The Boston Red Sox haven’t performed well this season with many blaming Dave Dombrowski, but his methods aren’t a surprise to those that know his history.
In the wake of an absolutely silent trade deadline, many in Red Sox Nation are calling for Dave Dombrowski’s head. The vitriol that has been sent his way can be justified in many aspects and yet it isn’t a surprise. With a long career in Major League front offices, his methods have become a habit and are easy to spot from a distance.
Dombrowski is known for building strong clubs often at the expense of both the farm system and the bank balance. He also has a history of building successful teams with that methodology. But when those methods begin to fail it becomes glaring how crippling they can be. When Dealin’ Dave came to Boston there was a feeling of hope that Boston would be brought back to its winning ways.
Dombrowski would join the Red Sox in the summer of 2015 and it would only take them until 2018 to raise the Commissioner’s Trophy. Boston would also go on a stretch of winning the AL East that would boost morale among Red Sox Nation. As we continue to trudge through 2019 though it’s becoming more apparent that Dombrowski’s style of building teams may not also lead to success.
Throughout his career, there have been two big things that Dombrowski has done in order to build his squads: serve out big contracts and pillage the farm system. As we quickly approach the final stages of this season the Red Sox have been plagued with the ramifications of both.
During free agency, the club was too hesitant to spend more money due to the luxury tax penalty already looming. At the trade deadline, the farm system was too dry to have any offerings without destroying it. Not being able to do much business if any at all at either junction severely crippled the Red Sox from being able to repair their damaged bullpen.
Price and Sale have been rocks in the rotation but are both having a rough go of it in 2019. Bogaerts has more than earned his extension from this winter after years of service and he’s crushing it in 2019. Finally, Martinez finished fourth in the AL MVP race last year and is having another strong campaign this season.
Spending the money isn’t the issue it’s where the money is being spent that is hurting the team. Nathan Eovaldi was given a major contract (4-years/$68M) and has spent a majority of the season on the IL. World Series MVP Steve Pearce was also given a new contract (1-year/$6.25M) that has been wasted as he not only has lived on the IL but the little he’s played has been atrocious.
I think we could’ve re-signed both players with much friendlier contracts that would’ve allowed Boston to add more pieces that were needed to complete the roster. Pearce is 36 and Eovaldi has had two Tommy John surgeries, neither would’ve commanded major deals elsewhere. But Dealin’ Dave wanted to make sure he got his guys without a single worry.
This is the story of the career of Dave Dombrowski though and both the fans and Red Sox organization knew that when he was hired. Just look back to his time with the Tigers, they’re stilling paying the contract and extension that he gave to Miguel Cabrera. Granted Cabrera is a generational player but the money that he has gotten from Detroit is astronomical.
As far as the farm system is concerned we’ve seen that Dombrowski is willing to sacrifice the future to win in the present. He has on more than one occasion shipped out prospects for big-name players to bolster the lineup. It took sending four prospects to the Padres for Craig Kimbrel and another four to the White Sox for Sale.
To this day the Red Sox are still feeling the pain of having a weakened farm system with a lack of promotable pitching options and tradeable assets. Boston has the highest payroll in the entirety of the MLB but still has issues fixing their gaps. We’re seeing both the pro and con of the Dombrowski system as he has given us plenty of success since he arrived but we’re also finding out the cost of that success.
Anyone that knows Dombrowski’s history knows this is a side effect that can come with the way that he runs things. He’ll go in at all costs to get the “W” now with what can feel like reckless abandon for the future. And if you know any Tigers fans then they more than likely warned you about what was to come with Dealin’ Dave, I know I was.
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We all have access to Wikipedia. Spotrac, and a plethora of historical databases thanks to this insanity we call the internet. But when the winning started and things began to rebound I feel like we collectively ignored the destruction to watch the glory. Red Sox Nation and I included all knew what the cost would be with Dombrowski sitting in the Captain’s chair.
Dave only has a year left on his current contract with the Red Sox and I honestly don’t know what the Fenway Sports Group will do. Dombrowski has a history with Red Sox Principal Owner John Henry, so that may bode well for another term as President of Baseball Operations.
However, if this season winds up being the dumpster fire it feels like it may end up as Dave may be the odd man out in the equation. I don’t see them firing Dombrowski with just a year left on his deal but I can surely see them deciding to not give him an extension before the times runs out. I’m not sure who would replace him in the front office but whoever is successor is will have a lot of work to do.
We’ve been spoiled in recent times being fans of the Red Sox and a lot of that success as of late has to do with the work of Dave Dombrowski. Boston has all of the capabilities to get back to prominence whether it’s with Dave or without. We’re feeling the growing pains this season under his watch and honestly, we should’ve expected it with his history.