It was around this time last winter when Jerry Dipoto, who was in the midst of an aggressive rookie offseason as general manager of the Los Angeles Angels, impressed us by taking time from his busy schedule to write a legitimate and sincere response to a loyal fan’s trade suggestion.
Of course that was still during the honeymoon period of Dipoto's new job, so I'm sure most of the letters he received were on the positive and encouraging side, therefore making it easier to budget time for responses.
One disappointing year later, though, it wouldn't be surprising if the tone of the letters had changed after the Angels missed the playoffs, and one also couldn't blame Dipoto if he had a change in priorities and attitude as the pressure and urgency to get back on track in 2013 mounted.
But that hasn't been the case at all. Despite the fact that he's been just as busy this winter, having stunned the world again by signing Josh Hamilton, while also acquiring Tommy Hanson via trade from the Atlanta Braves and signing free agent pitchers Joe Blanton, Ryan Madson and Sean Burnett, Dipoto still has the time to make fans feel like their questions and concerns matter, and it's still pretty darn cool to see.
Here's the latest example of his willingness to keep the lines of communication open with his fanbase as shared by Cassie Fetto on Twitter.
JERRY DIPOTO RESPONDED TO MY LETTER AND GAVE ME AN AUTOGRAPH!!!!!!!! Totally fangirling right now!!!!!!! twitter.com/iBleedAngelRed…
— Cassie Fetto (@iBleedAngelRed) January 10, 2013
You'll notice Dipoto also included an autographed baseball card, but you might not be able to read what he said in response to Cassie's letter, which clearly focused on her desires to pursue a job in baseball, Dipoto's use of statistical analysis when formulating his roster and also Mike Trout's long-term future in an Angels uniform.
Here's the transcript to the best of my handwriting reading abilities.
Thanks for the nice letter. I encourage you to pursue your dreams and welcome you to the club of those who love the great game of baseball. I do have some similar beliefs to those of Billy Beane, though these are lessons and theories I’ve picked up from others as well. Should you continue in your quest to join the MLB family, a degree in statistics is a good place to start. The best advice can give you is to be as informed as possible, follow your passion and don’t be afraid to make mistakes (we all do!).
Keep cheering and don’t worry about Mike Trout… he’s not going anywhere for a long time.
And here's the actual letter, as tweeted by Fetto.
Once again, we have to take our hat off to Dipoto for coming through and making another fan's day with his kindness. Though it may not win him any extra credit with the diehard fans who crave victories on the field, it certainly endures him to us, and makes it much easier to root for his success.