New York Yankees

Werner: Red Sox feel pressure to keep up with Yankees, Astros

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Werner: Red Sox feel pressure to keep up with Yankees, Astros

MASHANTUCKET, Conn. — Sox president of baseball operations Dave Dombrowski may not be looking closely at the Yankees' and Astros' rosters, but chairman Tom Werner appears to have peeked.

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“Sure there’s pressure,” Werner said at Winter Weekend when asked about the Yankees’ pick-up of Giancarlo Stanton and the Astros’ addition of Gerrit Cole.  “Houston was formidable last year. I thought we played them competitively in Fenway Park. They’ve obviously improved. But if we have the kind of performances I expect from some of our players this year — obviously we’re looking for some more improvement from certain players. Hopefully, a healthy David Price will be very important to that. 

"I think we have an excellent team, but anything can happen in a short series. The Yankees have improved, there’s no question about it. They have a deep bullpen and a great offense. But I like our chances.”

At the Boston baseball writers awards dinner on Thursday, Sox president Sam Kennedy cracked a joke about Dombrowski presenting Yankees general manager Brian Cashman with an Apple Watch as a gift. The rivalry perked up in 2017.

“I’m sure that when Judge and Stanton come to Fenway Park this year, it’ll be electric,” Werner said.

It’s not exactly an offseason punch-for-punch dynamic with the Sox and Yankees, though, as it was circa 2003-04.

“Not specifically,” Werner said of countering Stanton. “It’s important for us to be competitive with them, but we’re not trying to play chess with them.”

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Drellich: Dombrowski's messaging on lack of Red Sox moves misses mark

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Drellich: Dombrowski's messaging on lack of Red Sox moves misses mark

In the end, I believe the Red Sox will sign J.D. Martinez. It’s the overwhelmingly obvious move. It’s painfully obvious.

Michael Silverman of the Boston Herald reports that the Sox offer is roughly $125 million over five years.

Until that signing — or until that prediction proves wrong — 93 wins is not the hill to die on. 

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We’re not exactly in Dan Duquette more-days-in-first-place territory, but Sox president of baseball operations Dave Dombrowski is trying to sell something that I’d be surprised to hear anyone is really buying.

“We won 93 games here with basically the team we have coming back, and some guys coming back healthy,” Dombrowski said Thursday. “I think some guys will have stronger years. I’ve learned the predictive nature of the game is not something I partake in very much.

“I’ve been with clubs who’ve been the favorites by far and haven’t done quite as well, and [with clubs that are] not the favorites and have done quite well. So, you let those things take care of themselves. But for our situation, we’ll keep working at it. But I do think we have a good club no matter what.”

Sure. A good club. Everyone knows about the faults of prediction in baseball, how random the game is.

But let’s cut to the chase. Do the Sox have a championship-caliber club? A team built as well as the Astros and Yankees? One that’s kept up with those teams this offseason?

The Sox have brought back Mitch Moreland. Addison Reed is gone. The Astros, meanwhile, added Gerrit Cole, and the Yankees traded for Giancarlo Stanton.

Ah, now one may understand why Dombrowski prefers not to partake in the predictive nature of the game. 

Dombrowski mentioned 93 wins earlier this week on MLB Network Radio as well, noting he thinks that figure may have slipped a few minds.

“I think people forget that because of course we got eliminated in the postseason, the first round,” Dombrowski said. “But we did win 93 games.” 

That’s nice, Dan — err, Dave.

The protocols of posturing have long been in place in baseball, the code of what executives and agents and any of the rest of them can and cannot say long understood.

Dombrowski is stretching them. 

He’s digging in now on the idea that the Red Sox are good to go if the season starts tomorrow.

“If you told me right now that our starting rotation and our bullpen was going to stay healthy during the season, I’d take our chances right now with our club,” Dombrowski said. “I think that we can stay with anybody.”

Because staying with other teams has always been the goal — not being outright better than them?

Dombrowski said that he hasn’t really looked at the Astros' and Yankees' rosters because the winter isn't over and that internal rebounds can make up the 40 home run dropoff from 2016 to 2017: “I think quite a bit can be made up.”

Who really believes this? Who really believes the Red Sox could proceed into the season comfortably without some external improvement? You’re in a market competing with the Patriots, a division with the Yankees, and a league with the Astros, and this is what you’re bringing to the table?

And no, Dombrowski's stance isn’t necessary to keep down the cost of adding Martinez.

We can suppose that if Dombrowski were to look into the camera, tear up and plead with Martinez to join the Red Sox, an abnormal amount of leverage might shift to Martinez and agent Scott Boras. 

Even then, reality wouldn’t change. No one is confused by reality here. Dombrowski prefers not to publicly acknowledge it — at least, not anymore.

“You know, it's easy to say, we need to score more runs,” Dombrowski said on Oct. 11, the day of John Farrell’s dismissal. “I didn't supply the players that would give us enough runs. I think we do need that. That's part of our offseason goal.”

We assume negotiations to be ongoing. Dombrowski declined to characterize the frequency of conversation he is having with any players/agents (a bizarre thing to decline to discuss, considering how general a subject it is) although he said there are standing offers out there.

The Red Sox' position has long been clear, long been obvious. Dombrowski pretending everything is good to go because the team won 93 games last season misses the mark, even within the accepted constraints of posturing and hooey.

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Dombrowski on Stanton: 'We called at the end, we were not on his list'

Dombrowski on Stanton: 'We called at the end, we were not on his list'

We can go through all the handwringing we want with the Red Sox and Giancarlo Stanton and the pursuit or the lack thereof. The bottom line is twofold.
 
One, the Sox clearly didn’t want to take on the money, even if they tiptoe around it publicly.
 
“There’s a lot of things that are involved in that, not only position, finances, futures, there’s a lot that’s involved in those things,” Sox president of baseball operations aDombrowski said when asked about roster flexibility.
 
Two, Stanton preferred to go elsewhere, although we’ll never know what would have happened if push came to shove and the Sox and Marlins struck a deal.

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“We were not on his immediate list,” Dombrowski said. “We called at the end, we were not on his list. So they were going somewhere else. Yeah, we did all our homework on Stanton. In fact, I know a couple of you guys saw me talking to [Marlins general manager] Mike Hill during the general managers’ meetings. … I knew exactly where everything was, what they were looking for, dollars that were involved. Just was not where we were at that particular time. 
 
“And you have to remember that the guys they [would have received in deals Stanton blocked with] St. Louis or San Francisco … might have been a little bit better than what they ended up getting in their own minds. And then they switched off and at that point, [Stanton] had given them the four clubs that he wanted to go to and we weren’t one of the four.”
 
Stanton preferred to go to one of the Yankees, Astros, Dodgers or Cubs.
 
“Those are the clubs that they were concentrating on at that time,” Dombrowski said. “As soon as that changed, they jumped into the Yankees situation. … I mean I knew exactly when St. Louis and San Francisco were out of it.”
 
The early asking price was a turn off for the Red Sox. But, the package the Yankees ended up sending did not include the team’s very best prospects. It did include a major league contributor that the Yankees’ strong farm system and relatively low payroll can readily replace in Starlin Castro
 
“But the early asks for him were not things that we were interested in,” Dombrowski said of Stanton. “And then as a time went on the end, there were no conversations based upon — I mean, he was traded, I had a pulse of, they had a deal done with St. Louis. They had a deal done with San Francisco. At that point, when I reached out, they were in the midst of dealing with the Yankees at that point.
 
“[I reached out] to Mike Hill last week, yeah. But he was in the midst of the Yankee deal at that point.”
 
Dombrowski was asked if based on the final offer the Marlins accepted if he would have liked to make a revised offer, with the leverage lessened for the Marlins.
 
“Those are the things that are really in a confidential basis,” Dombrowski said.
 
Dombrowski said there’s no change to Red Sox plans because of the Yankees. The plan was already to make the Red Sox as strong as can be. 
 
“You’re not only trying to beat the clubs in your own division, but to to have the best club in the league and the best club overall,” Dombrowski said. “So we’re already tying to do that.”
 
Stanton’s agent Joel Wolfe on Monday noted the Red Sox told him they were focused on pitching, referring to relief pitching in particular. Dombrowski gave his remembrance of the conversation with Wolfe.
 
“No, and I never said that to him. I might have said we were looking at people for relief pitching,” Dombrowski said. “We’re not prioritizing pitching. I think that their basic conversations with us, they looked at our outfield and thought they probably really weren’t a fit with our ball club.
 
“We’re looking for a middle of the order bat, that hasn’t changed. First base or DH.”
 
Dombrowski did not handicap whether an addition was more likely via free agency or trade. He also shot down the idea of adding two bats. Hanley Ramirez is penciled into play one of first base or DH.
 
“I’ve read that, but I don’t know where we’d play these two bats,” Dombrowski said. “I’m trying to figure that one out. So, but I would say we’d be more limited to probably one bat. I can’t say that, I don’t know I guess if we went for a platoon type guy or something somewhere else. But I don’t really know where the second bat would play. Middle of the order type.”
 
Dombrowski said that the trade of Stanton and signing of Shohei Ohtani has opened up the market “tremendously.” It was hard to get a phone call last week, Dombrowski said. Now, there’s a lot going on, although he’s not necessarily convinced something gets done at the winter meetings.
 
“It’s been since yesterday afternoon nonstop,” Dombrowski said of conversations.

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