It’s Thursday, June 21 and today is an off-day for the Angels players. It is well deserved considering they have been playing terrific baseball and grinding out a plethora of series wins over the course of the past month and a half while also succumbing to some of the inevitable bumps and bruises that take place throughout a major league season. Make no mistake though, despite the players getting a day of rest to recharge their physical and mental batteries, the man in charge of it all is undoubtedly still burning the candle at both ends doing whatever is possible to make this team the most competitive in all of baseball.
Jerry Dipoto is tireless. He of course is the Angels’ General Manager and the frontal lobe of the Halo brain trust. Already responsible for some of the most impactful free agent signings in the history of the Angel organization despite being on the job less than one calendar year, Dipoto is a renowned workaholic with a stated passion for analytical decision making. Colleagues question when the man sleeps, if at all, and they wonder aloud if and when he does sleep if he’s dreaming about how to improve the ballclub. Dipoto was unquestionably the apple of owner Arte Moreno’s eye when searching to fill the GM vacancy left open after the firing of Tony Reagins last offseason. It’s not difficult to see why Arte wanted Jerry so badly to guide his ship. Brimming with personality and intellect, Dipoto combines a strong moral compass with a blue collar work ethic that translates perfectly into an organizational leader. It’s not too soon to see or say that he was the right man for the job.
Early on in the 2012 season it was obvious and apparent to anyone watching that the Angels’ bullpen was a weakness. Dipoto took what most analysts thought was a quick jab at the problem by trading utility-man Alexi Amarista and a minor league pitcher for a relatively unknown San Diego Padres reliever named Ernesto Frieri. Let’s just say that today Ernesto Frieri is no longer a relatively unknown reliever. You have to wonder if Dipoto stormed the San Diego front office wearing a ski-mask and holding an assault rifle because he flat out robbed the Padres. Since joining the Angels on May 3, Frieri has been freakishly lights-out against opposing hitters. He has yet to give up a single run in the past month and a half and seemingly strikes out every batter that comes to the plate. The “quick jab” Dipoto took turned out to be a chin compressing uppercut that knocked the Angels bullpen weakness straight to the canvas. Problem solved.
Dipoto, a former major leaguer himself, knows that there are ebbs and flows with each season and remains patient through rough waters. If the seas get too choppy for his liking, he’ll quickly take the ship in another direction though. Having been shutout a club record 8 times in their first 36 games, Dipoto axed hitting coach Mickey Hatcher (a move most Angel fans had been clamoring for years to take place) and the Angels now have only been shutout once in their last 34 games. Are we seeing a pattern here? Yep, problem solved. Dipoto strikes with precision timed expertise without the fear of repercussion. The firing of Hatcher was a prickly situation considering Hatcher is an extremely close friend and confidant of manager Mike Scioscia. Dipoto handled the removal with class respecting the feelings and the public image of Scioscia, but still taking a team-first approach and making the best decision for the overall well-being of the organization. World class management.
The question we Angel fans have now is, “What will Jerry Dipoto do next?” Taking into account all of the things he has already done, it is impossible to not get excited about what Dipoto’s next move will be. With the July 31 non-waiver trade deadline looming, one would expect Dipoto’s next strike to come relatively soon. Never one to pinch pennies, Arte Moreno will probably give Dipoto free reign to add impact players to the roster in hopes of securing his first World Series title. The anticipation to see what direction Dipoto will choose is almost unbearable. Will he bolster the starting rotation with the addition of another quality arm? Or will he perhaps further solidify the bullpen with a reliever capable of locking down the 7th inning before turning the rest of the game over to the dynamic duo of Scott Downs and the aforementioned Ernesto Frieri? Has Dipoto struggled stomaching some of the offensive inefficiencies the overly right handed Angel lineup possesses and will he answer that bell with the addition of a power hitting left-handed bat? Maybe he pulls another rabbit out of his hat and locates an everyday 3rd baseman with some pop? Adding to the intrigue is what will happen to the current roster if and when something goes down. Is Maicer Izturis ticketed for another city? Are young players once considered future starts but without a currently defined role such as Peter Bourjos and Hank Conger going to be shipped out of town to fill some of the immediate deficiencies Jerry deems necessary? One thing is for sure, it is difficult to imagine some kind of turnover not taking place. If you feel like a little kid that can’t wait for Christmas as you wait to see what will get done at the deadline this year, well then you’re not alone.
Regardless of what Jerry Dipoto does next, it is easy to feel comfortable with whatever it might be. That is the beauty of this new Angel regime. Talented, gifted, and incredibly stealthy, Jerry Dipoto is here to get the job done and he’s doing it exceptionally well. We can only hope that whatever takes place results in a deep playoff run and perhaps even a World Series Championship. Either way, we can rest assured that this season and for many years to come this club will compete with the very best the game has to offer because the man in charge of doing so just wouldn’t or couldn’t have it any other way. Jerry Dipoto is here to stay, and we’re exceptionally pleased to have him. The Angels are getting better as a ballclub and as an organization every single day, thanks in no small part to the man who never takes a rest from making improvements.
Follow Drew Mumford Jr on Twitter @jrjantreshunt.