BOSTON (AP) — New Red Sox president of baseball operations Dave Dombrowski thought enough of the team to pick Boston over other suitors.
Now he’s going to spend the next six weeks trying to figure out what’s worth keeping — in the front office, on the field at Fenway Park and in the minor leagues.
“I’m not here to blow up the organization,” Dombrowski said at a Fenway Park news conference Wednesday, a day after he was hired. “They have a lot of good people here.”
Speaking to reporters a day after a mid-game shake-up that left general manager Ben Cherington on the outs, Dombrowski said he would be hiring a general manager but was in no rush. He did not discuss the future of manager John Farrell, who is on leave from the team after being diagnosed with what he said was a treatable form of cancer.
Dombrowski said he spoke to Farrell on Tuesday night – after he underwent his first chemotherapy session – but just told him they would meet after the manager was healthy again. In Farrell’s absence, bench coach Torey Lovullo is managing the team, which entered Wednesday night with a 53-66 record, 14 games behind the rival New York Yankees in the AL East.
Red Sox owner John Henry began the news conference with a statement that acknowledged the team’s failures in finishing last two of the last three seasons. (In 2013, the club won the World Series for the third time in a decade, but the first in Cherington’s tenure.)
“As owners, we’re all responsible for the poor results we’ve had, and for results going forward,” Henry said. “Dave Dombrowski is an architect of team-building the right way. For almost three decades now, he’s earned the respect of almost everyone in the game.”
The general manager of the Montreal Expos at the age of 32, Dombrowski won the 1997 World Series with the Florida Marlins and led the Tigers to the Series twice. But he was let go on Aug. 8 with Detroit languishing below .500.
Henry said he decided to pursue Dombrowski when he “became a free agent” less than a week after the Red Sox announced that president and CEO Lucchino would be stepping down at the end of the season.
Chief Operating Officer Sam Kennedy was named Lucchino’s successor on the business side; he attended Wednesday’s news conference along with chairman Tom Werner, prompting Henry to explain: “This is really our lineup for 2016 and beyond.”
Although Dombrowski would be installed above Cherington in the baseball decision-making, “Ben did not object” to discussing the job with him, Henry said.
Up until Dombrowski was hired, the top Red Sox brass – including the new president – hoped that Cherington would stay, they said. Cherington declined, and on Tuesday night it was announced that he would be leaving after sticking around to help with the transition.
“We think the world of Ben,” Werner said. “We are disappointed but respectful of his decision.”
Cherington said later that he was surprised when Henry and Werner told him on Saturday that they were pursuing Dombrowski. Although he had pledged to do what he could to make the Red Sox better, the GM thought it was time to go.
“I felt strongly that what was best for Dave, what was best for me, what was best for the Red Sox was the same thing, and that was a clean break,” he said. “I have great respect for Dave Dombrowski. His resume speaks for itself. He will be an asset clearly for the Red Sox and I wish him and I wish the Red Sox nothing but the best going forward.”
Cleveland manager Terry Francona, who was with Boston from 2004-11, said “this place is never boring” before the Indians faced the Red Sox.