With the Mariners hiring former Angels GM Jerry Dipoto this week we went looking for the perspective of an Angels fan on what "the deal" is with Dipoto. Unfortunately that proved difficult as Angel fans aren't generally too fond of us and our little website. So we went back to kind and benevolent soul Riley Breckenridge, drummer for Thrice, half of Productive Outs, and adult baseball league participant. Many thanks to Riley as always for his time and being very chill.
LL: Was Jerry Dipoto popular among Angels fans during his tenure? Were people willing to give him the easy narrative out of Moreno pushing him towards those big contracts with Hamilton, Wilson, Pujols, et. al?
RB: I’d say yes, but add the caveat that I’m not as in tune with the Angels fan hive mind that exists on Angels message boards and fan sites as I used to be. Most of the beat writers I read and podcasts I listen to did a decent job of making sure that people were aware that the Pujols, Hamilton and Wilson signings were almost certainly Moreno’s call. Those FA moves and the four-headed FA pitching disaster that was Joe Blanton, Ryan Madson, Sean Burnett and Tommy Hunter in 2012 are the only turds in what was an otherwise palatable Dipoto punchbowl. I guess maybe you could lump the Bourjos/Grichuk for Freese/Salas deal in there, but that’s probably more of a shart than a turd. Oh, and the Kevin Jepsen for Matt Joyce deal. That’s a definite turd as well. Can’t leave that off the list.
All in all, Dipoto did some good things here: started rebuilding an atrocious farm system, brought in some quality young arms (Andrew Heaney, Tyler Skaggs, Nick Tropeano, Trevor Gott), built a solid backend of the bullpen with Joe Smith and Huston Street, and tried his damndest to incorporate the use of analytics and forward-thinking baseball strategy in both the front office and on the field.
LL: What would you say are Dipoto's strengths and weaknesses as a general manager?
RB: I touched on his strengths a little bit in my last answer, but beyond the analytics and strategy stuff I mentioned, I think one of Dipoto’s biggest strengths is that he’s a former player. That commands a certain amount of respect from players and I think it makes it a bit easier for him make a case for the use of advanced data in the clubhouse and the dugout. I’d assume players and coaches are more open to that information coming from a guy who played in the bigs than a guy with a Harvard degree who stopped playing baseball in 8th grade. I’m not happy about that, but I think it’s the way it is.
I also think Dipoto’s scouting background is a strength and a good reason for Mariners fans to be excited about what he can do for their minor league system if he’s given the time to do so.
The only weakness I can think of is that he’s in another situation where the team’s ownership is a little unsavory. That didn’t end well in Anaheim, and it might not end well in Seattle, but only time will tell.
LL: Jerry Dipoto is apparently a "Cool Dad" because he likes to play Risk and Rock Band. You are recently a father but also have an authentically cool occupation as a touring rock drummer. Is Jerry Dipoto "actually" cool or is he merely "OC Register" cool?
RB: I think Dipoto’s actually cool because he played in the big leagues and is the GM of a freaking Major League Baseball team for christ’s sake. Risk is for dorks and playing Rock Band is for people who can’t play actual instruments. The OC Register has its definition of "cool" backwards. They also don’t know what "cancel my subscription" means. I’ve been getting free newspapers for six months. They go straight from the driveway to the recycling bin.
LL: (The following question is from Matt Ellis, lead singer in post-rock band "A Hope For Home" and general high-thinking, liberal pain in the ass): "it seems fair to say Jack Z was our Pablo Honey: seemed neat at the time, especially on the promise of the, well, single strength, but in retrospect, man what a joke. In this vein, what should we expect from Dipoto?"
RB: Yikes. This is tough. A Radiohead comp for a GM? Ugh.
Hmm. Can’t be OK Computer, or Kid A or Amnesiac because those are all mindblowingly good and it’d be like comping any prospect to Mike Trout. In Rainbows is also too good. Dipoto doesn’t have that high a ceiling. He could be The King Of Limbs because after the longest wait between Radiohead records it was kind of a letdown (see: the Mariners postseason drought and the reality that baseball is a weird, cruel game that is mostly just failure so it’d be totally normal if Dipoto’s tenure was a letdown and why do we even watch this dumb game and why would anyone start a team-centric blog let alone fanatically root for a team because oh my god they’re never gonna win a world series and we’re all gonna die alone someday).
Sorry. I passed out. Where was I?
Oh. Jerry Dipoto is Hail To The Thief because I think he’s a great blend of analog and digital, and he’s pretty damn good.
LL: In your excellent, Canadian, hat-themed, sometimes baseball oriented podcast Productive Outs you have talked at times about how fandom changes with age, how you slowly stop rooting for laundry, and focus rather on individuals worth time/energy/celebration. Did Jerry Dipoto make the kind of impact on you, either positive or negative, where you will follow his journey in Seattle rooting either for/against him? If so what was it about him that made you feel that way?
RB: Before I answer, can we steal that description of the PRODcast for our bio? It’s perfect.
I’ll root for Jerry D and the Mariners.
Except for when they’re playing the Angels.
He seems like a smart, talented, forward-thinking, even-keeled, guy. Plus he’s got great hair. There’s really no reason I’d root against him aside from the fact that he drafted his son in the 538th round of last year’s MLB draft instead of me.
Thanks, guys. Enjoy Dipoto. He’s a good one.
Again, my thanks to Riley for taking time while juggling touring, family, the Angels playoff push and all the other nonsense of life.