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Mike Scioscia, Jerry Dipoto, and the hierarchy of intra-office squabbles

For whom do you root when two members of the organization are incompatible?


Mike Scioscia and Jerry Dipoto are apparently mortal enemies. If you want to dumb it down, Dipoto likes stats, Scioscia likes heart. But this is just the start of a movie where both of them have to team up to get out of a burning building, push back the invasion, or beat the kids from the camp across the lake. They'll eventually be best friends. I've seen it a million times.

But first one of them has to get fired. According to Jon Morosi and Jeff Passan, one of them will. And it's probably going to be Dipoto. This is probably a good time to bring up the hierarchy of intra-office disputes. With whom should you side when there's an organizational squabble? A handy list …

Normal player vs. manager

Probably the manager. Unless he's a complete buffoon. But if there's a Derek Bell or Phil Nevin grousing and grumbling around the clubhouse, and a respected, long-term manager is on the other end of the dispute, there's no sense in the team going through a total leadership upheaval to satisfy the kinda good, maybe okay players of the world.

Maybe the non- or semi-star isn't happy with the manager, but if the rest of the team (including the stars) were doing just fine, the instability isn't worth the pacified player.

Star player vs. manager

Mike Trout: Either Scioscia goes, or I demand a trade.

Arte Moreno: /presses intercom button

Arte Moreno: Helen, have Mike Scioscia killed.

Mike Trout: Wait, no, no, that's not what I meant. I just want him fired.

Arte Moreno: /presses intercom button

Arte Moreno: Helen, do not have Mike Scioscia killed.

That hasn't happened. Yet. But if Mike Trout had serious problems with Scioscia, the organization wouldn't trade Trout. Most likely, the two would just have to hate each other in a professional way. But if the two really, really, really couldn't make it work, there's no doubt which way the Angels would go.

Note: This is all hypothetical. The two probably exchange texts with emoticons during the offseason. But they were the first player/manager combo to come to mind, for obvious reasons.

Manager vs. general manager

Now it gets interesting. Because there's a school of sabermetric thought that suggests a manager's decisions might not be worth more than a handful of wins or losses every year. But the GM builds the danged team. So it makes sense to side with a competent GM.

But what about a legacy manager? A guy who is wholly associated with the franchise? Think Tommy Lasorda with the Dodgers, Joe Torre with the Yankees, or Bruce Bochy with the Padres.

That last one actually came up. Kevin Towers and Bruce Bochy had disagreements about how to run a baseball team, and the Padres sided with Towers. There's no great way to evaluate that decision, either. Towers was fired after the 2009 season, but would the team have improved drastically if there were a new GM in place before the 2007 season? And isn't Bud Black doing an okay job, considering? Maybe Bochy needed a change of scenery, too. It's not like he was automatically going to win his championships with whatever team he was skippering.

So there's no hard-and-fast rule when it comes to managers vs. GMs. If the GM is solid, it makes intuitive sense that he makes more of a difference to a team's success than a field manager. But when a manager is an institution, a middling GM might be replaceable, for sure.

With Scioscia and Dipoto, those lines are a little fuzzy. Is Scoscia already an institution? After 14 years, six playoff appearances, and a championship, probably. But how much do you penalize Dipoto for the bad free-agent signings and debacles like the Vernon Wells trade? To hear others talk about it, those are all on Moreno. If Dipoto is really sabermetrically inclined (with the experience of a former player, even), wouldn't that make him a valuable asset?

Of course, if Dipoto is second-in-command to Moreno, it probably wouldn't help that much to have the ghost of Branch Rickey making decisions. There are only 25 spots on a roster, and if four or five of them are there because of the owner only …

Plus, there's the possibility that Scioscia is an unusually productive field general beyond what he adds to the clubhouse. Usually it's good to side with the GM. But in this case, even if Scioscia's old-school ways aren't necessarily in vogue, I'm not so sure.

Owner vs. anyone

Owners are the worst, just the worst. Look at this noodle:

According to sources, Marlins owner Jeffrey Loria — a Martinez loyalist — vetoed (Chris) Valaika’s call-up from the minors when Placido Polanco was placed on the disabled list.

To recap: Tino Martinez was accused of being verbally and physically abusive. One of the accusers was Valaika, who is hitting quite well in Triple-A this season. Because Martinez was Loria's hand-picked golden boy, Valaika gets to hang out in Memphis instead of Washington D.C. this week.

I don't know anything other than the hearsay, and I still side with Valaika and Michael Hill*. Owners are the worst.

That's the hierarchy. It'll help you decide who to pull for in the future. With the current beef between Scioscia and Dipoto? It's hard to say because we just don't really know where Dipoto ends and Moreno meddling begins. All things being equal, I'd guess that Scioscia is less replaceable. When the offseason rolls around, the Angels will probably do the right thing. Probably. For once.

*You know Michael Hill, right? He's the 12th-longest tenured GM in baseball, after all. You probably just don't follow baseball that closely.

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