Red Sox GM Mike Hazen might be staying, but changes are still on the horizon


Some Red Sox fans were a little puzzled when the Red Sox announced that they were promoting assistant general manager Mike Hazen to general manager on Thursday. Many were under the assumption that the hiring of Dave Dombrowski as President of Baseball Operations signaled the end for the current regime in Boston, especially after Ben Cherington stepped down as general manager immediately after the announcement earlier this season. Why would Dombrowski want to keep around the staff that put Boston in such a difficult position that caused John Henry to hire him in the first place? When you take a step back and think about it though, it actually does make some sense.

There was speculation running rampant about what Dombrowski would do with the general manager position, but he chose to stick with a bright, deserving and hard-working baseball mind in Hazen. By keeping Hazen and some other current staff members around Yawkey Way, Dombrowski has kept some semblance of continuity and balance in the organization. Dombrowski hasn’t been with the Red Sox for very long, and he needs a go-to person who has deep, intimate knowledge of the inner-workings of this roster. I’m sure he has an opinion on the team in Boston and possibly even the squad in Pawtucket, but he doesn’t necessarily know about the newest, youngest prospects in the organization like Hazen does.

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Hiring a new GM would have meant that everything would have been changing, including a new managerial staff. I think that John Henry and Tom Werner truly believe that John Farrell and Torey Lovullo are the men for the job, and apparently Dombrowski believes that as well. Promoting Hazen pretty much ensures that Farrell and his staff will return after a rough two-year stretch.

When Dombrowski was hired, he was asked about Cherington in his introductory press conference. He said at the time that he wanted Cherington to stay with the team. Some thought that was professionalism and being “nice”, but now it looks as though there was some truth to that statement. It remains to be seen how long it will actually last, but clearly Dombrowski thinks there is a foundation in place to build off in Boston. He’s right — Xander Bogaert and Mookie Betts are young, athletic and exciting and are the future of the team. Cherington, Hazen et al got some things right.

However, beware Red Sox nation — changes are most definitely on the horizon. Dombrowski isn’t here to move Hanley Ramirez to first base, keep John Farrell in place, promote Mike Hazen to GM and sit back and watch. He’s going to make moves, and looking at his history with the Tigers, they’re going to be big moves. Xander, Mookie and David Ortiz — these are the only positional players that are guaranteed to be with the team at the start of 2016. You’ll notice that the beloved Dustin Pedroia did not make the cut. I think Dombrowski would be willing to move him for the right player in return. Eduardo Rodriguez and Joe Kelly are the only pitchers that I see that are guaranteed to be in the rotation — Kelly because of his price-tag and potential and Rodriguez because he’s a young stud.

Dombrowski made moves to get Miguel Cabrera, Max Scherzer and many other big named players during his stay in Detroit (check out Matt Pelc’s “5 best moves in Dave Dombrowski era” post as well as “5 worst…” on the Motor City Bengals site). He is not afraid to make trades and sign big-named players and doesn’t get too hung up on having to hold on to any one player.

Pete Abraham quoted Dombrowski in the Boston Globe, “It’s something that I really want changed. A lot of that change is taking [place] behind the scenes. We’re getting closer to announcing what those changes will be. Frank (Wren) is part of that change. We’re going to put more emphasis on people scouting the major leagues strictly . . . but also supplemented by another group of individuals that will be very strong in their [minor league] coverage.”

The hiring of Frank Wren as VP of Baseball Ops proves that, although he thinks the old regime has some value, he believes that changes need to happen and the team can be improved. It looks as though Hazen will report to Wren and Dombrowski, and will be in charge of more of the Minor League scouting and prospects, while the new guard will worry about Major League scouting, signings and trades.

The Ramirez and Pablo Sandoval signings showed a lack of foresight from the old regime and Dombrowski’s job is to make sure that doesn’t happen again. He clearly doesn’t want to blow the whole thing up, but change is the only way to right the ship. It’s going to be interesting to watch how this whole thing comes together — get ready, it’s just begun!

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