Can Dave Dombrowski make the Red Sox great again?
By Rick McNair
The true measure of a baseball operations executive is formulating a reconstruction plan when all falls apart. The Boston Red Sox are in such a situation and Dave Dombrowski owns it.
An expression that has been handed down for centuries is “A craftsman is only as good as his tools.” I am sure that applies to the construction of an ancient Mesopotamian ziggurat or even a baseball team such as the Boston Red Sox. The craftsman is manager Alex Cora and his tools are supplied by the baseball hierarchy with the president of baseball operations Dave Dombrowski is a version of Stanley tools of baseball flesh.
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A craftsman most certainly must have skills to maximize the tools given and based on 2018 I would apply the term “Master” in front of Cora’s craftsman title. While other managers were engaged in checkers Cora was Boris Spassky playing chess. Did Cora degrade so much in a single season?
Last season the Red Sox were wavering at the July trading deadline regarding bullpen additions that many – including myself – deemed necessary. Dombrowski held serve and did not go on a shopping spree much to the dismay of media and a healthy part of Red Sox Nation. The final result is a banner signifying another World Series title. Dombrowski doubled-down in 2019.
The loss of Craig Kimbrel and Joe Kelly put a dent in the bullpen with the main concern being a closer with some ability to not make fans carry a portable defibrillator. So far that gambit has been as successful as an Elizabeth Taylor marriage. But closer is one issue and getting there is another issue and that has been a disaster.
The Red Sox bullpen (choose an appropriate negative) is a wreck. There is not one arm that instills any sudden surge of locking up a victory. Each has shown a remarkable ability to take one step forward and promptly one step backward. Nothing has been more consistent than inconsistency. I am sure Cora has a worn collection of worry beads each time he trudges to the mound. For the master craftsman his most important tools are suddenly rusty and damaged.
Dombrowski owns this mess. Dombrowski gambled – no doubt inspired by reams of metrics that to stay the course would be the most successful strategy and save a boatload of money.
The salvage will begin this month or in the offseason and it will be expensive. This will be a baseball Three Mile Island cleanup. Free agents will not come cheap unless the Red Sox are looking for the Colten Brewer’s of the baseball world. And trades? The Red Sox will overpay as other GM’s consider their communities all Louis Vuitton’s and not cheap ripoff renditions they most likely will be.
As Oliver would say: “Well, here’s another nice mess you’ve gotten me into” and that applies to the current status of the Red Sox bullpen. It also may apply to other areas of the team where decisions will have to be made such as Mookie Betts being shuffled off. What direction this team will go in will be known in the next few weeks – go for the Wild Card or a retune?
Dombrowski’s measure in Red Sox history will be determined on how he approaches making a great team (2018) that has become a good team to great again. If Dombrowski fails then 2018 will be viewed as an anomaly.