1. Jerry Dipoto, Seattle Mariners. The history of Mariners general managers is one that would make Stephen King proud: Definitely a horror story with lots of blood and guts. There was Dick Balderson, who drafted Ken Griffey Jr. and traded for Jay Buhner but was fired anyway. There was Woody Woodward, who held the job for 11 seasons and guided the team to its first playoff appearance but also traded Jason Varitek and Derek Lowe for a reliever with a 5.79 ERA. There was Bill Bavasi -- and let's not even go there. And then we had Jack Zduriencik, seven seasons at the helm and five of them ugly.
Now in comes Dipoto, who resigned earlier this season as Angels GM after his relationship with manager Mike Scioscia turned sour and Angels owner Arte Moreno sided with the manager. He takes over a franchise that has the longest playoff drought in the majors, has never reached the World Series, has a terrible farm system and a foursome of highly paid stars in Felix Hernandez, Nelson Cruz, Robinson Cano and Kyle Seager who were collectively good but not great in 2015. So, umm, good luck.
Dipoto has the experience that Mariners president Kevin Mather desired and a willingness to use the modern analytics that Zduriencik seemed incapable of applying or even understanding. In fact, it was Scioscia's refusal to use the data prepared by Dipoto and his staff that ultimately led to their split. So while Dipoto is a former major league pitcher and not another Ivy League whiz kid, he passes the sabermetric smell test.
It's hard to evaluate Dipoto's three-plus seasons as Angels GM. He inherited Mike Trout and a decent base of talent while Moreno was responsible for the high-priced signings of Albert Pujols and Josh Hamilton that didn't return a high rate of return. This article in the Orange County Register in July after his resignation gave him mostly passing grades for his moves, although that Joe Blanton signing sticks out.
As a Mariners fan, I'm cautiously optimistic. The club is in a tough position considering the win-now contracts of their core four, but the lack of depth across the rest of the big league roster and minor league system is a problem. Dipoto will have to balance the pressure to go for it in 2016 while trying to rebuild the farm system at the same time. It won't be easy.
Jerry DiPoto won't worry about the contracts in place. His philosophy is "I'd rather have money tied up in good players than mediocre ones."
— Peter Gammons (@pgammo) September 28, 2015
2. St. Louis Cardinals. Their magic number to clinch the NL Central is down to two after they scored three runs in the ninth to beat the Pirates 3-0. The story of the game: The Pirates stranded an incredible 16 runners without scoring.
On Monday night, Chris Denorfia hit the first pinch-hit, walk-off home run in extra innings of a 1-0 game in MLB history. (via @eliassports)
— ESPN Stats & Info (@ESPNStatsInfo) September 29, 2015
4. Los Angeles Angels. Six wins in a row -- five by one run -- after David Murphy's walk-off base hit beats the A's. The depleted Angels bullpen tossed 3⅔ scoreless innings. Meanwhile, the Astros beat the Mariners 3-2 behind home runs from George Springer, Evan Gattis and Chris Carter to remain a half-game up on the Angels for the wild card, but the Rangers lost, so their lead is 1.5 over the Astros and 2 over the Angels. Come on, three-way tie!
5. Kevin Pillar, Toronto Blue Jays. Another great catch. The Gold Glove vote in center field between Pillar, Kevin Kiermaier and Lorenzo Cain is going to be fascinating. The Jays rallied with three runs in the final two innings to beat the Orioles 4-3; combined with the Yankees' 5-1 loss to the Red Sox, Toronto's magic number is down to two.