The tumultuous 3½-year reign of Angels General Manager Jerry Dipoto came to an abrupt end Wednesday when he resigned in the wake of renewed friction with Manager Mike Scioscia.
Dipoto confirmed his resignation to The Times.
Bill Stoneman, who stepped down as Angels GM after the 2007 season but has been retained as a senior advisor ever since, will be named interim GM, according to a person familiar with the situation but not authorized to speak publicly.
Stoneman was the Angels GM from 2000 to 2007, a period during which the team won its only World Series, in 2002 over the San Francisco Giants, and American League West titles in 2004, 2005 and 2007.
Both assistant GMs Matt Klentak and Scott Servais are expected to remain in their current positions and report to Stoneman, with Klentak considered a candidate 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 possible difficulties of a leadership change with the July 31 non-waiver trade deadline approaching. “From a player’s standpoint, our jobs stay the same. We have to get outs on the field, continue to battle and try to win ballgames.”
Dipoto and Scioscia have had a rocky relationship for years, stemming from Scioscia’s resistance to data prepared by Dipoto and his staff and the GM’s firing of longtime hitting coach Mickey Hatcher, one of Scioscia’s best friends, in 2012.
The two seemed to iron out their differences in 2014, when the Angels posted a major league-best record of 98-64. But Dipoto reached a breaking point on Tuesday when he reportedly cleaned out his office and left Angel 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 in the meeting, saying the coaches “are working as hard to prepare players as they did last season, but the roster is not nearly as strong.”
Pujols, who is hitting .265 with an American League-leading 24 homers and 49 runs batted in for a team that is 41-37 and four games behind the Houston Astros in the AL West, denied making that comment.
Pitcher Hector Santiago seemed stunned by the news that the meeting might have had something to do with Dipoto stepping down.
“We had our meeting, and it wasn’t anything intense,” Santiago said. “I definitely didn’t see this coming. I didn’t see anything in that meeting that would lead to this.”
Scioscia has always wielded more power than most managers because of his long tenure (he’s in his 16th year with the Angels), his success on the field and his strong ties to Angels owner Arte Moreno, who provided Scioscia with 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 held that position from 2007 to 2011, a perception Scioscia always bristled at.
Dipoto, 47, was hired in the fall of 2011 and completely revamped the front office, putting a much heavier emphasis on statistical data and advanced analytics than Scioscia was accustomed to, and the manager chafed at some of Dipoto’s personnel moves and ideas.
But when asked before Wednesday night’s game if his issues with Dipoto could be portrayed as new-school analytics versus old-school thinking, Scioscia said, “No. Seriously, no.”
Scioscia said the use of new data has “made us better. We’ve applied things here on the field, not only through defensive positioning, but also through roles with pitchers and game prep that has made us better. We’ll continue to grow as there are new things that are formatted that make sense to do on the field.”
Scioscia said he would defer most of his comments about Dipoto until after he got a chance to meet with team President John Carpino about an hour before the game. But when asked if he felt his relationship with Dipoto was “irreparable,” as had been reported, Scioscia said, “No.”
Does he think his relationship with Dipoto worked?
“Yes,” Scioscia said, “but I can’t speak for Jerry. I can only speak for myself.”
Dipoto, whose contract option for 2016 was exercised this spring, presided over the two biggest free-agent signings in franchise history, Pujols to a 10-year, $240-million deal before the 2012 season and Josh Hamilton to a five-year, $125-million deal before 2013.
Pujols has performed well, but Hamilton was a major bust, hitting .255 with 31 homers and 123 RBIs in two injury-marred seasons before suffering a substance-abuse relapse last winter and being traded to the Texas Rangers on April 28.
Dipoto, a former major league reliever, also acquired four pitchers via trade or free agency before 2013 — Joe Blanton, Tommy Hanson, Sean Burnett and Ryan Madson — and all were either ineffective or injured.
But Dipoto also made several key moves that boosted the club, acquiring pitcher Zack Greinke in July of 2012, trading slugger Mark Trumbo for young pitchers Hector Santiago and Tyler Skaggs after 2013, signing setup man Joe Smith before 2014 and acquiring closer Huston Street and reliever Trevor Gott last July.
He secured star center fielder Mike Trout to a six-year, $144.5-million contract extension before 2014.
Dipoto felt the Angels needed to stock up on young, major league-ready pitching last winter, so he traded second baseman and cleanup batter Howie Kendrick to the Dodgers for left-hander Andrew Heaney and sent backup catcher Hank Conger to Houston for right-hander Nick Tropeano.
The Angels have missed Kendrick’s bat dearly, ranking in the lower third of the league in most key offensive categories. But Heaney has pitched well in his first two starts for the Angels, allowing two earned runs and six hits in 13 innings and earning his first big league win over the Yankees on Tuesday night.