Posted on 30 October 2011.
ANAHEIM — Following Saturday’s introductory news conference for new Angels’ General Manager Jerry Dipoto, team owner Arte Moreno spoke — at length — for the first time since the search began for Tony Reagins’ replacement. The former Angels’ GM resigned two days after the season, citing a need for change in organizational philosophy.
Moreno, who bought the Angels from Disney in 2003, had been conspicuous by his lack of extended comment about Reagins’ resignation and subsequent reassignment as Special Assistant to club President Dennis Kuhl; the accusations that Mike Scioscia was the real power behind the GM position; and his plans for 2012′s budget.
Moreno addressed each issue in depth early Saturday afternoon.
FSW.com — What impressed you most about Jerry Dipoto?
Moreno — I really like the fact that he started out his front office career getting a 360 degree education from the business side, along with the fact that he excels at evaluating players. Those things are really important, I believe.
FSW.com — Does Dipoto have complete power as general manager?
Moreno — He does have complete power, yes. From the economic side we have a budget, and we’d expect that unless something extraordinary takes place, we’ll stay within what I’d call our baseball operating budget.
FSW.com — As the owner, the final decision on all matters is yours, correct?
Moreno — (Laughing) If it works, I made the decision. If it didn’t work, I didn’t make the decision. Where people started thinking this turned into a one-headed monster, or a two-headed monster, I just don’t know. From day one we’ve always had good communication, and we tried to stay focused on building from within. But I feel we got a little bit away from that, and I really wanted to find someone who would focus on building from within. Then, whenever we had a (talent) deficiency, we’d be able to financially be in a position to address it. If we need an outfielder, let’s say, we’d be able (to spend the money in free agency or through a trade) to get the outfielder we need. That was the premise when I bought the team, and (Bill) Stoneman and Mike strongly believed in that philosophy of building a team.
FSW.com — Are you happy with the direction of the team at this moment?
Moreno — Over the past few years — whether the players under-performed or we traded them — we feel that we’re not as strong as we’d like to be in the (minor league system). I think it showed up in 2010 when (Kendrys) Morales got hurt, and we weren’t quite prepared at first base. Offensively, the past two years, we haven’t produced like we should produce. It’s not just one thing, and it’s not that we just started talking about them when the season ended. We’ve looked at things that way for the eight-and-a-half years I’ve been here, building from within and staying ahead of the game as much as we could. Sometimes in an organization you sort of hit a ceiling or plateau, and then you have to figure out how to move on and continue to grow. I think from both the field side and the business side we have a lot of opportunities to grow this franchise. That’s something we’re really focused on.
FSW.com — When the rumors about Mike Scioscia actually being the de facto GM began to surface, you stayed pretty quiet. Did you ever feel like you needed to step up and set the record straight?
Moreno — If you want me to be honest, I really feel that there are situations where people write something just because they don’t have anything else to write about. I didn’t want to get into a (back and forth) situation about it. And if I thought it was really such a negative for (the organization or Mike), I would have done or said something. But I’ve been pretty open about the way we run things around here.
FSW.com — So you didn’t consider it that pressing of a matter?
Moreno — Look, if the people feel they want to read the bullst, then let them read the bullst. That’s the way I feel about it.
FSW.com — You’ve spoken about the budget today. How much do you see the team spending in 2012?
Moreno — Well, you get into a matter of quality versus quantity. There are other teams out there spending less than us, but performing at a higher level than we are. I don’t think spending a lot automatically means you’ll be a winner. But (our budget) for next season gives us the ability to make choices in different areas. I’m thinking the payroll will be in the 130-140 million dollar range. We’re pretty comfortable with that.