We live in the now generation. No longer satisfied with just having nice things, we have evolved into chasing after them as soon as possible. Everything is instant these days – instant coffee, instant noodles, Instagram, all symptoms of the sickness of instant gratification. So widespread a problem it is, that I am surprised a one volume, one page book on instant gratification hasn’t been published. What do we want? Instant gratification! When do we want it? Now!
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Somebody oh-so-familiar with the concept is Boston Red Sox President of Baseball Operations Dave Dombrowski. Dombrowski’s tenure in Detroit with the Tigers was characterised by his thumb nigh-permanently pressed on the “win now” button, which manifests itself in an overall disregard for costs, be they financial or prospects, in order to build a team that scratches the World Series itch as soon as possible.
Not much is different in Boston, where a culture of winning was born in 2004 and fully embraced in 2007. The Red Sox waited 86 years for a World Series, but these days the fans can barely wait 86 games into a season before the pressure heats up. Detroit, it must be said, had at least the excuse that their owner Mike Illitch is becoming increasingly desperate to see success as his years add up further. For Boston, the win now attitude is because, well, Boston. It’s who we are, how we’ve become and to an extent it’s even more justified as the puzzle pieces are there, waiting for someone capable enough to put them together and form a World Series yet again.
So it probably comes as no surprise that, as the puzzle maker chosen to piece together the Red Sox this year, Dombrowski is wasting no time to make his mark. In an article entitled “Let the remodeling of the Red Sox begin”, the Boston Globe’s Peter Abraham states that Dombrowski is already making moves behind the scenes, and the annual GM meetings, starting today in Boca Raton, could be very active for Boston:
"“Dombrowski, they said, has been engaging in regular conversations regarding trades and is said to be eager to change the look of the Red Sox, particularly the pitching staff, after two consecutive last-place finishes.“I think people could be surprised,” one National League general manager said. “Dave has some definite ideas about what he wants to do. There has been a lot of activity already involving [the Red Sox]”"
Maybe this instant gratification thing isn’t so bad after all. Dombrowski, you see, is a pro, highly respected in the business and has a pretty solid history of making “winning” trades. In Boston he’s hit the motherload, a gold-plated farm system that would have any general manager in the country chomping at the bit. Put the two together and it’s not such a stretch to say we could be in for a sleep-depriving, stress-inducing, but undeniably enthralling offseason. Perhaps more so than in a very long time.
Dombrowski’s main maneuvers will be, as stated, to “change the look of the Red Sox, particularly the pitching staff”. That’s not to say he’s going to make them all grow mustaches, though that did seemingly have some success for Joe Kelly. Instead a radical overhaul is in order from the rotation to the bullpen and will require the use of all weapons at his disposal.
One of those weapons, free agency, has been discussed to death. But the other of trades is more unknown, more unseen. At various times, Boston has been linked to starters like Matt Harvey and relievers like Aroldis Chapman. Both are possible, but less likely. Where does that leave Dombrowski
Well, the Red Sox have many trade chips, which affords the luxury of keeping those they want and trimming the excess. A hitting heavy lineup of youngsters available bodes well for many teams who could provide Dombrowski what he’s looking for in return. Take the Cleveland Indians. Indians President of Baseball Ops, as reported by mlbtraderumors.com, has stated he would be willing to move a starter to improve elsewhere. Dombrowski might try his chances at acquiring Carlos Carrasco, a strikeout machine worth a stunning 4.8 WAR in 2015, in return for positional prospects and a Jackie Bradley Jr or the like.
On the other hand, perhaps even a better matchup could be found with the San Diego Padres. The Padres have capable starter Tyson Ross available and, more temptingly, top of the line reliever Craig Kimbrel. Kimbrel will almost certainly be targeted by the Red Sox, so why not try Ross as well? His 4.4 WAR in 2015 and 2 further years of control are more than reasonable. Also Boston could look at the Padres as a fertile dumping ground for Hanley Ramirez and/or Pablo Sandoval, either or both would be welcome additions in the San Diego lineup provided money was eaten from their contracts.
Or maybe Dombrowski won’t settle for anything less than the best – a Sonny Gray or Chris Sale type ace, who come with untouchable pedigrees and many years of cost-effective control. Both would be about as expensive as trades would come, but if there’s any team that could pull it off, it’s Boston. Perhaps if there’s any team that would pull it off, it’s Boston too.
Just how depressed is the win button beneath Dombrowski’s thumb? It’s hard to say, but it appears we won’t have to wait long to find out.