Dave Dombrowski: Do the struggles of the Red Sox justify his firing?
In a surprising move that briefly took the attention off of Week 1 of the NFL, the Boston Red Sox decided to fire their president of baseball operations, Dave Dombrowski late Sunday evening. To most, the general reaction was a surprising one. After all, the Red Sox are reigning World Series champions. To others, this was to be expected after what has been a huge letdown season.
Dombrowski put together a roster that gave the Red Sox their best season as far as regular-season wins, and a season in which ended with them winning the World Series.
Then the offseason hits and Dombrowski has to use what little money he has left to find a closer after letting Craig Kimbrel go — and to resign Steve Pearce and Nathan Eovaldi, who were a huge part in their World Series victory.
The Red Sox never found a new closer, which has been a huge reason for a lot of their failures. That, and the fact that a lot of their players are still hungover from that World Series victory. Mostly their starting pitching. Chris Sale, David Price, and Rick Porcello have been bad. All three players make big-time money. If those three players played up to their capabilities, then this discussion probably wouldn’t be happening, and Dave Dombrowski would still have a job.
On the other side of this, Dave Dombrowski has depleted the Red Sox farm system. Their farm system is ranked 24th by most people’s rankings, with only one player in MLB’s top 100 prospect list.
The Red Sox more than likely fired Dombrowski before he did any more damage to the farm system, or before he handed out more big contracts that would handicap the team in the future. The Detroit Tigers know this all too well. They will be paying Miguel Cabrera $31 million until 2025, by when he will be 42 years old.
Dave Dombrowski seems to neglect bullpens a lot. That was a common theme in Detroit. They would have won the World Series at least twice if he had addressed the bullpen from time to time. Instead, he addressed other areas that didn’t necessarily need to be addressed. In this instance with the Red Sox, he ignored it and hoped that somehow it would solve itself.
Dombrowski’s excuse for not making any moves at the trade deadline was that they don’t need to make any improvements if everyone could play up to their standards. While that is true in some ways, it wasn’t true with the bullpen. It is possible that the owners of the Red Sox didn’t give him the green light to make any moves due to their farm system already being one of the worst in baseball due to Dombrowski’s moves.
Boston will have to try and decide what they do next. They’re still 9 games above .500 and fighting to stay alive in the Wild Card race, but do they retool this team and put them all back out there next year? Or is this a situation where you go into a full rebuild? They have no cap space, no good prospects, and a lot of aging players on bad contracts. Some of those players could have some worth if they turn it around next season and can maybe be moved at the trade deadline.
Star outfielder Mookie Betts is up for year 3 of arbitration but wants a new contract and says the Dombrowski firing does not change that at all. They could go to arbitration and get him for the year and trade him at the deadline as a rental, but it’s probably best to lock a player up like that long term. Either you move him in the future, or he becomes the centerpiece to build around if they do rebuild or retool.
The Red Sox firing Dave Dombrowski can be justified. Even though he won them a World Series just a season ago, he also made a lot of moves to handicap them for the foreseeable future. The defenders of Dombrowski are justified, too. He wasn’t given a chance to retool the team and see if they could bounce back. After all, this is mostly the same roster that won them a World Series last fall.
It will be interesting to see if someone hires Dombrowski or not. Boston hired him just a few weeks after Detroit fired him. There are plenty of desperate clubs that could use a GM of his stature — but you must know what you’re getting with him.
Dombrowski is a “win now” type of GM. If you are a team that knows a rebuild will be inevitable, Dombrowski is your guy to bring in. He will go after the best players available and go above and beyond to do so. That team better already have a solid bullpen, though.