Red Sox fan’s mea culpa on Dave Dombrowski


Time to take penance for underestimating Dave Dombrowski. Any absolution for my lack of patience?

There is a mental illness plague that has sprouted among the fans of the Boston Red Sox. This can be found in DSM-IV and you can ask your own therapist about it. Being a Red Sox fan makes one somewhat predisposed for therapy. The term is “Knee-Jerk Syndrome” and it will be rampant among those of us whose first project each morning is to skip financial disasters, terrorist actives, various global bloodshed and go directly to the sports section of the paper on any of their preferred (hopefully BSI) baseball sites. In a nut (pun intended) shell is the term represents an immediate emotional response without doing due diligence.

You could read a statement in a blog, a post or in the media that would have a view expressed with passion – passion is clearly an emotion invented for Red Sox fans and the management change by bringing in Dave Dombrowski as Director of Baseball Operations – a strange new moniker that is essentially the old General Manager position with a bit more pizzazz. There apparently was no middle ground on the change – a for or against.

Fans certainly waiver and I happen to be a fan and I waiver on how various transactions are viewed. Positions change as facts change and a classic example was last season with the signing of Pablo Sandoval. My first reaction was a quality third baseman for who we overpaid. No big deal – this is the freaking Boston Red Sox! That’s what we do. Then I saw him in camp and the facts changed as the fat (pun intended) changed. But, again, facts can certainly change as more information is available.

That is just one – and I’ll admit it – poor example. We all have them. That stunning deal that at first blush appears to be the one that seals an exit from last place. The free agent signing that will certainly level a rocking boat. A management change that will bring about a resuscitation in a positive direction from a front office wandering like one of the ten lost tribes of Israel.

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When Dave Dombrowski was hired my first knee jerk (often the use of the term “jerk” is often connected to comments on my articles) was this was a continuation of the famed “Good Old Boy Network.” I believe they even have a cable show stuffed somewhere between Storage Wars and the Kardashians.

This has its visages in my youth where various “Dough Faces” operated within the shelter of Fenway Park under the auspices of Tom Yawkey. The most significant qualify apparently was being a BFF of Yawkey. How else can one explain Pinky Higgins and Bucky Harris?

The condemnation of Dombrowski usual was implemented based on an innate inability to give but grudging credit to the current ownership. Again, I plead guilty. Dombrowski had not done a thing. Nothing. One day in office and not a single move. No trades! No selling off of players!

The stark reality is Dombrowski had a plan. This is not a yokel who fell off the baseball truck, but a seasoned veteran with an extensive resume that had a multitude of success sprinkled with the occasion failure. The first order of business was to build the team. Not the ones diligently working towards another last place finish, but his management team. Mike Hazen started it and it continued with more positions being added to the corporate register and some new and some familiar faces roaming around the camp grounds on Yawkey Way.

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DD appears to be the type of individual who simply does not mind having a decision questioned, but questioned, of course, in private. This is not O-Ren about to behead Boss Tanaka over an internal issue. The ownership has given Dombrowski a pile of money to do his job and a great pile of money to, well – do his job – as in spending money on talent.

With me a key ingredient as I advance in years is to allow patience in personal matters and especially in baseball. A player has a bad year and a long term deal – I can think of two – you have some patience. See if they respond before pulling the handle on the flush. Give kids time, which was one reason I was adamant about Xander Bogaerts and just about any first-year player. However, I soon became a contradiction since I did not extend that leap of patience to Dombrowski.

The moves that have been instrumented and Dombrowski is the maestro that has talent, money and a blessing from his superiors so the first order of business was to address the most dysfunctional segment of the team – the bullpen that statistically was in the Marianas Trench of metrics. Bringing in Craig Kimbrel set that in motion. Carson Smith followed and the bullpen suddenly had a “Brother Love” revival spirit.

A promise is a promise and the one that DD presented on a platter was the tastiest dish labeled “Ace.” He presented his cards before the hand was fully played, but realized market conditions and delivered. That one move reinvigorated the rotation.

The moves resembled the swiftness of Michael Corleone settling old scores, but without all the gore involved. Just baseball efficiency to discuss needs that were obviously prioritized with a plan in place and that is certainly a plan that will continue to evolve.

If (shutter) a few question marks go deep six the response will not be an “Oh, Well – you know what happens.” With money, oodles of farm talent and a supportive ownership and holes that spring up will be quickly plugged. Dombrowski is about as pro-active and organized as one can have in such a management position.

Next: Yoan Moncada looks almost ready now

My mea culpa is underestimating DD.