Myth Busters: Dave Dombrowski edition

By Mark Paulette

There’s a notion out there, popular among one specific member of The Drive that since taking the reigns as Red Sox team president, Dave Dombrowski, has decimated the organization’s minor leagues by making questionable moves to obtain major league talent. It’s hard to argue that the cupboard currently is significantly barer than when Dombro took over, but have these players amounted to anything of value? Let’s start from the beginning.

 

  • November, 2015: Dombrowski trades centerfielder, Manuel Margot; shortstop, Javier Guerra; utility-man, Carlos Asuaje; and pitcher, Logan Allen, to the San Diego Padres for closer Craig Kimbrel.

Margot went 0-for-4 Tuesday night in his return from a 34-day DL stint. After starting off the season with three home runs in his first nine games, Margot has leveled off and is hitting .254 with four homers, 13 RBI and five steals in 48 games. The 22-year-old has shown the capability to be a solid option for a cellar-dwelling team like the Padres and looks as though he will blossom into an above-average leadoff hitter. Though, Margot had nowhere to go in the Sox organization, blocked by the “Killer B’s”, and likely wouldn’t even be on the major-league roster in Boston.

The other three guys? Asuaje made his major-league debut last year hitting .208 in seven games with San Diego and this year is 4-for-15 in six games with the big club while posting a .250/3/35 line at Triple-A El Paso. Once again, Asuaje was a logjam victim in Boston’s organization, though might be on the team right now. I mean hell, Tzu-Wei Lin has appeared in five-straight games.

Guerra has never advanced past A-Ball, where he hit .202 last year and is slashing .216 with four homers in 72 games this season.

Finally, there’s Allen, who is 5-4 with an impressive 2.11 ERA in 13 starts at Single-A Fort Wayne.

 

Yet none of that matters, because Craig Kimbrel is currently the best closer in the game having converted 29-straight saves at Fenway. Kimbrel is in another universe in 2017, as was evident by his dominant month of May in which he allowed just two hits and zero earned runs.

Outcome of trade – Win (Dombro’s record: 1-0)

 

  • December, 2015: Dombrowski trades pitchers, Jonathon Aro and Wade Miley, to the Seattle Mariners for pitchers, Carson Smith and Roenis Elias.

Miley started 19 games for Seattle, going 7-8 with a 4.98 ERA, before being dealt to Baltimore where he is 3-5 in 15 starts this year with a 4.48 ERA.

Aro tossed two-thirds of an inning for the Mariners last year, and has appeared in relief in nine games at Triple-A Tacoma in ’17, going 2-0 with an ERA of 4.96.

 

Sadly, those minimal returns are enough for the M’s to come out on top (as of now), as Smith threw just 2.2 innings for the Sox last year before being lost to Tommy John surgery. Meanwhile, Elias, who recorded an ERA of 12.91 in three games with the Sox last year, made just one start at Pawtucket this year, allowing 10 hits, nine runs and seven earned before being lost to a muscle strain after four innings of work.

Outcome of trade – Loss (Dombro’s record: 1-1)

 

  • July, 2016: Dombrowski trades second baseman, Wendell Rijo, and pitcher, Aaron Wilkerson, to Milwaukee Brewers for infielder, Aaron Hill.

Rijo hit .238 with four RBI in Single-A Carolina which somehow was good enough to merit a call-up to Double-A Biloxi, where he’s currently hitting .194 with four RBI. Wooooo!!!

Wilkerson is trapped in Double-A as well, where he’s spent most his career. The 28-year-old is 5-3 in 13 starts and has pitched in 78 minor league games over seven seasons.

 

We’re going to call this one a draw, though, as Hill offered the Red Sox diddlysquat once he came to town. (.218/2/9 in 47 games).

Outcome of trade – Wash (Dombro’s record: 1-1-1) (Suddenly this is soccer.)

 

  • July 2016: Dombrowski trades infielder, Luis Alejandro Basabe, and pitcher, Jose Almonte, to Arizona Diamondbacks for pitcher, Brad Ziegler.

Basabe is in his second full season of A-Ball and has struggled mightily since being dealt from the Sox. At the time of the trade, Basabe was hitting .310 in 64 games at Salem. Since, he hit .217 in 45 games to round out last year and so far in ’17 is batting just .229 with two homers and seven RBI in 53 games.

Almonte has a 3.32 ERA in 70 career starts between rookie ball and A-Ball, as the 21-year-old has shown promising signs, though is still a long way from the majors.

 

Because of this, Boston (for now) wins the deal by default. Ziegler was a solid option in the back-end of Boston’s bullpen during the second half of 2016 as the team won the AL East. The then-36-year-old posted a miniscule 1.52 ERA in 29.2 innings over 33 appearances.

Outcome of trade – Won (Dombro’s record: 2-1-1)

 

  • July, 2016: Dombrowski trades pitcher, Anderson Espinoza, to the San Diego Padres for pitcher, Drew Pomeranz.

This was a painful swallow for many, as Dombrowski parted ways with the Sox top pitching prospect in Espinoza to acquire an injury-prone all-star in Pomeranz. At just 19 years old, Espinoza has yet to pitch this season due to an arm injury. He went 6-11 with a 4.49 ERA in 24 starts between the two organizations a year ago. Some comparisons have the young righty as Pedro-esque, but we can’t overlook the fact he’s only a teenager.

 

After quite a bit of shakiness last year and the first part of this season, Pomeranz has rather surprisingly settled into the Sox rotation to post a 7-4 record, including an ERA of 1.53 over his last three starts. This may come as a shock to some, but I’m not afraid to say that at this moment, the Red Sox have won this trade.

Outcome of trade – Won (Dombro’s record: 3-1-1)

 

  • August, 2016: Dombrowski trades pitcher, Pat Light, to the Minnesota Twins for pitcher, Fernando Abad.

Light appeared in 15 games for Minnesota after the deal last year, posting an ERA of 9.00. The fire-baller has since been waived by the Twins, picked up by the Pirates, waived by the Pirates, and picked up by the Mariners, where he’s currently in Triple-A with an ERA of 4.82 in 24 total appearances.

 

After miserably failing the eye test in 2016, Abad has somehow danced around the raindrops this season, going 2-0 with a 3.42 ERA in 23.2 innings. That’s good enough to come out the victor.

Outcome of trade – Won (Dombro’s record: 4-1-1)

 

December, 2016: Dombrowski trades third/first baseman, Travis Shaw; infielder, Mauricio Dubon; and pitcher, Josh Pennington to the Milwaukee Brewers for pitcher, Tyler Thornburg.

This is where Dombrowski’s reputation takes a bit of a hit…Let’s begin with the positives. Pennington has yet to pitch in 2017. That’s it.

Dubon hit .276/2/24 in 71 games at Double-A Biloxi before earning a call to Triple-A Colorado Springs, where he’s appeared in four games, hitting .263 with three RBI. The 22-year-old is showing promise of being a solid utility infielder at the major-league level, with everyday player upside. That hurts a little.

This hurts a lot. Travis Shaw is absolutely raking as the cleanup hitter for the Brewers. Shaw has posted a .294/17/57 line thus far, and if you’re keeping score at home, has more hits, runs, doubles, home runs, RBI, a higher average, on base percentage, slugging percentage, OPS, and waaaaay less errors than all Red Sox third baseman combined this year.

 

Yeah, that one hurts even more considering Thornburg, who had an impressive 2.15 ERA in 67 innings last year, got hurt before he even threw an official pitch for Boston. Official diagnosis – Tommy John. Official trade outcome – loss.

Outcome of trade – Loss (Dombro’s record: 4-2-1)

 

December, 2017: Dombrowski trades second baseman, Yoan Moncada; pitcher, Michael Kopech; outfielder, Luis Alexander Basabe; and pitcher, Victor Diaz, to the Chicago White Sox for pitcher, Chris Sale.

The Sox had to pay a hefty price to get Sale and that’s just what they did, forking over baseball’s top prospect in Yoan Moncada. Moncada is hitting .278/9/27 in 64 games with Triple-A Charlotte, though it’s just a matter of time before the last place White Sox give him the call.

Kopech is 4-4 with an ERA of 3.38 and has an eye-popping 94 strikeouts in 72 innings pitched. Oh, and his agent claims he can throw a baseball 107 miles per hour.

The brother of Luis Alejandro, Luis Alexander is hitting .215 with three homers in advanced A-ball.

And Victor Diaz is currently playing on some team called the Kannapolis Intimidators, where he’s 0-1 with an ERA of 6.35 in five games out of the ‘pen.

 

Despite all the glowing reviews of the first two names mentioned in this deal, I could care less, because Chris Sale, to put it mildly, is a freaking monster. His historic start with the Red Sox has seen him go a cool 10-3 with a 2.77 ERA while being on pace for well over 300 strikeouts, a plateau which has only been crossed once since 2002, (Kershaw, 2015). He’s the clear-cut choice to start the All-Star game, the alfa dog of the Sox rotation and everything and then some that Sox fans could’ve dreamed they were acquiring. Either Moncada or Kopech will need to go on to careers where they develop into arguably the best player at their position to make this trade a draw. Both will need to do so for Chicago to come out on the winning side. Sale has been an All-Star and finished in the top-6 in Cy Young voting each of the five years he’s been a starter in the league and is on pace to do it for a sixth-straight year. I challenge Moncada and Kopech to do the like.

Outcome of trade – Won (Dombro’s record: 5-2-1)

 

So based on my definitive ranking of Dave Dombrowski’s dealings whilst in charge of the Red Sox, he comes out with an overall record of 5-2-1 (.625 winning percentage). Two years ago Boston was mired at the bottom of the AL East and looking for a quick fix. While some fans out there may be distraught at the sight of an empty cupboard, these deals have undoubtedly made the Red Sox better in the present. And that’s exactly what Dombrowski was brought in to do.

Mark Paulette is the senior producer of The Drive, weekdays 4pm to 6pm on 92.9fm The Ticket and streaming live at DriveShowMaine.com. Follow us on Twitter, @DriveShowMaine and “Like Us” on Facebook, Drive Show Maine.