Jerry Dipoto’s Top Priority


Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

Over this past few weeks, everybody—and I do mean everybody—has weighed in on Arte Moreno’s decision to grant a stay of execution to GM Jerry Dipoto and Manager Mike Scioscia. In fact, Pastor Rick Warren (Saddleback Church in Lake Forest) is in the middle of a four-week sermon series on the topic, and Congresswoman Loretta Sanchez (D – Anaheim) planned to hold a press conference addressing the issue but had to cancel due to the partial government shutdown (I told you everyone’s got something to say). While reading article after blog post after editorial on the pros and cons of Moreno’s decision, I soon figured out that there was nothing I could add to the conversation. The last thing the baseball world needs is yet another Monday-morning quarterback.

So instead of one more article filled with “would’ves” and “should’ves”, I’m hoping we can all move on to the more important personnel issue—rebuilding the line-up. Yes, there are some position players to be acquired, and both the starting rotation and bullpen need a pretty major overhaul. And Dipoto and Scioscia need to hide the checkbook from Moreno when he starts talking about making Robinson Cano an offer.

But more important than finding a solid third baseman or a late-inning set-up man is filling a gaping void in the clubhouse. The Angels need a leader. A Captain. Another—dare I say it—Torii Hunter. The Halos have the big bats. They have the superstars to draw a home crowd. They have the foundation for a solid pitching staff. But they desperately need that player-voice in the dugout motivating his teammates, calling them out when they’re not performing, and leading his team to its former glory.

Where will this elusive leader come from? From within? Mike Trout could grow into that role, but it might be a few years. Give him time; he might be the answer in the future, but what about next season? Pujols or Hamilton? While their bats are something to be reckoned with – or at least have been in the past – neither seems anxious to assume that role. Weaver? Sure, he is the ace of the staff and a leader on the mound, but that leadership influence doesn’t really extend to the hitters.

What about going outside? Signing a free agent or trading for a player to take this leadership position? This might work, but the Halos have very limited options in terms of off-season spending, so finding the right person at the right price will be no easy task.

No doubt we will be hearing lots of news coming out of Anaheim after the World Series trophy is awarded. There will be much wheeling and dealing as Dipoto and Scioscia attempt to fill holes in the line-up and attempt to prove to the fans that Moreno made the right choice in keeping them around. But the most important spot to fill is that of a new team captain. Without a player to take over that leadership role, 2014 is likely to be another long, frustrating season.