May 22, 2015

Former Italian / American Mets Pitcher Turned GM: Jerry DiPoto (1995-1996)

Gerald Peter Dipoto was born on May 24, 1968 in Jersey City, New Jersey.

The Dipoto Family lived in a Jersey City apartment next door to his grandparents before the briefly moving to Point Pleasant & then settling in Toms River, New Jersey. There he went to high school at Toms River High North. 

DiPoto then attended Virginia Commonwealth University, where he played baseball, getting drafted by the Cleveland Indians in the third round of the 1989 draft.

The big six foot two right hander was a pleasant rookie surprise for sixth place Cleveland in 1993, going 4-4 with 11 saves and posting a 2.40 ERA. In 1994 he struggled with injuries pitching in only seven games posting a 8.07 ERA. That November he was traded along with Paul Byrd, to the New York Mets for Jeromy Burnitz.

Dipoto debuted with the Mets on Opening Day 1995, in Colorado. He relieved Bobby Jones in the 5th inning, retiring the Rockies Dante Bichette in the Mets 11-9 loss. He had troubles early on, blowing a save against the St. Louis Cardinals on April 29th & then taking three losing decisions into June. The first came at home against Montreal with the other two happening on the West Coast road trip to L.A. & San Diego. 

Dipoto was used as a middle reliever with second place '95 Mets, making 58 appearances. July would be his best month as he went 3-1, earning wins on the road in Pittsburgh, Chicago & St. Louis. He ended the year at 4-6 with two saves & eight holds posting a 3.78 ERA.

On Opening Day 1996, Dipoto got the win in relief of Bobby Jones, as the Mets scored four runs in the bottom of the 7th inning beating the St. Louis Cardinals 7-6 at Shea Stadium.

He made 16 appearances in the next two month, blowing a save & taking a loss in Chicago on May5th. On June 21st, he started a personal six game win streak that brought him into September. In three of those games he allowed runs & still had an ERA over four at the time of his seventh win. 

On September 1st he blew a save against the San Francisco Giants & then blew a save opportunity on September 13th against the Atlanta Braves when Mark Lemke hit a fielders choice to score Jeff Blauser. He would get the win when Rey Ordonez & Lance Johnson drove in runs in the bottom of the 8th.

On the season Dipoto was 7-2 with three holds & three blown saves. He struck out 52 batters, walked 45 in 77 innings pitched & posted a 4.19 ERA in 57 games. Dipoto was one of only four pitchers on the fourth place '96 staff to have a winning record. His .778 win % was best on the entire team. 

While with the Mets, his home town in Toms River, won another Little League World Series. Dipoto remembers; "I came aboard in the late 70's after Tom's River won. Then, when I was with the Mets, they won again, and the Mets invited the team to Shea Stadium. I remember I dropped in front of the kids and said to them, 'You guys are my little league'. "I remember one of the kids looked at me, and said 'Where's Todd Hundley's locker?".

That November the Mets traded him to the Colorado Rockies for Armando Reynoso. Dipoto went on to be the Colorado Rockies closer for two seasons posting a 5-3 record with 16 saves in 1997 and then a 3-4 record with a career high 19 saves in 1998. That year he finished 51 games (8th best in the league).

In 1999 he lost his closer job to Dave Veres, who recorded 31 saves. Dipoto became the Rockies set up man, recording 15 holds posting a 4.26 ERA. He pitched with the Rockies through the 2000 season ending his eight year career.

Lifetime, Dipoto was 27-24 with 49 saves, 352 strikeouts 221 walks &  a 4.05 ERA in 495 innings pitched in 390 games.

Retirement: After his playing days, Jerry became a scout for the 2004 World Champion Boston Red Sox. He moved on to the Arizona Diamondbacks, becoming the Director of Scouting and Player Personnel under GM Josh Byrnes.

In 2010 he replaced Byrnes as the Arizona D-backs interim GM until Kevin Towers was named. A year later in October 2011, he got the job, as the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim, General Manager.

The Angels have finished third in the two full seasons with Dipoto as GM. In 2013 they fell below .500 for the first time in a decade. They rebounded in 2014 winning the AL West but losing the division series to the AL Champion Kansas City Royals.

No comments: