The Yankees, as they were pummeling the Red Sox, could not have known or cared Boston’s GM was about to be “eliminated” as well. There’s a moral to the story, though…
The Yankees and Red Sox get together nineteen times a year. But the front offices of both teams engage in a far more significant battle 365 days a year.
Without players in proper places, the rivalry on the field is muted, and possibly even non-existent. Working in partnership with owners, the job of the General Manager is to ensure his players are up to meeting the challenge of opposing players.
The Red Sox were not up to that challenge this year. The Yankees are, and their 13-5 record against their arch-rival proves it.
Thus, Dave Dombrowski was dismissed last night with one-year remaining on his contract with the Red Sox. While noteworthy and the headline of the day in baseball, these things do not happen in a vacuum.
The proverbial writing was on the wall a year ago when Dombrowski was not offered an extension. Following on the heels of the Red Sox romp over the Yankees in the ALCS and their eventual World Series Title, this was noticeable.
Respected writers in the Boston circle like Dan O’Shaughnessy hinted of a rift between Dombroski and ownership and disputes about territorial boundaries. The truth will be revealed.
Winning Is Everything – And The Sox Fall Short
But, in the end, it comes down to the sorry state of the Red Sox in the AL East Standings, which show them a full 17.5 games behind the Yankees and virtually dormant in the Wild Card race.
Dombrowski dances the two-step with ownership, as do Brian Cashman and Hal Steinbrenner. But the results are widely divergent.
No GM signs Chris Sale to an extension that guarantees an additional $145 million from 2020 to 2024 without the approval of ownership.
No GM signs Xander Bogaerts to an extension, which including his 2019 salary of $12 million, Bogaerts is inked for the next seven years at $132 million without the approval of ownership.
And no team takes on Nathan Eovaldi (a Yankees castoff) based solely on his performance in the postseason for four years at a reported $67.5 million – without the approval of ownership.
And no one said no when Dombrowski signed injury-riddled David Price to a seven-year / $217,000,000 contract with the Boston Red Sox, with all monies guaranteed, and an annual average salary of $31,000,000.
Yankees vs. Red Sox – A Study In Due Diligence
Unlike the Yankees in recent years, the Red Sox have been free spenders. The Sox spent until they can spend no more. The team is due to be levied a luxury tax at the end of the season. Win and all is forgiven, and the checks begrudgingly get signed.
Notwithstanding last year’s dominance of the Yankees by the Red Sox, Brian Cashman’s team finished eight games out – not more than double that at seventeen-and-a-half games. And do recall the Yankees did qualify as a Wild Card, something not in reach of Boston this season.
The salient point is the Yankees front office has whipped their counterparts in Boston. The credit for that has to go to Brian Cashman.
But he’ll be the first to tell you how much he relies on his staff and, most of all a harmonious relationship with his boss, Hal Steinbrenner.
The Yankees have carefully balanced their needs now versus the future by parting ways with up and comers in their farm system gingerly while the Red Sox have not.
In their trade to obtain Chris Sale from the White Sox, for instance, the Red Sox parted ways with a heavy load from their farm system.
Of note is Yoan Moncada, who has played 114 games for the White Sox while batting .297 with 22 home runs and 66 driven home.
The Red Sox were due for upheaval and Dombrowski may well be the scapegoat. Their starting pitching makes the Yankees look like Houston’s entourage. And their bullpen without Craig Kimbrel is non-existent.
And it doesn’t get better for the team from Boston. Mookie Betts is salivating at the prospect of free agency, and he already rejected a seven-year $200 million offering from the Red Sox Sox in 2017. Rafael Devers and Andrew Benintendi are on the horizon.
The team’s best starter, Eduardo Rodriquez (17-5), is signed only for one year. Surely, he will be banging on the door for far more than the $4.3 million he earned this year.
The Yankees have their problems as well. Among other challenges, the team needs to decide on free-agent Didi Gregorius, the search for a big and expensive talent on the market (think Gerrit Cole).
And then, there are possible extensions to Aaron Judge and Gary Sanchez before they reach the stratosphere in the arbitration years to consider.
The Yankees Part Ways With The Red Sox
But the singular difference between the front offices of the Yankees and the Red Sox is that Brian Cashman has an understanding and respect for economics. If it doesn’t fit, don’t buy it.
The Yankees way now is to make a calculated and responsible offer – and that’s it. There are no bidding wars. This practice was seen in the pursuit of both Dallas Keuchel and Manny Machado, both of whom ended up elsewhere. The Red Sox – not so much.
The gamesmanship will continue between the two teams and most especially within their front offices. Score one for the Yankees, both on and off the field…