Not made in heaven: Jerry Dipoto steps down as Angels GM
Out with the new, in with the old. That was the theme of the day Wednesday for the Angels, with General Manager Jerry Dipoto resigning in the wake of renewed friction with Manager Mike Scioscia, and former general manager Bill Stoneman, 71, being named interim GM for the remainder of the season.
The front-office shake-up brought an abrupt end to the tumultuous 31/2-year reign of Dipoto, the forward-thinking executive whose numbers-based approach sometimes clashed with the supposedly set-in-his-ways Scioscia, baseball’s longest-tenured manager.
Dipoto, 47, confirmed his resignation via text message at noon Wednesday. The Angels announced the move 61/2 hours later, in the seventh inning of a 3-1 loss to the New York Yankees.
“I just felt it was the right thing to do for my own state of mind and my family,” Dipoto said Wednesday night. “I felt like I wasn’t able to help the club get better in the way that I wanted to.
“By no means am I leaving a disgruntled employee throwing stones out the door. … The front office, the scouting and player development people, every player in that clubhouse, I love them more than they’ll know, and I’ll pull for their success. I just didn’t feel I could help take the next step forward in the position I was in.”
Scioscia and Dipoto had a rocky relationship, stemming from their occasional differences of opinion and the GM’s firing of longtime hitting coach Mickey Hatcher, one of Scioscia’s best friends, in May 2012.
The two coexisted peacefully in 2014, when the Angels went a major league-best 98-64, but Dipoto reached a breaking point Tuesday when he cleaned out his office and left the stadium one day after details of a tense clubhouse meeting before Sunday’s game were leaked to Fox Sports.
In that meeting, Dipoto reportedly expressed frustration with the failure of Scioscia and his coaches to convey scouting and statistical information provided by the front office to the players.
One coach, according to the report, responded heatedly to Dipoto, and slugger Albert Pujols reportedly challenged Dipoto.
“I’m not going to get into any details of what happened over the weekend — that should stay in the clubhouse,” Dipoto said. “But this isn’t about a singular event. This is about what I thought was right for me and my family and the Angels.”
Asked about a report that Dipoto gave owner Arte Moreno an ultimatum, forcing him to choose between the GM and manager, Dipoto said, “Simply untrue.”
How would he describe his relationship with Scio-
“We had some days that were better than others,” said Dipoto, who is signed through 2016, “but I’ll look back over these 31/2 years and believe I’ll be better for those experiences.”
Scioscia bristled at the suggestion that there was a power struggle between him and Dipoto.
“I can only speak for myself, but there’s never been a power struggle,” Scioscia said. “I understand the role of a manager. I’m hard-headed, I have opinions, and I give them. The manager gets the word ‘no’ more than ‘yes.’ There was no ego, no power struggle. That’s just not the case.”
Said Dipoto: “I have no interest in getting into a comment string with Mike. He’s had a great career here, he’s done some awesome things, and I will pull for the success of this franchise with Mike at the helm.”
Stoneman stepped down as Angels general manager after 2007 to spend more time with his wife, but he has served as a senior advisor since. His first move after being named to the position in late 1999 was to hire Scioscia. He then retained the core of a highly dysfunctional 1999 team that went on to win the World Series in 2002.
Stoneman signed free-agents Vladimir Guerrero and Bartolo Colon and helped guide the Angels to division titles in 2004, 2005 and 2007. But his most significant trade-deadline acquisition was reserve outfielder Alex Ochoa in 2002.
Assistant GMs Matt Klentak and Scott Servais will remain in their current roles while assisting Stoneman. Klentak, 34, and pro scouting director Hal Morris, 49, are expected to be candidates for the permanent job after the season.
“It’s sad to see, especially this time of the year,” said reliever Joe Smith, alluding to the challenges of a leadership change with the July 31 trade deadline approaching and the Angels needing offensive upgrades. “From a player’s standpoint, our jobs stay the same. We have to battle and try to win games.”
Scioscia wields more power than most managers because of his 16-year tenure, his success and his strong ties to Moreno, who gave Scioscia the security of a 10-year, $50-million contract that runs through 2018.
In fact, many considered Scioscia the de facto GM while Tony Reagins served in the position from 2007 to 2011, a perception Scioscia denies.
Dipoto was hired in the fall of 2011 and completely revamped the front office, putting a heavier emphasis on statistical data and advanced analytics, and Scio-
scia sometimes chafed at Dipoto’s moves and ideas.
But Scioscia took strong exception to the belief that an “old-school” mentality contributed to a rift.
“I kind of laugh because there’s no way in the world you can stay in this position without evolving,” Scioscia said. “I guarantee you that from even three or four years ago, the way we prepped guys and got information is light-years different from now. To think I haven’t evolved is really naive.
“There are analytics that go into every decision we make, whether it’s a lineup, a pitching change or defensive positioning. Jerry brought a lot of this to the party, and it’s been very successful. We’ve applied everything that’s come our way that will make us better.”
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