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Appreciating Dave Dombrowski

He’s not bad.

New York Yankees v Boston Red Sox
Photo by Rich Gagnon/Getty Images

I don’t think too many people truly dislike Dave Dombrowski. At least, I hope that’s the case. While he’s amassed a reputation for trading prospects more quickly than fans can learn their names, he’s usually come out ahead in these deals and run several successful teams as a result.

The biggest knock against Dombrowski among Red Sox fans may be the Tyler Thornburg trade. It’s been discussed enough that I think everything that could possibly be said about it has been said. While the trade was bad, it was one of the few that you can objectively say has not worked out in his favor since arriving in Boston.

Of course, with so many of these trades, it takes time to truly figure out who “won”. While I am of the belief the Drew Pomeranz/Anderson Espinoza trade was good, it’s not the only valid viewpoint on that deal. However, those with the opinion that Espinoza was too much to give up for Pomeran have to wait a long time for Espinoza to prove them right.

Boston Red Sox v Kansas City Royals Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images

Espinoza is currently preparing to get his 2017 season underway after dealing with forearm tightness that has delayed his first full-season with the Padres organization. So the wait is going to get even longer for those in opposition to that trade. It’s worth noting that Pomeranz has been a surprising staple of this team in a season where David Price missed significant time and Eduardo Rodriguez was put on the shelf with his own injury.

There are other such debateable moves that will take time to evaluate. For all the hand-wringing of prospects, however, the players acquired have more or less been as advertised and the prices for said players have generally been within acceptable market values. While it’s easy to argue that Dombrowski gave up too much (at the time) for Craig Kimbrel, it’s hard to argue with what Kimbrel has done this season. These are the types of deals that has made Dombrowski one of the more respected baseball leaders in the game today.

I feel the need to bring this up, because I suffered a harsh blow recently. See, I’m a fan of the Chicago Bulls. I have been since I was a kid, long before I followed baseball in earnest. It is generally fun to be a Bulls fan but in recent history the fun has been a bit... subdued. For all the complaints about parity and competitiveness in the NBA, my main gripe has been with how the Bulls are run.

As I write this piece, the Bulls have traded away Jimmy Butler (by far their best player, a premier two-way player who should get a haul if traded) against all logic. They traded him (and the 16th pick in the draft) for Kris Dunn, Zach LaVine, and the 7th pick in the draft. There’s still a lot of time for the book to be written on Dunn and LaVine, but it is a very underwhelming haul when you consider the nature of who Jimmy Butler is. Dunn hasn’t looked nearly as special as his draft stock from a year ago would indicate (was drafted 5th overall, in a draft of 60 players). LaVine is pretty good at dunking, and is a genuinely fun and decent player, one who is an acceptable centerpiece, if he can play 82 games. He played 47 last year. The difference between the 7th and the 16th pick isn’t great enough to justify the difference in talent levels, however.

Had the 16th pick been left out, the trade would have been ok, but sad to see. It would have been ok value, enough to justify moving away your best player and going for a full rebuild.

To give you an idea of how upsetting this trade is, I’d feel exactly like this if the Red Sox traded Xander Bogaerts (who we’ll pretend has said he wants to stay in Boston) and Rafael Devers to the Braves for Ozzie Albies, Sean Newcomb, and Brandon Phillips.

It’s not a perfect comparison, of course. Baseball and basketball are two totally different sports, that rely on totally different skillsets and mindsets in order to succeed. But it is a trade that is similarly awful looking, and shows you the point. On paper it might look fair, but in your heart you know full well that you just got robbed. It’s an awful trade, a type of trade that Dombrowski would never make.

Later on in the night, they would trade their other draft pick to the Warriors (as if they needed more help) for 3.5 million dollars. In the span of a single night, they sold their future, in addition to their present. The only foreseeable strategy they have chosen is one where they hope their overpriced veterans leave or retire, to use the money on free agent signings. But with all the negative things coming out of tonight, I can’t imagine any free agents wanting to go to Chicago, even on max contracts.

I’m considering cashing in my fan-card with the Bulls. I’ve always been a fan of the team, longer than I’ve been a Red Sox fan. One isolated incident isn’t enough, but this is the same team that once traded two first-round picks and a future second round pick for the right to draft Doug McDermott (who is no longer with the team, and was not a good player). Misery isn’t a singular event for the Bulls, and they are knowingly going backwards for no reasonable rationale.

The Bulls are run by Gar Forman and John Paxson. Be thankful that Dave Dombrowski isn’t them. Be thankful that the Red Sox aren’t being run into the ground intentionally.