MIAMI — An objective set of eyes.
That’s what Jerry Dipoto, the former general manager of the Los Angeles Angels, will bring to the Red Sox as an interim evaluator of Boston’s players.
Dipoto, a former Red Sox scout, was hired Wednesday by general manager Ben Cherington to take a look at the team’s major league and minor league talent and evaluate each player to see if his view is the same as that of the team.
This was the first step in ramping up the Red Sox baseball operations department, though Dipoto’s tenure may not be long as he’s likely to be considered for GM jobs as they arise, particularly in places such as Seattle (if Jack Zduriencik is replaced) and Milwaukee (where Doug Melvin has stepped down to be an adviser for the team).
Dipoto’s hiring was first reported by Peter Gammons on MLB Network. Gammons also said the Red Sox are trying to lure Hall of Fame executive Pat Gillick to become a senior adviser to Cherington.
Gillick had been the Phillies’ president during the recent rebuilding process, but he is stepping down after the season as when Andy MacPhail will take Gillick’s spot.
The Red Sox had not yet sought permission to speak to Gillick as MacPhail knew nothing about the Red Sox’ intention to pursue him.
Some of this is coming from ownership; clearly it’s been suggested that Cherington hire some baseball evaluators to aid him in rebuilding the team for next season.
Dipoto resigned as Angels GM in early July amid a feud with manager Mike Scioscia that Dipoto didn’t believe he could win. Dipoto basically told owner Arte Moreno it was either him or Scioscia, and the owner chose Scioscia.
Dipoto is big on statistical analysis and he stressed it to Scioscia and the coaching staff, but there was a major difference of opinion between Dipoto and Scioscia when it came to the implementation of those numbers. Scioscia, more of an old-school manager, didn’t care for an exaggerated use of them.
The relationship started out poorly when Dipoto fired Scioscia’s longtime hitting coach and friend, Mickey Hatcher, and Dipoto’s new-age thinking and Scioscia’s traditional baseball didn’t seem to mesh from the outset.
After leaving the Angels, Dipoto said, “I’m 47 years old, and this is the only industry I’ve ever worked in. I feel like I have a lot to offer. I’m not done working. I think there are things in which I can really help an organization, up to and including the potential of doing this job again. If it happens, it happens. If it doesn’t, I’ll have no regrets. Over the last 3½ years we’ve done a lot more good than bad.”
Dipoto certainly hit the ground running when he was hired in the winter of 2011. He signed three-time National League Most Valuable Player Albert Pujols to a 10-year, $254 million deal (which was mostly done from the ownership end) and then scooped up free agent lefthander C.J. Wilson for five years at $77.5 million. In the offseason of 2012, Dipoto signed Josh Hamilton to a five-year, $125 million deal, and earlier this season traded Hamilton back to the Rangers after the player’s drug relapse.
Dipoto made one of his biggest deals July 27, 2012, trading shortstop Jean Segura, Ariel Pena, and Johnny Hellweg to Milwaukee for Zack Greinke. He traded Kendrys Morales to Seattle for Jason Vargas. He also acquired third baseman David Freese and Fernando Salas from St. Louis for Peter Bourjos and NL rookie of the year candidate Randal Grichuk.
In a real good deal involving three teams, he acquired lefty Hector Santiago and Tyler Skaggs for Mark Trumbo and a player to be named. He traded Ernesto Frieri to the Pirates for Jason Grilli. He traded Taylor Lindsey, R.J. Alvarez, Jose Rondon, and Elliot Morris to the Padres for Huston Street and Trevor Gott, who now make up the back end of the Angels’ bullpen.
He also dealt second baseman Howie Kendrick to the Dodgers for lefty Andrew Heaney, and while he left himself a little short at second base, he acquired a very effective young lefty.
One deal Dipoto made that didn’t work — reliever Kevin Jepsen to Tampa Bay for outfielder/DH Matt Joyce.
The bottom line is that the feeling around the game is that Dipoto does a nice job identifying pitching, starters and relievers.
His drafts have not stood out mainly because he didn’t have a first-round pick in either 2012 or 2013.
In 2011, he signed first baseman-DH C.J. Cron in the first round (17th overall). Taken right behind Cron was Sonny Gray by Oakland. In 2012, he didn’t have a pick until the third round and selected righty Alvarez, who was flipped in the Street deal. He also drafted reliever Mike Morin in the 13th round in 2012. He drafted lefty Hunter Green in the second round in 2013 and grabbed lefty Sean Newcomb from the University of Hartford in the first round in 2014.
Everyone in the baseball business has his supporters and detractors, and Dipoto is no different.
One fair-minded executive who has worked against Dipoto said, “Very good pitching insights, but he did not sell the ‘data’ word properly and lacked much tact in Arizona [interim GM in 2010] by letting people go. He struggles with people skills in a management environment, but he has great ideas, some out of the box.”
Dipoto is certainly an experienced baseball man. After his two seasons with the Red Sox as a scout in 2003-04, he was the Rockies’ director of player personnel in 2005.
When Josh Byrnes became GM of the Diamondbacks, Dipoto went with Byrnes to Arizona prior to the 2006 season as scouting director. When Byrnes was fired, Dipoto became interim GM.
Nick Cafardo can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @nickcafardo.