Red Sox

Peter Gammons details how Red Sox' firing of Dave Dombrowski went down

Peter Gammons details how Red Sox' firing of Dave Dombrowski went down

If you looked at the big picture, it seemed inevitable that Dave Dombrowski wouldn't last much longer in Boston.

But why did the Red Sox fire their president of baseball operations so abruptly (and unceremoniously) late Sunday night?

The Athletic's Peter Gammons is one of the most plugged-in reporters in Boston, and he gave a pretty revealing account Monday on ESPN's "Baseball Tonight" podcast of how things went down between Dombrowski and the Red Sox.

According to Gammons, who was at Fenway Park for Sunday night's Red Sox-Yankees game, Dombrowski usually walks down from his office to the Red Sox clubhouse at around 2:30 p.m. and stops to chat with reporters along his way.

But on Sunday, Gammons told host Buster Olney, Dombrowski, "kind of went barging by."

"He had something on his mind," Gammons said. "I was trying to figure out what in the world [was happening]. Did somebody get hurt or something? And then Rob Bradford from WEEI said to me, 'Gee, [Red Sox chairman] Tom Werner kind of seems like he's in a confused mode today.' "

Gammons soon put the pieces together by relaying what he had heard from a team source.

"As someone who's very close to ownership said to me (Monday) morning, Dave was tired of hearing he's not coming back next year," Gammons said. "So, he pressed and said [to ownership], 'I want to know. I want clarity. I want an extension,' and was told no. And if he didn't like it, that was it. They were just going to part ways then."

The Athletic's Evan Drellich also reported Monday that Red Sox ownership turned down Dombrowski's extension requests. But Gammons suggested Dombrowski made a final push Sunday, and when ownership rebuffed him, he picked up and left in the middle of the game.

"I looked up at one point during the game in about the sixth inning to see what Dave's expression was, and the shock was, he wasn't in his box," Gammons said.

"So, he clearly had left before the end of the game. People say he was fired after the game. I think he knew before the game that that was going to be it, and he probably made up his mind that, 'I'm going to leave. Because I know I'm not coming back.'

That hasty exit may explain why Dombrowski didn't hold a press conference, instead making a brief statement to a small group of reporters.

Dombrowski built one of the best teams in Red Sox history that brought a World Series title to Boston in 2018. But things apparently went downhill in a hurry, to the point where the team's president of baseball operations left in a huff after getting the mid-season ax.

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Notable sights, sounds from Day 1 of Red Sox training camp at Fenway Park

Notable sights, sounds from Day 1 of Red Sox training camp at Fenway Park

The first day of Boston Red Sox training camp at Fenway Park takes place Friday.

It's an exciting development as fans await the return of Major League Baseball. The shortened 60-game regular season is set to return July 23, although the schedules for each of the 30 teams have not yet been released.

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The Red Sox arrived at Fenway this week to a bunch of different changes -- all of which have been made to ensure the venue provides the safest environment possible amid the COVID-19 pandemic. Massachusetts governor Charlie Baker announced Thursday the state's pro sports teams could begin hosting games without fans later this month.

Here are some pictures and videos from the team's return to Fenway Park.

--It looks like the Red Sox have assigned two players per suite, which is a better way to provide a safe environment than putting every player in one clubhouse like normal. 

--Other changes to Fenway Park have been made. NBC Boston's Perry Russom reports there are showers on the concourse level. The players also will walk through the stands to reach the field level.

The Boston Globe's Peter Abraham also shared details on new training areas inside the park.

--Here's one of the first player shifts of the day.

--It wouldn't be an MLB camp without batting practice. Here's some footage of Christian Vazquez getting some work in.

--The important pitching drills are underway as well. 

--Social distancing will be required in the Fenway press box, too.

As MLB teams report, let's count the ways the Red Sox will be worse in 2020

As MLB teams report, let's count the ways the Red Sox will be worse in 2020

It is time for a Red Sox reality check. They were never, ever meant to contend in 2020.

This 60-game sprint will probably keep them from plummeting completely out of the playoff race, but let's not kid ourselves. They'll be in the wild card hunt in much the same way a 6-8 NFL squad technically maintains postseason aspirations come late December — by relying on mathematical gymnastics rooted more in hope ("If the Bengals and Bills play to a scoreless tie …") than substance.

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They're worse than they were last year, and they weren't very good last year. With Spring Training 2.0 set to open on Friday, let us recount how much has changed since 2019 ended with a disappointing 84 wins and the Sox 12 games out of the playoff race.

Before the season even concluded, the Red Sox fired Dave Dombrowski, architect of 2018's World Series juggernaut, whom they had hired in 2015 to put them over the top. They didn't view him as a builder, however, tabbing Chaim Bloom from the Rays to oversee what could be a lengthy rebuild.

Needless to say, a team that wants to win now does not fire Dombrowski and replace him with Bloom. That only happens when prioritizing the long view.

Bloom's first order of business, even if it took the entire winter to accomplish, was trading MVP Mookie Betts and former Cy Young Award winner David Price to the Dodgers. This provided much-needed salary relief. It did not make the Red Sox better, a fact Bloom acknowledged the night he announced the deal.

"I certainly think it's reasonable to expect that we're going to be worse without them," he said, "but we have real good talent coming back."

Right fielder Alex Verdugo, the centerpiece of the trade, may not be Betts, but he's a lot better than people think. He's also coming off a cracked bone in his back that sidelined him for the last two months of 2019 and would've delayed the start to this season if COVID-19 hadn't shut it down first. The Red Sox need him to be a star, and that's asking a lot.

Offense is supposed to be a strength, but it could be a problem.

In Rafael Devers, Xander Bogaerts, and J.D. Martinez, the Red Sox possess an impressive heart of the order. Perhaps Verdugo and the perpetually underachieving Andrew Benintendi can expand the attack. If they can't, the Red Sox could end up being no better than average offensively at catcher (Christian Vazquez), first base (Mitch Moreland), second base (Jose Peraza), and the entire outfield (Benintendi, Jackie Bradley Jr., Verdugo).

In an age when even teams like the Twins can suddenly mash 300 home runs, that doesn't sound like nearly enough offense to compensate for a pitching staff that has been absolutely decimated.

It's worth repeating exactly what the Red Sox lost this winter. In dealing Price, dismissing Rick Porcello, and disabling Chris Sale, they watched over 400 innings vanish. Because John Henry locked his checkbook below deck on the Iroquois, they replaced that trio with Martin Perez and, if he's healthy, Collin McHugh.

They're banking on left-hander Eduardo Rodriguez to repeat his breakout 19-win campaign, even though inconsistency has been a hallmark of his career, and they need forever-injured right-hander Nathan Eovaldi to give them a lot more than the 5.99 ERA he provided in just 67.2 innings last year.

After that? Hold your nose.

Perez posted an ERA over 5.00 and soft-tossing Ryan Weber, a favorite of manager Ron Roenicke, is expected to claim the fourth spot despite barely cracking 89 mph. The Red Sox hope McHugh recovers from a non-surgical offseason procedure on his elbow, but he's still ramping back up as he throws off a mound, and his spot in the rotation is more likely to be manned, at least initially, by an opener.

Overseeing all of this considerable change is Roenicke, who emerged from Alex Cora's scandal-fueled departure to oversee what amounts to an interim two-month season. Cora's leadership was indispensable to the 2018 title run, and there's no guarantee the 63-year-old Roenicke will be able to push the right buttons in a truncated campaign. Though the Red Sox have technically struck the interim from his title, it wouldn't shock anyone if they're in the market for a longer-term solution come fall.

So to recap: the new baseball chief is here to rebuild but can't spend any money, the offense looks top-heavy, the starting rotation is made of paper clips and gum, and the new manager might only be on the job for nine weeks.

Does that sound like a contender to you? Me, neither.