Jerry Dipoto has made no secret of his desire to rebuild the Los Angeles Angels farm system. With a farm system that is considered to be entirely devoid of any top prospects, the Dipoto appears to have changed his strategy when it came to free agency. Instead of going out and signing the top free agents as he had in years past, Dipoto has taken a more measured and patient approach this year, signing only Joe Smith and Raul Ibanez to major league contracts.
This approach certainly indicates that Dipoto truly means to replenish what is a depleted farm system. By avoiding players such as Ubaldo Jimenez and Ervin Santana, Dipoto has been able to hold on to the Angels first round pick. In theory, that selection should allow the Angels to get a player that could end up immediately becoming their top prospect, if not the eventual centerpiece of their minor leagues.
However, Jerry Dipoto may not be around to enjoy the fruits of his labor. In the final year of a three year contract, Dipoto has not received any indication from Arte Moreno that he is going to be brought back. After spending Moreno’s money to bring in Albert Pujols, Josh Hamilton, C.J. Wilson and others, Dipoto has yet to construct a team that has reached the playoffs. If Dipoto wants to return beyond this year, the Angels will need to win, and win now.
As such, Dipoto may find himself at odds with his own strategy. With Hamilton and Pujols, the Angels are not in a position to completely rebuild, at least at this juncture. Moreno also seemingly has no desire to see the Angels bottom out. With a payroll that is projected to be the seventh highest in baseball, a fourth consecutive year without a playoff appearance may be more than Dipoto could survive.
Much like the Angels themselves, Jerry Dipoto finds himself at the crossroads. If the Angels make the playoffs, then Dipoto likely gets the chance to implement his plan for the minor leagues. Otherwise, he will likely be out of a job once the season ends. So, does he put caution to the wind and attempt to locate any missing pieces, even at this late juncture, or hope that the team he constructed can improve enough to contend?
With a healthy Pujols and improvements from both Hamilton and the bullpen, the Angels may improve enough where Dipoto gets a chance to come back. The key is likely to be the back end of the rotation, where the third through fifth starters are all essentially unproven. However, it would be difficult for those pitchers to be nearly as bad as the Terrible Twosome of Tommy Hanson and Joe Blanton were last year. The rotation may be better by default.
At least, if he wants to remain a part of the Angels organization, Jerry Dipoto has to hope that is the case. Otherwise, he could find himself on the unemployment line before the calender flips to October.