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.

THE RED SOX FIRE JOHN FARRELL

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.

NBC SPORTS BOSTON SCHEDULE

ALCS: Verlander, Astros beat Yankees 7-1 to force Game 7

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ALCS: Verlander, Astros beat Yankees 7-1 to force Game 7

HOUSTON -  Justin Verlander remained perfect with Houston, pitching seven shutout innings when the team needed him most, and Jose Altuve homered and drove in three runs as the Astros extended the AL Championship Series to a decisive Game 7 with a 7-1 win over the New York Yankees on Friday night.

Acquired in an Aug. 31 trade, Verlander has won all nine outings with the Astros. And with his new club facing elimination in Game 6 against the Yankees, he delivered again.

After striking out 13 in a complete-game victory in Game 2, Verlander threw another gem. The right-hander scattered five hits and struck out eight to improve to 9-0 with 67 strikeouts since being traded from Detroit. George Springer helped him out of a jam in the seventh, leaping to make a catch at the center-field wall and rob Todd Frazier of extra bases with two on and Houston up 3-0.

Game 7 is Saturday night in Houston, with the winner advancing to the World Series against the NL champion Los Angeles Dodgers.

NBC SPORTS BOSTON SCHEDULE

NLCS: Dodgers win first pennant since 1988 with 11-1 Game 5 rout of Cubs

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NLCS: Dodgers win first pennant since 1988 with 11-1 Game 5 rout of Cubs

CHICAGO -- Enrique Hernandez put a Hollywood ending on an LA story three decades in the making.

Fueled by a home run trilogy from their emotional utilityman, Clayton Kershaw and the Los Angeles Dodgers are finally going to the World Series.

Hernandez homered three times and drove in a record seven runs, Kershaw breezed through six crisp innings and Los Angeles ended the Chicago Cubs' title defense with an 11-1 rout in Game 5 of the NL Championship Series on Thursday night.

"It feels good to hear World Series," Kershaw said. "It's been a long time coming for this team."

After years of playoff heartache, there was just no stopping these Dodgers after they led the majors with 104 wins during the regular season. With Kershaw firing away at the top of a deep pitching staff and co-NLCS MVPs Justin Turner and Chris Taylor leading a tough lineup, one of baseball's most storied franchises captured its first pennant since Hall of Famer Tommy Lasorda managed Kirk Gibson, Orel Hershiser and Co. to Los Angeles' last championship in 1988.

"Every night it is a different guy," Turner said, "and this is one of the most unbelievable teams I've ever been a part of."

Kershaw will be on the mound again when the Dodgers host the New York Yankees or Houston Astros in Game 1 of the World Series on Tuesday night. The Yankees have a 3-2 lead heading into Game 6 of the ALCS at Houston on Friday night, so one more New York win would set up another chapter in an old October rivalry between the Yankees and Dodgers.

Los Angeles made the playoffs eight times in the previous 13 seasons and came up short of its 22nd pennant each time, often with Kershaw shouldering much of the blame. The three-time NL Cy Young Award winner took the loss when his team was eliminated by the Cubs in Game 6 of last year's NLCS at Wrigley Field.

The ace left-hander was just OK during his first two starts in this year's postseason, but Los Angeles' offense picked him up each time. Backed by Hernandez's powerful show in Chicago, Kershaw turned in an efficient three-hit performance with five strikeouts and improved to 6-7 in the playoffs - matching Burt Hooton's club record for postseason wins.

"To get to be on the mound tonight and get to be going to the World Series on the same night, it's a special thing," Kershaw said. "Who knows how many times I'm going to get to go to the World Series? I know more than anybody how hard it is to get there. So, I'm definitely not taking this one for granted."

When Kenley Jansen retired Willson Contreras on a liner to shortstop for the final out, the party was on . The Dodgers poured out of the dugout and mobbed their dominant closer near the mound, and a small but vocal group of Los Angeles fans gathered behind the visitors' dugout and chanted "Let's go Dodgers! Let's go Dodgers!"

On the field, manager Dave Roberts hugged Lasorda and told the iconic skipper the win was for him.

"I bleed Dodger blue just like you," Roberts said. "Thank you, Tommy."

Hernandez connected on the first two pitches he saw, belting a solo drive in the second for his first career playoff homer and then a grand slam in the third against Hector Rondon. Hernandez added a two-run shot in the ninth against Mike Montgomery.

The 26-year-old Hernandez became the fourth player with a three-homer game in a league championship series, joining Bob Robertson (1971 NLCS), George Brett (1978 ALCS) and Adam Kennedy (2002 ALCS). Hernandez's seven RBIs tied a postseason record shared by four other players who all did it in a Division Series.

Troy O'Leary was the previous player to have seven RBIs in a playoff game, for Boston at Cleveland in the 1999 ALDS.

It was a stunning display for a player with 28 career homers who remains concerned about his native Puerto Rico, which is recovering from a devastating hurricane. He delivered a historic performance in front of his father, Enrique Hernandez Sr., who was diagnosed with a blood cancer related to leukemia in December 2015, but got word last November that he was in remission.

"For me to be able to come here and do something like this is pretty special," said Hernandez, who also goes by Kik�. "My body's here, but my mind's kind of back home. It's hard being away from home with what's going on.

"All I want to do right now is go to my dad and give him a big hug."

Kris Bryant homered for Chicago, but the NL Central champions finished with just four hits in another tough night at the plate. Each of their eight runs in the NLCS came via the long ball, and they batted just .156 for the series with 53 strikeouts.

Long playoff runs in each of the last two years and a grueling five-game Division Series against Washington seemed to sap Chicago of some energy, and its pitching faltered against sweet-swinging Los Angeles. Jose Quintana was pulled in the third inning of the final game, and the Cubs never recovered.

"They executed their plan," Bryant said. "They pitched great and the bullpen was lights out. That makes for a tough time scoring runs."

Turner and Taylor helped put it away for Los Angeles, contributing to a 16-hit outburst while closing out a pair of impressive performances.

Turner singled home Taylor in the Dodgers' five-run third, giving him seven RBIs in the series and 24 throughout his postseason career. Taylor finished with two hits and scored two runs as the Dodgers, who have won five straight NL West titles, improved to 7-1 in this postseason.

Taylor's versatility helped Los Angeles cover for the loss of All-Star shortstop Corey Seager, who missed the series with a back injury, but is expected to return in the next round. Coming off a breakout season, the 27-year-old Taylor hit .316 with two homers and scored five times against the Cubs.

"I couldn't be happier to be a part of this and be with these guys," Taylor said. "It's been an unbelievable year, and I'm just super excited."

OUT WITH A BANG

Hernandez joined Kennedy (2002), Adrian Beltre (2011), Reggie Jackson (1977 vs. the Dodgers) and Babe Ruth (1928) as players to hit three home runs in a postseason series clincher.

LIGHTS OUT

Dodgers relievers have thrown 23 consecutive scoreless innings, a postseason record.