After the dismissal of Tony Reagins as the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim’s general manager a few days after the season’s end, the Angels were in hot pursuit for a new G.M. Reagins’ regime was more known for his failures (does Mike Napoli for Vernon Wells ring a bell for anyone?) then his success (two division titles and an ALCS appearance in 2009). Many experts began to blame Mike Scioscia, for being the Angels’ pseudo G.M. and having an overarching hand in all moves. Which is why many believed that the Angels would not hire a moneyball-type general manager, who would not be able to make the moves he would like to with the Scioscia road-block in his way. But, after Scioscia came out and said he had very little influence on the moves of the general manager, and could not possibly do both jobs, only gave his opinions (which all managers in baseball do), the likelihood seemed more probable.
On Saturday, the Angels hired the Diamondbacks’ senior vice president of scouting and player development and former interim GM of Arizona, Jerry Dipoto. Dipoto would be considered a moneyball guy, coming from a small-market team like Arizona, who had success with an extremely small budget this offseason, as well as, a member of Theo Epstein’s famous 2004 moneyball front office. It is tough to analyze how good a general manager Dipoto will be with Anaheim, because its difficult to understand how much influence he had on the decisions made when he was not the head guy for the clubs he worked for. The only hard evidence analysis that can be done on Dipoto’s ability as a general manager would be to analyze the brief time he spent as the interim GM for the D-backs at the end of the 2010 season. He became the interim GM on July 1st, and Kevin Towers was then hired in late September to take over running the club. . Thus, Dipoto only has around 3 months of experience as a GM and only one month in which he actually had the opportunity to make non-waiver trades.
While interim GM, Dipoto made four trades in the month of July (WAR for each player after their deal). The first was unloading costly ace Dan Haren (8.4) to the Angels (his new team) in exchange for lefty starter Joe Saunders (1.9), and minor league pitchers Tyler Skraggs, Rafael Rodriguez, and Patrick Corbin. Haren has made $25 million over two seasons since the deal, and will make this much after $15.5 million the Angels exercise his option for 2013. While, Saunders only made around $6 million since the deal. The next deal Dipoto was able to pull off has been discussed many times on this blog, but this will be the first time Dipoto will be praised for the deal (instead of criticizing Kenny Williams for it). Dipoto sent his other costly (over $10 million since the deal) starter Edwin Jackson (5.8) to the Chicago White Sox for young phenom Daniel Hudson (6.9) and minor league pitcher David Holmberg. In 2011, Daniel Hudson became a bona-fide ace helping lead the Diamondbacks to the playoffs, posting a xFIP of 3.88 and WAR of 4.9, while only making $419,000. Meanwhile Jackson made almost $9 million, and was traded at the deadline again, and ended up winning a World Series with St. Louis. The other two trades that Dipoto has under his belt, were lower in profile and less relevant than the first two moves. Dipoto traded Chris Snyder (0.9), who made $6.25 million in 2011 and Pedro Ciriaco to Pittsburgh for Bobby Crosby, Ryan Church, and DJ Carrasco. This may have not been the best move, seeing as Crosby, Church and Carrasco never really performed for Arizona, but Dipoto rectified the move by releasing Crosby and recalling future 2011 star Ryan Roberts, in August of 2010. As well as, Snyder is a costly catcher, while Miguel Montero performed beautifully at the position for half the price. The final trade, Dipoto made was sending underachieving reliever Chad Qualls (-0.2) to Tampa Bay for a player to be named later, who became, right handed pitcher Matt Grogen (who had tommy john surgery and missed the 2011 season). Dipoto was able to trade some of the team’s highest paid players in exchange for talented youth, and some serious minor league pitching depth.
The four trades Dipoto made while GM were essentially a fire sale of assets, for a mid-level payroll team in last place. Most of the moves were good (especially the Jackson trade for Hudson) and if Skraggs turns out the way he is projected, the Haren deal could still be a good move. Now, Dipoto can’t be given all the credit for the Diamondbacks move from last to first from 2010-2011, while cutting $7 million in payroll, he deserves some credit, and he was Towers main advisor, for the rest of the moves that solidified Arizona as a playoff team. Its unlikely that in 2012, Dipoto will be sitting in a similar position at the trading deadline with the Angels. He will most likely be on the buyer end of the market, yet it will be interesting to see how creative he can be this offseason and at the deadline next year, because he is used to working with a limited budget. His budget has now doubled in Anaheim, while much of this budget is already locked into seemingly immovable costly veterans (Vernon Wells, Torii Hunter, Bobby Abreu, etc.), he still has room for many possibilities to improve a team who just missed the playoffs despite having baseball’s fourth highest payroll. And from what we have seen so far, Dipoto has the talent to sculpt a big budget ballclub into a perennial winner.