Red Sox

Red Sox

It's doubtful there has been a more tumultuous period in recent Red Sox history than the last month.

In that time span, it was revealed that Red Sox president Larry Lucchino would be leaving his position by the end of the season. Then, manager John Farrell announced he had lymphoma and would be taking a leave of absence for the remainder of the year.

Finally, the team announced Tuesday night that Dave Dombrowski had been hired as president of baseball operations and, concurrent with that news, Ben Cherington declined an opportunity to remain as general manager.

Not since 1983, when the infamous. Buddy LeRoux Coup took place, has there been so much palace intrigue and change surrounding the Red Sox.

Talk about upheaval.

The Red Sox, as you've known them, are gone.

What comes next is uncertain.

John Henry said on June 1 that he expected Cherington to be the Red Sox GM "for a very long time." Two-and-a-half months later, Cherington is out. And while he's leaving on his volition, having been invited to stay, Henry had to know that bringing in Dombrowski could eventually cost him Cherington.

It did, even before Dombrowski's hiring could be made official.

Since John Henry bought the Sox in 2002, the franchise has been relatively stable. Other than a brief three-month Ball of Confusion following the 2005 season, they've had just two general managers: Cherington and his predecessor and mentor, Theo Epstein.

That will change in the coming weeks and months. Dombrowski would have been happy to have Cherington as his GM -- at least initially -- but instead will hire someone else. And together, those two executives will, eventually, help determine the fate of Farrell and his coaching staff.

 

That's what three losing seasons in the last four will bring. Of course "losing seasons" doesn't begin to cover the mess that has taken place in that span. The Red Sox finished last in 2012 and again last year, and unless something miraculous happens over the final six weeks, will finish last again this year, too.

Resources have been virtually unlimited, but results have been -- to put it charitably -- lacking.

Since Henry and Co. took over, the Red Sox have largely remained in-house for their management moves. Epstein begat Cherington. Terry Francona departure led to his one-time pitching coach's return -- albeit a year later than the Red Sox first hoped.

It was a fairly limited circle. But not anymore.

On Tuesday night, Henry and the rest of the ownership group hit the reset button in a big way. The answer to what ails the Red Sox, evidently, could no longer be found internally and so the Sox have invited someone from the outside to fix this mess.

And make no mistake: The Sox are a mess. Yes, they have sone potential foundation pieces in Xander Bogaerts and Mookie Betts and yes, they have a talented minor-league system brimming with prospects from top to bottom.

But the club has reached the postseason just once in the last six seasons. Those sort of results would be tough to tolerate anywhere, but in a market like Boston, especially so. Too many poor trades and bad baseball decisions have turned the Red Sox from model franchise to laughing stock.

The surprise here, however, is that Dombrowski is the team's chosen agent of change.

One constant under Henry has been the team's devotion to advanced metrics and analytics. Henry himself used similar measures in massing his fortune in business and was an early supporter of pioneering GM Billy Beane -- enough, in fact, to hire him in 2002, only to have Beane change his mind the next day.

It was Henry, too, who hired Bill James as a Red Sox advisor.

Now, comes Dombrowski who is regarded as a more traditional GM, one hardly a slave to analytics. The reuniting of Dombrowski and Henry -- the former worked for the latter for a few seasons in Miami -- never seemed like a logical fit. Until it happened, that is.

His hiring is a clear signal that Henry was so desperate to see the Red Sox resuscitated that he was willing to go outside his comfort zone to achieve that goal.

That sort of "outside-the-box" thinking is commendable in one sense.

It should also end the nonsense put forth by some that Henry and Co. didn't care about winning and were content to merely count their money.

But as much as anything, it suggests that the Red Sox are about to enter a whole new era -- one already filled with left turns that no one saw coming and more uncertainty on the horizon.