The Red Sox have created a surprising shake-up in their front office, as, according to Peter Gammons and Nick Cafardo, they have hired former Angels' general manager Jerry Dipoto on an interim basis. The goal is to have Dipoto help out with offseason moves, and the key word there is probably interim: Dipoto isn't likely to be in charge of, say, current general manager Ben Cherington if he has an interim tag attached to him, so you can stop that line of thought right now.
If the Sox were hiring Cherington's boss, then they would hire a president of baseball operations, or something equivalent to that, outright. The interim tag also could be there because it's possible still that Dipoto does get to become a general manager again somewhere in the league this offseason, so it's just the Sox bringing someone on board that they are familiar with -- Dipoto was a scout for the Sox in 2003 and 2004 before leaving for the Rockies in 2005 to become their scouting director -- for as long as they can. An old friend helping an old friend, in both directions.
Cafardo's sources seem to be in line with that reasoning, as he reported that Dipoto is expected to be in contention for the Mariners' GM job, should it open up, as well as for the Brewers', which as of Tuesday, is now available.
Dipoto is a good fit for the Red Sox front office for a couple of reasons. For one, he's probably not as amazing an executive as many thought he would be back when he took over the Diamondbacks as their interim GM and then the Angels as their full-time one, but he's also not as bad as his track record: much of that is because his track record is not entirely his own. Dipoto has had to work with constricted budgets (Arizona) and meddling owners (Arte Moreno in Los Angeles of Anaheim), and that has made some of his decisions for him. Working under John Henry, on both accounts, should not provide any of the same roadblocks.
Cherington is part of the solution, but needs help
On his own, Ben Cherington is capable of great successes and great failures alike. A guiding hand could help eliminate the worst of those failures.
Still, Dipoto is maybe not a guy you want running your franchise without anyone there to say no to him, which is why lining him up with Cherington within his front office is a good plan. Having Dipoto around to brainstorm and enact plans with Cherington makes all kinds of sense, especially for a front office that, in the last decade, has lost Josh Byrnes, Jed Hoyer, Theo Epstein, Jason McLeod, and more.
Dipoto and the Angels parted ways in early July, when Dipoto reportedly threw down an ultimatum of some kind at the feet of owner Arte Moreno, regarding longtime manager Mike Scioscia. Whether Dipoto thought this was the extent he needed to go to in order to get his manager to do what was expected of him or simply his way of getting himself out from an organization where the general manager had to answer to both his owner and his manager, it's difficult to say.
It's worth pointing out that hiring Dipoto is not a likely impediment to also bringing in someone like Dave Dombrowski, who recently split with the Tigers, to oversee the front office and baseball operations department. In fact, bringing Dipoto in to work under and Cherington and Dombrowski to work over him might be just the infusion of thought the Sox need.