Yesterday, we took a look at the case for firing Mike Scioscia. Good times were had by all. In the interests of equal time, it is Jerry Dipoto's turn to have his every move picked apart. OK, not literally every move, but pretty darn close. Why? Because that is the best way to judge a GM based on the information available to us. Plus it is a more interesting read than what I originally planned which is this:
The Zack Greinke trade.
Signing Joe Blanton.
Instead, I am going to try and walk the line of boring you to death by reviewing insignificant moves like trading for Barry Enright. Yup, that's how granular we are getting. Suddenly those fart sounds seem attractive don't they? Well, make yourself comfortable because we are going to be here for awhile. Let the scrutiny begin!
Let Fernando Rodney go
This is a good move (or lack thereof) to start with because it is a perfect example of why a GM should be judged on process and not results. Yes, we all know that Rodney went to Tampa and had one of the best reliever seasons of all time. To some, this is an indictment on Dipoto, but let's be serious about this. No person in their right mind thought Fraudney was capable of being that good or even mildly effective. That is why the Rays got him for such a cheap deal. With how bad Rodney had been in Anaheim and how sour his relationship with Scioscia had grown, you absolutely cannot blame Dipoto.
This was Dipoto's first "real" move. If you judge this on results it is a bit of a failure for Dipoto. Iannetta has had his ups and downs while Chatwood seemingly came into his own with the Rockies this season though he has dealt with injuries. Again, process is important. The Angels were going all-in on the season and needed a starting catcher so that Jerry could pry Jeff Mathis out of Mike Scioscia's hands. One cannot overstate how important that was at the time. Iannetta filled that need, but he did prove to be injury-prone and an inconsistent performer. As for Chatwood, he had been absolutely terrible in his rookie season with the Angels. That being said, the Angels were desperately thin in the rotation and Chatwood was really the only major league ready starting pitcher they had in the minors. Overall, this was a mixed bag.
Traded Jeff Mathis for Brad Mills
Jeff Mathis is no longer and Angel and the Halos got an actual live person for him. FIVE STARS!
Signed Howie Kendrick to a contract extension
Dipoto signed Kendrick to a four-year, $33.5 million contract extension that bought out his final arbitration year and three years of free agency during Howie's prime. He got a borderline All-Star caliber second baseman for an annual average value of less than two wins per year. That is an absolute bargain. The fact that Kendrick drew a lot of interest at the deadline only speaks to how reasonable that contract is. No complaints here.
Signed Erick Aybar to a contract extension
Again, Dipoto showed some real savvy by getting a quality starter to sign for a good price. In this case, Dipoto bought out four years of Aybar's free agency during his prime for the price of $35 million. Again, the average value is for less than two wins per year on a player who has delivered 3.6 wins or more in three of the last four season. Clearly Dipoto has a knack for signing quality players to team-friendly deals.
Signed Albert Pujols
...aaaaaaaaand it's gone. We all know that Dipoto gave that absurd 10-year, $240 million contract to Albert Pujols. What we think we know is that Moreno ordered him to do it. This is, without a doubt, the worst contract in baseball. People want to give Jerry a free pass because he was just following marching orders, but that is a total cop out. Part of a GMs job is talking owners out of doing crazy things. Dipoto declined or failed to do that. Even if he couldn't sign Pujols, he could have "accidentally" screwed up the negotiations so that they never got this far. Does he deserve to be tarred and feathered for this move? No. The Moreno involvement is a mitigating factor, but it hardly grants him a get out of stupid GM jail free card.
Signed C.J. Wilson
The Angels needed pitching so Dipoto got the best starting pitcher on the market for five years, $77.5 million. Wilson has not been an ace, but he has been pretty good. He might be slightly overpaid, but not enough for people to really complain about. We can only give Dipoto a little credit here though as C.J. practically begged the Angels to sign him and even turned down a much more lucrative deal in Miami. Jerry stuck the landing on this, but the degree of difficulty was pretty low.
Signed LaTroy Hawkins
The Angels also needed bullpen help that off-season, but Dipoto wisely didn't want to spend big money on relievers. I'm just going to say this right now so I don't have to keep rehashing it: not throwing money at relievers is absolutely the right strategy. Hawkins had been a very consistent for years, but he had recently begun showing some volatility.When it comes to spending on a cheap veteran reliever, you could do a lot worse. Hawk ended up having a good first half before falling apart in the second half, so it didn't work out so well. But just to demonstrate how volatile any reliever can be, Hawkins is having an excellent year with the Mets. This was a tiny misstep built on good process. It just didn't work out.
Signed Jason Isringhausen
This one is kind of stupid. Somehow one of the recent Moreno-bashing articles claimed that Arte was somehow upset about the Isringhausen signing. Yes, Isringhausen was absolutely terrible in the second of 2012, but he was signed to a contract not much more than the league minimum and made the team out of spring training. You can fault Dipoto for not releasing Izzy when he went in the tank, mostly because it took awhile before Scioscia wised up and stopped using him, but once again Dipoto was the victim of inheriting a terrible farm system and had no viable arm to call up to take Isringhausen's place.
Released Bobby Abreu
This is nothing but a credit to Dipoto. Jerry actually tried trading him before the 2012 season realizing there was no role for Abreu and that Bobby was going to complain about his lack of role. That trade fell through for some reason (allegedly because Moreno spiked it). After a few weeks of proving what Dipoto already knew, that Abreu was washed up, he was released.
Frieri has certainly had his ups and downs, but this is still a big win for Dipoto. They got a reliever who helped save the 2012 bullpen from being a total disaster and it cost him a utility infielder and a pop-up pitching prospect who doesn't look like he is going to pan out. An underrated part of this deal is that Dipoto got Frieri before he was even arbitration eligible, so it was a cost effective move as well.
Traded Frazier Hall for Barry Enright
Dipoto was justifiably worried about starting pitching depth, but Enright it absolutely terrible. It only cost non-prospect Frazier Hall, but it is kind of hard to believe that anyone gave up anything for Enright. This isn't even a blip on the radar other than Dipoto at least had the presence of mind to stash away an emergency starter in Triple-A.
I tried my best to talk myself into this deal at the time, but deep down I always knew it was a giant mistake. The first sin Dipoto committed here was giving away the entire farm, and that is only a slight exaggeration. Segura was the Angels' top prospect. Yes, he was blocked, but as a great trade chip, you'd like to think that you could get more than a rental for your top prospect. Hellweg and Pena were arguably the top two starting pitcher prospects in the system at the time and both had high ceilings, especially Hellweg. I don't know if you've checked recently, but the Angels have almost no starting pitching prospects in the pipeline, so giving away these two was particularly painful. The bigger sin here though was how badly Dipoto misread the market for Greinke. By the time Greinke started taking bids, the Angels were more than ready to declare his demands too rich for their blood and didn't make a serious pursuit. That is something Dipoto should've been able to anticipate at the time of the trade. If he did predict that and still made the deal, then it only make him that much more foolish.
Let Torii Hunter go
This wasn't a popular move with the fans but it doesn't make it a bad move. The process Dipoto used here makes plenty of sense. He looked at his budget and realized he needed to use most of it on pitching and the one big giant contract he was going to give to either Greinke or Hamilton. Hunter simply didn't fit. Hunter also didn't seem like a great investment since his strong 2012 campaign was buoyed by a sky high BABIP that looked unsustainable. The miscalculation that he is guilty of is how much the clubhouse missed Torii. Several players have gone on record about how they miss his leadership. Even if you don't put much stock in team chemistry, that has to count for something. All things considered, this decision was a push.
Let Maicer Izturis go
Letting Maicer himself go was fine considering the contract he wanted. What didn't make sense was not really replacing Izturis. Anyone who had watched Scioscia manage over the years saw how much he always liked having a strong utility infielder. It also failed to take into consideration that Aybar and Kendrick both had a history of getting nicked up now and again. The best Dipoto could do was dust off Brendan Harris and invite to training camp. Strong teams usually have a good bench and Dipoto ignored the bench completely.
At the time of the trade, this made sense because Ervin was owed a lot of money that Dipoto presumably had big plans for. With Ervin coming off a terrible 2012 and playing with a small ligament tear in his elbow, keeping him would've been very risky. Where this all falls apart is that Dipoto basically gave Santana's money to Blanton and the prospect they got for Santana ended up needing Tommy John. If Dipoto knew all along he was going to replace Ervin with Blanton, then there really is no good defense for this decision.
Let Dan Haren go for nothing
You could apply much of the same logic to Haren. As we found out in the off-season, Haren was dealing with hip, back and knee issues. Nobody could blame Dipoto for wanting to keep him around on an expensive one-year deal. But again, if the alternative was signing Blanton, it is hard to see how the Angels would've been much worse off with Haren even if Blanton hadn't been so bad. The other damning issue here is the trade to the Cubs for Carlos Marmol that fell through. That is a double whammy because Dipoto failed to get anything for Haren, which seemed impossible at the time, but that the something he tried to get was Carlos Marmol who had a terrible contract and is also terrible at throwing spheroids over a pentagonal rubber plate.
Signed Chris Iannetta to a contract extension
Dipoto kept Iannetta in the fold for three years and $15.5 million. Even with his shortcomings, Iannetta is fairly priced at a contract that pays him as a one win per year player.
Signed J.B. Shuck
You all know how I feel about J.B. Shuck, but this is another mark in the win column for Dipoto and his staff who saw that Shuck could be a useful player and scooped him up basically for free. Free is good!
Signed Ryan Madson
Quite obviously this turned out worse than anyone could've imagined, but you can't blame Dipoto for the results. Dipoto knew he was taking a risk, but he also knew that the recovery rate for Tommy John surgeries is around 90%. Even with that, Jerry signed Madson for just one year and made his contract heavily incentive-laden. He had a high probability of getting great reliever for a bargain price and a very low risk that he'd get nothing. He rolled snake eyes, but I think he'd make the same bet again if he could. If you want to crack him on this front it is that Jerry didn't hedge his bet at all. Signing a steady veteran with a lower ceiling could've given the Angels the bullpen depth they needed if Madson's recovery took longer than expected. That is only a minor offense though.
Now this one is controversial. From a process standpoint, it is hard to criticize a GM for trading a reliever for a starter. Starters are inherently more valuable. It also wasn't like Walden was some great shakes. He had major control issues in Anaheim, was losing velocity and has always been a big injury risk. Tommy Hanson had the exact same issues but was a starting pitcher. He also had a much lower chance of turning things around. This was Dipoto swinging for the fences on a risky trade and he struck out badly, but the reasoning was at least somewhat sound. That saves it from being a total failure, but it is still a mark against Dipoto.
Signed Joe Blanton
/explosive diarrhea sounds
There is no excuse for the Blanton signing. He has not been anywhere close to good for years. Even if he pitched to his recent norms, he still would've been a bad number five starter. I get the process behind the decision though as Dipoto felt he needed a reliable presence in the rotation to off-set the rest of the risk in the rotation. The problem is that Blanton just wasn't the guy to sign for that role. And there is certainly no way to justify signing him for two years. Fail so hard.
Signed Sean Burnett
The results for this signing don't look good, but again we have to ask if that is really something to put on Dipoto? Burnett did have a history of being fragile, so we can't totally excuse taking a risk on his health but given that the elbow surgery that he seemingly never recovered from was a routine procedure, there wasn't much reason to believe there was an immediate health threat. In fact, C.J. Wilson had the exact same surgery and is doing just fine. You can knock Dipoto for taking another risk here, but relievers are inherently risky, so this shouldn't really be held against him.
Signed Josh Hamilton
As with Pujols we can't give Dipoto a free pass for making this signing as ordered by Moreno. Again, it is his job to talk Moreno out of bad ideas. Nobody knew that Hamilton would be this bad, but there were plenty of signs in 2012 that he was headed into decline. That is something Dipoto should've recognized and made sure this signing did not go down.
The rare win-win trade. Morales had become redundant but was also too good to be a bench player. He was also highly unlikely to re-sign with the Angels, so Dipoto did well to cash out for him in exchange for a solid mid-rotation starter with a track record of durability.
Signed Robert Coello
A journeyman that Dipoto and his scouts were able to identify and get utility out of. Coello didn't last long before getting hurt, but it is becoming clear that he has an eye for cheap relief talent.
Traded Vernon Wells for two prospects and cash
Getting the Yankees to pick up $13 million of what was still owed to Vernon is a huge victory.
Signed Mark Lowe
The Halos took a flyer on him late in spring after it became apparent that Madson was going to miss the start of the season. Lowe was miserable, but it didn't cost the Angels anything.
Geltz was the younger pitcher in this deal, but he didn't have a big upside. Meanwhile De La Rosa has been something of a revelation for the Angels. Honestly, it is scary to think where the relief corps would be without him. He might be a little over his head doing late inning work, but a workhorse middle reliever is nothing to turn your nose up at.
The Mike Trout contract issue
While one can understand not wanting to give Mike Trout the highest pre-arbitration salary ever, it is not believed Trout's agent was asking for all that much money. The difference in money was a drop in the bucket to the overall payroll yet Dipoto took a hardline. It is admirable to stick to your guns, but you also have to pick your battles. The risk of pissing off Trout's agent and alienating Trout himself is to great just so you can show Trout's agent that you have a bigger dick.
Signed Brad Hawpe
Just another example of the team needing to sign a washed up scrub in order to field a bench. Inexcusable.
Picked up Chris Nelson off of waivers
Once again scraping the bottom of the barrel for bench pieces, but at least Nelson is on the young side.
Cowgill looks like an OK bench outfielder. He is good with the glove, but the jury is still out on his bat. Johnson was a crazy stolen base thief in the low minors which made some people go nuts over him, but he is still a 24-year old and still in Single-A, so he probably isn't going to amount to anything.
Picked up J.C. Gutierrez off of waivers
Another middle reliever that throws hard but has iffy control? Worth a shot especially when it costs nothing. At a minimum, Dipoto deserves some credit for being willing to try new things.
The general consensus on this trade is that people were surprised Dipoto couldn't do better. I'm not sure that is exactly what the market really proved out when you look at what other team got for K-Rod and Jose Veras.
Analysts were mixed on this. Green was once a top 100 prospect and still has plenty of potential. He could replace Callaspo at third and offer similar production for a a fraction of the price. He could also stay at second and make Howie Kendrick available via trade to land pitching, which is something the Angels seem like they want to do. Callaspo was useful, but not that useful. Thumbs up here.
Moves not made
I'm including this section, but honestly I don't really have any that come to mind that I haven't already mentioned. We know a lot about the moves Dipoto made, but we don't know much about moves that he tried to make and failed or what bad ideas he successfully talked Moreno out of. It is actually a pretty big part of the criteria for evaluating a GM, we just don't have the available data to assess his ability here.
Dealing with Scioscia
As we all know, Dipoto and Scioscia don't always get along. That isn't necessarily a problem. Part of the reason Dipoto was hired was to provide a voice in the organization that wasn't in lockstep with Scioscia's point of view. They probably shouldn't get along. What we don't know is if their different philosophies are in such conflict that it is hindering the progress of the organization. With the team losing, that is the narrative that would fit, but would it still apply if they were winning?
The 2012 and 2013 draft classes
Let's make this perfectly clear, the Angel farm system sucks but it is only slightly Dipoto's fault. We already talked about the disastrous Greinke trade, but the fact that there was so little else in the system is completely on his predecessor. What we need to consider is what Dipoto is doing to replenish the system. The big mark against him is that he has allowed the club to forfeit so many early draft picks with their free agent signings. That being said, Dipoto seems to be doing pretty well in the draft so far given his limited resources. The 2012 draft already produced Michael Roth. 13th-rounder Mike Morin could be a bullpen factor next season as could third-rounder R.J. Alvarez. Mark Sappington has emerged as a nice starting pitching prospect and Alex Yarbrough and Eric Stamets both look like they could be solid pieces within a few years. There is also personal favorite Reid Scoggins who could be a diamond in the rough that Dipoto found in the 15th round. It is too early to judge the 2013 draft class, but drafting and signing Hunter Green was a major coup for Dipoto and the entire draft showed that he understands just how depleted the pitching in the system is. Dipoto also deserves credit for reviving the international scouting of the Angels which had been in disrepair for years after the skimming scandal.
Overall, it is a mixed bag for Dipoto. He seems to be pretty good at the little things and has put a good structure in place to try and revive the farm system. The question is do all his small victories add up to cancel the four big strikes against him? Everyone is going to have a different answer to that and really Arte Moreno's answer is the only one that counts.
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The Grienke trade is a terminable offense. It was one of the single most selfish acts in sports history. The Ianetta trade was merely a preview of Dipoto's poor decision making. Our problem is pitching and we needed a catcher who could contribute more on offense. So let's trade for a catcher who can't contribute on offense or defense, brilliant! And he's no longer the starter to boot. Chatwood may never be an all-star, but he's as solid of a #3-#5 pitcher as they come. Hey, we could use someone like that right now!
So, is this list as damning as it might seem? Actually, it looks pretty good to me. The most egregious offense seems to be signing Joe Blanton. The summary only counts it as a "Fail" in a vacuum, though. In order to bring some balance to the conclusion perhaps we could get some idea of who *should* have been signed. Who was available? I know some people wanted to re-sign Haren and wouldn't that have been a pretty picture? He ended up as the NL version of Joe Blanton. So, who? Enquiring minds want to know. And, speaking of Haren, how does his name get in here as a fail? He couldn't have passed the physical to be traded to Jack In The Box. This was a win just for resisting the temptation to re-sign him.
I can't get my mind around the idea of of anybody but Arte wanting to sign Hamilton. He is absolutely NOT the player JeDi philosophically wants. My money is all on Arte seeing the sparkly on the shelf and going into "I must have this" mode. When a rich guy wants, he usually gets and nobody talks him out of it.