Jerry Dipoto was officially named the ninth general manager in Mariners history today, and the former D-Backs/Angels GM addressed the media in a press conference at Safeco Field (some video highlights via MLB.com and 710 ESPN).
A few of the more meaningful quotes from the presser as well as some reactions to Seattle’s decision…
- Bob Dutton of the Tacoma News Tribune breaks down Dipoto’s timeline for his initial wave of priorities. Dipoto wouldn’t commit one way or another in regard to manager Lloyd McClendon’s future but said the two planned to take the time to get to know each other in the coming weeks. “I wouldn’t say bringing in my own guy is critically important,” said Dipoto when asked about McClendon’s job status. “To have someone that I believe in, that I trust, who trusts me and believe in what I’m doing, is terrifically important.” Of course, his relationship with a manager probably holds extra importance to Dipoto, whose resignation with the Angels reportedly stemmed largely from issues with manager Mike Scioscia.
- Regarding possible front office changes (also via Dutton), Dipoto said he did expect new recruits from outside the organization to come join him in Seattle. However, he also had positive things to say about many of the existing baseball ops staffers. “I’m also 100 percent sure that many of the people you see here today are going to be key figures as we move forward,” said Dipoto.
- Team president Kevin Mather said the Mariners began with a list of about 40 candidates that was pared down to 10 — six of whom were interviewed. According to Dutton, the finalists for the position were Dipoto, Yankees assistant GM Billy Eppler and Jeff Kingston, the Mariners’ assistant GM who had been serving as GM on an interim basis since the firing of Jack Zduriencik.
- Dipoto spoke highly of the foundation of the current Mariners — Felix Hernandez, Robinson Cano, Nelson Cruz, Kyle Seager as well as up-and-coming talent like Brad Miller, Ketel Marte, Chris Taylor and Mike Zunino — and he offered a particularly glowing review of another well-regarded young player. “…And a guy I think has the chance to shoot the moon in Taijuan Walker,” said Dipoto.
- Ryan Divish of the Seattle Times hears a bit differently when it comes to the team’s finalists, writing that it was Blue Jays special assistant Dana Brown who was the third finalist, not Kingston. Divish also talks about the frank assessment of the organization that Dipoto gave Mather in the interview, noting that Dipoto mentioned a lack of depth on the 25- and 40-man rosters, minimal athleticism throughout the organization and defense that doesn’t line up with the team’s spacious home park.
- Divish also provides a transcript of a Q&A with Mariners CEO Howard Lincoln, who notably said that the team’s payroll won’t be going down from its current $130MM mark in spite of the losing season. Lincoln said ownership will provide Dipoto with as many resources as possible, and he added that, as he’s done in previous seasons, he’s taken a personal “financial hit” as a result. Asked specifically if that meant he’s cutting his own annual salary, Lincoln replied, “I’m taking a significant financial hit and have in the past when we’ve had losing seasons. When we’ve had winning seasons, that’s the opposite.” He also added that he has no plans to retire in the near future, and he’d like to have a World Series trip or at least some playoff seasons behind him before he does.
- As 710 ESPN’s Shannon Drayer writes, Dipoto expressed that pitching may be a bigger need for the Mariners than offense, which he admitted is strange given the previous narrative surrounding the team. Dipoto did state that it’s “critical” to lengthen the bottom of the lineup, but he offered high praise for Miller and Seth Smith, specifically, when discussing some of the perhaps unheralded assets in the team’s present lineup.
- “Dipoto exudes passion and oozes competence,” writes Larry Stone of the Seattle Times, “and his likability factor is off the charts.” However, Stone remains somehwhat skeptical, noting that predecessors Bill Bavasi and Jack Zduriencik have promised change and come up short in that regard. Stone notes that Dipoto’s transparency into his strong belief in both scouting and analytics was encouraging, as was the new GM’s candid admission that he was “a little disheartened” by seeing the lofty strikeout rates throughout the minor league system. “You’ve got a lot of guys striking out a lot,” said Dipoto. “Now, it’s a lot of very talented players with a lot of upside potential to tap into. That’s only going to happen if we can somehow develop more contact. I think that’s important. That’s going to be Step No. 1.” Though he came away impressed, Stone notes that “winning” the press conference is far easier than turning around a struggling organization.
- Red Sox president of baseball operations Dave Dombrowski had hoped to be able to retain Dipoto, he told WEEI.com’s Rob Bradford. However, Dombrowski characterized the chances of keeping Dipoto as a “long shot” once he began interviewing with the Mariners, seemingly offering high praise and respect for the veteran executive’s front office acumen. As Bradford writes, Dipoto’s time with the Sox was limited, but it left a mark. “His basic task was to review our personnel in the organization and then report on them, which he did,” Dombrowski explained. “He did a great job, had a very thorough assessment of our talent, and gave me the information. He also, when he was around, contributed to other ways in talking about general baseball.” Also of importance, Dombrowski said, was the ability to receive internal assessments from pre-existing Red Sox baseball operations members as well as what was essentially an external review of the talent from a well-respected peer.