BOSTON -- Questions raised by the announcement Tuesday night that David Dombrowski will be the new president of baseball operations for the Boston Red Sox:
Did Sox principal owner John W. Henry abandon his support of Ben Cherington -- after declaring in June that Cherington would be the team's general manager for a "long time?"
Depends on how you parse the answer. The Red Sox wanted Cherington to remain GM. Dombrowski said Tuesday night that he still had hopes that afternoon that Cherington would stay with the club in that position. But Cherington, his authority to make baseball decisions now ceded to Dombrowski, decided he did not want to stay under reduced circumstances and is bowing out after assisting in the transition.
When Dombrowski was fired by the Tigers two weeks ago, the Sox were not intent on sacking Cherington and replacing him with Dombrowski. Henry, who had Dombrowski as his GM for four years while owner of the Florida Marlins (1998-2001), reached out to Dombrowski shortly after he was fired, but it wasn't until Henry, chairman Tom Werner and partner Mike Gordon met with Dombrowski last week in Chicago that the process accelerated. Dombrowski also met with two other clubs, and there was considerable speculation that he would succeed Paul Beeston as president in Toronto.
But instead, the Sox on Sunday succeeded in bringing Dombrowski on board, adopting the same management structure employed by a number of other teams who have both a president and GM of baseball operations, including the Los Angeles Dodgers, Chicago Cubs, Chicago White Sox, Philadelphia Phillies and Arizona Diamondbacks.
Dombrowski said that with Cherington out of the mix, he plans to hire a new general manager. One possibility is Frank Wren, who worked with Dombrowski in both Montreal and Florida and was fired by the Braves as their general manager last fall.
What is the future of John Farrell's position as the team's manager?
A delicate question on a day when Farrell began chemotherapy for an aggressive form of non-Hodgkin's lymphoma (Burkitt lymphoma), but one that was caught at an early stage and is highly treatable.
Dombrowski told USA Today that he has already talked to Farrell by phone. Farrell remains highly regarded within the ownership structure, and there is a presumption that he will be kept on. Still, that decision will ultimately be made by Dombrowski, who undoubtedly will exercise great sensitivity as he addresses the issue. The guess here: Farrell returns as manager in 2016.
Former Angels GM Jerry DiPoto was recently hired by the Sox as a consultant to evaluate the talent within the team's system and also offer assistance in the formation of the team's offseason strategy. What happens to him?
Again, it will be Dombrowski's decision, but given the role was always intended to be temporary, there is some hope within the organization that Dombrowski will be open to using him in the coming weeks.
While Dombrowski and DiPoto have always had an amicable relationship, it appears unlikely that he would be considered for the permanent GM position. Dombrowski's career in baseball began in 1978 as an administrative assistant with the White Sox. Ten years later, he became GM of the Montreal Expos, three weeks before his 32nd birthday, the youngest GM in the game at the time. He has forged numerous close relationships in his nearly 40 years in the game and will have no trouble assembling a list of prospective GM candidates.
What of Cherington's top lieutenants, including assistants Mike Hazen and Allard Baird, scouting director Amiel Sawdaye and farm director Ben Crockett?
The short answer is they all remain under contract, but there almost certainly will be changes. Hazen has interviewed for other GM positions and might make the cut here, but Dombrowski almost certainly will bring in his own advisers, and, according to one source, there is nothing that would keep Dombrowski from hiring people who worked for him with the Tigers. One of Dombrowski's baseball "wise men" in Detroit was Scott Reid, who worked with Dombrowski in both Florida and Detroit and was the Tigers' vice president of player personnel.
New Tigers GM Al Avila replaced Reid with Scott Bream when Alva succeeded Dombrowski. Another longtime Dombrowski confidant in both Florida and Detroit is Dick Egan, who held the title of special assistant with the Tigers.
How does the timing of Dombrowski's hiring help the Red Sox?
The timing could not be more beneficial to Sox, especially since Dombrowski intends to go right to work as soon as he is officially announced as the team's first president of baseball operations.
Under normal circumstances, had the Red Sox waited until the end of the regular season to make a change, it probably would not have been until November at the earliest that they would have had a new man in place. But because Dombrowski was fired by the Detroit Tigers, the Sox were able to put him in place two weeks later, which gives him a head start on evaluating the club and formulating plans for the offseason.
Dombrowski took a Tigers team that lost 119 games and three years later won a pennant. Even though the Red Sox are headed toward their third last-place finish in the past four years, he has a much better core of talent with which to work here. He has an enviable record of making trades, netting such players as Miguel Cabrera, Max Scherzer, Gary Sheffield, David Price, and Jose Iglesias in past deals. Iglesias came from the Red Sox, as did Yoenis Cespedes, whom Dombrowski acquired for pitcher Rick Porcello and then flipped to the Mets once the Tigers fell out of contention.
He can be expected to make bold moves in Boston, too.