August 20, 2015

Some Articles Re Hiring Of Dave Dombrowski As Red Sox's President Of Baseball Operations

Dave Dombrowski's Past Suggests A Bright Future In Store For Red Sox
Joon Lee, Over The Monster
On the surface, it's easy to understand why some people think Dave Dombrowski is not the right man for the Red Sox. He never won a World Series with the Tigers, he signed some big money contracts that haven't panned out, and he's often been cited on the opposite end of the Red Sox in terms of organizational philosophy, depending heavily on scouting and less on analytics. ...

Criticizing Dombrowski simply on the outlook of some of his more questionable moves ignores the context and setting in which such deals were conceived. To understand Dave Dombrowski, an overarching evaluation of his tenures with the Expos, Marlins, and Tigers is necessary. ...

But right now, Dombrowski's strengths — player evaluation in particular — is where the Red Sox front office have really needed help in recent years. The Red Sox' organizational depth is greater than any other team Dombrowski has inherited and during his previous three stops, he has proved time and time again that he can build the foundation of a perennially competitive baseball team. That reason alone made him the most qualified candidate to try to turn around the Red Sox.
Red Sox Hire Dave Dombrowski, Signal Change in Philosophy
Dave Cameron, Fangraphs
Given that the Red Sox have been among the most aggressive teams in terms of implementing analytics and using data to drive their decision making, this looks like a pretty monumental shift in organizational philosophy. Given that nearly every move Cherington and his staff made last winter has turned out as poorly as possible, it's not a huge shock that he's taking the fall for the team's second consecutive losing season, but it is a bit surprising to see the team apparently change course so aggressively. Dombrowski certainly has a strong track record of building contenders, but it looks like the Red Sox may be pivoting away from data and more towards scouting in response to their recent failures.
What Led To Downfall Of Red Sox GM?
Dave Cameron, Just A Bit Outside (Fox Sports)
To be fair to Cherington, the bets on Ramirez and Porcello were the same kinds of gambles he made prior to winning the 2013 World Series. The team won a championship with short-term contracts for players perceived as mid-level talents, stockpiling guys who were underrated by traditional metrics. Porcello and Ramirez cost more than Victorino and Dempster, but they followed from the same philosophy of using the team's resources to build a deep roster of good players rather than betting on a smaller group of highly compensated stars. Except Ramirez and Porcello haven't been good players this year, and when you compound that with Sandoval's disastrous season and the failures of Wade Miley, Justin Masterson and Joe Kelly in the rotation, it's hard to sustain belief that the process is sound in the face of so many bad results.

I'm generally of the opinion that the Red Sox general philosophy was sound enough ... But signing Ramirez to play the outfield, necessitating the trade of a similar-and-cheaper player who you knew could at least field his position, was likely an unnecessary risk.

And failing to have a backup plan available — not just in place, but even possible in case Ramirez as an outfielder didn't work — is on Cherington. Every GM has to take risks in this game, but this was too big of a risk to not have an out for. Apparently, in this case, the backup plan for the experiment not working was to find a new GM.
Sox's Move To Dombrowski The Right One, But Not Cause For Celebration
Ken Rosenthal, Just A Bit Outside (Fox Sports)
Not that this is the wrong move for the Red Sox — Dombrowski is one of the best GMs of this generation. But Sox officials signaled for weeks that Cherington was safe, even as the team stumbled toward its third last-place finish in four years. In fact, owner John Henry said in June that he expected Cherington to remain GM for "years to come." I know what Henry will say now: "Well, we offered Ben the chance to stay." Offered him the chance, with his legs cut off.

For all the Red Sox's misdirection, we all should have seen this coming, given that Dombrowski was Henry's GM with the Marlins from 1998 to 2001. Even the Sox's statement on manager John Farrell's diagnosis of lymphoma four days ago portended change. The statement made no mention — none — about Farrell possibly returning in '16.

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. ...

The Red Sox will not completely abandon the numbers; these days, all teams blend the subjective and objective, only to different degrees. 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. But once Dombrowski gets rolling, the Red Sox could be formidable again quickly, considering their vast resources and wealth of young talent.
John Henry:
I have known Dave very well for a long time. [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.
Tom Werner:
Although we have achieved tremendous success over the last 14 seasons, we had reached a clear internal consensus that we needed to enhance our baseball operation. In nearly four decades in the game, Dave is a proven winner and he can restore winning ways to Yawkey Way and help to fulfill the Red Sox goal, every year, to be playing meaningful games into October.


FenFan said...

As always, great job pulling this together.

One statement really catches my eye: "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."

I mentioned this on the boards last night but, during his on-air NESN booth interview, Dombrowski seemed to heavily favor what his eyes and instincts tell him as well as what his scouts tell him versus what the numbers tell him. Jerry seemed to really favor that as well.

Given that, the Sox may still have signed players like Sandoval or Porcello, and I worry about him falling in love with someone who "looks" like a sure thing but has flaws underneath.

allan said...

There has to be a balance. What that balance is, I have no idea. But I'm not worried that the front office will shitcan the idea of analytics based solely on this one move (or two moves, as there is a GM to hire). John Henry has always come off like a guy who would relies heavily on stats/evidence over gut feelings.

FenFan said...

I would assume that this matter was discussed between Henry and Dombrowski during negotiations and I would also assume that Henry will not let him run Dombrowski run rampant for too long should he rely too heavily on his gut. As long as there is balance, as you suggest, then I'm good.