The Red Sox have had a lot of dirt to clean up the past two years and the team decided to make a bold move at the top. Dave Dombrowski was brought in as the new President of Baseball Operations. Dombrowski brings 37 years of baseball experience to the team. He has worked as the General Manager for three different teams including the Montreal Expos, Florida Marlins, and Detroit Tigers. He led the Marlins to the 1997 World Series championship and also brought the Tigers to two World Series appearances. Dombrowski spent the last 14 years with the Tigers and he has had multiple years of recent success. Given Dombrowski’s resume, it’s very clear that he’s the guy in charge of baseball decisions. This wasn’t always the case with Ben Cherington as Larry Lucchino and ownership always seemed to have a part in the baseball decisions. This move was needed and it will help clean up the core problem of the team which has been failure to make adjustments.
This post will focus on what we think Dombrowski’s priorities will be with the Red Sox roster. There are some major holes to fill. However, the team is not as in as bad of shape as it’s record shows. There is a young core of players that has taken a step forward this year who are signed with the team for many years to come. Also, the heart of the team, David Ortiz and Dustin Pedroia, are both still playing at a very high level although injuries are becoming more concerning for Pedroia, in particular. So, there is some hope, but still a lot of work to do here.
As we discussed in our recent post titled “Wait Till Next Year, Red Sox Fans”, this every day lineup does not need major tweaking. In fact, you could even argue that there’s a surplus. Here’s the link to that post if you missed it.
At the catcher position, the Red Sox have both Christian Vazquez and Blake Swihart returning. Swihart has played very well recently. It’s not common to have multiple options at this position which makes one of these players expendable. First base is still up in the air. Travis Shaw has the opportunity to prove that he can win the job. He’s hitting .369 with 6 home runs in just 65 at bats. If he can’t win the job, perhaps Allen Craig gets back in the mix next spring. Second base, shortstop, and third base are set. Many fans believe Pedroia will be on the block, but Dombrowski is not about trading elite players in their prime years. Sandoval will likely be back. He has underperformed, but at age 29 he still has an opportunity to improve next season if he gets in shape. He will never be a player who is worth what he makes. However, he can be a solid starting third baseman.
With the infield pretty much set aside from first base, here’s where it gets interesting. The Red Sox have a lot of talent in their outfield with even greater potential. Mookie Betts, Rusney Castillo, and Jackie Bradley, Jr. have all played very well defensively. This, of course, is aside from all three players forgetting how many outs there are at various points in the season. That play by Castillo on Wednesday was ugly! In addition to strong defense, they are all hitting very well recently. Of the three, Betts is the only one who has proven he’s an every day starting player so far. Bradley has shown what his true potential could be. He’s the best defensive outfielder in baseball already. If he can even hit .250, he’s a starting MLB player. If he can so anything close to what he’s done the past two weeks, he’ll be an All Star. Castillo seems to be coming into his own lately and has a solid all around game. How about three young center fielders for a starting outfield? This leads us to the change Dombrowski needs to make with the regular lineup.
Hanley Ramirez needs to go! He’s clearly not a left fielder. He doesn’t want to play first base. He’s not the DH as long as Ortiz is around and Big Papi is showing no signs of slowing down. So, what good is he? Dombrowski is known for making bold and creative moves. This is the first one that needs to be made. They shouldn’t expect much in return and it really doesn’t matter. This player is unproductive, lazy, and there is no spot for him on this team. Eat part of his salary and move him out.
In summary, there are some positives on offense. The opposite is true with the pitching. The Red Sox entered Thursday’s game giving up 591 runs for the season. This is the worst in the American League. The glaring need is for a #1 starter. They don’t have anything close to one. Just one day into the job, Dombrowski has made it clear that it’s a priority to get one. David Price could be the most likely option considering he already had that relationship with the Tigers. Johnny Cueto and Jordan Zimmerman are also options. If the team cannot sign one of these players, expect them to go after a pitcher in a trade.
There is also the real possibility that the Red Sox do both! Picture it. They sign Price. They could then move one of their catchers along with other prospects such as Henry Owens for a pitcher like Cole Hamels or Sonny Gray. It’s likely that Swihart or Vazquez gets moved and it makes sense. Perhaps, Brock Holt could be included?
Swihart, Holt, and Owens for Gray? How could Oakland turn that down?!
Imagine a rotation of Price, Gray, Buchholz, Rodriguez, Porcello/Miley without giving up a core player? It could happen, folks! By bringing in Dombrowski, the Red Sox made it clear that they are fully on board with making big moves. It’s what he does. The bullpen is also a priority, but it all starts with the rotation. They need to build it and they will.
Move Hanley. Sign one of the big name pitchers. Trade prospects for a #2 starter.
It sounds easier said than done. The Red Sox have the means to do all of this and, if they do, they will be right back to contending for championships again. This all started with the bold move of bringing in Dombrowski. The Sox sent a message that last place finishes are unacceptable. The reactive approach simply was not working. Dombrowski will fit right in here. Think of him as the Danny Ainge of baseball.
Expect big things in an interesting offseason…