All posts tagged ben cherington

Red Sox in Transition

In a surprising move, the Red Sox have hired former Detroit Tigers GM Dave Dombrowski to be the new President of Baseball Operations. As you might expect from such a decision, there has been a lot of fall out.

First, Ben Cherington, unexpectedly, resigned from his position as Red Sox GM. That means one of Dombrowski’s first decisions as new Red Sox president will be hiring a new GM. Early reports indicate that former Atlanta Braves GM Frank Wren is already the “leader in the clubhouse.” Though I do not know a lot about Wren, Craig Calcaterra seems to like that choice:

Seems like a pretty good combination, actually. Dombrowski is a good trader and a bold big picture guy. Wren had his issues with some of the grander moves made when he ran the Braves, but was pretty darn good at the day-to-day and the more complimentary moves like, you know, building bullpens. And, of course, there is unlikely to be ego issues there. Wren is not really anyone’s idea of a new-breed team president and shouldn’t have issues with the new, somewhat diminished role of the general manager these days.

Of course, as Dave Cameron points out, this move to a Dombrowski / Wren front office could be a shift away from the analytical philosophy that has been a defining characteristic of the Red Sox over the past few years:

Wren was ousted in Atlanta in part because the team had fallen behind the curve analytically, so a Dombrowski/Wren combination would make for one of the more old-school front office tandems in baseball today.

In a similar vein, one of Cherington’s greatest successes as GM was how he had built the Red Sox farm system one of, if not the, best in baseball. Reading Tim Britton’s description of Dombrowski’s team building philosophy, however, makes me think that the farm system wouldn’t be as much of an emphasis under the Dombrowski regime:

Dombrowski has been known for quick turnarounds, often aggressively moving highly rated prospects in order to secure more established major leaguers. He owns a reputation as one of the game’s best evaluators of major-league talent, and time and again, he has brought in impact talent to his roster through trades.

As someone who has really enjoyed watching the young players develop (and finally start to “get it” at the major league level), I’m not sure I really want a team president who is going to trade away a bunch of prospects to get “established” major league players. That seems to be what got the Sox into trouble during the Adrian Gonzalez and Carl Crawford era. (Is there a Red Sox fan out there who wouldn’t want to have Anthony Rizzo right now?)

In the end, I guess I will just hope that hope Jeff Passan is right

The thing is, Dombrowski inherits one of the best situations in baseball. It’s not just the Fenway cash cow or the ownership willing to spend money. It’s Mookie Betts in center field, Xander Bogaerts and Dustin Pedroia up the middle, and Blake Swihart at catcher. It’s Jackie Bradley Jr. and Rusney Castillo showing signs of completing the most athletic outfield in baseball. It’s Clay Buchholz and Eduardo Rodriguez and Henry Owens on the mound. It’s Yoan Moncada and Javier Guerra and Rafael Devers in the same infield, with Manuel Margot and Andrew Benintendi providing even more outfield depth.

If I look at things that way, I think I’m ready for Spring Training 2016 to get started.

SIDENOTE: Though the decision to keep John Farrell on as manager will ultimately be up to Dombrowski, Gordon Edes reports that Farrell is likely to stick around. I really would like Farrell to get another year with the team, and, of course, wish him well in his current fight against cancer.

→ Red Sox GM Ben Cherington named Sporting News Executive of the Year

A “worst-to-World Series title” turnaround will do that for you.

→ Alex Speier explains how the Red Sox went from Worst-to-First

I finally got around to reading Alex Speier's excellent piece on how the Red Sox engineered their turn around. The whole piece is worth reading, but I especially like his takes on John Farrell:

Farrell returned the focus squarely to the field. Players could focus on maximizing their performance on the field. There were no distractions to pull them away from the focused preparation for an opponent. To the contrary, through the efforts of Farrell and his carefully selected coaching staff, the Sox were able to formulate plans to attack opposing teams, and an information-hungry roster embraced every piece of information that was shared. 

the Sox's commitment to depth:

Yet perhaps the best embodiment of the Sox' commitment to build depth happened not in the offseason but instead in the early days of spring training. The Sox had signed Mike Napoli, but given the uncertainty about the health of his hips and David Ortiz' Achilles, the team needed a talented bat as protection for both players.

Enter Mike Carp.

The Sox were believers in his offensive potential based on his minor league track record and what he'd done in 2011, hitting .276/.326/.466 with 12 homers in 79 games with the Mariners. (He struggled in 2012 due to a shoulder injury incurred on Opening Day.) When he was designated for assignment by the Mariners, the Sox zoomed into the picture in an effort to land him in a deal that required them to part only with a low six-figures sum.

The result? Carp hit .302 with a .368 OBP, .537 slugging mark, nine homers and 28 extra-base hits in 81 games. On Friday, he had two of the critical at-bats of the game, accepting a bases-loaded walk to push across the second run of the game and later lining a two-run single to left-center (improving his line with runners in scoring position to .352/.397/.611) to help give the Sox separation from the Jays.

and team chemistry:

“I think it's [a team] full of a lot of guys that, for whom baseball is really important. For whom baseball is important and winning is important and they take it personally and they understand that when you come together prepare and win as a team. It's a feeling like nothing else and it's more than any personal accomplishment or any individual accomplishment,” said [Red Sox GM Ben] Cherington. “It happens organically over time. When you're close to it, maybe you don't see the change as much because it happened slowly, day by day. But it felt like in spring training, there was a core there that just loved to play baseball and prepare and do things the right way, and were motivated. The guys who were here before were motivated to put last year behind them, and the guys that came in new were motivated to do something special. They set out to do that. And this is an important step.”

As I said, this piece is really well done and is a must read for any Red Sox fan.

→ Michael Passanisi explains Ben Cheringtons’ Established Identity

No matter what happens from here on, Cherington's identity is established. He lacks the brashness of a Theo Epstein or the contentiousness of a Dan Duquette, but he has gone one better. In just two years, he has made the Sox again a team worth rooting for.

I could not agree more.

→ Cherington puts his mark on the Red Sox

The Sox want young, enthusiastic, hungry players who run out ground balls, hustle offensively and defensively, and give you a good day’s work for the money.

That is a team I look forward to rooting for.