Red Sox

Dombrowski must aim high in search for a new manager

Dombrowski must aim high in search for a new manager

BOSTON — As the Red Sox enter their managerial search, the braintrust needs to step back and remember something they may be oddly forgetting.

They have an opening to manage the Boston Red Sox. 

This franchise has no trouble underscoring its national relevance, its sacred position in the sport, in any of its marketing devices. Have you heard Fenway Park is historic?

People want this job. People with other jobs right now want this job. They must. And even if they somehow don’t, it’s on the Red Sox to find out either way.


Brad Ausmus, Alex Cora or Ron Gardenhire could be excellent managers. But Sox president of baseball operations Dave Dombrowski must aim as high as possible. Dombo must conduct his due diligence on sitting managers who are currently under contract and may be interested to take the reins. 

“Well, current managers are employed by other organizations, so you generally don't talk to them,” Dombrowski said Wednesday. “I wouldn't get into specifics on that, but generally you don't interview other peoples' managers, generally.”

Generally, folks. This isn’t a general opening, in a general town with a general franchise. It's the opposite.

The Giants' Bruce Bochy’s got a losing team and all the credentials in the world. The Marlins' Don Mattingly can’t be excited about a rebuild, and he’s got big-market experience. The Astros' A.J. Hinch has been an excellent communicator with a progressive front office and played for Dave Dombrowski in Detroit. Kevin Cash is no stranger to Boston or a young roster. Maybe Mike Matheny is ready to move on from the mid-market life.

Bob Melvin just signed an extension with Oakland, so that might be tough. They'd all be tough.

But you can sell this thing. You have to try, if you’re the Red Sox. It sells itself. Best sports town in the country, right

The Sox have a win-now roster with immediate championship potential and the presumed wherewithal to spend some money this winter (even though Dombrowski didn’t detail those plans Wednesday). For the right communicator, the right tactician — and let’s face it, the right politician — there may be no greater challenge, no greater test of skill than to come to Boston and help a clubhouse in need of guidance get over the hump.

Dombrowski is the sure-thing president, the known-commodity GM. He loves star power. Why would his managerial search be any different? Why would Dombrowski limit himself to managers who are only free agents — those who have been recently let go, or who have never had the job before — in this search? The Sox are in a competitive window, and Dombrowski’s on a five-year deal.

Respect in the clubhouse for a new manager would be instantly raised if the Sox pried away a big name. Fan excitement, fan buy-in could improve too. Instant acceptance on talk radio never hurt.

“I think managerial [experience] helps,” Dombrowski said. “I don't think it's of 100 percent necessity. But I think being in a dugout during a game, seeing what the manager encounters is probably helpful, yeah, I do think it is. I do think it would be difficult for a person more so here than in some other places to walk directly onto the field without some on-field managerial experience at some level or big-league coaching.”

There’s experience, and then there’s experience.

John Farrell should actually be a blueprint, in one way. The Sox had to trade with the Blue Jays to get him.

Do it again. Figure out, maybe with back-channel inquiries if need be, who would seriously want to come to Boston. Be prepared to pay the manager what they need to take on the circus of Boston. The money will be a drop in the bucket compared to the player salaries anyway.

Then, approach the team where the manager is currently employed. The club probably won’t want to stand in the way of a manager who genuinely wants to leave for a rare opportunity. If they do, well, you tried. But be prepared to make an offer that gets your man.

Dombrowski didn’t get creative with the roster and the luxury tax threshold in 2017. He can get creative now. Think outside the box. And do what he does best: go big.


Red Sox, Yankees working to play in London in 2019

Red Sox, Yankees working to play in London in 2019

Mookie Betts and Aaron Judge are about to go global.

Red Sox CEO Sam Kennedy on Monday confirmed the Sox are interested to play the Yankees in London during next year's regular season. Bloomberg reported the clubs are nearing an agreement to play two games there in June 2019. Discussions are indeed taking place, but a deal is not done.

MORE - Sox signal they'll keep Swihart, may trade Marrero or Holt

“We would love to participate in a series in London against the Yankees but this is a decision that MLB and the MLBPA will make," Sox CEO Sam Kennedy said.

Bloomberg reported the games would be played at London Stadium, which was the main facility for the 2012 summer Olympics.

MLB has not played any games in Europe before. The Red Sox have made trips before, including to Japan before the 2008 season.


Red Sox signal they'll keep Swihart, may trade Marrero or Holt

Red Sox signal they'll keep Swihart, may trade Marrero or Holt

Blake Swihart’s strong spring seems to have the Red Sox more inclined to deal one of their natural utility infielders, such as Brock Holt or Deven Marrero, rather than Swihart, a converted catcher with high upside who's getting a look in other roles.
"Sounds like they’re holding Swihart to open," a rival executive said. "More likely to move a utility guy."
A true utility guy, that is.


The Boston Globe’s Nick Cafardo reported Sunday that Marrero has been drawing interest from other teams.

"We do have depth with our middle infielders," Sox president of baseball operations Dave Dombrowski said Monday. "However, [I] would not get into potential trade discussions."
Swihart, who turns 26 on April 3, is most valuable as a catcher. But he could still be useful in a bench role for the 2018 Red Sox, and a win-now mentality may be the driving force here. (It is possible, as well, that there is nothing available via trade for Swihart that has piqued the Sox’ interest. Marrero or Holt wouldn’t require as much in return.)
The potential drawback is that Swihart won’t grow much if he’s not playing every day -- and in particular, if he's not catching every day. But the Sox may be be at a juncture where they feel his bat is a worthwhile experiment off the bench, at least for this season. They can figure out his future -- and their future at backstop -- later.
"He’s a great athlete," Cora told reporters on Sunday. "We’ve seen it in the batter’s box. It’s not only the results, but the way he’s driving the ball to left field as a left-hander, the quality of at-bats as a right-hander. [On Saturday], as a pinch-hitter, that kid was throwing 99 and he throws a breaking ball and squares a ball up."
Swihart entered Monday with a .283 average in Grapefruit League play, with a .905 OPS and a pair of home runs. But he does not have the infield experience that Marrero or Holt has, and the Red Sox essentially have to carry one of those two to start the year. 
Eduardo Nunez, the temporary replacement for Dustin Pedroia, is coming off a knee injury, and a sure-handed infielder -- Marrero’s glove is particularly good -- is a must. Rafael Devers is still coming into his own at third base. 
Tzu-Wei Lin is available in the minors too, and the Sox could see some redundancy with him, Holt and Marrero. Lin, unlike Marrero, has minor league options remaining. Lin also has some limited outfield experience.
The way the Sox roster looks now, they have two spots available for the three guys: Marrero, Holt and Swihart. Health can change that. Holt, despite being the most veteran of the group, has minor league options remaining, so he theoretically could go to Triple-A to start the season. But if the Sox don't see a role for him on this year's team any way, they'd be wiser trading him, considering he's due to make $2.225 million. It also would be the kindest choice for Holt, to let him have an opportunity elsewhere, if one exists.


Swihart has played first base, third base and left field in addition to catching this spring. Perhaps, in time, there will be a way to work Swihart in behind the plate for the Sox. At the least, retaining him would be insurance if Christian Vazquez or Sandy Leon do not perform well offensively.
There was a clear personal-catcher system for the Red Sox in 2017. Leon was Chris Sale’s guy, for example. Manager Alex Cora said he is not taking that approach. As an auxiliary effect, moving away from a personal-catcher system might make it easier for Swihart to receive more time behind the plate, if called on.
"Whoever I feel comfortable with that day behind the plate, he'll catch," Cora told reporters in Florida. "Christian already caught him. Sandy's going to catch him today. And then the next turn, Christian's going to catch him. Everybody's going to work with everybody."