Tuesdays With Dave Dombrowski

by Frank Pimentel | Posted on Wednesday, December 7th, 2016
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Dave Dombrowski

The halls were buzzing. Television crews on each level, executive’s phones constantly buzzing from other teams or members of their operations, exhibitors showcasing their products to potential clients and job seekers as far as the eye can see looking to catch their big break in the game. But on a somber rainy Tuesday morning, the noise echoing out of Gaylord National Resort and Convention Center in National Harbor, Maryland was booming. You can thank Boston Red Sox President of Baseball Operations Dave Dombrowski for much of that noise.

John Farrell walked through the lobby just as he did every other day, but this day was special, little did he know what it would bring to his club for all of 2017 and beyond. I’m not talking about the Red Sox picking up his option either, we all knew that was going to happen. Farrell gets a bad rap for in-game situations, but there aren’t many that can control a room such as Farrell. The tall, broad-shouldered intimidating presence was about to get a great deal of talent to manage.

First, the morning opening with the news of Boston acquiring Tyler Thornburg from the Milwaukee Brewers. The right-hander was a reliable late-inning option in 2016 possessing a 2.15 ERA and would certainly solidify the back-end of the Boston bullpen. Add Thornburg to elite closer Craig Kimbrel, two flame-throwers in Matt Barnes and Joe Kelly, paired with the eventual return of Carson Smith from Tommy John surgery, and you’d be hard-pressed to find a more lethal combo in the bullpen outside of Cleveland.

In the trade, Boston dealt away fan-favorite third baseman Travis Shaw to Milwaukee along with INF Mauricio Dubon and RHP Josh Pennington. Clearly the demands on the free agent market for a guy like Greg Holland forced Dombrowski to go the trade route in acquiring an 8th inning guy. This trade also came as a bit of a surprise because Boston was sending away their starting 3B from 2016. While Shaw did cool down significantly in the second half of the season, he showed enough promise early on to be a good everyday major leaguer. However, with Pablo Sandoval healthy and noticeably slimmer, the Red Sox front office clearly feels the hot corner belongs to the man they have invested nearly $100 million into.

You all by now heard the story of Chris Sale trading in his Sox to come to Boston after a late brazen decision by Dave Dombrowski to beat out the Washington Nationals and land himself a third ace. Yes, a third, now two former Cy Young Award winners and a guy in Sale whose in the running every year. Boston has their super rotation and with seven starters, perhaps their could be another shoe to drop… Clay Buchholz? But anyway, Boston paid a hefty price for Chris Sale trading away three of their top ten prospects in 3B Yoan Moncada, RHP Michael Kopech and OF Luis Alexander Basabe, but this is the type of bold move that wins championships.

This isn’t the first time Dombrowski has assembled a world-class starting rotation. Think back to the 2014 Detroit Tigers who had Max Scherzer, David Price, Justin Verlander, Anibal Sanchez, and Rick Porcello. Now the short-comings in that bullpen eventually did that team in, but Dombowski has revamped the Boston bullpen by adding another arm once more.

Now for the under-the-radar move of the day, Boston inked first baseman Mitch Moreland to a one-year, $5.5 million deal. After loading up on pitching with two major trades, Boston filled the hole in their lineup by adding the reigning American League Golden Glove Award Winner at first base. Moreland accounted for 7 defensive runs saved, and he was able to hit 22 home runs in 2016 during his time with the Texas Rangers.

Adding Moreland further solidifies the run prevention strategy the Red Sox are imploring, oh and they did have the best offense in baseball last year too. Good luck getting anything through the right side of Boston’s infield with Dustin Pedroia and Moreland occupying that real estate, while Xander Bogaerts has really developed into an above average defensive shortstop and Sandoval, if in shape, can get the job done down at third.

With the addition of Moreland, the Red Sox are now able to transition Hanley Ramirez into a full-time DH role, which is what we all really knew they intended to do when they signed him two years ago. Ramirez was great last year, remained healthy and played a really good first base, but it’s just the right call at this point in time for him to lock in 100% on hitting and continue to mash the baseball.

It was quite a busy Tuesday for the Red Sox and these three major acquisitions could prove to be enough to get the reigning AL East Champs back to the pinnacle of the sport. We’ve already heard Yankees GM Brian Cashman compare the Red Sox to the Golden State Warriors, which undoubtedly kept him up through the night.

The Red Sox were the talk of the resort on Tuesday, and will be the talk of baseball in 2017 and beyond. Quite the day it was for the Boston front office and Red Sox Nation.

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Frank Pimentel
About the Author

Frank is a passionate baseball fan and writer. Aspiring baseball front office executive. Follow Frank on Twitter @FrankBostonTank.

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  • riseandfall

    If you look at Range Factors, Pedroia had the worst numbers in his career in 2016 (LgAvg in RF/G and 4023 vs 4.49 LgAvg/9).

    Bogaerts RF also went downhill in 2016 (below average) from 2015 (above average):
    3.59/3.50 vs. 4.17/3.83 in 2016 and 4.40/4.26 vs. 4.21/3.87 (per G/per 9).

    Sandoval was below LgAvg in 2015 after being above in 2014 but being below in 2013.

    +Moreland – Ortiz = 101 fewer times on base (H+BB+HBP) and 139 fewer total bases.

    This team might have a few questions left to be answered.

    • redsoxu571

      Range Factors? We’ve graduated from using those. Try UZR/150 and DRS, which showed Pedroia to be as good defensively as ever (2015 was his “career worst” season defensively, and he moved right on past that).

      Bogaerts’s fielding took a clear step back, almost returning to 2014 levels. He’s also only 24, so continued changes can and should be expected.

      Sandoval is clearly a wild card. He also isn’t being relied upon as a key piece. If he pulls his own version of 2016 Hanley Ramirez, though, that would be a massive benefit. If not…well, he couldn’t have failed more than he did in 2016, and clearly that didn’t sink the team.

      Why are you comparing Moreland and Ortiz? Moreland wasn’t signed to be an Ortiz replacement; he is really Shaw’s replacement. Boston clearly is aiming to make up for the loss of Ortiz with a rotation of playing time and expected growth from the numerous young players on the team.

      Literally every team has questions to be answered. Great teams aren’t about not having questions; they’re about having confidence in what will perform well, AND having enough flexibility in the question mark areas that an acceptable result can be produced even if things don’t go ideally.

      • riseandfall

        I’m not comparing Ortiz and Moreland other than the fact that one will be in the lineup and the other will not and there is a great deal of offense that needs to be made up, more than will be seen from Bradley, Bogaerts, Benintendi and Betts in 2017. Pedroia will have turned 34 before the season is over and I suspect will have a rapid fall-off in performance.

        As for fielding stats, they basically all a bunch of crap in my opinion, which is based on attending meetings of the Statistical Analysis Committee at SABR national convention for more than 30 years. If StatCast data were released to the public then you might get some good fielding stats.

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