The Boston Red Sox currently sit at 31-25 which is two games behind the New York Yankees for first place in the AL East. The Red Sox are on pace to win 90 games. Yet, there’s still a feeling of underachieving within Red Sox Nation. The Red Sox were the clear-cut favorites to win the AL East and up until about two weeks ago, they were a .500 baseball team. Coming off of a division title, the expectations are high and the roster is stacked with talent. The man in charge of it all, Dave Dombrowski, has begun to receive a lot of heat regarding his moves with the Red Sox and deservedly so. Many of the trades and signings Dombrowski has made have not made a tremendous impact.
We’re actually at a point with Dombrowski where an important question needs to be asked. Were the Red Sox better off keeping Ben Cherington over Dombrowski? When the Red Sox moved on from Cherington late in 2015, the team was in last place for the second straight year. The Pablo Sandoval, Hanley Ramirez, and Rick Porcello long term signings were all failing. The Red Sox needed to make a splash and it was at the expense of Cherington despite his ability to continue to build what Theo Epstein started with solid prospects in the minor leagues. Dombrowski’s job at the time was to win right away. They did and it’s no coincidence that it was Cherington’s guys, Porcello and Hanley, leading the way.
Granted, the Red Sox have been a contending team since Dombrowski has arrived. However, the core of the team was already in tact. Dombrowski had nothing to do with any of these core players: Mookie Betts, Dustin Pedroia, Xander Bogaerts, David Ortiz, Hanley Ramirez, Jackie Bradley Jr., Andrew Benintendi, Christian Vazquez, and Porcello.
Where he has made an impact is with the following three superstar pitchers: David Price, Craig Kimbrel, and Chris Sale. Give Dombrowski some credit for bringing these three players in. However, the reality is that Price was simply a money dump. This had a lot more to do with Red Sox ownership emptying their pockets than Dombrowski working magic. Plus, this move hasn’t worked out so far.
The Kimbrel trade is a win. Yes, Manuel Margot could be a very good player. However, this guy is the real deal. It’s pretty amazing that the Red Sox have had three different closers be the #1 closer in baseball in the last ten years in Jonathan Papelbon, Koji Uehara, and Kimbrel. Kimbrel has 1.07 ERA with 48 strikeouts in 25.1 innings pitched. His WHIP is 0.474 which is completely unheard of.
Then there’s Chris Sale. Sale won again today giving him his seventh win which is second in the American League. He leads the league in strikeouts and innings pitched. One could make the argument that he’s the best starting pitcher in the American League. Granted, no one knows that Yoan Moncada will end up looking like as a full time player, but this trade was a no brainer and it’s already paying off. Sale is a legit #1 stud.
So, these three players certainly are having an impact. However, Dombrowski was dealt with the pretty good hand from what Epstein and Cherington left him and he simply cashed in his chips.
What normally defines a baseball executives is the smaller moves that round out the roster. Here’s a list of impact players Dombrowski has brought in besides Price, Kimbrel, and Sale the past two seasons.
Smith and Thornburg have given the Red Sox ZERO. What’s even more troubling is that the Red Sox handed Travis Shaw over to the Brewers. Shaw, a 27 year old third baseman making $544,000 this season, has posted the following numbers heading into Sunday: .296 batting average, 10 home runs, and 40 RBI. What value! This was the biggest swing and miss by Dombrowski considering the black hole the Red Sox have at third base.
Then there’s Drew Pomeranz. Yawn…
With all of the young talent in the minor leagues that has been traded, the only impactful players the Red Sox have landed for these players are Kimbrel and Sale. The rest of the moves have been busts.
The jury is still out on Dombrowski, but so far his impact has not been as great as it was expected to be. The Red Sox have a roster loaded with talent that also has some huge holes. It’s his job to fill them. In addition, there has to be questions about what’s left of the Red Sox minor league talent. A system that was littered with talent is now getting very thin and for what?
The MLB Trade Deadline is less than two months away and the Red Sox are running out of bullets.