Silverman: What changes could Red Sox make in baseball ops? – Boston Herald
The ripple effect from the departure of Larry Lucchino and the poor play of the 2015 Red Sox is only just beginning.
One scenario that could come into play, according to major league sources, is a restructuring of the Red Sox front office into a model used by many other clubs where a president, or director of baseball operations, would work closely with and oversee general manager Ben Cherington.
Or, the club could bring in an experienced baseball executive who would offer a fresh perspective and aid Cherington and the team in what appears to be an inevitable restructuring of the operations.
Given that the Sox’ Big Two — principal owner John Henry and chairman Tom Werner — are as fed up as fans that their highly compensated ballclub is headed to its third last-place finish in four years, it seems unlikely that every employee is going to survive the overhaul.
Since at least one important and experienced baseball voice is expected to be brought in, here’s a couple of names that are going to come up in the next few weeks and months.
* Dave Dombrowski. Currently the CEO, president and general manager of the Tigers, he is in a good bargaining position. His contract is expiring this year. After having just engineered a sell-off of valuable parts that re-stocked the Tigers farm system, Dombrowski will be a valued asset for many organizations. The Angels and Blue Jays, with president Paul Beeston retiring, are looking for new executives along with the Red Sox. Tigers owner Mike Ilitch still has not won a championship and may realize how difficult it would be to improve on Dombrowski, thus try hard to keep him. Dombrowski was the Marlins GM when Henry was the owner of that franchise. They still have a good relationship but there are legitimate questions whether Henry considers Dombrowski’s views on sabermetrics advanced or current enough to suit the analytically inclined owner.
* Dan Duquette. The current executive vice president of baseball operations for the Orioles had a well-publicized dalliance with the Blue Jays over the winter for the president’s position. The teams could not agree on compensation. Duquette’s contract with Baltimore was extended through 2018. His track record, especially in the talent-evaluation department, while with Milwaukee, Montreal, the Red Sox and Baltimore is a strong one, and he clearly would like a promotion to a team president. He sought that title with the Red Sox, but one of the first acts of Henry, Werner and Lucchino when they took over in the spring of 2002 was to fire Duquette as the general manager. He went into an exile of sorts and returned to the Orioles far more personable and an even better and improved executive. The Orioles have been revitalized under him. It’s difficult to imagine Duquette not relishing the opportunity to return to the Red Sox and work with Cherington, who began his career here working for Duquette.
Dombrowski and Duquette are the top names on a short list of executives with both experience and success working in at least mid-sized markets.
Theo Epstein, the former Red Sox GM and current president of baseball operations for the Cubs, offers an alluring narrative. He and Lucchino did not work well together. With Lucchino gone, that clears a return path home for Epstein, the former Brookline High School classmate of Lucchino’s replacement, Sam Kennedy. The narrative stops there, however. Epstein is signed through next year and is deeply committed to bringing a world championship to the Cubs, whose overhaul is just beginning to see results.
Billy Beane, the vice president and general manager of the Oakland A’s, is signed through 2019 and was, as everyone remembers, Henry’s first choice for general manager before turning to Epstein in 2002. Beane at first accepted before declining, citing his desire to raise his young daughter. Beane appears settled in very comfortably with the A’s. There are no indications — none, zero — that he has any desire to work with the Red Sox.
Plenty other clubs have a flow chart in which a GM and president work closely together, while others simply have a president. There are no fixed or hard rules on how an organization chooses to structure its baseball operations department and what titles it chooses to hand out.
The Giants, a team with three recent world championships, have their top baseball man Brian Sabean as an executive vice president of baseball operations, with Bobby Evans as his general manager. The Rangers’ Jon Daniels is both president and GM. The Diamondbacks have Tony La Russa as chief baseball officer, a position that ranks higher than general manager Dave Stewart.
The Red Sox can go in many different directions, and give new titles to new hires and new responsibilities to current employees.
That plan is still taking shape.
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