When the Orioles were in the middle of the GM search that eventually led to the hiring of Dan Duquette, one ESPN writer famously proclaimed that no one with an ounce of self-respect would take the Orioles GM job. Keith Law made this comment after three different people interviewed with the Orioles, thought about it, and said no, thanks. One of those three people was the man believed to be the O's favored candidate, then-Diamondbacks executive Jerry DiPoto, who ended up taking the vacant GM position with the Angels.
Though things have worked out fine for the Orioles after all, there is a reason these promising candidates were fleeing and why the O's eventually ended up going with a guy who had been out of the game for a decade. DiPoto, at least, settled in as GM with a team that was, in late 2011, in a better place as an organization. The Angels fielded an 86-76 team in 2011 and were and are a large-market team that can and does carry a huge payroll.
When even someone like Toronto assistant Tony LaCava, who was reportedly offered the job after the interview process, did not want the job, that really said something. Here was a clear promotion for a guy toiling in obscurity. There are 30 GM jobs in baseball. They probably pay better than whatever he gets as an assistant in Toronto. More responsibility. All of that. He could have had it if he wanted to. He seems to have figured he would just take the next GM job to come along.
So why did all of these people with solid resumes tell the Orioles to take a hike? As a general rule, you don't burn bridges on the record if you want to keep good will within the game of baseball, so no one was exactly giving open interviews explaining why they chose how they did. However, there was not a shortage of people willing to gleefully pile on the franchise, with ESPN's Buster Olney reporting that "highly regarded assistant GMs" were telling friends they wouldn't even consider the Orioles job if they were called.
There was also enough innuendo, particularly after LaCava interviewed and declined the job, that seemed to suggest that a big sticking point was that the future GM would have to accept that manager Buck Showalter was not going anywhere. That seems like a reasonable assumption looking back, as Showalter has been the constant. I don't imagine that LaCava was hung up on whether or not he would have the ability to fire trainer Richie Bancells.
If indeed the hangup was the inevitable presence of Showalter, one can see how that would have resulted in Law's firebrand declaration that no one with an ounce of self-respect would take the job. It is - or at least, it was - kind of an accepted idea that the GM should have free reign in choosing the personnel who would be working for him.
Nearly four years later, LaCava is still an assistant GM in Toronto. That next GM job never seems to have come along after all. Duquette has been so wildly successful here in Baltimore that the Blue Jays ownership tried hard to poach him last offseason in a move that would have effectively made Duquette the boss of LaCava's boss. Life comes at you fast.
As for DiPoto, he finds himself in the middle of a power struggle in the Angels organization, with multiple reporters, including Fox Sports' Ken Rosenthal, reporting that DiPoto dramatically packed up his office and left on Tuesday night, apparently after appealing directly to Angels owner Arte Moreno in a power struggle regarding Angels manager Mike Scioscia and losing.
The root of the dispute, according to Rosenthal, is one that has spanned DiPoto's entire tenure in the Angels organization. DiPoto's conflict stems from the belief that the coaching staff is effectively stuck in a last-century baseball mindset, ignoring data provided to them by the front office while other teams, including the Astros, who lead the Angels' division, thrive in the modern game by making heavy use of that kind of data.
Scioscia has been the Angels manager since the 2000 season and helmed the 2002 World Series champions.
If DiPoto shied away from Baltimore because he felt like he wouldn't have full control over his manager, it does not seem like his ultimate choice of organization was wise. The power struggle is still unfolding as of this writing, but the present appearance seems to be that DiPoto has resigned in a huff with Moreno desperately trying to talk him into staying on after all. Even that might just be for the sake of appearances; a team's GM quitting on July 1 is about as big of a sign of a clown show as you're going to get.
UPDATE: As of about 3pm, DiPoto has made it official that he has resigned.
I wonder how many nights, if any, DiPoto has spent wishing that he had decided to work with Showalter after all. We can't know the answer to that, but I think it's safe to say that Orioles owner Peter Angelos probably hasn't spent many nights lamenting the fact that Jerry DiPoto chose not to come work for the O's franchise. Things in Baltimore have gone just fine without him.