Phillies President of Baseball Operations, Dave Dombrowski, says he doesn’t think his reputation during his Red Sox years is “accurate.”
New Philadelphia Phillies President of Baseball Operations, Dave Dombrowski, has made a career of building teams up from nothing and doing whatever it takes to get impressive results.
He can turn you from a dud into a stud and get you to October.
It’s going to cost you, though. If the old adage “You can’t make an omelet without breaking a few eggs” was a person, it would be Dombrowski.
At this point in his career (he got his start with the Chicago White Sox in 1978!), teams know that when you hire Dombrowski, he has a certain way of doing things, and you’ll get the best results from him if you stand back and let him. You’ll have a huge mess to clean up later, but you will enjoy the heck out of that omelet.
To put it bluntly, if you want results, hire Dombrowski. But be prepared for the mess he’s going to make to get the job done. To mix in yet another food metaphor, if you don’t want to know how the sausage gets made (or in this case, the Ballpark Franks), there are safer routes you can take.
On the other hand, having the best farm system in baseball means nothing if you never do anything with it when it counts. They don’t give out a trophy for that. Just ask the Tampa Bay Rays.
Ahead of this year’s draft earlier in July, Dombrowski told the Boston Globe that he doesn’t agree with the reputation he was saddled with when he departed Boston:
"“I don’t think that’s accurate at all.” – Dave Dombrowski, Boston Globe"
In his defense, it’s not exactly fair. Accurate, but not fair.
What’s the difference between accurate and fair?
Dombrowski’s reputation is accurate from a numbers perspective, in that when he was hired by the Red Sox in late August of 2015, they had the number-two farm system in baseball. Not even two full years removed from their third championship in a decade, Dombrowski inherited a bumper crop of prospects, David Ortiz, a healthy Dustin Pedroia, young stars Mookie Betts and Jackie Bradley Junior, and a significant portion of the 2013 championship team, vastly different than what he had to work with when he took over in Detroit.
When MLB.com‘s 2020 farm system rankings came out just a few months after he was unceremoniously fired during a Sunday Night Baseball game between the Red Sox and Yankees at Fenway Park in September 2019, the Red Sox were ranked 25th. They were labeled as “in a rebuilding phase,” less than two years after their historic season. For what it’s worth, the Red Sox have “rebuilt” twice in the decade since the Phillies’ last division title, and in that time, have won two championships.
Dombrowski bears the brunt of responsibility for that. The plundering of the farm system – the eggs in my metaphor – led to the big-league success, the omelet, if you will.
But the reason it’s not exactly fair is that the Red Sox knew what they were getting themselves into when they hired Dombrowski. It’s not like he came out of nowhere, or was a rookie hire like Theo Epstein had been. He was already a seasoned executive with a proven track record. The Red Sox ownership group made a decision to give him the reins, knowing full well that he would spend big and trade big.