By Tony Massarotti, 98.5 The Sports Hub
Reporter: Is this desperation on the Red Sox’ part?
Dave Dombrowski: Oh, no … no, no, no. Nothing like that. I don’t think I’ve ever made I based upon the circumstances when you look at it. I think it’s putting an urgency, which is significantly different than desperation.
Dave Dombrowski all but raised an index finger and wagged it in your face, because we all know the first sign of desperation: denial. Dombrowski has spent nearly a quarter-billion dollars of owner John Henry’s money on the 2019 Red Sox, after all. And what he has right now is the most underachieving team in baseball.
And so, rather than answering the question as the Red Sox completely reversed course yesterday and placed Nathan Eovaldi in a bullpen that has been, in a word, radioactive, the Red Sox president of baseball operations would rather quibble over semantics. Desperation? No, no, no. We prefer to call it urgency. So we’ll tell you what.
Urgency it is.
So tell us again: a month ago, you and manager Alex Cora told us that there was a “99.9 percent chance” that Eovaldi would return as a starter. Now, a month later, you’re bringing him back as a reliever. What was it, exactly, that led you to settle upon one-tenth of one percent as the appropriate action?
I mean, I don’t know about you folks. But one-tenth of one percent sounds, well, desperate.
Look, we all know what happened here. The 2018 Red Sox won the World Series in historic fashion, bulldozing everything in their path. When the dust settled, they had knocked out all challengers and compiled a brilliant 119-57 record. The championship was the second of Dombrowski’s career and first in 31 years, yet the architect of the Red Sox somehow curiously acted as if the that lengthy drought was the aberration.
From the very start – all the way back to last November, the Red Sox on and off the field have acted in a manner that could be described as arrogant, cocky, cavalier, uninspired and downright negligent. (In this case, use whatever word you want. We’re not going to quibble over the semantics.) Then the Sox went to London over the weekend and threw up on themselves in pair of embarrassing losses to the New York Yankees, leaving them a whopping 11 games out of first place on July 1 for the first time since 1997, five years before John Henry even took ownership of the team.
In some ways, you could argue that this has been the most disappointing season of Henry’s ownership. From a dollar for dollar perspective, it probably has been.
Over the weekend, in comments made to Rob Bradford of WEEI.com, Henry suggested he has no intention of putting any more resources – at least significant ones – into the Red Sox roster. And can you blame him? His players have underperformed. His management team has been careless and downright foolish. Fans often like to blame owners for failing to spend money, but every once in a while it is completely fair for an owner to ask a very simple question to his employees.
What, exactly, have you done to warrant my further investment?
In the case of Dombrowski, we are approaching a very pivotal time in his career as the head of the Red Sox baseball operation. Since taking over for Ben Cherington in 2015, Dombrowski has won three division titles and a World Series. He has also stripped down the Red Sox farm system to virtual nothingness. The Sox are now underachieving while facing some major personnel decisions - the futures of Mookie Betts and J.D. Martinez, among them - and Dombrowski has one year (after this one) remaining on his contract. Over the weekend, the owner didn’t sound happy.
Is Dombrowski safe? Maybe yes, maybe no. Only Henry really knows. But championship or not in 2018 – and hangover or no hangover – the 2019 Red Sox aren’t earning their money anymore. They are really not even coming close. All of that has Dombrowski and Cora saying one thing in June and something altogether different in July – and if I were Dave Dombrowski I’d start looking over my shoulder.
If the disappointment continues, after all, owner John Henry might be inclined to act in desperation.
I mean urgency.