New Mariners hires ratchet up division rivalries
Dipoto, Servais each come to Seattle with past connections to AL West teams
SEATTLE -- Rangers president and general manager Jon Daniels is watching with interest what's going on in Seattle this offseason.
Daniels is well acquainted with new Mariners GM Jerry Dipoto, having competed with him in the American League West the past four years, and knows well what new manager Scott Servais brings to the table after Servais helped turn around the Rangers' farm system as director of player development from 2006-11 before going to work alongside Dipoto with the Angels.
"Scotty is a grinder," Daniels told MLB.com. "He's passionate about what he does and the people he works with. He's very particular about the style of game his group plays -- the tempo, the attention to detail, the preparation. I would expect the Mariners to be a more disciplined team. With he and Jerry there, the division got tougher this month."
Certainly the AL West is ratcheting up some interesting rivalries. Servais will make his managerial debut against the Rangers team he helped develop when the Mariners open next season on the road in Arlington on April 4. And Dipoto, Servais and new bench coach Tim Bogar all are eagerly awaiting the head-to-head competition with their former Angels squad.
Dipoto left the Angels midseason after three-and-a-half years of give and take with long-time Angels manager Mike Scioscia. Rest assured, that rivalry will be well-chronicled as it plays out, particularly this next season when the two squads clash 19 times in the aftermath of Dipoto's departure.
"I'm obviously very competitive," Dipoto said. "I care a lot about those players in their clubhouse and a lot of people that make up that team. I spent four years of blood, sweat and tears helping put it together. And now, like they will with me on this side, I would like to go beat them. That makes them one of 29 others that I'd like to go beat."
Dipoto still remembers some words of wisdom in that regard from Kirk Gibson, who was managing the D-backs when Dipoto took over as their interim GM in 2010.
"We were going in to play the Mets and the Mets were my childhood team. I rooted for them growing up," said Dipoto, a New Jersey native who also pitched two seasons for the Mets during his career. "We were flying in and it was my first time as a general manager visiting Citi Field, which was brand new. I said to Gibby, 'This one will be special. I would very much look forward to beating these guys.' And he said, 'Oh, it'll be special. And just so you know, I want to beat them all.'
"So that's my answer to that question. As much as I care about the people with the Angels, I would like to beat them, as I'm sure they would like to beat me."
Servais has even more AL West ties. He played six of his 11 Major League seasons as a catcher for the Astros and had been in the Rangers and Angels organizations the past 10 years. And Bogar? He not only spent last year as one of Dipoto's assistant GMs with the Angels, he was bench coach and interim manager with the Rangers in 2014.
Servais doesn't hide from the fact that managing in the same division against the two teams where he was recently in charge of player development raises the intrigue level.
"It'll be very interesting," he said. "I know those players very well. When I went from Texas to the Angels, it was the same type of thing. Elvis Andrus, I was there when we acquired Elvis at age 19. Mitch Moreland is one of my favorite players, make-up wise, of all time. They're there. And they're there obviously with the Angels as well.
"The Angels have that center fielder [Mike Trout] that is running around out there. He's a really good player. I have a relationship with some of those guys. But it's baseball. It happens. Guys move spots or whatever. I am very competitive and I am really sincere when I say when we put some things together here, playoff baseball will be back in the Northwest. I feel very strongly about that."