M’s Will Reportedly Announce Jerry Dipoto as New GM Today

marc w · September 28, 2015 at 12:15 pm · Filed Under Mariners 

It started with a tweet from ESPN’s Jim Bowden, but it’s everywhere now: the M’s have reportedly decided to offer the GM position to ex-Angels GM Jerry Dipoto. We don’t know the full candidate list, but recent reports had the M’s deciding between Dipoto and Yankees AGM Billy Eppler. I’ll have more later, but here’s what we know about Dipoto:

1: Has the GM experience that M’s president Kevin Mather wanted, as he led the Angels from October 2011 to July of 2015.
2: Worked as head of player development in Arizona from 2005 to 2010 under stat-conscious GM Josh Byrnes. As player development is perhaps the most crucial (and unexpected) failing of the M’s in the Zduriencik years, this was probably a big plus for Dipoto.
3: Reputation for mixing statistical information with old-school scouting. Dipoto has scouted for Boston and Colorado before moving to Arizona, and clearly has a foot in both worlds. Theoretically, his status as an ex-MLB pitcher may help him sell recommendations with managers; it’s probably a bit easier to take coming from a big leaguer than a 27-year old Ivy League grad who refers to probability distributions.

That sounds great, of course, but there are also some red flags here. These aren’t proof positive of anything, mind you, but they need to be discussed. First, while he has GM experience, his Angels tenure was not without problems. Given that the M’s wanted GM experience because it was a proxy for being able to manage a diverse group of departments, the fact that Dipoto resigned after getting out-maneuvered by his field manager – who worked directly with ownership – is a concern. More than that, Dipoto presided over a series of remarkably unproductive drafts. As I mentioned the other day, the Angels have had a surprisingly good group of young players make the majors under Dipoto, but nearly all were drafted before Dipoto took over. Because he only took over in 2011, some of this is to be expected: the Angels haven’t had time to graduate top prospects like Sean Newcomb. They’ve gotten great production out of Mike Trout, Kole Calhoun and Garrett Richards, but all of them were drafted by Tony Reagins. Andrew Heaney’s been a bright spot, but he made his MLB debut for the Marlins and was essentially MLB-ready before Dipoto acquired him. Many of the balance of the Angels’ top 10 were acquired in trade, from Nick Tropeano (Astros), Kyle Kubitza (Braves) and Trevor Gott (Padres). Maybe that’s the result of some skilled deal-making, but it suggests that the system’s draft-and-development group hasn’t been terribly productive.

The same is true of Dipoto’s tenure in Arizona. When Josh Byrnes took over in late 2005, the Diamondbacks had a farm system ranked #1 in baseball. By the time he and Dipoto left, the system ranked in baseball’s bottom third. To be fair: part of the reason why the system looked bereft of talent was that so many of their top prospects graduated to the majors, from Justin Upton to Micah Owings to Stephen Drew. Dipoto should get a modicum of credit for helping get those players ready for the bigs, but again, all three were drafted prior to his hiring, and the players he presided over have a pretty mixed record. From Bobby Borchering to Taijuan Walker’s HS teammate Matt Davidson to Marc Krauss to Brandon Allen, the D-Backs collected corner bats and watched nearly all of them stall. The one who DIDN’T was the least-heralded of the bunch, and his success makes you think differently about the prospect rankings. If we knew then what we know now, would they be ranked 22nd? No, probably not. Does one really big win make up for a ton of losses? It depends, but it clearly helps. In any event, Dipoto had a couple of successes during his tenure, but that tenure also saw the system’s overall talent drop vis a vis its competitors. How you apportion credit and blame between the GM, the Player Development group and the amateur scouting crew is impossible to figure out. Let’s just say, though, that the overall record is mixed.

I mention all of this not to say it’s a terrible hire. His blend of experiences seems perfect – from player to scout to (stat-aware) executive – and having navigated a number of different organizations, I think he’ll be better at people-management than his predecessor. He’s worked in an environment where he had a nearly unlimited free-agent budget, and he’s worked under a GM in Arizona who had more fiscal constraints. While the Josh Hamilton acquisition blew up on him, it’s generally acknowledged that ownership had a hand in that deal. He’s made some extremely good trades, such as the Zack Greinke deal, and picking up Ernesto Frieri worked wonders in the short term. But just as there’s good on his resume, there’s some concerning things, too. That’s the nature of long resumes, perhaps. I’m cautiously optimistic here, though I think I’m much more cautious than others, at least from a quick glance at my twitter feed.


20 Responses to “M’s Will Reportedly Announce Jerry Dipoto as New GM Today”

  1. mrakbaseball on September 28th, 2015 12:34 pm

    Well, when the announcement is made official, let’s just hope that Dipoto will end up better than the last former California Angels GM the Mariners hired.

  2. seattleslew on September 28th, 2015 12:34 pm

    Kim Ng would’ve been my choice. She is more qualified and I think would do well here. Five years of mediocrity awaits.

  3. mrakbaseball on September 28th, 2015 12:36 pm

    I guess Ng still aspires to be a MLB GM as she interviewed for the Padres’ opening last year.

  4. seattleslew on September 28th, 2015 12:38 pm

    Sounds as if the M’s didn’t interview her. I’ve been a baseball fan for most of life, and I can’t root for a team that doesn’t give opportunities to the best and brightest. It doesn’t seem that their options were very broad or intriguing. I’m not impressed.

  5. Westside guy on September 28th, 2015 12:48 pm

    I’m not particularly excited, but let’s see what he does this off-season, since Mather made a big deal about wanting someone who could “hit the ground running” and also wanted someone in place before the current season ends.

    Based on all that, an uneventful or bad off-season will probably sour me on the guy pretty fast.

  6. stoyboy on September 28th, 2015 2:04 pm

    The question now is: Will DiPoto change managers?

  7. TheMightyMariner on September 28th, 2015 2:56 pm

    This hire is a bit concerning. His questionable drafting is the glaring sore spot. The Mariners need a guy who can draft and develop players. I’ve never been a fan of signing high priced free agents who have passed their prime years; I hope Dopoto didn’t push to bring in guys like Josh Hamilton or Pujols cuz I don’t want to see that here.

    I really hope we didn’t just get Bavasi 2.0.

  8. Sportszilla on September 28th, 2015 3:25 pm

    I think looking at draft results (and even player development results) can be a bit of a red herring: the sample size is simply too small to draw conclusions. I think process simply matters more, and while of course it would be more inspiring to see a new GM who had an unblemished record of player acquisition/development, there aren’t very many of those guys out there.

    Dipoto has his warts, and of course it’s possible that this doesn’t work out (even if he was the right hire), but I think it’s a small step in the right direction, at the least.

  9. Dregur on September 28th, 2015 3:53 pm

    It was pretty widely known that Hamiliton and Pujols was an owner’s decision.

    Also, as much as I like Kim Ng, reading about her strengths and weaknesses, it sounds like her scouting acumen was a huge unknown. She can do negotiating, but from what I’ve read about her, she has little experience in scouting or player development.

  10. ck on September 28th, 2015 4:23 pm

    Good Luck, Mr. Dipoto. Concerning his professional past, I hope he learned from his decisions, both good, and bad, and has that experience to help guide his future decisions. I suspect Mr. Mather would be susceptible to a, “…win now,” type GM, due to the age / contracts of the current stars the Mariners have. GO M’s !

  11. globalalpha on September 28th, 2015 5:11 pm

    In Jerry I trust!

  12. Westside guy on September 28th, 2015 5:19 pm

    So with MrZ change his nickname to “MrDDevotee”? 😛

  13. gag harbor on September 28th, 2015 5:20 pm

    Would’ve preferred seeing what Billy Eppler could do in this front office. Why do we have to endure former Angels’ execs?? It’s as if we have a fascination with a divisional rival or something..

  14. gerrythek on September 28th, 2015 5:33 pm

    Don’t overlook the fact that part of the problem with Dipoto’s drafts was that the Angels had to give up first round picks for the owner-mandated signings of Pujols, Hamilton and Wilson.

  15. bluemoonking on September 28th, 2015 5:57 pm

    It was clear that Jerry D. was the clear choice as of a couple of weeks ago. The Mariners like Dipoto because he is a former player and former GM of a hated rival.

    I can’t get too happy or sad with his track record in Anaheim. Scioscia and Moreno are not easy to work for. So, I wait to see what kind of an organization Jerry D. builds. That is where Jack Z. failed the most at. At least with Dipoto, you are playing the game the same way other teams do.

    And unfortunately Kim won’t get the chance anytime soon. She would have to give up most of the say on baseball decisions and that’s not going to work. Or walk into a no win situation.

  16. Westside guy on September 28th, 2015 7:52 pm

    CJ Wilson was not an owner mandated signing.

  17. heyoka on September 29th, 2015 12:32 pm

    5 more years of mediocrity

    why did this year go so poorly?

  18. mksh21 on September 29th, 2015 6:49 pm

    Oh no we didn’t get Kim Ng! The horror!

  19. mrakbaseball on September 30th, 2015 2:30 am

    Mksh21, we get it, you hate women.

  20. mksh21 on September 30th, 2015 5:20 am

    Mrakbaseball, we get it you are so forward thinking and with it!

    No it’s just hilarious that she is the only candidate for many people here because she is a woman. Like a contest to prove how progressive everyone is. I see nothing that separates her from all the other terrible candidates the M’s considered but the obsession is pathetic. Then the ignorant comment you make.

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