Red Sox Look To Find New Path After Firing Dombrowski
Former Red Sox President of Baseball Operations Dave Dombrowski was informed of his firing by Principal Owner John Henry and Chair Tom Werner "as the Yankees were scoring two runs in the second inning" of Sunday night's game, according to Peter Abraham of the BOSTON GLOBE. Dombrowski left Fenway Park "a short time later" and he was "almost as relieved as he was disappointed." The move came "less than 11 months after a team he helped build won the World Series." Dombrowski said, "With all the speculation taking place about my position, I think it was better sooner than later." When the game ended, Henry, Werner and Red Sox President & CEO Sam Kennedy met with manager Alex Cora and "told him Dombrowski had been fired." Cora's "immediate thought was to tell the team before word leaked out." The Red Sox "finally sent out their press release" at 10:29am ET on Monday, but "conspicuously missing was why the organization had fired him." Sources said that the ownership "felt that Dombrowski had done what was asked, and that now they needed a leader with a different set of skills to reshape the roster." Sources said that the Red Sox were "troubled by a lack of cohesion within baseball operations" (BOSTON GLOBE, 9/10).
WORD GOT OUT: In Boston, Sean McAdam noted the Red Sox had "planned to keep the news from going public Sunday night," but then "some hints of the firing began showing up on social media." In some areas of the ballpark, workers "got word of the move and began spreading the news." The Red Sox then "hastily began making plans to confirm the news verbally in the immediate aftermath of the game" (BOSTONSPORTSJOURNAL.com, 9/9). THE ATHLETIC's Evan Drellich noted Dombrowski had asked ownership for an extension "more than once since winning the World Series" (THEATHLETIC.com, 9/9). MLB Network's Chris Russo said Dombrowski "brought Cora in, that was his hire, and they won a championship." He added, "If you win a championship, I don't care if you are an ogre, that still should buy you some time" ("High Heat," MLB Network, 9/10).
RED SOX STAYING QUIET: In Boston, John Tomase wrote there is "little point in relaying" what Cora said about Dombrowski's firing in a press conference yesterday. An ownership group that "preaches honesty and accountability found itself bereft of those qualities when it came time to explain the how and why" of the move. They instead "hid behind an empty press release" (NBCSPORTSBOSTON.com, 9/9). In N.Y., Ken Davidoff writes the Red Sox owners "played a game of hide and seek with their public." While fans "sought answers," the team's "bosses hid" (N.Y. POST, 9/10). On Long Island, David Lennon writes the optics of the firing "painted the Red Sox as a dysfunctional, cowardly operation." Between the team's ownership group "using the Patriots' banner-raising opener to cover for Sunday's axing and then having David Ortiz make a surprise appearance to throw out" yesterday's first pitch, this was "PR camouflage to the highest degree" (NEWSDAY, 9/10). In Boston, Tom Keegan writes the Red Sox "couldn't have handled" the firing in a "more gutless fashion if they tried" (BOSTON HERALD, 9/10). In Massachusetts, Chris Cotillo wrote the move was an "inexplicable show of bad optics" (Springfield REPUBLICAN, 9/9).
NOT THE RIGHT FIT? The GLOBE's Abraham writes the Red Sox are a "huge, lucrative company that employs hundreds of people," but also an "insular group set in its ways." Dombrowski "never fit in with the many holdovers" from the Theo Epstein/Ben Cherington years (BOSTON GLOBE, 9/10). MLB Network's Joe Girardi said, "Boston has become a city that expects to win every year, expects to be in the playoffs every year. If you don't, heads roll" ("MLB Now," MLB Network, 9/9).THE ATHLETIC's Peter Gammons wrote there were "many indications" that Dombrowski and Kennedy, who is "arguably one of the most trusted people in the business, weren't on the same page." Sources said that "where Kennedy and Epstein had melded baseball operations and business into one focused unit, this was not what Dombrowski was told would be the case when he was hired" (THEATHLETIC.com, 9/9). Gammons said, "There was a dysfunction that had grown in that organization. (Dombrowski) did what he came in to do: spent a lot of money to win and so forth, but he grew increasingly isolated from all the people he worked with. If you go to the really good organizations -- the Dodgers, the Cubs, the Diamondbacks -- the keyword with all of them is collaboration. That was lacking in Boston" ("The Rundown," MLB Network, 9/9).In Boston, Alex Speier wonders if the Red Sox "want to give autonomy to an executive such as what they conferred upon Dombrowski," or if they "want someone who will collaborate with team owners" and Kennedy (BOSTON GLOBE, 9/10).
OLD SCHOOL LEADER: In Toronto, Gregor Chisholm writes Dombrowski is viewed as a front office exec who "refused to embrace the new wave of analytics and instead favoured a more old-school approach based on scouts and eye tests." He had a "high-risk, high-reward approach when most organizations are more concerned about their floor than the ceiling" (TORONTO STAR, 9/10). SI.com's Tom Verducci wrote the next Red Sox President/GM is "going to have to sell Henry on a detail-oriented plan of how to retool the team." In any case, the next hire "will be younger than Dombrowski and fluent in the business-speak and multi-layered decision-making processes of the modern game" (SI.com, 9/9). Verducci said Dombrowski was "perfect for the job" in '15, but what ownership is looking for now is "an architect for this team "because the requirements are very different and no longer suit him" ("MLB Now," MLB Network, 9/9). In Michigan, Evan Woodbery writes Dombrowski's time "ran out when a few things went wrong" this season, but his legacy "as one of this era's best general managers is secure even if he never gets a top job again" (GRAND RAPIDS PRESS, 9/10).
ALL ABOUT THE MONEY: NBC SPORTS BOSTON's Tomase wrote Dombrowski is "leaving behind a bit of a mess." This offseason will be the organization's "most consequential winter in a decade" (NBCSPORTSBOSTON.com, 9/9). The GLOBE's Speier writes the Red Sox are "entering a new roster-building phase for which Dombrowski was no longer the ideal fit that he'd been when hired." Dombrowski put the team in a "position where -- based on their payroll projections and a significant desire to get under the luxury tax threshold sometime in the next two years to reset the penalty structure -- they'll likely end up parting with J.D. Martinez, Mookie Betts, or possibly even both this winter." A "potential reckoning seemed to loom this offseason -- both for the president of baseball operations and for the roster." That reckoning "arrived earlier than expected for Dombrowski, something that will allow the Red Sox to get an earlier start on finding the person who will be in charge of a pivotal offseason that will shape" the team for the next decade (BOSTON GLOBE, 9/10). In N.Y., Tyler Kepner writes even by the "championship-or-failure standards of modern New England sports," Dombrowski's firing was "hard to fathom on its face." This is the "third change at the top of Boston's baseball operations department in nine seasons" (N.Y. TIMES, 9/10).
IN THE INTERIM: The GLOBE's Speier notes the Red Sox for now are "being led by a committee of front-office members." The team's three assistant GMs -- Brian O'Halloran, Eddie Romero, and Zack Scott -- will "lead the department," with Senior VP/Major League & Minor League Operations Raquel Ferreira "taking on an expanded role during the search for Dombrowski's replacement" (BOSTON GLOBE, 9/10).