By Gerard Lombardo – @wickedlinedrive
Dave Dombrowski has been unjustly accused of making poor personnel moves since his reign of executive supremacy in Boston began. Personally, the most “insider” look I’ve ever had of a general manager wheeling and dealing comes at the hands of Brad Pitt in Moneyball. Watching him as Billy Beane swing a deadline deal for Ricardo Rincon is as close as I’ll ever get to being involved in a major league transaction. But, I can evaluate a trade’s results, given enough time. And DD has improved the club dramatically with the additions of many, but mainly a few:
Chris Sale- 17 Wins, 308 K’s
Craig Kimbrel- K’d 49% of all batters faced
Drew Pomeranz- a legitimate 1A starter
Unfortunately leading up to the October 5th start to the divisional series, those three decided to take us all out for a nice seafood dinner, and never call us again.
Houston hits, and Houston hits well. Boston wasn’t going to outslug them, and on paper the defenses were a wash. So it’s not a leap to suggest in order to defeat the Astros, pitching would have to not just show up, but dominate. As in, possibly enter the unchartered territory known as the “6th inning.” And after the first two Minute Maid whitewashes, Chris and Drew left little doubt that we were watching a remake of the timeless classic, the 2016 ALDS sweep. Both pitchers failed miserably, Sale going five giving up seven earned, and Pom yanked just two innings into his start. Both outings being major contributing factors to the Sox falling into an 0-2 hole heading home to Fenway.
But Boston responded resiliently, raked and boomed their way to a game three win, and set themselves up for yet another possible postseason comeback. The stars appeared to align briefly on Columbus Day, as the hometown heroes actually held a late inning lead, with their ace on the mound, poised to head back to Houston in an anything-can-happen game five. Yet even as the stars alignment faltered when Sale allowed his fourth homerun in his 8th inning of postseason work, optimism was still palpable. We still had Kimbrel, we still had our 14-3 extra innings record, and we still would have Pomeranz, Price, and Kimbrel available for game five after an off day.
But as Sale bowed out, Dirty Craig became the newest Sox scapegoat in a post seasonal defeat, as his inability to throw strikes damaged not just Sale’s stat line, but any hope Boston had at advancing out of the divisional series for the first time since 2013. Clearly not the same closer as he is entering a bases empty 9th inning situation, the Red Sox closer had no rhythm against Houston, and made Rafy Devers’ potential 9th inning heroics nothing more than a cool story for the 20 year old to reminisce over.
This time, it wasn’t Matt Barnes or Heath Hembree out there (rightfully left off the roster) coughing up a late inning lead. It wasn’t Hanley in the middle of an 0-16 drought, or Devers struggling against lefties. Nor can we pin the series loss on the manager. It was the three mainstays of the 2017 season that failed; the 34 combined victories, the 35 saves, the 608 strikeouts combined, and the rock steady trio of arms that steadfastly started and victoriously ended so many games for Boston in 2017.
Sale, Pomeranz and Kimbrel will be here in 2018, hopefully dominating to the extent of this past regular season. But it’s not the stars that need fixing; it’s the additional pieces, the role players, the Ricardo Rincon’s that the roster lacks. The first pitch will fired on March 29th, and starting today, Dave Dombrowski has 25 weeks to rectify the roster situation.