Dipoto aims to build bright future in Arizona
New general manager sets goals for franchise turnaround
PHOENIX -- For D-backs interim general manager Jerry Dipoto, Friday was the beginning of what he hopes will a turnaround for the Arizona Diamondbacks.
Dipoto was named to replace Josh Byrnes on Thursday night, and he has been a busy man ever since.
"I feel today is the first day in moving in a positive direction toward something, toward an organization that has a chance to achieve greatness," Dipoto said. "We're going to collectively bring this group together, to move in a direction from top to bottom, from bottom to top, where we can connect an organization and make something great out of something that looks like it's in disrepair. We disagree with that. We believe we have a lot of talent on the field."
Dipoto joined the D-backs in 2006, and at the time of his promotion, was serving as the club's vice president of player personnel, where he oversaw all aspects of the organization's scouting efforts.
Arizona managing general partner Ken Kendrick and president/CEO Derrick Hall chose Dipoto to serve as Byrnes' replacement over assistant GM Peter Woodfork and special assistant Bob Gebhard.
"Jerry is a very smart guy," Hall said. "He's got great relationships. He's a very inclusive guy. He likes to bring in ideas from anywhere and everywhere, include as many people as he can. The other thing that makes Jerry a clear choice to be the interim is that he has such good knowledge, has such a good grip, on every player -- not only in our system, but really all 30 teams in Major League Baseball.
"If you ask him about any player at any level, he'll give you a scouting report on that player. At a time when we're evaluating our roster and what our needs are to improve, that's the type of person you want to have in that role."
Dipoto, 41, was 27-24 with a 4.05 ERA and 49 saves in 390 appearances during his eight-year big league career with the Indians, Mets and Rockies from 1993-2000.
A close confidant of Byrnes', Dipoto acknowledged that the pair has different styles.
"I'm a pretty simple guy," Dipoto said. "I will never claim to be the equal of Josh Byrnes, intellectually, but what I will say is that as we move forward, opening the door to good baseball minds and allowing people to contribute to the greater good of something special, it's the beginnings."
When Byrnes named A.J. Hinch as manager on May 8, 2009, he talked about having input in the starting lineup. Dipoto, though, will leave those decisions in the hands of interim manager Kirk Gibson.
Dipoto said that his philosophy is to essentially say to his manager: Here are the keys to the car. Here's the 25-man roster.
"My role in this is to make sure that the 25-man roster is staffed the way the manager feels comfortable," Dipoto added. "That he has a roster of players that can go out there and successfully navigate or manage their way through a nine-inning game."
Dipoto's first order of business is to find a bench coach to replace Gibson -- something he hoped to have done by Saturday.
Even more important for Dipoto is what he does to tweak the roster in the four weeks before the July 31 Trade Deadline.
"We're not the old group that needs to be blown up," Dipoto said. "We're going to survey what's on our Major League club. What we're trying to do is structure it in such a way to give us the ability to perform now and sustain success moving forward, and that's what we'll address, particularly over these next 29 days."
Part of the challenge for the D-backs is rebuilding their farm system. Due to promotions and trades, the upper levels of the system do not have impact players, with most of the high-end prospects at the Class A level.
"We have to go back, whether it be through these Drafts, through international signings or potentially through trades, and acquire younger players who we can piece in between our A-level group and our Major League group," Dipoto said. "Those are going to be goals that we have through the course of the rest of this year."
Steve Gilbert is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.