Jerry Dipoto Will Or Won’t Save The Seattle Mariners


From the moment the Seattle Mariners made the years-overdue decision to move on from Jack Zduriencik and his allergic-to-talent approach to building a major league roster, rumors began to swirl about his successor. More specifically, rumors began to swirl about Jerry Dipoto, and to a slightly lesser extent Billy Eppler. A few other names were mentioned, but mostly those two names. And, unsurprisingly, one of those two names is now running the team.

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Jerry Dipoto was the favorite for the Mariners job the moment he left the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim, and now the job is officially his. He was announced yesterday as the man who will lead the Seattle Mariners back to the playoffs. Or, alternatively, as the next in what’s becoming a list of executives who couldn’t get this team off the ground.

We know Dipoto. He’d been running the Angels since the 2011 offseason, and only left that post this summer. He left because the Angels are a stupid team that essentially treats their field manager as a top executive. Remember how you felt when the Halos hired him in 2011? I felt like the Mariners were screwed because there was now a really smart person running a wealthy division rival. Dipoto came into the GM role with a lot of hype.

Dipoto’s tenure in Los Angeles was heavily mired by ownership, who went over his head to add first Albert Pujols and then Josh Hamilton on albatross deals. Even when gifted a Mike Trout, those obstacles proved to be quite a bit to overcome. And as a result, Dipoto’s Angels were only once able to reach the heights they should have.

There are, of course, parallels between the ownership situations in Los Angeles and Seattle. The Pujols contract is the same as the Robinson Cano contract, after all, and it’s not like Pujols has been bad in L.A. The Mariners also have lots of money tied up in Felix Hernandez, Kyle Seager, and Nelson Cruz. All good players, yes, but all also making lots and lots of money. So there’s that constraint.

Dec 12, 2013; Orlando, FL, USA; Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim general manager Jerry Dipoto talks with reporters after the Rule 5 Draft during the MLB Winter Meetings at the Walt Disney World Swan and Dolphin Resort. Mandatory Credit: David Manning-USA TODAY Sports

It’s hard to be too excited about any new general manager, really, considering the sting of Zduriencik. We were through the roof for him. Never forget how universally excited Mariners fans were for the guy who ended up as much of a flop as all of his top draft picks. Yeah, Dipoto has a strong, long resume. So did Jack Z. It’s almost weird to not feel cynical about this hire.

Yet somehow I’m okay with this. Excited, even, if only because it means the team has finally, officially moved past the Zduriencik era. Dipoto’s not the sexiest hire ever – notice how Emerald City Swagger only profiled two potential replacement GMs? That’s because we knew it was going to be Dipto or Eppler, and of those two Dipoto fit the profile of what Kevin Mather wanted. And now he’s been hired. It was predictable, then it was predicted, and now it’s happened. And he’s established. It’s the same road we went down with Lloyd McClendon – the team picked safe over sexy.

And that’s the thing – McClendon wasn’t exciting until he was. The team had a managerial pool, then picked the only one with experience. We yawned, and then McClendon energized the team and rode high on a wave of entertainment and accountability. I don’t know, I really like Lloyd. His style is on point, his approach is ideal, and he’s been the exact kind of manager I’d want for my favorite team. Hopefully Dipoto works out similarly. And hopefully he keeps Lloyd, of course.

Every general manager has the same goal – build a sustained winner. Jack Zduriencik had that goal, and he obviously wasted most of a decade while falling way, way short of it. Dipoto had that goal with the Angels, and so far that team’s only really sustained itself because that team stars the best baseball player in the world. Dipoto might turn the Mariners into something they’ve barely ever been in their history. Or he might not.

For all I know Jerry Dipoto is going to completely overhaul the culture of the Seattle Mariners. Maybe he’ll never be fired, because he’ll go down as the most successful executive in the history of the game. Maybe he lasts seven gut-wrenching years and leaves with the team in shambles. We’ve seen the last couple GMs walk the latter route. It’d be nice to see someone take the former, for once.

Next: The Seattle Mariners And .500

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