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Angels Lose; Front-Office Changes Loom

September 03, 1993|BOB NIGHTENGALE | TIMES STAFF WRITER

While the Angels continue to flounder on the field--losing, 4-3, Thursday to the Baltimore Orioles in front of a season-low crowd of 16,817 at Anaheim Stadium--the most intrigue and suspense these days rests high above in the Angel front offices.

This is where the high-stake decisions and maneuvering are quietly taking place. The Angel hierarchy congregated Thursday afternoon, evaluating their player personnel and determining whom they want back next season.

The most tantalizing mystery, though, is the possible changing of power in the Angel front office.

The Angels are considering promoting Bill Bavasi to general manager, according to one league executive. Bavasi, 35, has been in the organization since 1980, spending the last 10 years as the farm director. If Bavasi is promoted, he would replace either Dan O'Brien or Whitey Herzog. O'Brien and Herzog currently share the general manager duties, and there's a mixed opinion in the front office who should stay.

Angel President Richard Brown, who ultimately must make any recommendation to owner Jackie Autry, said that he won't publicly discuss any potential changes. No decisions have been made, he said, and it's doubtful any will be announced until the season ends.

"If changes are made," Brown said, "they'll be made without rumors from this organization. This is an internal matter. Obviously, everybody will be evaluated at the end of the year."

Bavasi and Bob Fontaine, scouting director, have been instrumental in the makeup of the Angels' major league team, signing and producing 11 players currently on the roster, including rookie right fielder Tim Salmon. Salmon became only the 19th major league player to hit 30 homers in his rookie season, and set the club record in the sixth inning with his 22nd at Anaheim Stadium.

Brown, who has been praised by his peers for developing a young team that might be within a year of contending, currently is trying determine the Angels' greatest needs for the off-season. They have already informed potential free agent Luis Polonia and designated hitter Chili Davis that they want them back only if they fit within the Angels' economic parameters.

Polonia is seeking a three-year, $9-million contract, according to sources, while the Angels have countered with a four-year, $9-million offer. They are negotiating a two-year extension with Davis, in exchange for restructuring his 1994 option that could pay him $3.05 million.

Angel Manager Buck Rodgers said the team's top two priorities should be retaining Davis and signing an established veteran starter.

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