With an exciting outfield forming and Hanley Ramirez moving to first base, the Red Sox are building steadily towards being competitive under a new regime in 2016. However, one urgent piece of the puzzle is yet to be resolved: the hiring of a new General Manager to execute the vision of Baseball President Dave Dombrowski.
Many people see this role as inconsequential. After all, Dombrowksi will have complete autonomy over baseball operations, meaning the next GM will have limited power at Fenway Park. Yet, while the new executive may not enjoy decision-making control, he or she will certainly have considerable influence in the process of rebooting the Red Sox. This model has worked well in Chicago and Los Angeles, with Theo Epstein greatly aided by the presence of another fertile baseball mind in Jed Hoyer, and Andrew Friedman of the Dodgers relying on Farhan Zaidi to help formulate a cogent philosophy for success. Accordingly, the new Red Sox GM may not have traditional levels of control, but the chosen candidate will still be a crucial linchpin in a large front office.
So, who exactly are the candidates? Well, almost immediately after Dombrowski stated his desire to hire a new General Manager in the wake of Ben Cherington’s exit, a few names were tossed about by the national media. Frank Wren, the former Braves GM and a Dombrowksi protege in Montreal and Florida, is generally considered a leading candidate, while Dan O’Dowd and Jim Hendry have also been rumored as possible fits.
However, Peter Gammons offered an interesting insight in his latest column, opining that current Assistant GM Mike Hazen is a “stronger candidate than some realize.” Hazen was Cherington’s chief lieutenant, and he also headed the Red Sox’ Player Development and Scouting department during the Theo Epstein administration, as the organization produced homegrown stars such as Jon Lester, Dustin Pedroia, Jacoby Ellsbury and Kevin Youkilis. Certainly, Hazen has all the credentials to one day be a Major League GM, so Dombrowski may view him as an existing conduit to a front office he is broadly comfortable with.
The Red Sox have already committed to interviewing minority candidates for the General Manager position, after bypassing that process in hiring Dombrowski. In this regard, Ken Williams of the Chicago White Sox may be a possibility, while former Expos and Mets GM Omar Minaya is a very intriguing candidate. The visionary behind exciting teams in Montreal and New York, Minaya is cut from the same mould as Dombrowski in terms of being an exceptional player evaluator, as judged by the Mets’ current youth movement he helped instigate. Right now, Minaya is working as a key cog within the Players Association, but the prospect of leading the Red Sox alongside Dombrowski would surely be tantalizing.
The franchise is working without a strict timetable in its search for a new GM. At present, Dombrowski is enjoying a crash course in the Boston Red Sox, getting familiar with how things work and earmarking areas for potential improvement and change. When the time comes, likely this month to enable a full winter of roster reconstruction, he will surely appoint the person he views as having the best possible skill set to solve the identified weaknesses. Until that moment arrives, all we can do is wait and watch with great anticipation, as a new era blooms in Fenway’s front office.