Jerry Dipoto gets another shot as new GM with Mariners
SEATTLE (AP) Jerry Dipoto was determined not to let the circumstances surrounding his departure from his previous job as a general manager become a hindrance to his desire to run another franchise.
So he was honest about what happened when he interviewed with the Seattle Mariners, did his homework on the franchise and brought ideas for ways to bring winning baseball back to Seattle.
Dipoto was introduced as Seattle's new general manager on Tuesday, less than three months after stepping down from the same position with the Los Angeles Angels following clashes with manager Mike Scioscia. Dipoto said he was honest with Mariners management about what led him to leave the Angels.
''The way things ended for me in Anaheim with the Angels, it will not define my career,'' Dipoto said. ''It is a moment in my career. I've given up some long homers in my day. I've also had some key strikeouts. ... You go through ups and downs in your career and I consider my time in Anaheim more up than down.''
Dipoto was one of three finalists for the Seattle position, narrowed from an initial pool of about 40 pulled together by Mariners team President Kevin Mather. The 47-year-old was charismatic, well-spoken and self-deprecating during his introduction but acknowledged that his words would need to become action if Seattle is going to end the longest postseason drought in baseball.
He believes the Mariners are not that far away. Dipoto was among those within baseball who expected the 2015 version to live up to expectations and be a contender in the AL West, rather than playing out the string as part of another losing season.
Dipoto said Seattle's core is solid with the likes of Felix Hernandez, Robinson Cano and Nelson Cruz but the challenge will be deepening the bench, pitching rotation and bullpen.
''I think the one that we are missing right now is just a general roster depth. The lineup needs to be a little longer, the rotation needs to be a little deeper, the bullpen needs to have more layers than it presently has,'' Dipoto said. ''That's something through hard work, scouting, the use of proper analytics you can turn over a couple of rocks and find a guy here and there, and create depth on a roster that allows you to be competitive quickly.''
The first question for Dipoto will be whether manager Lloyd McClendon will be retained for 2016.
Dipoto and McClendon crossed paths in the past, but never spent extensive time together. That's the plan this week, beginning with Monday when Dipoto's hiring was announced and continuing through the end of the regular season to determine if the pair can work together or if Dipoto will bring in his own manager.
It's a critical decision, especially with how Dipoto's last managerial relationship deteriorated.
''Lloyd is a good person. He's had a challenging career path to get here and deserves consideration for anything moving forward,'' Dipoto said. ''The best marriages are those in which you fall in love and then get married, rather than someone arranging it from 1,000 miles away. So we'll take the time to get to know one another and I look forward to that.''
Mariners CEO Howard Lincoln said Dipoto will be given what he needs to create the roster he wants, whether it's through developing the farm system or through trades and free agency. The Mariners' payroll for 2015 was $130 million and Lincoln said he doesn't see that going down.
''We're going to provide Jerry all the resources that we can and financially the Mariners are in a very strong position,'' Lincoln said.
Lincoln added that he was disappointed with this season's results, part of the reason previous general manager Jack Zduriencik was fired in late August. With Toronto making the postseason, no team in baseball has been out of the playoffs longer than the Mariners. Their last postseason appearance was in 2001.
''I can't tell you how disappointed I am and it really is in part because our expectations were so high,'' Lincoln said.