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Jerry Dipoto Rumors
Jack Zduriencik’s tenure with the Mariners was characterized by long streams of firings, resignations and strife, Geoff Baker of the Seattle Times writes. Those began early in Zduriencik’s time in Seattle, with Zduriencik apparently frequently blaming others for the team’s problems under his leadership. Baker prints excerpts of a rather amazing email from Zduriencik to then-manager Don Wakamatsu about the struggling 2010 team in which Zduriencik seemed to blame his staff for the failures of the players he had acquired the previous offseason. “When putting this club together throughout the winter, everyone was involved,” Zduriencik wrote. “I asked many questions about the acquired players this offseason and in all cases moved forward to acquire or refrain from acquiring a player based on received recommendations.” He also suggested that the struggles of that 101-loss 2010 team might be due to a “lack of urgency and preparation,” implying that the coaching staff was to blame. The Mariners finally fired Zduriencik this week. Here’s more on front offices.
- Former Angels GM Jerry Dipoto looks likely to be a talked-about name as the many teams with vacant GM positions search for candidates, FOX Sports’ Jon Morosi writes. Dipoto appears likely to be a candidate for both the Brewers and Mariners jobs. The Mariners have said they will prioritize experience (which, obviously, Dipoto has), and Morosi notes that Dipoto was a finalist for the Mariners GM job years ago, when the team ultimately hired Zduriencik.
- The Blue Jays are still seeking a team president, but when they hire one, that person will endure criticism if he or she fires GM Alex Anthopoulos, Morosi says. Anthopoulos’ acquisitions of veterans like Josh Donaldson, Russell Martin, Troy Tulowitzki and David Price have helped propel the Blue Jays to first place in the AL East. The team’s decision to keep Anthopoulos shouldn’t be a difficult one, Morosi says.
Earlier today, the Mariners announced that they’ve dismissed GM Jack Zduriencik. Assistant GM Jeff Kingston will serve as GM on an interim basis as the Mariners look for a new GM. Here are some takeaways from president Kevin Mather’s press conference with the Seattle media and comments/rumors on the search for a new GM…
- Mather will begin his search immediately and hopes to have a new GM in place by early October, tweets MLB.com’s Greg Johns. He plans to spend the month of September looking at and interviewing candidates.
- Mather’s preference is to hire an experienced general manager, tweets Ryan Divish of the Seattle Times. He will handle the search personally, Divish adds, and he specifically referenced that he doesn’t want to waste the remaining prime years of Robinson Cano, Felix Hernandez and Nelson Cruz while a new GM learns on the job for an offseason or two. Meanwhile, Bob Dutton of the Tacoma News Tribune tweets that Mather will not wait for candidates that aren’t able to interview until after the postseason; he does not want to wait that long to have a new top decision-maker in place.
- Shannon Drayer of 710 ESPN tweets that Mather spoke to manager Lloyd McClendon and expressed full confidence in him, telling his skipper, “at the end of the day, you will work for [the] new GM.” It appears (particularly in light of his later comments) that Mather meant those words as an indication that McClendon’s fate will ultimately be determined by the organization’s new hire, rather than as an assurance of job security.
- Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports tweets that the Mariners have already been quietly reaching out to potential GM candidates. Former Rockies GM Dan O’Dowd is one exec to whom Seattle has spoken. O’Dowd’s name has also come up in connection to the Red Sox’ GM opening.
- ESPN’s Jerry Crasnick notes that former Marlins GM Larry Beinfest, who is looking to return to a front office, first broke in with the Mariners (Twitter links). Other names that have been speculatively linked to the Mariners include Rangers AGM Thad Levine, former Angels GM Jerry Dipoto, Indians AGM Mike Chernoff and Yankees AGM Billy Eppler, he adds.
- Zduriencik’s final move as GM was to option Mike Zunino to Triple-A, tweets Drayer. Zduriencik said the demotion was in Zunino’s best interest. “Just a breather, a break,” Zduriencik explained. “We would have liked to have done it sooner.” Zunino, of course, will likely be back before too long. Rosters expand on Sept. 1, and the Mariners’ Triple-A affiliate will see its regular season close on Sept. 7. In the meantime, John Hicks will be promoted and make his Major League debut.
Following a 45-minute introductory press conference for new Red Sox president of baseball operations Dave Dombrowski, Scott Lauber of the Boston Herald provided a rundown with some highlights. Dombrowski was blunt in stating that the Red Sox need to find some pitching, specifically stating his affinity for power arms. He also noted that a top-of-the-rotation arm is something he’d prefer to bring into to the fold. “Normally, if you’re going to have a world championship club, you need to have a No. 1 type of guy,” Dombrowski explained. He also addressed the team’s GM search. When asked about why he needs a general manager, when it’ll be Dombrowski who has the final say, the veteran executive replied, “This is a big market. There’s a lot going on, day in and day out. We have a lot of expenditure at the major-league level, pursue talent aggressively all over the globe. I think if you get the right person on board with you, if you can get that person and be in sync with them, that can only be helpful.” Dombrowski also touched on his familiarity with analytics as well as the fact that he doesn’t necessarily feel the need to make sweeping changes to a front office that already has “a lot of good people” with “good reputation.
A few more front office notes from around the league…
- After speaking with multiple industry sources, Sean McAdam of CSN New England writes that four candidates for the Red Sox’ GM opening include former Braves GM Frank Wren, former Rockies GM Dan O’Dowd, former Angels GM/current Red Sox advisor Jerry Dipoto and Yankees assistant GM Billy Eppler. Wren has been oft-mentioned in the past few days, and O’Dowd has also popped up more recently in reports. Regarding Eppler, McAdam writes that he’s blocked in New York by Brian Cashman, and many expect him to land a GM job elsewhere this winter.
- Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports spoke to one rival executive who said he would be “shocked” if the Dombrowski hired anyone other than Wren to serve as his new general manager (Twitter link). Of course, in the above-linked piece from Lauber, he writes that Dombrowski is in the early stages of compiling a list of candidates, and the Sox have assured the commissioner’s office that they’ll be interviewing minority candidates in their search.
- ESPN’s Jerry Crasnick reports (Twitter links) that there’s some industry buzz that Dipoto is on the Brewers’ radar as they look for a new GM. Milwaukee is said to be looking for a younger, more analytical general manager following Doug Melvin’s announcement that he’ll transition to an advisory role. Crasnick also notes that there’s some speculation that Cherington would be a good fit for Milwaukee’s GM vacancy.
2:12pm: Dipoto’s Boston contract doesn’t prevent him from pursuing another team’s GM job at any time, FOX Sports’ Ken Rosenthal reports (Twitter link).
1:20pm: The Red Sox have hired former Angels GM Jerry Dipoto on a interim basis to assist in the team’s offseason moves, Peter Gammons reported during an appearance on the MLB Network (hat tip to Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe). Dipoto is “a consultant for now,” according to ESPN’s Jim Bowden (Twitter link), and was hired by Red Sox general manager Ben Cherington.
Dipoto has longstanding ties to the Red Sox organization, as he worked as a scout for the club in 2003-2004. It’s yet unknown if this job could be a precursor to Dipoto being hired on a full-time basis by the Sox if things go well this winter, or if it truly is just an interim gig until Dipoto lands his next permanent job.
Dipoto rather surprisingly resigned as Angels general manager last month following a series of disputes with manager Mike Scioscia and the coaching staff. The breaking point seemed to be how the Angels coaches used and implemented statistical information for scouting purposes, which shouldn’t be an issue in Boston given the team’s long-standing embrace of sabermetric principles. Dipoto’s controversial exit from Los Angeles didn’t seem to hurt his standing within the game, as he had been widely expected to soon catch on with another club in some capacity.
Assuming normal rest, Cole Hamels is scheduled to start for the Phillies on July 19, July 25 and July 31, Jake Kaplan of the Philadelphia Inquirer notes. That July 31st start is a night game, so Hamels could be scratched if he’s dealt prior to the deadline earlier that afternoon (assuming he hasn’t already been traded before the 31st). Here’s some more from Philadelphia and elsewhere around the NL East…
- The Braves had discussed packaging Jason Grilli and Jim Johnson together in trade talks, MLB.com’s Mark Bowman reports, with the idea that two relievers would bring back a larger return from a bullpen-needy team. That plan was scuttled when Grilli suffered a season-ending Achilles tendon tear yesterday, though Johnson remains a trade candidate.
- Bowman’s piece lists several possible trade chips on the Braves roster, including Johnson, Chris Johnson, Kelly Johnson, Cameron Maybin, Juan Uribe and A.J. Pierzynski. In regards to Pierzynski, Bowman believes Atlanta will try to bring the catcher back in 2016 even if they do trade him this year.
- Nationals GM Mike Rizzo broadly discussed his team’s general deadline plans with reporters, including Chelsea Janes of the Washington Post. The Nats lineup will be boosted by the returns of several stars from the DL, and while Janes feels Washington could use another relief arm, Rizzo praised the job done by current relievers like Aaron Barrett and Blake Treinen.
- It’s only a matter of time before Aaron Nola is promoted to the majors, CSNPhilly.com’s Jim Salisbury writes, and he believes the Phillies could call Nola up within “the next couple of weeks, possibly in tandem with a trade deadline move.” This is just my speculation, but promoting Nola to fill Hamels’ roster spot would be a good the-future-is-now type of move.
- Several scouts believe former Angels GM Jerry Dipoto would be a good fit as the Phillies‘ next general manager, ESPN’s Jerry Crasnick tweets. Interestingly, Dipoto’s former assistant GM in Anaheim, Matt Klentak, has also been mentioned in connection to a job in the new Andy MacPhail-run Phillies front office.
- In NL East news from earlier today, the Pirates have interest in Phillies outfielders Ben Revere and Jeff Francoeur.
Jerry Dipoto has made “a final decision” to resign as the Angels GM, Alden Gonzalez of MLB.com reports on Twitter. That appeared to be where things were headed last night, though a report indicated that the club’s owner and president were attempting to convince Dipoto to stay on.
While not unexpected at this point, the overall situation is rather stunning. The Angels are facing some tough decisions over the next month as the team tries to keep up with the Astros in the AL West after opening play today four games back. All said, it’s rather an inopportune time to be making such significant changes in the front office. It remains to be seen how the team will fill the void left in Dipoto’s wake.
The base cause for the signing appears, by all accounts, to be an authority struggle between Dipoto and skipper Mike Scioscia. Prior differences seemed to have been resolved with ownership intervention, and the organization had already exercised Dipoto’s option for the 2016 campaign. But tensions re-emerged over the last several days, according to reports. Without rehashing all the information that has come out, suffice to say that Angels owner Arte Moreno was ultimately unable to maintain a workable allocation of power between the pair of key baseball men.
Dipoto took the GM seat for Los Angeles in the fall of 2011 after the firing of predecessor Tony Reagins. He oversaw major free agent acquisitions, including Albert Pujols, Josh Hamilton, and C.J. Wilson, although those major outlays have often been connected to Moreno’s involvement.
More recently, Dipoto has looked to build the team’s pitching staff through the trade market. He shipped away starting second baseman Howie Kendrick to acquire young lefty Andrew Heaney this offseason after moving slugger Mark Trumbo to acquire Tyler Skaggs and Hector Santiago.
Dipoto also bolstered last year’s club with relievers Joe Smith (signed to a three-year pact) and Huston Street (added in a summer trade). Street ultimately agreed to an extension recently, with the team getting two more years of his services, plus an option year, for a seemingly reasonable $18MM commitment.
But the crowning achievement of Dipoto’s transactional history with the Halos is probably the Mike Trout extension. Having already established himself as the game’s very best player at just 22 years of age, Trout signed on to a six-year, $144.5MM deal. It’s a significant commitment, to be sure, but that money pales in comparison to the overall cash later promised by the Marlins to Giancarlo Stanton. Notably, Stanton was in a much different situation given his service time. But the Trout contract looks to be rather an incredible bargain, given that the club is committed only through his peak prime years with relatively little overall risk.
The Dipoto-constructed Angels had some disappointments along the way, missing the post-season in his first two seasons at the helm despite the major free agent signings. But the club put up 98 wins and an AL West title last year before running into the Royals buzzsaw in the playoffs.
Los Angeles has had its issues this year, with the team’s overall offensive production sagging despite big seasons from Trout and Pujols. Offseason acquisition Matt Joyce has simply not hit, and the club was backed into an awkward situation with Hamilton that ultimately saw him shipped to the Rangers for some salary savings.
Despite the turmoil, however, the club is as noted still very much in the thick of things heading into trade deadline season. As good as Houston has been, putting up an AL-leading 46 wins at the start of the day, the Angels have every opportunity to take another division crown. That’s especially true, perhaps, given that the club reportedly reserved payroll capacity to be deployed over the summer. Now, the question is not only how it will put those funds to use, but who’ll make that decision.
Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images
9:54pm: Rosenthal provides an overview of the situation, writing that “he and his staff viewed Scioscia and the coaches as practically insubordinate” in declining to utilize statistical information.
9:15am: The current situation is “chaotic,” tweets Passan, with “high-ranking members of the organization” unsure whether or not Dipoto is still the general manager.
9:07am: Dipoto cleared out his office and told members of his staff he was resigning, Bob Nightengale of USA Today reports.
9:01am: A second source tells Crasnick that Dipoto is leaving the organization. (Twitter link.)
2:21am: Jerry Dipoto is “definitely out” as Angels GM after apparently resigning his post last night, sources tell ESPN’s Jerry Crasnick. Multiple Angels players entered last night’s game under the impression that Dipoto was no longer at the helm, Jeff Passan of Yahoo! Sports tweets.
While the club has yet to make anything official, multiple reports emerged over night suggesting that change was afoot. MLB.com’s Alden Gonzalez reported that Dipoto was considering resigning in the wake of the Angels’ organizational tensions. FOX Sports’ Ken Rosenthal, meanwhile, tweeted that two sources told him Dipoto had packed up his office (though he noted the possibility that Dipoto might simply have been acting “out of emotion”). Crasnick tweeted that strife between Dipoto and manager Mike Scioscia had only increased since Rosenthal reported earlier this week that the two again weren’t getting along (after having also had significant disagreements in 2012). Crasnick also indicated that Dipoto approached Angels owner Arte Moreno with an ultimatum that “backfired.”
With the Halos experiencing a somewhat underwhelming start to the year, tensions apparently boiled over recently. According to a Rosenthal report, a pair of meetings called by Dipoto — one with Scioscia and his staff, and the other will both uniformed staff and players — turned “contentious” last weekend. The club’s top baseball decision maker reportedly drew strong reactions from an unnamed coach as well as Hall of Fame-bound first baseman Albert Pujols.
The immediate issue seemed to involve the manner in which information on in-game decisions (e.g., shifting, strategies against certain hitters) was distributed to players. But Rosenthal raised the possibility that there were deeper philosophical and relational differences between the club’s two key leaders.
The working relationship between Dipoto and Scioscia was once said to be nearly irreconcilable, but they had seemingly worked together in at least a reasonably workable truce. When asked about the report earlier this week, Scioscia said that the pair continued to “work together the same way that we’ve worked the last couple years” (via Gonzalez, on Twitter).
In recent days, however, those former hostilities had seemingly been rekindled. Two club officials spoke anonymously with Yahoo! Sports’ Tim Brown, with one telling him that there were “a lot of closed doors” around the club’s facility Tuesday, given the persistent tension.
The second source indicated that he or she felt the end result could be rather drastic change. “Something’s going to give this time,” said the source. “Looks irreparable.” Owner Arte Moreno had managed to patch things up previously, at least for a good stretch, but it remains to be seen what can be salvaged this time around.
Then, there’s the reported involvement of Pujols, the team’s highest-paid player, who has finally played up to his massive contract this year. The highly respected veteran said today that he was not going to comment on what had gone on in the clubhouse, as Gonzalez reported.
But Pujols did address the idea, as reported by Rosenthal, that he had said that the club simply does not have as good a roster as it did last year. As Mike DiGiovanna of the Los Angeles Times tweeted, Pujols said he would never disrespect his teammates in the manner implied in that supposed comment. According to Gonzalez’s sources, however, Rosenthal’s report was quite accurate (Twitter link).
Regardless of what actually happened, there’s yet another layer to the controversy. Gonzalez writes that there was “anger” among the players that the story was leaked in the first place. And Pujols also called it “really embarrassing” (to whoever revealed the information) that the story had reached the public sphere. “We’re supposed to be a family here,” he said.
Months ago, the Angels exercised their 2016 option on GM Jerry Dipoto’s contract, Jeff Fletcher of the Orange County Register tweets. That news had not been reported until now. The option is the last one on Dipoto’s original contract, a three-year deal that included two options. That the organization has not extended Dipoto to this point might or might not be notable. The Angels have not always quite lived up to lofty expectations in the last few seasons, and Dipoto’s tenure has been shaped in part by an unfortunate contract and ugly dispute with Josh Hamilton (which, to be fair, were both at least partially the fault of owner Arte Moreno), but the team is coming off a 98-win 2014 campaign. Here are more notes from the West Coast.
- Outfielder Andre Ethier has reestablished himself this year after a winter in which the Dodgers couldn’t trade him, Bill Plunkett of the Orange County Register writes. “I don’t think anybody wanted me either,” says Ethier. “It takes two to tango like in a lot of things. … At the same time, maybe they knew what they were doing. Maybe the reason it didn’t happen was because they were asking more than other teams were willing to give.” Now, Ethier is in the midst of a resurgent .287/.369/.506 season, and Plunkett points out that, as the dollars remaining on Ethier’s contract continue to shrink (he’s currently owed about $49MM more through 2017, including a buyout for 2018), it might become a lot easier for the Dodgers to trade him than it was last winter.
- Giants executives Brian Sabean and Lee Elder were on hand to watch today’s Reds/Cubs game in Chicago, FOX Sports’ Ken Rosenthal writes (all Twitter links). As Rosenthal points out, the natural conclusion is that Sabean and Elder were in town to watch Reds starter Johnny Cueto — Cueto will be a sought-after trade target this summer, and the Giants need rotation help. It could be, though, that the pair were at Wrigley for other reasons.
- Giants outfielder Hunter Pence is headed to the disabled list with wrist tendinitis, as Rosenthal tweets. Pence has not played since June 2, so he should be able to return within a week if he’s ready. To take Pence’s place on the active roster, the Giants selected the contract of righty Mike Broadway today after promoting an outfielder, Jarrett Parker, earlier this week.
APRIL 14: Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports reports that Hamilton’s contract does indeed contain language that would allow the Angels to terminate or convert the deal if he is physically/mentally incapacitated due to alcohol and drugs (specifically, if he is less than “first-class condition”), though the clause is not unique to his deal. However, Hamilton and the union would still be able to argue that the JDA supersedes contractual clauses of this nature, so it remains unclear if the Angels would be able to take any form of action. If they were eventually able to attempt such action, they can only target Hamilton’s $30MM salaries in 2016 and 2017, as his 2015 salary of $23MM became fully guaranteed on Opening Day.
APRIL 10, 9:44pm: The union has issued a statement rejecting the idea that the Angels would have any basis to pursue Hamilton (h/t Ken Rosenthal):
“The MLBPA emphatically denies Los Angeles Angels owner Arte Moreno’s assertions from earlier today that the Angels had requested and received the approval of the Union to insert language into Josh Hamilton’s contract that would supersede the provisions of the Joint Drug Agreement and/or the Basic Agreement. To the contrary, the collectively bargained provisions of the JDA and the Basic Agreement supersede all other player contract provisions and explicitly prevent Clubs from exactly the type of action Mr. Moreno alluded to in his press comments today.”
7:38pm: Angels owner Arte Moreno told reporters today that his club may seek to enforce provisions of the team’s contract with Josh Hamilton relating to the use of alcohol or drugs, Bill Shaikin of the Los Angeles Times was among those to report (Twitter links). Pedro Moura of the Orange County Register reports further details.
Hamilton was recently determined not to have violated his treatment program by an arbitrator, despite apparently admitting a relapse of some kind. (His early career was, of course, marred by numerous drug-related suspensions.) That led to a rather firm rebuke from the club.
The the precise language that the Angels might rely upon remains unknown, as does the remedy they could theoretically seek. “It’s not about money, nothing about money,” Moreno said. “In our contract, there’s language that he signed and that his agent approved that said he cannot drink and use drugs. So, we have specific language in the agreement. We have a couple other players who have the same language.” While the language may not be unique, Moreno did say that it was a point that the team specifically negotiated: “When we started talking to him, we went through his history. We felt it was important for us to have language in our agreement.”
Underlying the matter at this point is the fact that Hamilton not only has apparently relapsed, but that he is starting the year on the DL after two rough seasons to start his career with the Halos. The club owes Hamilton $83MM from this season through 2017 under his deal, and at this point would certainly welcome a chance to avoid some or all of that obligation (though Moreno says “it’s not about money”).
Moreno’s statements (coming on the back of the strong words from GM Jerry Dipoto) certainly seem to indicate that the team is serious about pursuing some action. Asked if he could say that Hamilton would again play in an Angels uniform, Moreno replied: “I will not say that.”
But one major issue with any attempt to pursue action under Hamilton’s contract is the collectively-bargained Joint Drug Prevention and Treatment Program (JDA). As Jeff Fletcher of the Orange County Register tweets, the prevailing wisdom holds that the JDA — which outlines punishment for PEDs and recreational drugs — precludes resort to contract terms to punish players for violating the league’s drug rules. There may be some arguments around the JDA’s bar on other means of enforcing violations of its terms, but they seem to face an uphill battle.