Dear Lookout Landing community, I would like you to join me in formally saying hello to the Seattle Mariners' Executive Vice President and General Manager of Baseball Operations Mr. Jerry Dipoto.
Hello Mr. Dipoto.
Can we call you Jerry? For the point of this article, at times you might be called Jerry. Because the point of this article is to figure out why the Mariners are getting, but who the Mariners are getting.
Jerry Dipoto was born on May 24, 1968 in Jersey City, New Jersey, according to his Wikipedia page. He has been married for many years to his wife Tamie. He has three children, Taylor, Jordan and Jonah. Apparently, he is quite the "cool dad".
He is also a person whose life probably originally started out the way he wanted it to, but stopped going down the path he expected it to. Jerry played college baseball with the VCU Rams and was selected by the Cleveland Indians in the third round of the 1989 draft. He made the majors in the 1993 season, and then the Indians had seen enough. He was traded to the New York Mets, then traded to the Colorado Rockies, and like so many players before him, he was out of the league before he even had a chance to establish himself in the year 2000.
His baseball career was quite tumultuous, despite all the trades. Dipoto is a cancer survivor, beating the thyroid cancer he was diagnosed with in 1994. He finished his eight-year career with a 4.05 ERA and a 27-24 record over less than 500 innings pitched. Ron Gant and Eric Karros each hit three home runs off of him. Dipoto struck out Ken Griffey Jr. twice.
Dipoto has had a semi-meteoric rise throughout the baseball ranks. He joined the Boston Red Sox in 2003 as a scout and seven years later he was the interim General Manager for the Arizona Diamondbacks in 2010. The Diamondbacks hired Kevin Towers after that season and Dipoto remained faithfully in Arizona before the lure of working with all-around pleasant personalities Arte Moreno and Mike Scioscia brought Dipoto to the Los Angeles Angels.
Dipoto succeeded with the Angels to varying degrees. Under his reign, they made the playoffs once, last season. They also did so with the best record in baseball, before they were swept aside by the Kansas City Royals in October. Scioscia and Dipoto were hardly the best of friends. Dipoto was a more analytical minded general manager and Scioscia was one of those "old school" guys. But winning helps smooth anything over -- or at least almost anything.
Then, when the Angels were sitting at 41-37 this season and in what should have been first place of the AL West if not for the surprising Houston Astros, Moreno sided with his manager instead of his general manager during a dispute on how to use players. Dipoto went packing. It was a slightly shocking turn of events, if not for the characters involved.
It is hard to rate Dipoto's time in Los Angeles, as it would be with anybody who is theoretically running that team. Sure, Dipoto made ill-advised signings like Josh Hamilton and Jered Weaver's extension, but with the Angels, the general manager is the third most powerful figure in the organization.
The Mariners had rumors of that years ago with an ownership that loved Kenji Johjima, but the tenure of Jack Zduriencik appeared to have little to no meddling from the folks at Nintendo. And it seems that if there was even an inkling of that sort of shenanigans being present that Dipoto probably would've shown himself the door in the interview process -- just like he did to the Angels earlier this year.
But because of this mystery, all we can know about Dipoto's success as a general manager is that he took over what was never really that bad and he made it a little bit better with the help of piles and piles of money. He had a few swings and misses, like C.J. Wilson's extension. But he also has some nice success stories as well. He ensured Mike Trout would abuse the Seattle Mariners until at least 2020 and he somehow offloaded that blue whale named Vernon Wells' contract.
He reportedly likes to use analytics and is that young-gun sabermetrics style that is upsetting the standard line of thinking amongst the old guard. But so far, he also hasn't been too successful implementing that line of thinking amongst his old guard. He inherits a Seattle Mariners team that has a lot of promise and a decent amount of work to do.
The real question, is what did the Seattle Mariners get when they hired Jerry Dipoto? Not sure anyone, even Dipoto, really has the answer on that one.