Just hours after they were eliminated from playoff contention, the Los Angeles Angels announced that they have hired Yankees assistant general manager Billy Eppler on to be their next general manager. If you've been paying attention to the business side of baseball over the last month, you'd see that, with so many GM jobs open, this news was completely inevitable. Eppler had already interviewed with them twice and it turns out he was the right man for the job.
Hired by the Yankees in 2004, Eppler served as a scout before being promoted to the director of scouting in 2005. He served in that role until the 2011-2012 offseason, when he was promoted to assistant general manager. Many believed him to be a future GM, previously interviewing for the Angels' vacant GM position in 2011. Back then, he was a finalist for the position before ultimately losing to Jerry DiPoto, who served the franchise in that role for nearly four years before resigning after disagreements with manager Mike Scioscia and Arte Moreno, reportedly over the chain of command in the organization. Eppler also interviewed for the San Diego Padres job last August, and ended up declining an invitation to interview for the same position with the Diamondbacks. With so many openings this year, it was highly unlikely that he'd stay in an assistant role with the Yankees.
It's actually somewhat funny that he was the runner up the last time the Angels GM job was open, and now that DiPoto has left, the organization is finally ready to role with Eppler. Of course, the now former Yankees executive will likely have his hands full dealing with the likes of Moreno and the all-powerful Scioscia. It could be only a matter of time before Eppler gets enough experience in Anaheim and follows DiPoto's lead by resigning in order to take on another, likely less aggravating, GM job elsewhere. Hopefully Eppler will help improve relations between the two organizations, who have only paired up in one significant trade (the Vernon Wells deal) since the early 1990s.
The Yankees, meanwhile, will forge ahead without their star executive, and likely already have someone in mind to replace Eppler. Before he was named to his position as assistant general manager, Eppler was lauded for his use of analytics in scouting, which could pave the way for Michael Fishman to become the newest executive in the team's hierarchy. Fishman has led the team's analytics department since 2005, but he's recently gotten his name in the headlines after advocating for the signing of Chris Young following his release from the Mets in 2014. The team website currently has him listed as an assistant general manager under senior administration, and he also served as the director of quantitative analysis, but don't be surprised if we hear about his promotion to executive level.
Despite losing a valuable asset in Billy Eppler, the Yankees will continue to churn out top-notch baseball executives, which should show you just how well run this organization has been. Whether it's Fishman or professional scouting manager Steve Martone or someone else, Eppler's shoes will be filled. Good luck to Eppler, but I guess not too much luck.