I don’t pretend to be in the inner circle when it comes to these things. But, I was a bit surprised when I heard that Mike Hazen was promoted to be the new General Manger for the Red Sox.
Now, obviously, it’s hardly ever surprising when an assistant is promoted to the main job. That’s how the last few GM’s have been selected, after all. But, from all I’d heard about Dave Dombrowski, he was an old school guy who would be looking for an old school GM. One who believed that stars were the key to winning. One that wanted to be great this year, not merely good for the next five. So, it was a bit of a shock to see him pluck someone from the current regime.
I have to admit, part of me was initially disappointed with the choice. I had been excited about the prospect of not idolizing prospects. Finally we’d have a GM who wouldn’t have two phenoms at catcher. The Sox wouldn’t have seven young outfielders. The extra prospects would be dealt off to fill other holes, not guarded like they were made of solid gold. So, to see that Dombrowski selected a former Red Sox VP of Player Development was a bit deflating. He wasn’t going to be objecting about this collection of kids the Sox have. He was never going to let Mookie slip away in a trade. He wasn’t going to decide which catcher the Sox should keep, and which they should flip now. This was going to be more of the same.
But, then I wondered…if this was the way things were going to end up…what chased away Ben Cherington? What made Ben think he needed to get out? Clearly Dombrowski was honest when he asked Ben to stick around. It wasn’t a pretend offer to save face when he hired “his” guy. He ended up hiring Ben’s guy. So, one can only assume this was the mindset he wanted to have all along.
Is he just looking for someone to argue with him before he does whatever he wants? Maybe that’s the part that drove Cherington away. I admire Dombrowski hiring someone with different views. Smart people do that. Maybe Cherington wasn’t willing, however, to simply offer up a conflicting viewpoint? Maybe he thought he’d grow tired of “Thanks for your suggestion, Ben, but we’re trading Vazquez anyway.” Maybe it was worth it to Hazen, if that’s what it took to get his foot in the GM door.
So, after thinking it over, I like the move. While I love the idea of using prospects as trade bait, it’s nice that there’s someone there who can say, “Dave, we REALLY like this one.” Sure, nobody on the team is untouchable anymore, but somebody needs to know how think your gloves need to be before you can touch them. Hopefully the whole will end up greater than the sum of the two parts. Because, I do like the idea of growing a farm system. I wouldn’t want the entire thing completely stripped. I just want some selective trimming.
As long as someone knows you can’t save every branch.