Life of a Sportsaholic

This blog is intended to be insight into my life as an irrational, stats-driven, obsessive sports fan in Boston. I am a fan of all types of sports with an emphasis on Boston teams and am a proud UConn alum.

Tag: dave dombrowski

The End is Near for John Farrell

Boston Globe

Another year, another #FireFarrell campaign in Red Sox nation. Manager John Farrell has probably spent more time on the hot seat in recent years than in the lazy boy, but are we close to the point when GM Dave Dombrowski will actually pull the trigger? The 22-21 Red Sox are definitely floundering at the season’s quarter-pole and can’t seem to get out of their own way, even against inferior teams like the Oakland Athletics. They pulled out a victory on Sunday to avoid a 4-game sweep at the hands of the lowly As, which likely just delays the inevitable. Although the alternatives aren’t great or obvious, Farrell is skating on a barely frozen pond going into a 6-game homestand.

Farrell’s in-game struggles have been well documented over the years, but many look past that challenge and feel he is a good clubhouse/dugout presence. I’m not sure that’s true anymore. He is losing the clubhouse and still looking lost in on-field decision making. His confrontation with Drew Pomeranz in the Red Sox dugout on Saturday was a bad look for both the player and manager, as Pomeranz just walked away in the middle of Farrell verbally going after him. This was an even worse look after the recent Manny Machado saga, in which Farrell proved he either 1. Has no baseball sense what-so-ever or 2. Has no control over his team.

Given recent struggles, it’s fair to start thinking about who might replace Farrell in the event he is fired. It’s likely that, at least on interim basis, someone from within the organization will take the helm. The most obvious choice is Gary DiSarcina. The bench coach usually gets the first look when a manager is fired (i.e. Torey Lovullo), and DiSarcina seems to be a well-liked person with 4 winning seasons as a minor league manager. He’s spent time at the MLB level as a 1st and 3rd base coach with the Angels and obviously with the Red Sox in his current capacity since November. DiSarcina won Minor League Coach of the Year from Baseball America in 2013. The Malden native has the potential to be a longer-term solution if things go well.

The other interim options include the beloved 3rd base coach Brian Butterfield, who is not likely to get a permanent manager job and 1st base coach Ruben Amaro Jr, who is a far inferior candidate in my mind. Neither excite me in any way and I believe both would be only temporary solutions to try and salvage the season.

The other option is to go outside the organization, but that becomes very difficult mid-season, especially when not many other quality managers have been handed their pink slips yet. When bringing someone in from the outside, you expect that person to be a more permanent solution going forward, making it a tougher decision in May.

If I were Dave Dombrowski, I would pull the trigger on #FireFarrell early, before the season gets out of hand and spirals. Don’t wait too long like the Bruins did this past season when firing Claude Julien. Promote DiSarcina and give him a fair shake the remainder of the season. If he succeeds, give him a deal, if not, you’re not in any worse of a position to dig into what is likely to be a more robust managerial pool in the offseason. The John Farrell experiment has run it’s course and it’s time to end the misery. Players and fans are both ready to move on.

Repercussions for Red Sox with Mike Hazen’s Departure

AP Photo/Patrick Semansky

AP Photo/Patrick Semansky

Less than 2 weeks after the quick end to the Red Sox season, there have been a few major headlines regarding management. The first was president Dave Dombrowski announcing manager John Farrell and his entire staff will be welcomed back for the 2017 season just hours after the season ended so abruptly. The 2nd big piece of news involved a departure on Sunday. Red Sox GM Mike Hazen agreed to become the Arizona Diamondbacks GM yesterday, leaving the organization after 11 years. The move makes sense for Hazen and could be great for Arizona, but could leave the Red Sox in a bit of a bind.

After spending years in various scouting and development roles, Hazen spent 4 years as the Red Sox assistant GM before becoming the GM following Ben Cherington’s departure last off-season. After president Dave Dombrowski was hired, it was clear that Hazen was #2 in command despite dropping the assistant off of his title. The move to Arizona gives him a better title (Executive Vice President and GM) and gives the 40-year old more authority than he had in Boston with a basically clean slate. His departure alone isn’t a major issue, but who he might take with him to Arizona may be.

With a vacancy at manager and other front office positions to fill, Hazen will likely be taking a closer look at the people he knows well from his time in Boston. One name that continues to surface is Red Sox bench coach Torey Lovullo, who Hazen reportedly has a good relationship with. Lovullo made a managerial name for himself after stepping in for John Farrell following a lymphoma diagnosis in August of 2015. He led a bad and struggling team to a 28-20 record to finish the season and seemed to have a great ability to bring the team together and help the younger players develop. For many, he is seen as the heir apparent for Farrell if things go south to begin next season. Many, myself included, believed he would be the manager going into the 2017 season.

Hazen will likely at least interview Lovullo for the Arizona job. It’s certainly not the end of the world if Lovullo leaves for Arizona, but it removes a stable and knowledgeable voice from the dugout, which Farrell desperately needs. Lovullo and Farrell are good friends and having a sounding board for big decisions in Lovullo has been critical to limiting Farrell’s odd in-game mistakes. Also, without Lovullo it will be much harder to cut ties with Farrell in the event of a slow start to 2017, because there isn’t a clear next-in-line to take over.

Whether it is Arizona with Mike Hazen or another team who comes calling, Lovullo will likely have an opportunity to manage in 2017, making the decision to keep Farrell even more costly if he isn’t successful.

Most Important Win of the Season for the Red Sox

pedroia bogaerts celebrate

For most fans, Sunday’s game against the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim would be the first game of the series they could watch start to finish. With the Red Sox traveling on the west coast, the first 3 games of the series began at either 9 or 10 pm on the east coast, resulting in games ending just too late. The Sunday 4pm start time was a treat, but most of the game wasn’t. Missed opportunities (8 left on base) and a lack of timely hitting put the Red Sox in a 3-0 hole going into the bottom of the 9th, a situation the team has not been able to overcome all year…until yesterday.

With their back firmly against the wall and a bad loss staring them in the face, the Red Sox showed some life for the first time in a while. After a Jackie Bradley Jr. walk and an Aaron Hill single, the Red Sox had something going. Then, the collective hearts sank when Ryan Hanigan and Brock Holt struck out back to back. It was up to Mookie Betts, who with 2 outs in the 9th, down 3 runs, finally put the Red Sox on the board with a line-drive base hit into right field. It was then all on the shoulders of Dustin Pedroia, who had a sombrero to that point in the game (3 Ks). With one swing of the bat, the Red Sox were lifted off the mat and brought back to life. A 417 ft HR to center field gave the Red Sox their first lead of the game and it would stick for a huge W.

That HR is the biggest hit of the 2016 season, hands down. If Pedroia makes the final out, the Red Sox fall to .500 on the road this season, 2.5 games back in 3rd place in the AL East and walk away losing 3 out of 4 against the Angels. Instead, they are 23-21 on the road, are just 1.5 games back in the division and have a thrilling series split to carry them to Seattle. The win prevents them from losing 6 of their last 7 (although losing 5 of their last 7 isn’t good, it’s better) and hopefully gives them some momentum moving forward and into Monday’s non-waiver trade deadline. Does that hit push Dave Dombrowski to make a big move on Monday and really believe in this team? I don’t know, but I promise you it didn’t hurt.

Drew Pomeranz Bolsters Red Sox Starting Rotation

Dustin Bradford/Icon Sportswire

Dustin Bradford/Icon Sportswire

On the final day of the all-star break Red Sox President of Baseball Operations Dave Dombrowski finally addressed the biggest hole in the roster: starting pitching. In a one-for-one trade, the Red Sox let go of a top pitching prospect 18-year old Anderson Espinoza for lefty Drew Pomeranz. Espinoza was the 15th highest ranked prospect according to Baseball America’s mid-season rankings and was drawing comparisons to Pedro Martinez. Pomeranz on the other hand has had a very strong season with the San Diego Padres with an 8-7 record and a fantastic 2.47 ERA and 10.1 K/9 ratio in a career-high 102 innings pitched.

At 27 years old, Pomeranz in a great investment for the Red Sox, but not without some serious concern. Despite incredible numbers against the AL East, .190 opponent batting average and 46 Ks in 16 games, the sample size is very small. I always get a little weary of pitchers with amazing ERAs in the NL coming to the AL East, because pitchers tend to look much less dominant when facing strong lineups every time out and ERAs tend to cimb. Another concern is his workload. He has already eclipsed his career high in innings pitched in the first half of 2016, so it will be interesting to monitor how he handles more and more work down the stretch. It’s a big unknown.

That being said, I am always a fan of giving up a very young prospect for a fairly young established major-leaguer. This move shows me that Dombrowski really is committed to winning now. Pomeranz has proven he can pitch well at the highest level and although Espinoza is drawing some incredible comparisons, he is 18 years old pitching in A ball and is 5 years away from having a direct impact on the big leagues, if he ever gets there. The Padres are taking on future risk, while the Red Sox could potentially improve there team tomorrow (or Wednesday when Pomeranz makes his debut).

With any trade, only time will tell who is the real “winner”, but I like this move for the Red Sox. I don’t think Pomeranz is the answer to all pitching woes, but he certainly gives the team a hopefully reliable starter every 5 days and help the team push towards the postseason. I have a feeling Dombrowski isn’t done yet, with 2 weeks remaining until the trade deadline.

Injuries Mounting as Red Sox Add a Bullpen Arm

Anthony Gruppuso/USA TODAY Sports

Anthony Gruppuso/USA TODAY Sports

After Friday night’s win over the Tampa Bay Rays, Dave Dombrowski worked into the night to bring in a back end bullpen arm. Earlier in the day, Junichi Tazawa and Craig Kimbrel were both unavailable due to injury, leaving a few giant holes in the ‘pen. We know now that Kimbrel had torn his meniscus going for a ground ball in batting practice and will need surgery (out 3-6 weeks). To add depth to the ‘pen Dombrowski traded RHP Jose Almonte and infielder Luis Alejandro Basabe to the Arizona Diamondback for set-up man Brad Ziegler.

Ziegler is a legit late-inning arm who can close if needed. The side-armer is 36-years old and has a 2.82 ERA with just 1 HR allowed in 38.1 innings this year with the DBacks. He has walked 15 batters this year, more than you would like to see, but should compliment the other bullpen arms well. Given Kimbrel’s injury and Koji Uehara‘s age, I think Ziegler will get some set-up and closing opportunities over the next few weeks. His veteran presence should help stabilize a sometimes shaky bullpen down the stretch.

Also on Friday night, Brock Holt left with and ankle sprain and Hanley Ramirez fouled a ball of his shin. Both did not play on Saturday and I would guess will not play Sunday as well, given the extended all-star break begins on Monday. They can rest and be fully ready to go when the Red Sox return to action on Friday, July 15th in the Bronx against the Yankees.

Pitching Trade Talks Heating Up

Gary Landers/AP Photo

Gary Landers/AP Photo

After the Red Sox acquired infielder Aaron Hill from the Milwaukee Brewers on Thursday, Dave Dombrowski said other trade talks were beginning to gain steam. We know Dombrowski has been on the phones inquiring about pitchers throughout the majors, but until now, those talks have appeared to be very preliminary. With many pitching trade rumors being associated with the Red Sox, let’s take a look at three potential trade partners for Boston.

Atlanta Braves

One of the biggest names being tossed around is Julio Teheran of the Braves. The 25-year old is a very talented young starter who is stuck on a terrible Braves team. This year he is 3-7 with a 2.72 ERA and 105 Ks in 112.2 innings. He has allowed 15 HRs and throughout his young career has allowed 1.1 HRs a game, which is not ideal, but certainly not a deal-breaker. The Braves also have closer Arodys Vizcaino who like Teheran, is 25-years old and has been strong at the back-end of the bullpen. He has a 2.75 ERA and 10 saves in 2016, with 47 Ks in 36 innings.

I could easily see the Braves not taking calls on either pitcher considering they need to rebuild around somebody, but on the flip side, if the Red Sox are willing to part with a few of their top prospects, it might entice the Braves to be realistic about a rebuild that will take a few more years.

Philadelphia Phillies

Jon Paul Morosi of FOX Sports has been reporting that the Red Sox have interesting in Phillies starting pitcher Jeremy Hellickson. Many Red Sox fans will remember Hellickson from his 5 years with the Tampa Bay Rays. He is a solid rotation arm who has a career ERA a touch below 4 and could provide some back of the rotation stability. This season, Hellickson is 6-6 with a 3.92 ERA and 93 Ks in 105.2 innings. He has allowed 16 HRs this year in the NL, but could provide a veteran presence and hopefully some consistency.

As mentioned above, he already knows pitching in the AL East, so has an advantage on day 1. He will also likely take fewer prospects to acquire, so could be a slightly cheaper alternative.

Oakland Athletics

The name Sonny Gray has been floating around Red Sox circles for a few years now. Until this season, Gray has been one of the best pitchers in the majors since his debut in 2013. The 26-year old has had an abysmal 2016 season and is sitting with a 3-8 record and 5.16 ERA. His BB/9 is well above his career average (3.4) and his K/9 is below his career average (7.1). Given the hot start to his career, you have to believe this year is an aberration for Gray.

The Athletics are in 4th place in the AL West and 12 games under .500, so are likely looking to sell before the deadline. If they are willing to part with Gray, the price will likely be lower than at this point last season, but still relatively steep given his age and past history. A change of scenery is probably a good thing for the young starter at this point in his career.

Stay tuned to Life of a Sportsaholic for updates and new rumors as we approach the non-waiver trade deadline.

Red Sox Acquire Infielder Aaron Hill

Roy Dabner/Journal Sentinel

Roy Dabner/Journal Sentinel

The Red Sox made a move today that involved a pitcher, but it wasn’t to bring one in, it was to ship one out. The Red Sox sent RHP Aaron Wilkerson and 2B Wendell Rijo to Milwaukee for veteran infielder Aaron Hill. After being traded to the Brewers earlier this year, Hill has hit .283 with 8 HRs and 29 RBIs in 78 games. Many Red Sox fans may remember Hill from his 5+ years spent in the AL East with the Toronto Blue Jays. At 34 years old, he is a stable veteran presence who will get some good playing time backing up Travis Shaw, Dustin Pedroia, and Hanley Ramirez.

Wilkerson is a nice prospect, but not likely a long-term solution for the Red Sox in the starting rotation. Capitalizing on his great year in Pawtucket by getting a major league asset back via trade is a smart move from Dave Dombrowski. Rijo was ranked as the 17th best prospect in the Red Sox system and at 2B, is behind a lot of talent before he reaches the majors, so an easily expendable piece.

This was a nice depth move that makes the Red Sox major league roster a little better. We are all awaiting a pitching move or two to really get excited about.

Red Sox Climbing Back

AP Photo

AP Photo

After an absolutely abysmal performance on Saturday in their 21-2 loss to the Angels, the Red Sox have bounced back with back-to-back wins. Those two wins are especially important because the Baltimore Orioles have lost 3 straight and now are only 2 games ahead of the Red Sox for the AL East lead. Some fans have been put slightly at ease now that the Red Sox sit with the 4th best winning percentage in the AL. The rotation and bullpen still have some major issues, but at least the offense is coming back to life with 22 runs in the last 2 games.

After all the fire John Farrell talk heading into the holiday weekend and the amplified voice after Saturday’s debacle, the hot seat seems to be cooling ever so slightly. His voice in the clubhouse may or may not be weaker than in the past, but regardless, the Red Sox don’t have the pitching personnel to be a serious contender and that isn’t Farrell’s fault. I have always felt that if you needed to motivate your players, firing Farrell would be the most logical first attempt at sending a message, but ultimately the roster needs to improve for sustained success regardless of who is in the manager’s chair.

Sitting just 2 games back of 1st place, the Red Sox are definitely buyers with around 3 weeks until the trade deadline. As long as they don’t slide backwards, Dave Dombrowski should be aggressive in bringing in a rotation and late-inning bullpen arm if he is truly committed to making a run in the postseason. Over the next few weeks I’ll highlight some potential moves Dombrowski can make to improve the Red Sox and potentially put them in a position to make noise in the postseason.