Under cover of darkness, Red Sox rid themselves of Dombrowski

Alan Greenwood

One did not have to channel Nostradamus to see Dave Dombrowski’s fate weeks ago.

One ancient baseball bromide applied to disappointing teams tells us that it’s easier to fire one manager than to fire 25 players.

Dombrowski’s firing as Grand Poobah for Baseball Operations amends that little nugget of wisdom: It’s easier to fire the one Grand Poobah than to fire a popular field manager and 25 players.

Divorcing logic from emotion, even the heartiest Red Sox fan understood reality well before Sunday night’s (or Monday morning’s) firing. The pitching had completely collapsed, to the point that not even a top-shelf offense could cover that disaster.

Presumably, Dombrowski saw it coming, too. The man is a baseball lifer, a seamhead with four decades of experience in an industry that has become more unforgiving as payrolls became more bloated.

This season, the Red Sox paid their players more than any other team in baseball. That includes the Yankees, no stranger to that perch, the Astros, a team with enough quality pitching to stock two clubs, and the Dodgers. Not to mention the resurgent Minnesota Twins, the Cleveland Indians and the little engine that can based in St. Petersburg, Fla.

The only surprising, even baffling part of Dombrowski’s dismissal is its logistics. He got the boot after Sunday night’s 10-5 loss to the Yankees, a game that likely drew tens of viewers from New England as it went up against the Patriots’ thrashing of the Steelers.

After midnight, the world discovered that the Red Sox sacked Dombrowski – that is, the world that was not celebrating the Patriots’ romp or falling asleep. Why they did it under cover of darkness, with three weeks left in this dismal season, will eventually be found out.

That tale will certainly be more interesting than the sterile press release issued Monday morning. In the written statement, owner John Henry, co-owner Tom Werner and team CEO Sam Kennedy lavished Dombrowski with so much praise and thanks that a reader might think they might have second thoughts and call him back in.

Ultimately, Dombrowski fired himself. He did next to nothing to address his wobbly bullpen over the winter and did the minimum to prop up his starting rotation once it became clear that it needed mid-season bolstering. Essentially, he raised the white flag on this lost season earlier than he should have.

On the plus side of his four-year tenure, the Red Sox won three AL East titles and a World Series. The 2018 Red Sox made room for itself as the best in the franchise’s history.

But he cleaned out his desk Sunday night having given his successor(s) lots of difficult decisions to make this winter, and little wiggle room in which to make them.

For Dombrowski personally, it is just as well that his demise came via a whisper in the middle of the night.

Contact Alan Greenwood at 594-1248, agreenwood@nashuatelegraph.com, or @Telegraph_AlanG.com.