© 2005 MLB Advanced Media, L.P. All rights reserved.

10/13/05 3:21 PM ET

Moreno cultivating winning culture

Second-year owner a hit with Angels players and fans

ANAHEIM -- The Angels had just clinched the American League Division Series over the Yankees and the home clubhouse in Angel Stadium was coated in plastic, with champagne corks popping everywhere.

Fittingly, the wettest -- and maybe the happiest -- man in the joint was none other than Arte Moreno, the Angels owner who made the celebration possible.

One of the first things Moreno did was search the room for starter Bartolo Colon, who had to leave the game in the second inning because of shoulder inflammation that knocked the Angels' No. 1 starter out of the AL Championship Series.

Moreno had seen Colon's astonishment and crushing disappointment as the burly right-hander crouched on the mound, knowing he couldn't help his team anymore.

So when Moreno finally approached Colon after the game, they didn't even speak right away. They simply hugged for a while before congratulating each other. Colon looked apologetic and Moreno didn't want to hear any of it from his $51 million ace, who won 21 games this year and is a leading contender for the AL Cy Young Award.

"That's the type of guy he is," Angels first-base coach Alfredo Griffin said. "He cares about all the players like they're family. He's wonderful with them."

In other words, it isn't all dollars and cents for Moreno, the self-made outdoor advertising mogul who parlayed a fierce work ethic into billions and bought the Angels from the Walt Disney Co. for about $183 million in 2003.

Moreno has cultivated a culture in and around the Angels clubhouse and stadium, one that seems to center on one thing before anything else: winning.

And it appears to be working.

In his first two full years of ownership, the Angels won two AL West titles, and this year they're close to their second World Series in the last four seasons.

"We would like to build a team that, year in and year out, competes, but we really want to achieve long-term consistency," Moreno said recently.

"Until you get another championship, I don't think anyone is satisfied."

To that end, Moreno has opened up his pocketbook -- and his mind, deflecting all baseball-related questions and issues to general manager Bill Stoneman and manager Mike Scioscia while his team of marketing people handles the business side.

And when opportunities came along to make the Angels better, he's jumped at them.

Take January 2004, for example, when several teams in the chase for superstar outfielder Vladimir Guerrero started balking. Moreno heard from Stoneman that they had a chance to sign him and the deal was done, practically, the next day, with Guerrero inking a five-year, $70 million contract.

That came on the heels of the Colon signing and the acquisition of pitcher Kelvim Escobar.

"I think that when Arte took over in 2003, his commitment was very evident, very real," Scioscia said.

"His passion for the game is real, and he's given us the type of club that has been able to get into the playoffs and hopefully beyond."

Don't expect that commitment to change. The Angels ranked fourth in team payroll this year at about $95 million, but they'll most likely lop off a good portion of that next year when they figure to lose the contracts of Tim Salmon ($10 million a year) and Jarrod Washburn ($6.5 million a year).

The Angels could use some more power, and rumors are already rampant that they're interested in potential free agent slugger Paul Konerko.

"If we find the player that we believe is going to help us win a championship, then we're going to make that adjustment," Moreno said.

Adjustments keep being made at Angel Stadium, too.

Moreno gained cult-hero status by making the lowering of beer prices the first thing on his agenda when he took over ownership of the team. He also spent millions on scoreboard upgrades that included neon-lighted video boards all over the park.

"Arte's done some things that really have excited the fans," Stoneman said. "Right away, lowering beer prices was a good move, and he lowered other prices, too. When the fans come, they're going to have a good experience."

Winning helps, too, and the Angels' 95 victories in 2005 no doubt contributed to their all-time high attendance total.

"I think he's brought something fresh, not only to us but to baseball," Angels first baseman Darin Erstad said. "It's an honor to be on his team. He's just a great person."

And that's the bottom line, according to Griffin.

"He's the boss, but he doesn't seem like the boss," Griffin said.

"You see him and you don't know he's the owner."

Doug Miller is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.