Miller: Bold Dipoto changes Angels' culture
Miller: GM Dipoto changes Angels' culture
Zack Greinke could eventually bomb.
Zack Greinke could eventually bumble.
Zack Greinke, worst of all, could eventually bolt.
And still, we applaud Jerry Dipoto today for having the skills, conviction and bravado to make a trade that strengthens the Angels' right now while weakening their what's next.
In recent seasons, with Tony Reagins or Bill Stoneman acting as general manager, this deal doesn't happen. No way. Not even close.
Reagins never was given the clout to make such a move and Stoneman — hey, we didn't call him "Stone Man" for nothing — never displayed the assertiveness to pull off this kind of stunner.
There's a reason a writer from Sports Illustrated recently called this franchise baseball's "midseason wallflowers."
According to Tom Verducci, before acquiring Greinke, the Angels had made only 11 deadline deals since 2000, the fewest in the majors.
When the Angels hired Dipoto in October, the very culture of the franchise changed. For the better. Much better.
The Angels, famous for going from first to third, finally had a decision-maker who shared their aggressiveness.
Though he played in the 1990s, Dipoto understands how baseball teams are built today. He understands that patience can last only as long as a manager's visit to the mound does. He realizes to pounce when the opportunity is present.
There are no guarantees from one season to the next. If you don't believe that, ask the Philadelphia Phillies if they expected to be in last place in late July.
The Angels' most recent playoff game was Oct. 25, 2009. That night, after being eliminated in the League Championship Series by the Yankees, do you think any of the Angels thought they'd miss the next two postseasons?
The days of waiting for prospects to ferment over thousands of minor league at-bats are as dead as Abner Doubleday. No one has time for that anymore, unless you're a fan of the Kansas City Royals, in which case you have no choice but to wait.
Sure, winning with consistency doesn't happen unless talent is drafted and developed. And in case you haven't noticed, the Angels do have Jered Weaver, Mike Trout and Mark Trumbo, among others. Organizational depth is the foundation.
It is, however, just the beginning.
For far too long, the Angels clung to their prospects — players such as Dallas McPherson and Brandon Wood — because they overvalued them. They fell so deeply in love with what could be that they refused to swap potential for proven performance.
That was old thinking, a stance that worked in the days when fans more readily identified with teams because players weren't as transient. That belief was rooted in an era when you had time to learn more about a player than his WHIP or WAR.
These days, fans have been programmed to follow baseball by the numbers, by what's black and white. You've learned to root for the name on the front of the uniform more than the name on the back. This places a premium on winning — winning right now, if not sooner.
Dipoto understands this and acknowledged it after the Greinke trade was announced and the question of signing the right-hander long term was asked.
"For the time being, we're thrilled to acquire a player of Zack's caliber," Dipoto said. "We're excited to see him get out there and see what kind of difference he can make for the 2012 Angels. We'll worry about the rest later."
We'll worry about the rest later. ... Never before has putting off such a significant piece of business sounded so productive.
The Angels just parted with Jean Segura, Johnny Hellweg and Ariel Pena. Three years from now, each could be an All-Star. Or each could be another Trevor Bell. A first-round draft pick in 2005, Bell was released last week. He won four games as an Angel.
That's the gamble Dipoto was willing to take and Arte Moreno was willing to make. Let's not forget the role of the Angels owner in all of this, either.
Moreno just agreed to invest another $5.3 million in his team. That's the salary the Angels owe Greinke, for probably for no more than 12 regular-season starts. Not exactly a minor indulgence.
Beyond that, nothing is guaranteed. But, as mentioned earlier, nothing ever is guaranteed in baseball. So why not make a move when there's a move — an enormous, dazzling move — to be made?
Dipoto had the guts and the gifts to acquire probably the best starting pitcher who will be traded at this season's non-waiver deadline. And he did so with time to spare.
From Albert Pujols to C.J. Wilson to Ernesto Frieri to Zack Greinke. My, how the Angels' culture has changed.
A past of doing little is over, bulldozed by a man doing it all.
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