An Open Letter to Jerry Dipoto
Dear Jerry Dipoto,
You have only been here a couple months and already spent the large majority of your time undoing nearly everything Jack Zduriencik put in place; and I mean that in a good way. You have constructed something completely different from the generations of your predecessors. I recently had a discussion with a fellow Mariners advocate on twitter about the lack of attention that we’ve devoted to our beloved team’s former General Managers. Personally, I have been a fan of the sport since before I could even write my name. When I first ventured into the world of baseball I was too young to understand or really even care about what big office executives did with their time, money and players; nor was the big money culture as apparent as it is now. The realization that I had not paid close attention to their work inspired me to go back in time and review the workings of former Mariners GMs in order to fully appreciate the differences you, Jerry, are making to separate yourself from the ghosts of GM’s past.
In the year 2000 a man named Pat Gillick was General Manager of the Seattle Mariners. I was 7-years-old when he came into this position. Gillick had a history of creating winning teams. He managed both the Baltimore Orioles and the mid-90s Toronto Blue Jays to the playoffs, and then in 2000 he came to Seattle with the plan to do the same. Gillick was with the Mariners for four years (2000-2003), the last time baseball in Seattle was widely well respected and loved since ’95 under Woody Woodward.
Gillick was the GM that traded Junior when he didn’t want to be here anymore. He signed a 27-year-old named Ichiro Suzuki in 2001 who would later that year become AL MVP and ROY. Ichiro played with the Mariners for over a decade and is still one of the brightest memories in Mariners’ history. Jamie Moyer, regularly poked fun at for his 80mph fastball but better known for his positive impact through his charitable efforts in the Seattle community, became a household name under Gillick. Pat Gillick was responsible for some of the more well received moves over the past 15-years, but of course he made his mistakes too. At the point when Pat Gillick left the organization in 2003, I was still naive to the baseball hierarchy that was the Mariners front office.
When I finally began to understand what the organizational structure of a professional baseball team was comprised of, the man who happened to be the main decision maker of my favorite baseball team was Bill Bavasi. Any Mariners fan of the past decade will undoubtedly tell you that the Bavasi era was something that will go down forever in Mariners’ infamy. While Bavasi was blamed for the large majority of the Mariners mishaps, he definitely followed suit with the large majority of his predecessors. He was the man that brought Richie Sexson, Adrian Beltre and Eric Bedard. He signed largely unproductive Carl Everett and Scott Spiezio. He traded 1st time HOF ballot nominee Randy Winn for two players that never produced for the Mariners. In 2006, he traded then rookie Shin-Soo Choo, who has gone on to have a productive 10-year career for the Indians and currently with the Texas Rangers. You may also recognize the names Carlos Guillen and Rafael Soriano. Those two highly recognizable names were also traded under Bavasi.
I know that all seems extremely negative. Hindsight is 20/20. In order to fully understand what is happening now in 2015, I needed to understand how the organizations past decisions have lead to the new narrative being created under your management. In 2008 Bavasi was fired mid-season. The Mariners were 24-45, the worst record in baseball at the time. His name elicits some of the darker times in Mariners baseball history, a period of time that I hope will get easier to forget as the team you are creating begins to win.I hope you able to restore this city’s passion for baseball to a team that I never once have lost faith in.
I’ll save the Jack Zduriencik history for a later time, as the majority of players he brought in have been traded by this point. However, I mainly refrain from going over Jack Z’s history of moves because the wounds are still too fresh to be ripped open again. At the beginning of the offseason Mariners fans were inclined to have the “we’re starting from square one….again” mentality. As you could imagine, we’ve had to start over quite a few times. Awhile ago I said something to the effect of you had to prove yourself to be in our Mariners family, Jerry. I believe that you have done just that. I am extremely confident in the fact that you have a good plan for us, and that you are going to carry out your plan in a way with extreme conviction that will continuously leave us trying to wrap our collective heads around every move.
Winter Meetings had started this week and you have already almost made more transactions than Jack Z did the past three off seasons. You will definitely surpass that threshold by the end of the off-season; you might even surpass it before I finish writing the last sentence of this letter. Earlier I mentioned that I felt it was important to understand what the past contained to truly understand what the future of this organization could be. That being said, us fans are not privy to the inner workings of what a professional baseball organization’s front office does on a daily basis or what the plan is for the future. That’s where the trust factor comes in. We have to be able to trust you as a leader to make the decision that is in the best interest of our club succeeding in the present and the future.
It’s hard for a majority of fans not to criticize trades or question why you haven’t signed this or that free agent, but honestly I can say that I have not felt this optimistic with past GMs/off-seasons. I’m here to say (and I hope that I am speaking for the large majority of M’s fans) while I may not understand the plan you have for the Mariners or will I ever come close to understanding it, I trust you. I trust the fact that everything is part of a greater plan and that first base holes and starting pitching problems aren’t fixed instantaneously. I trust that you’ll use your power in Seattle thoughtfully and rationally, as you’ve already done so in your first months here. Lastly, I trust that you to want to bring winning ways back to the Mariners, as much as the city needs to be able to believe in a winning team again.
Take care of my team, please Jerry. They are the only one I have.
Please check out Cydnie’s website: https://seattlecydnie.wordpress.com/
And follow her on twitter: @cydniecr
Tags: Adrian Beltre, Bill Bavasi, Carl Everett, Carlos Guillen, Eric Bedard, Jack Zduriencik, Jamie Moyer, Jerry Dipoto, Pat Gillick, Rafael Soriano, Richie Sexson, Scott Spiezio, Seattle Mariners, Shin-Soo Choo