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Angels owner Arte Moreno says Jerry Dipoto 'has complete power'

The Angels announce the hiring of Dipoto as the new general manager and seem to make it clear that he will be calling the shots.

October 29, 2011|By Mike DiGiovanna
  • Angels owner Arte Moreno, left, and new general manager Jerry Dipoto pose for photos after a news conference Saturday introducing Dipoto as the Angels' new general manager.
Angels owner Arte Moreno, left, and new general manager Jerry Dipoto pose… (Jae C. Hong / Associated…)

There was no Kevin Malone-like proclamation of a "new sheriff in town," no Al Haig-like "I'm-in-charge-here" speech.

But at Saturday's news conference to announce the hiring of Jerry Dipoto as the Angels' new general manager, it seemed clear who will be calling the shots in Anaheim.

And it won't be the manager many think is the de facto general manager, or the guy writing the checks.

"He has complete power," Angels owner Arte Moreno said of Dipoto, the former Arizona executive who signed a three-year contract with two option years to become the 11th general manager in franchise history. "I don't know when people started to think this was a one- or two-headed monster."

True or not, there was a perception that Tony Reagins, who was fired as general manager two days after a season in which the Angels failed to make the playoffs for the second straight year, was more of a figurehead.

The decision-making power seemed to fall to Mike Scioscia, who as one of baseball's longest-tenured managers has considerable input on player moves, and the strong-willed Moreno, who has been increasingly involved in negotiations for premier free agents.

Such conditions would be difficult for any general manager to work under, but Dipoto, the former big league reliever with an extensive background in scouting and player development, had no trepidation.

"I didn't wake up in the middle of the night in a cold sweat wondering if I was going to get steamrolled by Mike," Dipoto, 43, said. "At no time did this become a sticking point for me.

"I've worked in this business my entire adult life, for 24 years, and what might look unusual outside the league is very common to me. I love the opinion of baseball people. I love talking to strong-minded people."

Scioscia reiterated that he is "the manager of the club; that's where my effort and focus will be," but he will have Dipoto's ear.

"Jerry will get opinions from me, sometimes strong opinions," Scioscia said. "Sometimes he'll act on them, sometimes he won't. That's how we've worked for 12 years."

Dipoto, who interviewed for the Baltimore general manager job but did not receive an offer, called the general manager-manager relationship a "collaborative effort," one that can thrive with an intellectual exchange of ideas.

"I will have my own opinions," Dipoto said, "but the day you are nodding your heads 'yes' to one another because you think it's what the other guy wants to hear is the day you're in big trouble."

Team President John Carpino called Dipoto "the clear-cut choice for the job" because of his communication skills, leadership ability and his philosophies and beliefs about the game, which Dipoto outlined in a 45-page book — he calls it a "living document" — he began compiling five years ago.

Dipoto pitched in the big leagues from 1994-2001, has scouted extensively in Latin America and the Pacific Rim, areas in which the Angels need to boost their presence, and has worked under executives who embrace both the statistical analysis and scouting view of players.

He's a firm believer in on-base percentage (OBP) and plate discipline. "If you're not OB, you're not going to win many games," he said. He thinks "count control," from the pitching and hitting sides, is important. He loves aggressive baserunning.

Dipoto was interim general manager at Arizona in 2010 and engineered trades that sent Dan Haren to the Angels for a package that included pitcher Joe Saunders and highly regarded pitching prospect Tyler Skaggs. He also brought pitcher Daniel Hudson to the Diamondbacks.

"He's a baseball person," Carpino said. "Arte has said from Day 1, let the baseball guys do baseball."

Among Dipoto's first tasks will be to hire a new assistant general manager, player personnel director and farm director and to upgrade a roster that has grown inflexible in spots because of age and immovable contracts.

The Angels have $99 million committed to nine players under contract for 2012, and a handful of arbitration-eligible and near-minimum-wage players will add another $25 million or so.

Moreno wants the payroll to be "in the $130-million to $140-million range," which wouldn't seem to leave much room for a marquee free agent.

"This team won 86 games last year and made the playoffs five times in eight years — wholesale moves aren't needed," Dipoto said. "This doesn't need to be turned over. Just add the right spice to the stew so it tastes good in October."

mike.digiovanna@latimes.com

twitter.com/MikeDiGiovanna

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