10/29/11 5:55 PM EST
Preaching balance, Dipoto joins Halos as GM
Executive flourished in prior role as D-backs' scouting director
By Lyle Spencer / MLB.com
"Most of all, we're going to have passion," Dipoto said, outlining his plan in a Saturday afternoon news conference for a new Angels era as he succeeds Tony Reagins with a five-year contract. "I love what I do, with good baseball people.
"I can't tell you how honored I am to join an organization with such championship-level people [who] have experienced the kind of success they've had. Championships are what it's about."
It's all there in a book of his beliefs he has been writing for about five years. It is a long way from completion, he acknowledged.
Dipoto, 43, is about to roll up his sleeves, Springsteen-style, and go to work on improving an Angels club that has finished second in back-to-back seasons to Texas in the American League West after winning the division in five of the previous six seasons.
Dipoto, who hopes to hire an assistant GM and director of player development soon, said he would emphasize developing talent within the organization with a blend of new methods rooted in statistical analysis and old-school scouting. He also plans to take full advantage of the Latin American and Asian talent markets, he said.
"It's a game that requires balance," he said. "That's the way I try to live my life every day."
His ability to express his ambitions, with the end-game involving championship celebrations, is what set Dipoto apart when Angels owner Arte Moreno and club president John Carpino interviewed a wide range of candidates from around the baseball map.
"His philosophy, his beliefs," Carpino said when asked how Dipoto distinguished himself in the process. "Baseball has a lot of difference languages, so to speak, to be able to speak to managers, scouts, advance scouts. ... He was so well-rounded, it made it easy for Arte and I."
Seated alongside manager Mike Scioscia as well as club chairman Dennis Kuhl and Carpino, his wife and three children on hand, Dipoto made it clear he shares many of Scioscia's philosophies and beliefs -- notably in playing the game with aggression and how the pitcher-catcher relationship is central to everything.
"I think 90 percent of the game is happening right there, in that 60-foot, six-inch corridor that controls the game," Dipoto said, adding that he'll stress the importance of working and controlling counts on both ends. "It's a heckuva lot easier to hit 2-1 and 3-1, and, conversely, it's a heckuva lot more difficult to pitch in those counts.
"If you're not on base, you're probably not going to win many games. I want the guy who can be on base and move around the bases -- there's something to be said for that. I'm not a big believer in stationary baseball."
Dipoto, a Major League pitcher with the Indians, Mets and Rockies from 1993 through 2000, was 27-24 with a 4.05 ERA in 390 career appearances, all in relief.
He has held a variety of front office positions with the Rockies, Red Sox and D-backs since a neck injury forced him to retire as a player.
He served as Arizona's interim GM last season, swinging a pair of revealing trades. Sending Dan Haren to the Angels, Dipoto showed his knowledge of the Angels' system by acquiring two of their best pitching prospects -- lefties Tyler Skaggs and Patrick Corbin -- along with Joe Saunders.
Arizona hired the more experienced Kevin Towers as GM after the season. Settling into his role as the D-backs' senior vice president of scouting and player development, Dipoto flourished in partnership with Towers with a team that surprised the baseball world by winning the National League West.
A strong recommendation from Towers helped Dipoto's chances with the Angels, but here's a man capable of leaving a strong impression with his words and upbeat manner.
"We need fresh ideas," Moreno said. "What do we need to move forward? That's really the focus. Where are we now and how do we reach those goals we have?"
Self-deprecating in assessing his talkative nature, Dipoto clearly isn't shy about giving voice to his ideas.
"If I had to cite my mentor, I would say it's the game," he said. "It's a lifetime of knowledge I bring to the table. The day I stop learning, I've often said, is the day I probably should go home."
Dipoto dismissed the public perception that he'll be working with a strong-willed manager with uncommon power over personnel decisions. He met with Scioscia for the first time on Friday and anticipates a positive relationship forming with another Springsteen fan from the East.
"The way a manager and general manager should work together is a collaborative effort," Dipoto said. "It's true in life but especially in baseball. That's the most important relationship in an organization. The product we're putting out there runs through Mike Scioscia.
"I don't think there's anything in the way of wholesale moves that need to be made. This team won 86 games. We have a number of high-end, All-Star players."
The hiring of Dipoto puts a GM in place for the Angels before the filing period for free-agent-eligible players begins next week, following the three-day window that allows clubs exclusive negotiating rights.
The Angels haven't gone out of the organization for a significant front-office hiring since 2003, when Eddie Bane became director of scouting.
A native of Jersey City, N.J., who attended Toms River North (N.J.) High School, Dipoto was drafted by the Indians in the third round of the 1989 First-Year Player Draft out of Virginia Commonwealth University.
Dipoto will attend the General Manager Meetings in Milwaukee in mid-November. His first Winter Meetings representing the Angels will unfold in Dallas in early December.
As they interviewed about a half-dozen candidates, Angels officials read the book on Dipoto -- by Dipoto. He was able to put it in his future employers' hands a summary of what he considers important and valuable.
"I've built a book -- not the book -- on what my beliefs are," Dipoto said. "It's constantly evolving over time. The game changes; if you stick your feet in the mud, it's going to swallow you.
"It's getting longer every year. It's something in the neighborhood of 40, 45 pages."
Angels fans are hoping he has some exciting material to add real soon -- complete with a happy ending next October, naturally.
Lyle Spencer is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.