After a third disastrous season in four years, the Red Sox dispensed with faltering General Manager Ben Cherington on Tuesday night. More significantly, with their organization set to miss the postseason for the fifth time in six years, ownership called time on the very philosophy that underscored his position. Now, the Theo Epstein bloodline of Ivy League intellect has been severed, with Dave Dombrowski, a baseball traditionalist, seizing power on Yawkey Way.
The 59-year old will lead the Boston Red Sox into a brave new world and a distinctly different era. As President of Baseball Operations, Dombrowski will have full autonomy at Fenway Park, which represents a seismic shift in approach for an organization long infatuated with advanced analytics. Dombrowski, the architect of revivals in Montreal, Miami and Detroit, is a staunch believer in scouting and veteran Major League talent rather than statistics and minor league prospects, an approach that has been totally anathema to the Red Sox’ since John Henry and Tom Werner bought the team in 2002.
Indeed, Werner acknowledged a conscious change of ethos in Boston via a statement announcing Dombrowski’s arrival. “Although we had achieved tremendous success over the last 14 years, we had reached a clear internal consensus that we needed to enhance our baseball operation,” said the Red Sox chairman. “In nearly four decades in the game, Dave is a proven winner, and he can restore winning ways to Yawkey Ways and help to fulfill the Red Sox goal, every year, to be playing meaningful games into October.”
Notice the past tense when talking about prior successes. Notice the determination to move on, into a different epoch of New England baseball. The lovable Idiots have gone; Theo’s darlings have passed; Larry’s plaything is no more. Now, a new chapter has been opened, with Dave Dombrowski holding the pen. Ownership may finally take a step back, allowing Sam Kennedy to generate revenue which will then be passed on to Dombrowski, who has unlimited power to craft the next great Red Sox juggernaut.
One thing is certain: his team will be cast in an entirely different style to anything we’ve seen this century in Boston. Whereas Epstein and Cherington were long-sighted idealists content to build for tomorrow, Dombrowski is an aggressive builder who yearns to win today.
In every way, he’s an executive of big market instincts, who believes in prime-age superstars rather than homegrown neophytes. An expert trader, Dombrowski typically uses prospects as currency, as demonstrated by his deals for elite players such as Miguel Cabrera, David Price, Max Scherzer, Gary Sheffield and Mike Piazza.
Accordingly, Boston must resemble a dream scenario for the new President; the Red Sox possessing one of the best farm systems in the game, and hoarding a cornucopia of promising young talent. He will undoubtedly make trades, and plenty of them, which should excite Red Sox fans, who’ve been waiting way too long for certain prospects to figure things out. If nothing else, Dombrowski will restore the Red Sox’ credo of ambitious thinking.
One of his first tasks will likely be hiring a new GM to further solidify the Fenway think tank. Longtime executive Frank Wren is a name already being mentioned in industry circles, while former Diamondbacks and Angels GM Jerry Dipoto, currently advising the Red Sox on baseball decisions, would also be an intriguing candidate.
Dombrowski may also look to hire a new manager, though respect is due to incumbent John Farrell, who is currently battling lymphoma which makes baseball seem somewhat irrelevant. Nonetheless, it’s worth noting that Dombrowski recently hired Brad Ausmus in Detroit, so a guy like Jason Varitek may be appealing for the Red Sox, though that’s just excited speculation on my part.
Whatever Dave Dombrowski chooses to do in the coming weeks, months and years, the Boston Red Sox are now his team. He has the keys to one of baseball’s preeminent powerhouses, and the responsibility to finally restore pride to Red Sox Nation.