By Jim Churchill
Over the last several days, two additional high profile individuals have departed the Red Sox front office. Former Sox GM Mike Hazen moved on to the Arizona Diamondbacks to lead their baseball operation. Highly regarded Amiel Sawdaye, who was vice-president of amateur and international scouting with Boston, followed Hazen to the Diamondbacks. Speculation is rampant that Red Sox bench coach Torey Lovullo will also soon be taking up residence in Arizona as well.
Nobody can fault people for moving up the ladder. Hazen was the “general manager” with the Red Sox, but we all know President of Baseball Operations Dave Dombrowski handles almost all of the duties a traditional GM would be responsible for. Sawdaye was interviewed for the “GM” position with Boston after Hazen’s departure, but chose to be an assistant to Hazen versus being a potential assistant to Dombrowski.
Other front office personnel to leave since Dombrowski’s arrival include former GM Ben Cherington, former scouting director Jared Porter, former assistant scouting director Steve Sanders, former Pacific Rim scouting director Jon Deeble and senior analyst Tom Tippett. Jed Hoyer (now the Cubs general manager) and Jason McLeod left after the 2009 season for the Padres. And, of course, Theo Epstein departed for the Cubs after the 2011 season.
Have Red Sox owners John Henry and Tom Werner lost their magnetism? If only their personal magnetic powers matched their egos. These two will always be trying (and failing) to be Robert Kraft.
It is fair to say that the main reason for the surge by the Red Sox to the AL East title in 2016 was the core of outstanding young talent in the Boston lineup. Mookie Betts is a legitimate AL MVP candidate. Xander Bogaerts is an all-star shortstop. Jackie Bradley, Jr. is considered one of the best defensive outfielders in baseball and this year showed off his slugging potential. Andrew Benintendi jumped from Portland to Boston late in the season and showed no signs of being in awe of the bright lights. Travis Shaw, Christian Vazquez and Blake Swihart have shown flashes while working around injuries for the latter two. Yoan Moncada, Sam Travis, Mauricio Dubon and Rafael Devers are knocking on the Fenway door.
Who is responsible for a pretty steady stream of talent signed and developed in the Red Sox system? Well, that would be the likes of Epstein, Hoyer, Cherington, Hazen, Sawdaye, et al. In fairness, this group was not as productive in developing top notch young pitchers, but the Red Sox system has been one of the best for several years.
Larry Lucchino, a master politician, fought for and won major power within the Red Sox organization. He used that power to annoy so many within the system and ultimately Theo had had enough.
With Lucchino out of the picture is Dave Dombrowski looking to consolidate his own power? It would appear so. After telling us the Sox would be hiring a new general manager, likely from within, Dombrowski has gone the “assistant” route. After losing so much front office talent, why aren’t they recruiting from other organizations? Is Dombrowski’s old buddy Frank Wren the best he can do?
Where is this organization headed? I am concerned that at the ages of 60, 66 and 67 respectively, Dombrowski, Werner and Henry are now most concerned about their egos and their legacies. This may cloud their decision-making and could spell trouble for the future of the Red Sox.
Jim Churchill is the host 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.