Red Sox

Dave Dombrowski's reputation, autonomy and the pursuit of J.D. Martinez

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Dave Dombrowski's reputation, autonomy and the pursuit of J.D. Martinez

Dave Dombrowski without Mike Ilitch might be a Different Dave.

The J.D. Martinez pursuit is Dombrowski’s moment, a gambit and a gut check as we near the midpoint of his first Red Sox contract, a five-year deal as president of baseball operations.

From the outset, ownership appeared to give Dombrowski more clearly delineated autonomy than it did his predecessors. Any signing as large as Martinez remains an ownership-level matter. That will never change. But if the big bosses are letting Dombrowski handle the bulk of the Martinez pursuit — this is your job, Dave, you tell us what you want to do and when — the need for Dombrowski to nail this choice only increases.

A baseball source with knowledge of the negotiations said Martinez has indeed been a pursuit handled by Dombrowski primarily, as opposed to being spearheaded by ownership.

For Dombrowski, the motivation to drive down Martinez’s price is two-fold. The first is self-explanatory: no one wants to overpay. 

But Dombrowski has a reputation for doing just that, overpaying. For being inefficient with resources, both in trades and free agency. At the midpoint of Dombrowski’s deal in Boston, the Martinez pursuit is a chance for Dombrowski to cast himself in a different light. Dealer Dave can turn into Shrewd Dave.

But at what point is such an effort outweighed by the risk? He can’t change his reputation on one deal.

Dombrowski’s reputation is exaggerated at times. For one, look how great Chris Sale and Craig Kimbrel have been, even if they were costly pieces. (On the other hand, the David Price contract was a huge assumption of risk because of health and we’ll see how it plays out.) 

But, going further into Dombrowski’s past, his rep doesn’t fully incorporate the role late Tigers owner Mike Ilitch had in Detroit’s expenditures. 

Ilitch was the one who would often push Dombrowski to do deals. Some contracts — like Magglio Ordonez’s in February 13 years ago — were ones that the Tigers were actually better off doing, but certainly not all. 

“Ilitch makes most of his baseball decisions that way,” SI.com wrote in August 2015 of Ilitch’s emotion-driven approach. “Dombrowski knows that better than anybody, because that’s how he got the job in the first place. It’s also how he ended up with Ivan Rodriguez, Magglio Ordonez and [Prince] Fielder. It’s part of the deal when you work for Ilitch.”

That dynamic may not exist in Boston. Does autonomy, to the greatest extent that term actually exists in a baseball management setting, best serve Dombrowski and the Red Sox?

As written previously here, the overwhelming evidence says the right move is to sign Martinez. Dombrowski must know that baseball’s market will look vastly different a year from now. The Yankees and Dodgers are expected to reset their luxury tax threshold this year. Manny Machado and Bryce Harper are free agents to be, and Clayton Kershaw may be as well. Nickels and dimes now will look like pennies in 12 months. 

John Henry, who made his fortune on commodities futures, presumably has looked at the future markets as well. 

Should he push his own convictions, whatever they may be, in a way Ilitch would have?

The pursuit of Martinez is about a lot more than just the pursuit of Martinez.

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Mitch Moreland 'running out of stuff to say' about Rafael Devers

Mitch Moreland 'running out of stuff to say' about Rafael Devers

On Sunday afternoon, the Boston Red Sox were able to fight back to earn a win over the Baltimore Orioles. The Red Sox were down 6-0, but they scored 13 answered runs to overtake the woeful Orioles en route to their fifth straight win.

In the contest, the Red Sox offense was powered by Rafael Devers. The 22-year-old went 4-for-5 in the game with a homer and four RBIs and made history. He became only the second Red Sox player to total 100-plus RBIs and 100-plus runs in a season at age 23 or younger. The only other player to do that was Ted Williams, who did it twice.

Devers is currently on a hot streak for the Sox, batting .652 with 3 homers, 7 doubles, and 11 RBIs over the course of his past five games. He also leads the league in hits, RBIs, and doubles as of this writing. And his consistently solid performance has earned endless praise from his coaches and teammates.

"I’m running out of stuff to say about him," first baseman Mitch Moreland said, per Peter Abraham of The Boston Globe. "It seems like a bad day for him is 2 for 4 with a double. He’s been incredible."

Meanwhile, manager Alex Cora praised Devers for his consistency and ability to string together quality at-bats.

"It seems like everything that is in the zone he’s hitting hard," Cora said, per Abraham. "The quality of the at-bats are great. He keeps working. He’s not taking anything for granted."

Devers' red-hot performance has coincided with the Red Sox' recent winning streak, so the team will hope that he can continue to stay hot. And if he can, that could do a lot to help the team succeed with their pitching staff currently weakened by injuries.

Chris Sale to visit Dr. James Andrews on Monday>>>

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Chris Sale will visit with Dr. James Andrews on Monday

Chris Sale will visit with Dr. James Andrews on Monday

Chris Sale is officially getting ready for a visit with Dr. James Andrews.

According to Boston Red Sox manager Alex Cora, the team's ace will be heading down to Florida to meet with the renowned surgeon on Monday. At that point in time, Sale and Dr. Andrews will discuss options for treatment on his sore elbow.

"[Sale] just wants to make sure he has all the facts," Cora said of the visit, per Peter Abraham of The Boston Globe. "He wants to see where we’re at with it and all the opinions."

Sale, who is in the midst of a career-worst season that has seen him log a 6-11 record and 4.40 ERA. He was placed on the 10-day IL on Saturday with left elbow inflammation and the visit with Dr. Andrews has raised some concerns about the potential for Tommy John surgery. We'll know more about the situation after Sale's visit on Monday.

After losing Sale, Cora stated that the team has "got to keep going" without Sale in the rotation. They got off to a good start by beating the Baltimore Orioles in the past two contests, but the bigger test for them will be how they fare in the upcoming week against the Philadelphia Phillies and San Diego Padres.

TOMASE: Sale's injury start of potential Red Sox catastrophe>>>

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