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Klentak draws praise from former boss Dipoto

New Phillies GM lauded for solid decision making, tough negotiating

PHILADELPHIA -- Jerry Dipoto knows Matt Klentak's strengths and weaknesses as well as anybody.

Dipoto hired Klentak as assistant general manager with the Angels before the 2012 season. They worked together through July, when Dipoto resigned as the Angels' GM. Dipoto, who is now the Mariners' GM, spoke on Tuesday at the General Managers Meetings in Boca Raton, Fla., about Klentak landing the Phillies' GM job.

"Matt is a what-you-see-is-what-you-get guy," Dipoto said. "He is a wonderfully nice guy. He's extremely intelligent. Good family guy. He knows the baseball rules inside and out. I think one thing you'll not see, he's a ferocious negotiator. He's very good in that milieu.

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"He has a good feel for players. I guess most importantly, Matt is a listener. He listens to the people around him. So what is being said, he will absorb. He'll do a great job."

Dipoto confirmed what others have said about Klentak before and since Phillies president Andy MacPhail hired the GM: Klentak is a well-balanced decision maker. He might not have a scouting and player development background, but Klentak listens and gets along well with those people.

"Matt was always a part of what we were discussing in scouting and player development," Klentak said. "So when we were laying out player plans for guys at the lowest levels in the Minor Leagues, he sees how that develops. He didn't spend much time out in the field, but his last two years, we did get him out and he started scouting and watching players. He would sit in the Draft room every year, go through the Draft and see how we stacked players up. Why we would choose this player here and that player there.

"He was probably our go-to guy in understanding how to best balance the Draft pool money, which is a more complex thing than maybe your average cross-checker was able to designate. Matt was pivotal, he was our spearhead, in salary arbitration. He was a go-to guy for me. We would split up contract negotiations almost 50-50. He would take this half and I would take the other."

Dipoto said Klentak Also was heavily involved in every free-agent contract the Angels signed from 2012-15.

"I don't know if I would have survived the four years without him," Dipoto said. "I would ask his opinion on anything. A lot of times, I would not do things because he would be anti that move. I'd bounce things off him. Our offices were very close to one another, so I'd just walk in with a baseball bat, start taking swings, and sometimes he'd tell me I was crazy and sometimes he'd tell me that was something he thought we should try. … I think Matt understands where the Phillies are in their progression right now, where they need to go, and he'll make good, balanced decisions that incorporate the people around him."

Todd Zolecki is a reporter for Read his Phillies blog The Zo Zone, follow him on Twitter and listen to his podcast.
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