulling in the same direction."
Asked about the dissension in the clubhouse last season, Stoneman said the new manager must impose a certain amount of discipline, and that "the good, winning players understand that and want that."
Stoneman has spent the past 16 years as an Expos' vice president with responsibility for the financial side of the operation among his duties.
"A lot of people think I'm an accountant. I'm not," he said. "A lot of people think I'm a lawyer. I'm not. I'm a baseball guy who has had a chance to work hand-in-hand on the player personnel issues without being the guy who actually pulled the trigger. I see it as a marriage between a playing and business background."
Stoneman had some fine moments as a pitcher, including no-hitters against Philadelphia on April 17, 1969, and the New York Mets on Oct. 2, 1972.
The Angels acquired him in April 1974, a year after he had blown out his shoulder during spring training. He went 1-8, with a 6.14 ERA with the Angels before retiring during the season. He worked for financial firm in Canada before taking the Expos' job in 1983.
Tony Tavares, president of Disney division that owns the Angels, said he was impressed by Stoneman's organizational skills and visionary approach.
"This team is at a crossroads, with a lot of decisions to be made and not much time to do it," Tavares said. "I was very impressed with Bill's assessment of our team. I think he has an uncanny knack of stating the problem."
Among the other uncertainties the club has been facing was whether Disney will eventually sell the franchise.
"Everybody with the Angels and Disney have been very upfront about what might happen," Stoneman said. "That's of absolutely no importance. We went to turn the Angels into a vibrant, exciting club regardless of who owns the club."
Stoneman, a native of nearby West Covina, Calif., pitched in the major leagues for eight years, with a 54-85 record and 4.08 ERA. A right-hander, he was a member of the Chicago Cubs for two years and the Expos for five before completing his career with the Angels.
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