Team Audit | Player Cards | Depth Chart
General manager Jerry Dipoto resigned. [7/1]
It’s a premise so silly and outlandish you’d swear it came from Hollywood. A general manager wanting to provide his team with additional scouting information is rebuked by his coaches and players to the extent that he feels he has no choice but to resign. Sure. Throw in Humphrey Bogart and a snake and you have yourself a comedy. Except it’s no joke: It’s what happened the past few days in Anaheim.
Of course the statistical printouts were but a prop in the war of power between Dipoto and Mike Scioscia. Rumors about discord between the two have persisted for years, dating back to when Dipoto fired Mickey Hatcher in 2012. While executives win these bouts most of the time, Scioscia’s legacy and lucrative long-term contract afford him greater leverage than that of the typical skipper, leverage amplified by his ability to opt out at season’s end. The Angels were, at some point soon, going to have to choose between their general manager and manager. That point arrived this week, with Scioscia winning and casting the Angels and their future in a dubious light.
The problems start at the top, with club owner Arte Moreno. He has a reputation for meddling and for engineering the Angels’ biggest deals on his own. By backing Scioscia, Moreno has explicitly named his manager the second-most-powerful person in the organization. Perhaps that was the case already, yet this public act will impact the Angels’ pursuit of their next general manager in a negative way. The job will get filled, no doubt—it’s one of 30 in the world, after all—but expect the candidate pool to be shallower than it should be, given the Angels’ financial might and roster.
Further complicating matters is the potential that Scioscia has a big say in who the next GM is, if it’s not himself or a handpicked toady. Even if Scioscia’s input in the search is limited, the next GM will inherit an outdated manager who clashes with his players and coworkers and either will not or cannot implement statistical information for his team’s benefit, an act that is increasingly required in order to coach professionally, let alone manage in the majors. How lovely.
By now anyone who has read Travis Sawchik’s Big Data Baseball is probably drawing comparisons between those Pirates and these Angels. In the book, Sawchik details how Clint Hurdle embraced modern analytics and improved his relationship with the front office en route to a personal and organizational turnaround. The Pirates didn’t succeed only because Hurdle bought in (and earned buy-in from his coaches and players), but the franchise became healthier as a result. In a sport where clubhouse chemistry is obsessed over, it’s hard to understand how any team allows the relationship between its front office and field staff to deteriorate to the point where a top head has to resign; that conflict speaks to a larger organizational problem than the chasm between Dipoto and Scioscia, one that might not be going away with Dipoto.
Compared to where the Angels stand, Dipoto’s future is no more certain. He has an unusual background as a former player with a hunger for analytics who has proved to be an effective general manager. True, having Mike Trout helps, but Dipoto nonetheless showed the creativity and resourcefulness that indicates he knows how to build a roster. Yet because baseball culture doesn’t look keenly on resignations, it’s possible he doesn’t get a GM look for a little while, if ever again. (Granted, it’s also possible a team disregards whatever happened here as Scioscia and Moreno’s fault and shrugs it off.) Either way, Dipoto should land on his feet with another organization in a lesser role. Maybe as someone’s Gabe Kapler?
As for the Angels, who entered Wednesday night a half-game out of the postseason race, they’ll have to come together in a hurry, with just four weeks until the trade deadline. Bill Stoneman, the club’s GM from the 2000–07 seasons, will take over in an interim role, a fitting appointment for an owner and manager stuck in that era.
Thank you for reading
This is a free article. If you enjoyed it, consider subscribing to Baseball Prospectus. Subscriptions support ongoing public baseball research and analysis in an increasingly proprietary environment.Subscribe now