Dave Dombrowski Has Done All He Can

What more can Dave Dombrowski do to help the Red Sox win in 2016? Not a whole lot. From surprising trades to aggressive promotions, the President of Baseball Operations has worked tirelessly to spark a renaissance of Boston baseball. Now, the trade deadline has passed and the dog days of summer are upon us. It’s time for John Farrell to pilot the plane Dombrowski has built. It’s time to win.

The Dave Dombrowski Project

The overhaul began last winter. Craig Kimbrel arrived in a blockbuster trade. David Price signed a humongous contract. Pablo Sandoval was relegated from the long term plan. In stunning style, the Red Sox transitioned from planning for a brighter tomorrow to fighting for a happier today. Dombrowski executed a shift in philosophy, and a new blueprint was implemented.

Dave Dombrowski

Through spring training, the Red Sox continued to do things differently. Dave continued to press as many buttons as he could reach, hoping to avoid another fruitless October. Travis Shaw became the everyday third baseman. Hanley Ramirez moved to first. A sense of urgency was injected into the Red Sox’ play. They knew the time for excuses had passed.

Time to Deliver

Yet, as the season has wore on, this team has been quite a conundrum. On the one hand, loitering in a three-team race for the division crown is deeply satisfying. It’s all many fans hoped for after three last-place finishes in five years. Yet, deep down, there’s also a nagging sense of underachievement. Red Sox fans see how good this team is on paper, and they think it should be doing better on the field.

Dave Dombrowski likely agrees. At the trade deadline, he made a flurry of moves to affirm that suspicion. Drew Pomeranz arrived to bolster a maligned rotation. Brad Ziegler came over from Arizona to solidify a streaky bullpen. Fernando Abad joined him a few weeks later, adding another veteran hurler to the staff. The Red Sox still haven’t performed to evolving expectations. They still haven’t surged ahead in a tense AL East.

As the calendar flipped to August, Dave Dombrowski played one final card. Andrew Benintendi was promoted to the Majors, skipping a whole level of minor league play to provide a Fenway spark. With that move, the front office went all in. More importantly, it sent a clear message to John Farrell and his coaching staff: we’ve done all we can, and you must now eke maximum value from this roster.

A Critical Stretch Run

The Red Sox are currently 61-50, good for third place. Toronto and Baltimore are tied for the division lead, just one and a half games ahead. Yet by first-order winning percentage –  which attempts to calculate how many wins a team should have based on its run differential – the Red Sox should be almost three wins better off than they currently are. That suggests Dave Dombrowski has done a really good job. It also suggests John Farrell is hurting this team more than he’s helping it.

I don’t want to criticize the guy overtly, because he doesn’t deserve that. A lot of the vitriol spewed about him is unwarranted. But if John Farrell cannot get this team performing to the back of its baseball card, trouble awaits. Dave Dombrowski has used every trick in the book. He’s made all the phone calls, traded a lot of chips and constructed one of the best rosters in a flawed American League. If the results don’t match the projections come October, somebody will be fired. And that somebody is likely John Farrell, who needs to get a better tune from his highly equipped orchestra.

Dave Dombrowski Has a Plan for the Team

Over the past few weeks, the Red Sox have made some major changes in the front office. Notable among those changes was letting go of now ex-GM/President of Baseball Operations Ben Cherington and bringing on former Tigers GM Dave Dombrowski as the new President of Baseball Operations, and it hasn’t taken very long for Dombrowski to make his mark.

Dave Dombrowski has made it clear that he believes the Red Sox are a win-now team,Dave Dombrowski and all the moves he will make are to ensure the Red Sox can contend in 2016. Notable among his early moves was his input in moving Hanley Ramirez from left field to 1st base, a move that was long overdue. That also opened the door for the Red Sox outfield of the future, which includes Rusney Castillo, Mookie Betts and Jackie Bradley Jr, to play together consistently for the first time.

The team also announced a move to have Mookie Betts and Rusney Castillo play the corner outfield position, which lets Jackie Bradley Jr. play his best position, center field. Mercifully, that also squeezes Hanley out of the outfield for the rest of the season, as I mentioned above, which was a long overdue move.

So far, this is all very positive for the team despite them not having a shot at the playoffs in 2015. This gives me hope that the Red Sox can get back in contention for 2016. Granted, they still have to get an ace and some bullpen help, but the team is setting itself up well for 2016 and beyond with these moves.

It’s also a relief to have someone running the show who wants to get back into contention as badly as the fans do. Most of Red Sox Nation is fed up with the losing after what will likely end up as 3 losing seasons in 4 year. I know I am, and I’m glad Dave Dombrowski is working to get the team back to what it was just a few years ago. I can’t wait.

The Red Sox are Still Searching for a New GM

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.

Red Sox

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.