Kate Preusser has a very clever article up defending Jerry Dipoto's offseason. The analogy is this: lots of fans hated, hated, hated the current Star Wars movie ... BECAUSE ... it did not match up with any kind of crowd-pleasing plotline they'd spent two years guessing about. The analogy continues: you CANNOT write great movies based on what fans would like to see; you've got to do better than that.
Those are Premises 1 and 2; the Conclusion is, Jerry Dipoto must be doing the right thing, ignoring the fans.
Is the logic valid? The LL comments to Kate's article say, Nay Verily. There are about 60 sharp, telling refutations of the concept here. (None of them include Dr. D's own reaction: you sure as shootin' CAN make a great movie based on what fans want and expect. Michael Bay, Peter Jackson and James Cameron are crowd-pleasing directors. I do think one of the LL commenters did include Dr. D's reaction that we are running on 15 years absent the playoffs here.)
It's fairly easy to read what 29 other GM's are deciding about Jerry Dipoto: that he has made 369 trades to turn a .500 team into a .500 team.
In Dipoto's defense, you have Dipoto's defense, because this winter he is becoming quite evidently sensitive to the industry criticism. His general reaction is:
- The M's were much, much worse than a .500 team when he got here. If you look under the surface. (Dr. D's reaction: maybe. MAY be.)
- The M's should have lost 100 to 110 games last season, given their unbelievable injuries. They did awesome to win as many games as they did. (Dr. D: lot of traction here.)
- Hey, the M's have had 7 different All-Star players recently, and they've gotten "more athletic." (SSI is still completely unclear as to what "athleticism" is worth in MLB, as opposed to in the NBA or NFL.)
It is starting to look like Dipoto's plan was to sign Babe Ruth for the league minimum, and then bask in the reputation garnered. Finding himself stranded on a dark Hilltop street at 3 a.m. with no cabs around, his rather minimal response was to acquire "impact pitching" by bailing out on the entire SP market and taking a reliever he sells as an impact pitcher, and trading for a quality center fielder. That is pretty much it, and the fact is, that isn't much in view of who our AL West neighbors are.
The fact is, when Shohei Ohtani went to the LAA Angels, and Jerry Dipoto responded with light touches of lipstick and eye shadow, his image took a thunderous elbow from the top turnbuckle. Everything looks pretty weird after that. Hanjag says here,
I do and don't like JeDi. I like his confidence and he seems likable as a human being. (Dipoto's confidence borders on arrogance and begins to look suspect in view of his lack of Beane-type results.)
Question: Are you happy with the Scrabble sign? To me that seems like an overpay. To me the most glaring need was the adding of a TOR the whole time. (Dipoto's beginning to show a real aversion to spending FA money -- "it's a long, dark hallway" -- and he's trying to add "impact" with no-name sabermetric relievers. This belies the fact that he feels zero guilt about the DL'ing of the entire rotation last year and the possibility of the rotation getting DL'ed again in 2018.)
Again, I don't see JD getting "value". I think he overpays in many trades. I am fine with 'overpays' IFF you wind up happy with what you get back -- Haniger, Segura, Leake, a healthy Smyly, etc.
There's an old Bill James observation about Billy Beane, "If Beane were on trial for arrogance I wouldn't want to be his lawyer. And if he were on trial for excellence as a GM he would scarcely need one." Here we've got a situation where we might possibly want some representation ... Mojo? Anybody?
Another fact is, Dipoto has us in somewhat better shape than we were in when Zduriencik left, 2.5 years ago. This seems to give Dipoto great comfort. But here is the key insight about being better than Jack Zduriencik: it ain't saying much. Ask your local rival GM how much credit he gives for this line on the resume.
With Zunino going berserk and Mitch Haniger loaded for his first full non-rookie year ... with quality batting at every single spot around the diamond ... and with 3 legitimate stars at 3-4-5 in the order ... I think the M's are a successful Wolf Pack away from real contention. (A successful Wolf Pack is not a light thing to attempt.)
But it's surprising to Dr. D, how differently he feels about Jerry Dipoto, and how quickly. Fan fiction notwithstanding, babe. This team needed a staff ace, full stop, and Ariel Miranda Ain't It. The rotation is much, much lighter than it was going into 2017, and Dipoto seems to be virtually scoffing about it.