New York Mets: Jerry DiPoto

Mets morning briefing 2.23.12

February, 23, 2012
With Day 2 of pitchers and catchers on tap, eyes also will be on the U.S. District Courthouse in lower Manhattan late Thursday afternoon. In Judge Jed S. Rakoff's courtroom, oral arguments are scheduled to be heard on Fred Wilpon and family's motion to toss the $386 million lawsuit. There is also a motion by the trustee trying to recover funds for victims of Bernard Madoff's Ponzi scheme to award $83 million -- two years' profits -- even before the scheduled March 19 trial. In Port St. Lucie, Johan Santana throws his third bullpen session of spring training, with special rules that means he does not need to do drills with other pitchers.

I'll be doing a Mets chat at 2 p.m. Please join me here.

Thursday's news reports:

Terry Collins expressed disappointment shortstop Ruben Tejada did not report to camp early. Position players are not required to report until Saturday, although virtually all of the Mets have been seen at the complex already. Jason Bay, who is in Port St. Lucie, according to a team spokesman, as well as Scott Hairston and Ronny Cedeno also have not yet participated in voluntary workouts or otherwise been visible at the complex ahead of the official reporting date. Bay is expected today. Read more in Newsday, the Post, Star-Ledger and Daily News.

Ike Davis traveled to New York for more extensive testing after his camp physical turned up something that required investigation, a team spokesman said. Collins said Davis already has been cleared to resume working out Thursday in Port St. Lucie, and that the issue was unrelated to the ankle issue that sidelined the first baseman after May 10 last season. Read more in Newsday and the Times.

• Mets owners have commitments for seven of the 10 minority ownership shares they hope to sell for $20 million apiece, the Associated Press reports. Beyond billionaire Connecticut resident Steve Cohen, who also is a bidder for the majority stake of the Los Angeles Dodgers, it is unclear who is buying blocks. The New York Times previously stated four of the $20 million blocks will be purchased by SportsNet New York, of which the Wilpon family is majority owner. Writes the AP:

The sale of the limited partnership units will not take place until all 10 can close at the same time, a person familiar with the negotiations said Wednesday. The person spoke on condition of anonymity because talks were ongoing. New York owes $25 million to Major League Baseball, a loan whose repayment was extended from November until March, and $40 million to Bank of America. The team chose to sell limited partnerships following the collapse of a deal last summer with hedge fund manager David Einhorn.

Read more in Newsday and the Daily News.

• The Mets plan to watch free-agent left-hander Scott Kazmir throw on Friday, GM Sandy Alderson indicated. Buster Olney reports the Mets are one of six teams pursuing Kazmir.

• Mets hitters got a preview of the new Citi Field dimensions when they hit Wednesday on a back field in Port St. Lucie that has been reconfigured to the Flushing stadium's new dimensions. Read more in the Record, Times and Newsday.

• The Ottawa city council approved spending as much as $5.7 million on improvements to a stadium in order to relocate a Double-A Eastern League team to the city, The Ottawa Citizen reported. The paper reiterated its previous reporting that the Mets' Binghamton affiliate is expected to relocate. B-Mets officials have issued denials. Wrote Neco Cockburn:

No official statements were made before the council vote about the team expected to move to Ottawa, but minor-league sources have indicated it’s believed to be the Binghamton Mets, and that the new owners in Ottawa would be expected to pursue an affiliation agreement with the Toronto Blue Jays. A staff report says a 10-year lease arrangement has been proposed, with two five-year extension options.

Jason Isringhausen signed a minor league deal with the Los Angeles Angels. "Jason brings a great deal of experience," Angels GM Jerry Dipoto told Bill Plunkett in the Orange County Register. "He's a 300-career save guy with a fearless mentality. He's been around. He knows what it takes. We've talked all along about wanting to bring in guys who can make a difference for us on the mound and serve as a mentor in the bullpen situation for our young pitchers. Jason fits that bill -- and it doesn't hurt that he had seven saves, 19 holds and held right-handed hitters to a .498 OPS last year. ... He's coming off a year in which he pitched in 53 games for the Mets from the start of the season until September [when a herniated disc issue arose], and pitched well enough in critical parts of the game to save seven games and have those 19 holds. We're not expecting to get the 2004 version of Jason Isringhausen. What we are expecting is a guy who will come in here and compete for a job."

• New center fielder/leadoff hitter Andres Torres arrived in camp Wednesday. Watch video here. Read more in the Star-Ledger and Post.

Anthony Destefano in Newsday previews Thursday's Madoff-related court hearing involving trustee Irving Picard and the Wilpons. Writes Destefano:

The hearing before Manhattan federal District Judge Jed Rakoff is expected to last at least two hours as trustee Irving Picard and attorneys for the Mets try for the last time to persuade him to end the case in their favor and avoid a March 19 trial. Also on the agenda are challenges to each side's list of expert witnesses.

TRIVIA: Which Hawaiian-born player has appeared in the most games as a Met?

(Wednesday's answer: Coach Matt Galante was the last person in a Mets uniform to wear No. 8, in 2002. Galante currently is a scout for the Houston Astros.)

In-depth: Ex-Met now at D-Backs helm

July, 20, 2010

AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin
Former Mets reliever Jerry DiPoto (left), who grew up a Mets fan in Toms River, N.J., is now Diamondbacks interim GM. He's paired with Kirk Gibson, Arizona's interim manager.

The office of the interim general manager of the Arizona Diamondbacks is decorated with New York Mets memorabilia. Well, more precisely, Tom Seaver memorabilia.

Jerry DiPoto, who grew up in Toms River, N.J., and pitched as a reliever for the Mets in 1995 and ’96, grew up a fan of the organization. He even named a son Jonah Seaver DiPoto after the Hall of Fame pitcher.

DiPoto was named interim GM of the Diamondbacks this month, when Josh Byrnes was fired.

"I've actually developed a little relationship in the years since, particularly toward the tail end of my years with the Mets," DiPoto said, referring to Seaver. "He wrote a letter to my son essentially giving him permission to wear the number 41 should he ever get to the big leagues and play for the Mets. So that hangs over my son’s bed, although he probably isn’t aware of the significance of number 41. Now he almost 14 years old. It’s something if you asked him to name the first baseball player that came to his mind, he might not say me. He might say Tom Seaver, because it’s been drilled into his head."

DiPoto may have groomed himself for his current role during his days with the Mets. He annually organized the team’s fantasy football pool, and was a dominant force in it as a general manager for years.

“It was pretty large. We had a lot of fun to play in the Mets’ fantasy football league for years,” DiPoto said. “My cohort was Pete Harnisch -- one of my closest friends. We actually ran the league together for a number of years, even after we left.”

Al Bello/Getty Images
Jerry DiPoto throws a pitch during a Mets game at Dodger Stadium on June 5, 1995.

DiPoto, now 42, was a combined 11-8 with a 3.97 ERA and two saves in 115 relief appearances for the Mets over two seasons. He also pitched for the Cleveland Indians and Colorado Rockies during a major league career that spanned 1993-2000.

The year before joining the Mets, DiPoto had a cancerous thyroid gland removed during spring training. He had reappeared in the major leagues by June of that ’94 season. After retiring, “within two hours” he was working in the front office for the Rockies.

He recalled being a “high school foe” of Al Leiter. His extended family remains in New Jersey.

“A lot of things stood out about it,” DiPoto recalled about his Mets days. “I was born in New Jersey and grew up a Mets fan. So the two years I was able to play in New York were a lot of fun for me. It was a chance to realize a boyhood dream -- to play for your favorite boyhood club.

“They weren’t great years for the Mets. They were OK years in regard to performance. One I would consider having contributed a good deal. Another not so much. The one thing I will always remember is the thrill the first time I got to put the uniform on because it’s something I honestly dreamed of my whole life.”

His favorite players -- aside, of course, from Seaver?

Lee Mazzilli, Steve Henderson, Buddy Harrelson,” DiPoto said. “There was a crew of Mets players that kind of stuck together for a while in the period shortly after free agency began that I certainly had an affinity for, and I still do.”

Not that DiPoto will look to steer frontline pitcher Dan Haren to the Mets in a trade or anything like that. Instead, DiPoto is looking to team with interim manager Kirk Gibson to build a winner in Arizona and remain in their roles beyond this season.

“That was the growing-up phase,” DiPoto said about his Mets fandom. “Once you get into pro ball, your allegiance is where you work. Right now, we’re going to go through this not knowing how it goes for the next two weeks. But our efforts are going to be toward maintaining a positive environment, creating a culture here that I think we’ve been a little short on in recent years, and allowing Gibby to do his thing.”

DiPoto has no assurance his job will continue beyond the 2010 season.

“The way I’ve approached my career -- I’ve been in some capacity in professional baseball for 22 years -- every day is an audition,” he said. “Nobody ever promises you much for tomorrow. It all depends on what you do today. The way I accept this is the same way I accepted my playing career. You go out there and do the best job you can do, with the team coming first. And I think Gibby is wired the same way. And whatever happens, happens.”

As for the affinity for Seaver, DiPoto rattled off the articles on display in his Diamondbacks office.

“I’ve got a lot of Tom’s memorabilia,” he said. “An old jersey, pictures of him, things that he’s signed to me that are some of my most valued possessions.”

What about a bottle of wine from Seaver’s vineyard?

“No, unfortunately,” DiPoto said. “I may well do that on Aug. 1.”

Adam Rubin’s ‘In-depth’ look at the Mets will appear selected Tuesdays during the season



Daniel Murphy
.297 9 51 69
HRL. Duda 22
RBIL. Duda 66
RD. Murphy 69
OPSL. Duda .830
WB. Colon 11
ERAZ. Wheeler 3.49
SOZ. Wheeler 145