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Building From Within - 1992


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By Rob Goldman, AngelsWin.com Historical Writer - 
 
When the Angels launched an aggressive build-from-within policy in the early Nineties, they placed themselves—at long last—on a winning course that forever transformed the franchise. The sea change actually began around the time Buzzie Bavasi retired in 1984, and Mike Port took over as general manager. It was Port who took on the Herculean task of rebuilding the club by phasing out the aging, past-their-prime veterans and easing the organization’s young, hungry prospects into major roles with the team. 
 
“Every year Mike was letting go of a significant player,” recalls Buzzie’s son, Bill Bavasi, who was a minor-league administer at the time. “Whether it was releasing Brian Downing, Doug DeCinces, or Rod Carew, he had a real tough, tough period here. But that was the very beginning.” 
 
 While Mike Port initiated the policy, Whitey Herzog took it to the next level. Hired by the Autrys in 1992 to “fix the problem” with the team, Herzog saw immediately that the most prudent way to accomplish that task was by concentrating on the talent the Angels already possessed.
 
One of Herzog’s best moves was promoting Bob Fontaine from director of scouting to director of player personnel and scouting. It was Fontaine’s keen eye for talent that was responsible for the acquisition and nurturing of many of the players who would become key cogs in the Angels’ world championship run. Among the players scouted and signed during Fontaine’s 20-year tenure were Tim Salmon, Gary DiSarcina, Jim Edmonds, Troy Percival, Garret Anderson, Troy Glaus, Jarrod Washburn, Benji Molina, and Darin Erstad.
 
“Those of us in the organization were left with the understanding that Whitey was brought in because ownership really didn’t have faith in our scouting or player development,” says Bavasi. “After a year looking at the minor league system with Fontaine, Herzog came away with the opinion that the way we were going to fix this thing is to do nothing. Whitey had the guts and the stature to come in and say, ‘Here’s how I’m gonna fix it: I’m just gonna leave it alone. Were just not trading these kids!’”
 
“Whitey came in and, almost like the Pope, blessed our prospects and said, ‘These guys can play,’” says Joe Maddon, who was a minor-league instructor at time. “I don’t know what Whitey’s master plan was. All I know is that we had a really good thing going in the minor leagues that was not being recognized and, Whitey came in and recognized it.” 
 
According to Joe Maddon and Bavasi, it was Herzog who ultimately set the Angels on a course that would one day make them one of the elite franchises in baseball.  For years the front office had been routinely dealing away their young players to the highest bidders and signing free agents and acquiring players well past their prime. Herzog believed strongly in sticking with the youngsters. His policy of building from remained a cornerstone of the club’s philosophy for years.
 
Although Jackie Autry and Herzog never quite saw eye to eye—particularly when it came to his insistence on working from his home in St. Louis, and Whitey’s habit of “forgetting” to return Gene’s phone calls—Jackie gamely went along with the program.
 
At first she had called Herzog’s actions detrimental to the club and a major disappointment to her husband. But with the franchise going bankrupt, she eventually recognized Herzog’s baseball acumen and supported his measures wholeheartedly.

To Be Continued.....
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Is Whitey available to replace Dipoto?

 

 

No, but Jerry Dipoto doesn't need to be replaced. He's a bright young GM who went from a rebuilding Diamondbacks team to a win now type club. 
 
Dipoto excited us all with the signings of Pujols, Hamilton and C.J. Wilson. We all loved the trade to acquire Chris Iannetta for Tyler Chatwood and Ernesto Frieri for low-grade prospects. Everyone was pretty happy or at least OK with the Walden for Hanson trade and for me personally, I loved the Morales for Jason Vargas trade. 
 
Dipoto's real question mark of a move was Joe Blanton, but I get why he did it. In fact, if Blanton would be his normal self (4.50 ERA) we'd be in a lot better shape than we are right now. Point is, Blanton has been worse than he ever has at any time during his career. We saw flashes of what we thought we were getting in spring training and his last 3-4 starts before Sunday's start.
 
Remember, Jerry Dipoto is the one who acquired Skaggs and Corbin for Dan Haren. If he can score those types of deals for the Diamondbacks, he can rebuild with the Angels all while the team is competitive on the field for the next few years. 
 
Hamilton, Blanton and Pujols haven't been what we expected, Madson & Burnett have been hurt, but you cannot fault Dipoto for trying to put a championship caliber team on the field for all of us fans. Every one of us went into this season (And last season) with HIGH expectations. Slow starts crippled our chances, but it wasn't Dipoto's fault for not assemblying an outstanding team out of the gate two seasons in a row. 
 
In Dipoto I Trust.
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To me, this article seems like it stopped abruptly before coming to a conclusion.  What happened to Whitey and Fountaine? I actually clicked on the link thinking there was more to the article.   

 

 

Rob Goldman likes to keep you guessing/thinking until the next segment. 

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Dipoto excited us all with the signings of Pujols, Hamilton and C.J. Wilson. We all loved the trade to acquire Chris Iannetta for Tyler Chatwood and Ernesto Frieri for low-grade prospects. Everyone was pretty happy or at least OK with the Walden for Hanson trade and for me personally, I loved the Morales for Jason Vargas trade. 
 

 

So a GM shouldn't be judged by their results, but whether most fans agreed with/were excited with their moves at the time?

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So a GM shouldn't be judged by their results, but whether most fans agreed with/were excited with their moves at the time?

 

A GM should, but the results are not yet even a 1/3 of the way in. 

 

If you assessed Jerry's first six weeks on the job last season, would you give him an F or do you place blame on the players for not living up to their expectations.

 

At some point, you have to look at all the data and make a smart decision on just who's to blame for the results on the field. 

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Chuck, I appreciate what you are saying and am not willing to completely lay the blame at Dipoto's feet, but as usual you are a bit too apologetic, in my opinion, and seemingly willfully ignoring the fact that despite what Dipoto was trying to do, and how good this or that move looked at the time - or how excited we were - the results have simply not been good.

 

In some ways I'm reminded of the Fangraphs stat "FIP," or Fielding Independent Runs, which is supposed to measure what a pitcher's ERA "should" look like with neutral defense and thus is marketed as a better indicator of a pitcher's real talent level and future performance than ERA. But the problem with FIP is that it posits what "should have" happened and it ignores what actually happened, and ends up penalizing pitchers like Jered Weaver who just seem to know how to pitch (Tom Glavine is another pitcher whose ERA was always better than his FIP).

 

The point being, Jerry Dipoto has a better FIP than ERA. I like what he says, his plan for the team, and many of the moves he's made, but the end results are quite a bit worse than the approach. More prosaically, his walk doesn't match his talk.

 

I know, it isn't him its the players - he's done what he can to put a competitive team on the field. But again, time and time again the players he's brought in have performed poorly: most notably Pujols and Hamilton, but also Wilson, Blanton, not to mention watching Jean Segura turn into a star. Some have been OK - Vargas and Hanson seem like a wash, Iannetta has been solid (although Chatwood is starting to come along), Frieri looked great at first, etc - but the total picture is rather poor, with no clear standout moves that he made that greatly improved the club in the long-run.

 

He's only got 2 years under his belt as the Angels GM, so I'm willing to give him the benefit of the doubt. But this offseason will be key, imo. He already doubled-down last year and so far its been disastrous; if he triples down I'll be greatly discouraged. Let's hope he really has the long-term health of the team in mind like he says he does.

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I like DIpoto and I like the things he's been saying, but that Blanton signing has really made me think twice about him going forward. That was Reagins-esque style crap. Not the kind of evaluating you want to see from the FO when it comes to players. No clue what he was thinking or looking at to convince him to give that dude a 2yr deal

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To put it another way, a lot of his moves seem like there was little to no actual scouting involved - like he looked at Baseball Reference or Fangraphs and made decisions based upon statistical analysis only, without the actual living wisdom of scouting. Weren't there some serious red flags about Hamilton last year? And why didn't Texas push for him harder? The same with Wilson?
 

That's what makes matters even worse: The last two years we think we've one-upped Texas by taking one of their best players from them, but in the end they've been better for it - ended up with high draft picks, more financial flexibility, and better players (Darvish over Wilson, at least).

 

Again, I'm not completely ready to throw in the towel on Dipoto (not that my opinion matters!), but his report card so far has been poor, and I'm not quite as enamored him as I was back in Fall of 2011. In fact, I'm worried that he doesn't really know what he's doing.

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The CJ deal is actually not that bad IMO. I mean, if anything, It's probably more neutral than anything. Not bad but not good and not really that much helpful in the end. He's a mid rotation type arm making $15 million, which is sort of the market these days for these types. It just looks bad because the pitching has been crap and he's not really "stepping up" to help lighten the load. Also looks worse considering Texas passed on him to sign Darvish who is obviously leaps and bounds better than CJ

 

 

As far as the Hamilton signing goes, yeah, that one looks really, really bad. Hamilton hit something like .239 from June-end of season. He showed glaring holes in his game(he was worthless vs lefties in the 2nd half last year, and sure enough he's been pitcher hitter bad vs them this season), he showed no signs of adjustments, just kept swinging at everything. He was a FA for much of the winter with really NOBODY going hard after him, not even his own team. No one was willing to go past 4 years and then the halos just come in and give him way more than anybody else was offering, as if they needed to do something big for the sake of doing something big

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Chuck, I appreciate what you are saying and am not willing to completely lay the blame at Dipoto's feet, but as usual you are a bit too apologetic.

 

Apologetic? I have gotten on the team just as much as anyone this season. AJ, I'm just not reactionary. I agreed with Dipoto's plan from the get-go. It hasn't worked with Blanton, but you cannot blame Dipoto for the injuries, for Blanton all of a sudden sucking well beyond his career averages (which is why he bought into the flyball pitcher) and the fact that Hamilton would suck this bad.

 

Truth is this team would be in a much better position in the standings if: Hamilton is somewhere near his first and second half of 2012 self, Blanton is a 4.50 ERA guy that gives us QS innings and the Angels don't have a gimpy Pujols and others with several trips to the DL (Aybar, Bourjos, Burnett, Weaver, Callaspo and ZERO from Madson).

 

Now, you tell me if what I stated above is Jerry Dipoto's fault? If you do you're ignorant and reactionary, eager to put the blame on the easiest person to blame -- the captain of the ship. Sometimes it's the crew that F's up and sinks the Titanic, not the captain. 

 

Hell, Dipoto even got rid of two of the most hated Angels on this board in the last year+ in Mathis and Wells.

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LOL - you don't give me much room to disagree, saying I'm ignorant and reactionary if I do. No need to go overboard, Chuck. As I said, I agree that its not entirely, or even mostly, Dipoto's fault but that A) he is at least partially responsible for the performance of a team that he constructed, and B) the results ("ERA") have not matched his approach ("FIP") and that at some point we have to take that seriously.

 

To be honest, I'm not big into the blame game but if we're going to serve it up then we should spread it around, from top to bottom:

 

Moreno for meddling in baseball operations and (allegedly) pushing the Pujols and Hamilton deals.

Dipoto for having a perhaps overly stat/mental approach and seemingly under-utilizing scouting when making moves.

Scioscia for being inflexible in his managerial style and his inability to "inspire the troops."

Pujols & Hamilton for their terrible performance on the field.

Wilson & Blanton for being much worse than advertised.

 

Those are the main offending parties, I think.

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Chuck has a point. BP even had a write-up about how ridiculous this season has been for the Halos. Nearly every single player is playing below their expected projections. Just NOTHING is going right

 

nobody could have seen Hamilton and Pujols being this awful this soon. You'd figure that they'd be this crappy at the tail end of their deals, not year 1 and year 2 of them

 

The only player who is actually playing better than we thought he would is Howie Kendrick. Trumbo and Trout continue to be the steady studs on this team, and that's about it

 

What we can fault Dipoto on is the bullpen. He signed 2 arms to help it, one of them being a guy coming off TJ surgery. They really needed a more surefire option along in there while they signed Madson on a low risk deal. Counting on him to be a big contributor wasn't a good decision.

 

The lack of depth in the system was an issue from the get-go and there wasn't really much Dipoto could do to fix that. That's where the scouting and drafting comes into play and it's also why this team is doing so poorly this year. Injuries have caused them to miss some of their key players, and they haven't had competent fill-in's. The pen has been nothing but a revolving door of a bunch of who's who call-up's who have provided much of nothing.

 

If there is one positive about this season, hopefully it has shown the FO that they need to focus on supplying the talent all through the org, not just the major league level. Every team has to withstand injuries, but it's the teams who have the depth to make up for them that get through things and play on into October. It's a 40 man roster for a reason, you aren't going to be relying on the same 25 guys from game 1 to game 162.

 

Replenish the depth, make some low key FA signings for reasonable deals, and then pray that Hamilton and Pujols have some good seasons left in them.

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LOL - you don't give me much room to disagree, saying I'm ignorant and reactionary if I do. No need to go overboard, Chuck. As I said, I agree that its not entirely, or even mostly, Dipoto's fault but that A) he is at least partially responsible for the performance of a team that he constructed, and B) the results ("ERA") have not matched his approach ("FIP") and that at some point we have to take that seriously.

 

To be honest, I'm not big into the blame game but if we're going to serve it up then we should spread it around, from top to bottom:

 

Moreno for meddling in baseball operations and (allegedly) pushing the Pujols and Hamilton deals.

Dipoto for having a perhaps overly stat/mental approach and seemingly under-utilizing scouting when making moves.

Scioscia for being inflexible in his managerial style and his inability to "inspire the troops."

Pujols & Hamilton for their terrible performance on the field.

Wilson & Blanton for being much worse than advertised.

 

Those are the main offending parties, I think.

 

Well I take back the ignorant comment AJ, but I just hate being labeled as an Angels "apologetic" just because I'm the site owner and have a relationship with the Angels. 

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Here is the way I look at it.  I don't think any thougth, or much at least, was given to what kind of manager Sosh is, or what kind of team he does best with.

 

I also place the blame at Dipoto's feet for the pitching staff.  It is almost entirely made up of Dipoto acquistions sans Weaver.  On the field, first base, left field and catcher are also Dipoto's.  Our best players come from our own farm system. 

 

I think either Sosh or Dipoto has to go.  I would say Sosh beause it would be really difficult to put together a Sosh type team from our current roster.

 

I wouldn't cut Dipoto much more slack though

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No, but Jerry Dipoto doesn't need to be replaced. He's a bright young GM who went from a rebuilding Diamondbacks team to a win now type club. 
 
Dipoto excited us all with the signings of Pujols, Hamilton and C.J. Wilson. We all loved the trade to acquire Chris Iannetta for Tyler Chatwood and Ernesto Frieri for low-grade prospects. Everyone was pretty happy or at least OK with the Walden for Hanson trade and for me personally, I loved the Morales for Jason Vargas trade. 
 
Dipoto's real question mark of a move was Joe Blanton, but I get why he did it. In fact, if Blanton would be his normal self (4.50 ERA) we'd be in a lot better shape than we are right now. Point is, Blanton has been worse than he ever has at any time during his career. We saw flashes of what we thought we were getting in spring training and his last 3-4 starts before Sunday's start.
 
Remember, Jerry Dipoto is the one who acquired Skaggs and Corbin for Dan Haren. If he can score those types of deals for the Diamondbacks, he can rebuild with the Angels all while the team is competitive on the field for the next few years. 
 
Hamilton, Blanton and Pujols haven't been what we expected, Madson & Burnett have been hurt, but you cannot fault Dipoto for trying to put a championship caliber team on the field for all of us fans. Every one of us went into this season (And last season) with HIGH expectations. Slow starts crippled our chances, but it wasn't Dipoto's fault for not assemblying an outstanding team out of the gate two seasons in a row. 
 
In Dipoto I Trust.

 

Its time to really focus on the real problem with the team.

 

If Pujols was just 80% of what he was in St Louis, if Hamilton was just 70% of what he was in Texas, and if CJ was just 70% of what he was in Texas than we would be in the hunt.  Fact is there are three key players not performing.  And I don't think anyone would have guessed there under performance would be this dramatic.  And yes, as much as I hated the Blanton signing, I never thought he would be this bad!

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But again, NOBODY IN THEIR RIGHT MIND believes Blanton was this bad. Hamilton was this bad. Pujols was this injured. Madson & Burnett provide almost zero help in the BP and knew that Bourjos, Weaver, Aybar and others spend loads of time on the DL.

 

All of that considered, you can't put the blame on Dipoto other than maybe even signing Blanton in the first place. Take that one mistake away and do you still blame Dipoto? Thing is, one player i.e. Blanton doesn't make or break a club. 

 

Another thing... It's Scioscia's job to play the best players regardless of how much a player is signed or for how long. Benching Hamilton for one game doesn't do shit, nor doesn't NOT benching Blanton in favor of Jerome Williams who is clearly the better starter. This is on Scioscia! 

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Here is the way I look at it.  I don't think any thougth, or much at least, was given to what kind of manager Sosh is, or what kind of team he does best with.

 

I also place the blame at Dipoto's feet for the pitching staff.  It is almost entirely made up of Dipoto acquistions sans Weaver.  On the field, first base, left field and catcher are also Dipoto's.  Our best players come from our own farm system. 

 

I think either Sosh or Dipoto has to go.  I would say Sosh beause it would be really difficult to put together a Sosh type team from our current roster.

 

I wouldn't cut Dipoto much more slack though

 

This is where I'm at. I don't think Sosh is a bad manager, though I do think he hasn't been as sharp as in the past. It may just be time for both sides to move on and start fresh.

 

Dipoto, he gets another year, but this past offseason has put him on notice. He built the roster around an elite defensive OF and a bunch of flyball pitchers and the plan has backfired horribly

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So it's Sosh's fault that Blanton sucks?  It's his fault that Pujols, Burjous and Aybar are injured?  It's Sosh's fault that two of the main pieces of the pen were damaged goods when signed?  It's his fault that Hamilton seems to have the mental makeup of a cracker jack toy?

 

If it isn't Dipoto's fault, it sure and the hell isn't Sosh's.  The only move I fully blame Sosh for is leaving Blanton in the rotation.  However, he doesn't even have that choice if Blanton is given a two year deal for millions.

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