Scioscia seems to have won, but are Angels better off?

BY Ken Rosenthal • July 1, 2015

Just name Mike Scioscia general manager.

I’m being facetious — no one person can handle the vast responsibilities of both manager and GM. But good luck to whoever replaces Jerry Dipoto with the Angels.

The power struggle is over. Scioscia has prevailed over Dipoto. And the next Angels GM will be little more than a puppet, beholden to the game’s longest-tenured manager.

The departure of Dipoto became official on Wednesday. Scioscia will say that all is well, the same thing he has been saying since 2012, when his rift with Dipoto first became public. But his claim will ring hollow. 

On Tuesday, after my initial report about the resumption of hostilities between the two sides, Scioscia acknowledged that he was upset by Dipoto's dismissal of Mickey Hatcher as hitting coach in '12, but told reporters, "We've moved past that. Way past that."

Evidently, Dipoto did not agree.

And the question for the Angels is how they will move forward in the age of big data with a manager who seemingly is resistant to front-office input -- or, at least, the input he was getting from Dipoto and his staff.

In case you missed it, the larger power struggle — the industry-wide debate about the importance of data — also is over.

All teams rely on some form of advanced statistical information. The Phillies, in naming Andy MacPhail their next club president on Monday, made a point of saying they will become more proficient in how they develop and use data.

Certain teams — the Pirates, in particular, but also others — have forged a new dynamic between the front office and field staffs. The two sides work in tandem to implement scouting information, trying to maximize performance.

The Angels aren't there yet, certainly not in Dipoto's view; he and his staff viewed Scioscia and the coaches as practically insubordinate, according to major-league sources.

And while the eyes and instincts of veteran, accomplished baseball men such as Scioscia remain invaluable, any team that places too big a premium on the subjective over the objective — or vice versa, as Dipoto may have tried to do — leaves itself vulnerable.

So, how would you like to be the Angels' next GM?

Angels owner Arte Moreno sought greater balance in the GM-manager relationship when he hired Dipoto on Oct. 28, 2011. Many perceived Dipoto's predecessor, Tony Reagins, to be incapable of challenging Scioscia, engaging in the necessary give-and-take.

Dipoto was a stronger personality, fluent in the new statistical lexicon, full of new ideas. Moreno evidently liked him, refusing to decide between Dipoto and Scioscia after the two squabbled during both the 2012 and '13 seasons, and later exercising the GM's options for 2015 and then '16.

The tension between the GM and manager dissipated when the Angels won 98 games last season and made the playoffs for the first time since 2009. But as I wrote Monday, meetings on Friday and Sunday — the first between Dipoto, Scioscia and his coaches; the second also involving the players — sparked fresh discord.

Dipoto, unhappy that the coaches were not willing or able to convey scouting information provided by the front office, told the players that they now would be given the information directly.

The fallout was such that by Tuesday night, Dipoto had packed his office and left Angels Stadium.

The next Angels' GM will face the same issues with Scioscia. Moreno's inability to unite those under him will remain a problem. The perception now, accurate or not, will be that Moreno sided with his manager, undercutting whoever replaces Dipoto before he even starts. Moreno also acts frequently on his own — as evidenced by the free-agent signings of Albert Pujols and Josh Hamilton — further diminishing his GM's influence.

Name Scioscia the GM? No, the Angels can't do that. But most managers, particularly the more recent hires, understand that they must accept and implement data-driven input from the front office.

Scioscia would say that he does. Dipoto would disagree. It's the wrong argument at the wrong time. And the Angels are weaker for it.



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