Dave Dombrowski Named Head of Baseball Operations, Ben Cherington Out

Even though Red Sox owner John Henry stated in June that Ben Cherington would be the General Manager for years to come, the end is near for Cherington as the team announced they have hired Dave Dombrowski as the President of Baseball Operations.

Dombrowski has a history with Henry, having worked as the GM of the Florida Marlins from 1998-2001when Henry owned that club. Dombrowski’s experience is deep in dombrowskibaseball operations. He was hired by the Montreal Expos as Director of Player Development in 1987, and then took over as GM when he was 31 years old in 1988.

In 1991 he was hired by Henry and co-owner Wayne Huizenga to lead the Marlins, where he stayed for 10 years, including the World Series Championship in 1997. After Florida, his next stop was in Detroit, where Tigers owner Mike Ilitch brought him in as President and Chief Executive Officer in 2002.  He also assumed the role of GM after a poor start that year.  Up until earlier this month, he was with the Tigers until being relieved of his duties.

Dombrowski’s record is solid. In Canada, he built up the Expos farm system during his term.  In Florida he was the architect of a championship team, and then in Detroit he built a team that went to the World Series in 2006 and 2012, losing both times. He is known to be very adept at scouting, and how to best utilize scouting departments, which is a different way than the heavy use of baseball statistics and computer programs named Carmine that have been used in recent years.

This move marks just another in a season of change and tumult.  President Larry Lucchino will be stepping down after this season.  Manager John Farrell has taken a leave to deal with his recent diagnosis of lymphoma. The team will finish in last place again for the second straight year and third time in four years.  Change had to come, and unfortunately for Cherington it is at his expense.

Cherington has been with the Sox since 1997. He followed Theo Epstein, who left for the Chicago Cubs after the Red Sox collapsed down the stretch in 2011. Epstein, a protégé of Lucchino’s, had served the Red Sox well with a logical approach to analytics, coupled with a deep respect for scouts, and Cherington followed that model.

Cherington was offered the chance to stay on as GM, but he declined, fully realizing that all decisions will come from Dombrowski. The handwriting may have been on the wall last week when the Sox  hired former Los Angeles Dodgers General Manager Jerry Dipoto as a consultant to help in player evaluation and offseason planning.

The Red Sox Need a Totally New Hierarchy

With Larry Lucchino stepping down as President and CEO of the Red Sox, attention has swiftly turned to the future, with many observers keen to outline their vision for resuscitating baseball in Boston. There has been no official indication of further changes to the faltering hierarchy, but Red Sox Nation is tired of losing, to the point where ownership has little choice but to act.

Ever since Theo Epstein left town, this franchise has lurched from fleeting success to Red Soxdemoralizing failure, with last place finishes becoming the trademark of a strained and uninspiring regime. As General Manager, Ben Cherington enjoyed one miraculous season, but otherwise has been amongst the most inefficient executives in baseball history; his payroll-to-win ratio ranking with the very worst of all-time. Meanwhile, Lucchino, his boss, seemingly got lost amid the enormity of his role, leading to general chaos on Yawkey Way.

Now, with the Red Sox once again commanding the American League basement, the time for genuine change, not a showcase moving of furniture, has arrived. And, in the modern baseball environment of increased specialization, that means separating the business department from the baseball operation, and replacing Lucchino with two, not one, executives.

That’s right: it’s time for the Red Sox to adopt the model used by Theo’s Chicago Cubs and Andrew Friedman’s Los Angeles Dodgers, where one guy oversees the business aspect of the franchise, and another looms as the President of Baseball Operations, responsible for setting the roster-construction philosophy and hiring the men needed to make it reality.

For too long, Lucchino was in charge of both strands of the juggernaut Red Sox, which led to him doing neither role sufficiently well. Thus, with Sam Kennedy already earmarked as his replacement on the commercial side, the opportunity is ripe for Boston to spawn a new front office role for a chief baseball executive.

However, for it to be successful, that incoming President of Baseball Operations must have full autonomy to set the organizational ethos and draft in his own General Manager, much like Epstein did in Chicago and Friedman did in Hollywood. Merely shoving a guy above Cherington wouldn’t work, because philosophical differences may once again arise within the chain of command.

Ideally, this omnipotent baseball executive would be a young visionary, in line with the industry’s prevalent theme. A few candidates immediately spring to mind, namely Jed Hoyer, Chris Antonetti, Neal Huntington and Jon Daniels. However, if Red Sox ownership would prefer a more experienced guy, people like Dave Dombrowski, Billy Beane, John Mozeliak and even Brian Sabean would be worth serious consideration.

In my rebuilding plan, once in place, this head of baseball ops would then hire his own General Manager, replacing Cherington, who is now in an untenable position in Boston.

Ultimately, whether John Henry and Tom Werner are this aggressive in repairing a wounded franchise remains to be seen. The names may not change so suddenly and severely, but, without doubt, the team’s core philosophy, and the hierarchy that enforces it, must be altered now, or risk further turmoil in the years ahead.

Larry Lucchino out as CEO

It’s official: according to the Boston Herald, Larry Lucchino will be out as president and CEO of the Red Sox after the 2015 season comes to a close, in what might be a sign of things to come.

Per the Boston Herald, Sam Kennedy, a Brookline native and current executive vice Larry Lucchinopresident and chief operating officer, will take over at the end of the season, although the transition has started to take effect. Sam Kennedy spoke to the Herald, saying that he is ready to embrace this opportunity and the responsibilities that come with it. He also thanked Larry Lucchino for mentoring him, and John Henry and Tom Werner for selecting him, according to the Herald.

It will be curious to see how this will affect this club, philosophy-wise, but there is no doubt that he left his mark. During his tenure, the Red Sox won 3 World Series titles, as well as posting the longest sellout streak in pro sports history. It also might be a sign of other major transitions coming, after the Red Sox are vastly under-performing for a second straight season.

As of right now, the Red Sox sit 11 games under .500, and 12 games behind the division leaders, the New York Yankees. And, unless something changes, that means they’ll finish last for a second straight year, so you have to wonder who else might be next. While the Herald reports that ownership wants to keep Larry Lucchino on in some executive capacity, it seems like this could be one step towards making changes after the season finishes.

This is just speculation, but I know I’m not alone in saying I’m pretty frustrated with the losing these past couple of season, and while Lucchino played his part in bringing a winning tradition back to Boston, I think the time was right for this to happen now, since the team is staring a possible second straight last place finish in the face at the moment, and the time is right to start thinking about some major changes. I could be wrong about this, but we’ll just have to see.

Can’t Fall In Love With Red Sox Veterans

Lucchino Red Sox Veterans

The 2014 season for the Boston Red Sox has been very disappointing to say the least. It all goes back to a statement that President and CEO Larry Lucchino made last offseason at the DVD premier of the 2013 World Series. He said, “You can’t fall in love with veterans,” meaning of players on your ball club. That is exactly what one of the biggest mistakes is that happened with this team.

You see, there was Mike Napoli who was a free agent coming off a great season, but had the hip concerns and was only on a one year contract. He led the team with the longest beard, and started the beard theme that carried the team all year in 2013. The time came to re-sign him and all in New England would have been mad if he didn’t come back, right? WRONG!!!

There happened to be a young power hitting future All-Star first baseman from Cuba named Jose Abreu, or “The Canon” as broadcaster Ken “The Hawk” Harrelson calls him. He wound up going to the Chicago White Sox for a six-year contract worth a total of 68 million dollars. That deal looks like a bargain as he is now a franchise player for the White Sox. He had defected last August and was declared a free agent in October. The White Sox had a tough decision to make too, as they would have to wave goodbye to full-time play of their franchise favorite, first baseman Paul Konerko.

There were rumors the Red Sox had looked into him, but they wound up bringing Napoli back. It isn’t clear if the Red Sox made him a serious offer, and it would have taken huge grapefruits for the Red Sox to sign an unproven player and let Napoli go. Imagine what Abreu’s .287 batting average, 28 homers and 71 RBIs would have brought to the Red Sox line-up? David Ortiz isn’t getting younger and Abreu would have been the bridge to the future.

It’s hard to look back now, but as Lucchino said, “Can’t fall in love with veterans.”