GM Dipoto returning in '15 after Angels pick up option

GM Dipoto returning in '15 after Angels pick up option

MINNEAPOLIS -- Angels general manager Jerry Dipoto hasn't really had to worry about his job since the All-Star break. Sometime around early July, owner Arte Moreno and president John Carpino informed Dipoto of their decision to pick up his club option for 2015, ensuring that he would return for his fourth season.

Dipoto, however, opted to keep the news private "because I've wanted our group to focus on what was happening on the field," he said. "Obviously, I'm very happy to get another crack at it after this year, but I'd rather focus, for the time being, on winning in 2014."

Dipoto was originally signed to a three-year deal with two club options. The 2016 option has yet to be picked up, but this is nonetheless an improvement on his perceived job security. At this time last year, with the Angels en route to finishing six games below .500 and missing the playoffs for a fourth straight year, speculation swirled that either he or longtime manager Mike Scioscia would be dismissed by season's end.

But they both stayed on, and with 23 games left in the 2014 campaign, the Angels have the best record in baseball.

Dipoto will retain his two assistant GMs -- Matt Klentak, who specializes in contract logistics, and Scott Servais, in charge of scouting and player development -- and will sort out the rest of the front office moving forward. Shortly after dismissing Kevin Towers on Friday, the D-backs' chief baseball officer, Tony La Russa, contacted Dipoto about interviewing director of pro scouting Hal Morris for Arizona's vacant GM position.

"Hopefully here in short order we can start addressing everybody's employment situation beyond this year," Dipoto said. "We're not looking to make any kind of substantive changes. We like the look that we have, we like the way we're put together. We have a nice group here, and we want to continue to move forward, making as much progress as we've made so far. If we keep doing that, we'll be OK."

Dipoto, a Major League reliever from 1993 to 2000, went into the front office immediately after a devastating neck injury ended his playing career at the age of 32. After serving as a scout for the Red Sox, becoming head of scouting with the Rockies and, ultimately, working under Towers with the D-backs, Dipoto was hired to replace Tony Reagins in Anaheim in October 2011.

Off the bat, Dipoto and Scioscia disagreed about staff decisions and baseball philosophies. The mega-contracts for Albert Pujols and Josh Hamilton, coupled with luxury-tax concerns, hampered the Angels' payroll flexibility. The acquisitions of Joe Blanton, Tommy Hanson, Sean Burnett and Ryan Madson two offseasons ago backfired, and back-to-back underperforming seasons took their toll.

After the Angels finished the 2013 season 76-84, not playing above .500 after Opening Day, Moreno sat Dipoto and Scioscia down in hopes of getting them on the same page.

It seems to have worked.

"No doubt, we've all become a better team from how we work with the front office," Scioscia said. "We put a lot of time in on some things that you find when you're looking for some areas you really need to improve in -- from what kind of system you use, how you're going to play at the Major League level, what Minor Leaguers need to do to be prepared to play here. I think we've gotten better at that over the years."

Over the last 11 months, the coaching staff was reconfigured and the position of player-information coach -- a role filled first by Rick Eckstein and now by Rico Brogna -- was created. Huston Street, Jason Grilli and Joe Smith have been added to what's now a strong bullpen. Mike Trout is locked up through 2020. Prospects from a much-maligned farm system -- including Matt Shoemaker, Kole Calhoun and Mike Morin -- have contributed. And subtle pieces, particularly Hector Santiago and Tyler Skaggs, have been added to help make the Angels a winning team again.

"They didn't leave any stone unturned when they were looking for talent," Scioscia said, "and when they could find talent to make us better, they certainly acted on it."

The Angels entered Friday with a two-game cushion on the best record in baseball and a five-game lead in the American League West, in prime position to make the playoffs for the first time since 2009.

"First of all, it's reflective of the talent we have," Dipoto said. "So many guys did so many good things through the first five months and one week of this season. Our business is still in front of us. We got to this point; we still have a lot of work to do. That's probably why I don't want to look back and reflect on [the option being picked up] too much."

Alden Gonzalez is a reporter for Read his blog, Gonzo and "The Show", and follow him on Twitter @Alden_Gonzalez. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.