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Dave Dombrowski is Perfect Leader to Pull Red Sox Out of Latest Mess

Jacob Shafer@@jacobshaferFeatured ColumnistAugust 19, 2015

USA Today

The Boston Red Sox needed a new leader. Dave Dombrowski needed a new job. Sometimes, these things work out.

At least the Red Sox, who are in the midst of a nightmare season, hope it'll work out. After they hired Dombrowski as their new president of baseball operations Tuesday, as reported by Fox Sports' Ken Rosenthal, Boston owner John Henry issued a statement dripping with good faith (via Bob Nightengale of USA Today):

[Red Sox chairman] Tom [Werner] and I have no doubts that Dave is the right person to strengthen our baseball operations group going forward. He is one of the most highly regarded executives in all of baseball and had options to go with other clubs. We feel very fortunate that he wanted to come to Boston and wanted to further his career—now with the Red Sox—as one of the great architects of winning baseball clubs.

Henry and Dombrowski worked together when Henry owned the then-Florida Marlins. The Fish won a Commissioner's Trophy in 1997, with Dombrowski at the helm as general manager.

Boston's GM, Ben Cherington, will step down but stay on to help with the transition, per Alex Speier of the Boston Globe.

Make no mistake, though: This is Dombrowski's team now. Boston is counting on him to erase the memories of this lost, moribund season and get one of MLB's most storied franchises back on track.

Dombrowski drew up the blueprint for just that with his previous employer, the Detroit Tigers, who released him from his contract Aug. 4 after a nearly 14-year relationship.

Dombrowski worked under current Red Sox owner John Henry when Henry owned the then-Florida Marlins.
Dombrowski worked under current Red Sox owner John Henry when Henry owned the then-Florida Marlins.PETER COSGROVE/Associated Press/Associated Press/Associated Press/Associated Press

During his tenure as president and GM in the Motor City, Dombrowski steered the Tigers to seven winning seasons, four division titles and a pair of World Series appearances.

Now, he's tasked with tweaking a Boston team that entered 2015 with great expectations but is mired in last place in the AL East, clinging to David Ortiz's pursuit of 500 home runs as a lone bright spot.

Perhaps that's a bit too harsh. The Red Sox have an enviable nucleus of young talent—Mookie Betts, Xander Bogaerts and Blake Swihart—and some valuable veteran pieces.

Dombrowski's first and most essential order of business will be to upgrade a pitching staff that owns the American League's worst ERA—and potentially jettison some expensive, unneeded pieces.

Rosenthal put it bluntly: "Dombrowski's first task will be to undo some of the mess that Cherington created, whether it's dumping Hanley Ramirez and Pablo Sandoval, just one of them, maybe others."

Even if fans disagree and hold out hope for Hanley and Kung Fu Panda, it's clear the Red Sox need to do some serious wheeling and dealing to reshuffle a roster that has underwhelmed, to put it generously.

Trading Hanley Ramirez could be one of Dombrowski's first, most difficult tasks.
Trading Hanley Ramirez could be one of Dombrowski's first, most difficult tasks.Jae C. Hong/Associated Press

Dombrowski has engineered his share of blockbusters, including the deals that brought David Price to the Tigers at the 2014 trade deadline and shipped the ace left-hander off to Toronto for a bushel of prospects this July. So he can play both sides.

And he sounds eager to get started.

"One of the advantages of joining the club now is that I get the opportunity to get a head start on the important job of roster construction for 2016," he said (via Nightengale).

What, exactly, that will look like remains to be seen. But there's no question Dombrowski understands the importance and enormity of the job at hand.

These aren't the curse-stricken, Bambino-shamed losers of yesteryear, content to wait and see what happens. Boston and its fanbase demand results, and Dombrowski will be judged on results and results alone.

But the track record matters. This overhaul calls for a seasoned pro, a man who understands how to construct and sustain a winner.

There are no guarantees in baseball. And despite their longstanding relationship, Dombrowski and Henry could clash over statistical analysis, as Rosenthal noted:

This is Dombrowski's show now, a sea change from the Theo Epstein-Cherington succession that produced three World Series titles in 10 years. Henry is a strong proponent of analytics; Dombrowski historically leans more toward scouting. His replacement with the Tigers, longtime assistant Al Avila, said upon taking over that the team needs to "catch up with the industry" in its use of data.

But for a man who needed a job, Dombrowski just landed a pretty sweet one.

And as they struggle back toward relevance, the Boston Red Sox just landed a proven, promising new leader.

All statistics and standings current as of Aug. 18 and courtesy of MLB.com unless otherwise noted.

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