There’s a new sheriff in town and his name is Jerry Dipoto.
The Seattle Mariners announced, on Sept. 28, they hired Dipoto as the team’s new general manager. He was officially introduced at a press conference on Tuesday.
Dipoto couldn’t have come to the Mariners at a better time. He replaces Jack Zduriencik, who Seattle fired in August. Zduriencik, led Seattle for seven seasons and while he enjoyed some success in 2009 and 2014, his seven-year plan to bring the team to the postseason failed.
While initial reports had Seattle looking for a younger, more analytical candidate, president Kevin Mather was also looking for someone with experience and Dipoto fits the bill.
In an interview, Dipoto said he was honored to be a member of the Seattle franchise and looks forward to the challenges that come with charting “a fresh course for the future of Mariners baseball.”
Dipoto spent the last three-and-a-half years with the Los Angeles Angels. He resigned in July after friction with manager Mike Scioscia. Issues between the two include Scioscia’s resistance to data prepared by Dipoto and his staff, and the firing of hitting coach Mickey Hatcher in 2012. Bill Stoneman, who was the Angels’ general manager from 1999-2007, has been acting as interim GM since Dipoto’s departure.
During Dipoto’s time with the Angels, the team went 89-73 in 2012 and 78-84 in 2013. Last season they ended 98-64, the best record in baseball that year, and captured an American League West division title.
After a professional baseball career that lasted from 1993-2000, Dipoto’s tenure in Major League front offices began in 2003 as a scout for the Boston Red Sox. He later became the scouting director for the Colorado Rockies, a team he pitched for from 1997-2000, and the Arizona Diamondbacks. He acted as the Diamondbacks interim general manager in 2010 after GM Josh Byrnes was let go in the midseason. Prior to Seattle hiring him, Dipoto was a consultant for the Red Sox.
In a news release, Mariners president Kevin Mather said Dipoto’s familiarity with Seattle was a “big plus” in his hiring.
“During our conversations over the past few weeks, it became clear to me that he has a very solid understanding of our team and organization, both where we are and where we want to be,” Mather said in the release. “And he has a strategy to get us there.”
Dipoto will have a lot on his plate now that he’s in control of the Mariners’ ship. His analytical nature and scouting experience should help replenish its farm system and how the team drafts college players. His familiarity with the team will somewhat ease the learning curve he’ll go through as he works with a new roster and a new front office. He’s also not afraid to spend money on talent.
One person’s fate in his hands is Mariners manager Lloyd McClendon. In an August interview, Mather didn’t specify what capacity McClendon will work under the new GM, though he hopes it will still be as the team’s manager.
Dipoto’s dealings with an “old school” manager like Scioscia didn’t sit well and there’s speculation that he might walk into a power struggle with McClendon — that’s even if he decides to keep him on the team. McClendon, in an interview with MLB.com, said he spoke with Dipoto and the two had a conversation that went “very well.”
Dipoto’s appointment as Seattle’s new GM gives fans something to look forward to in 2016. It also gives him a chance to erase some of the bitterness that came from his departure with the Angels over the summer — or even get some payback with both teams being in the AL West. He’s also got an uphill battle ahead as fans and critics will look to him to hear his plan and methods to bring Seattle to the postseason, something that hasn’t happened in 14 years.