Phillies hire Dave Dombrowski
One of the big stories in baseball this winter had been that the Phillies did not have a leader in place in their front office. After removing Matt Klentak from the role, they were slow moving in finding their replacement. There hadn’t been any reports of significant movement there until Thursday, when out of nowhere they made a big hire. That would be our old friend Dave Dombrowski, who agreed to take over the Phillies according to reports.
Dombrowski is something of a divisive figure in baseball, particularly among fans, as his aggressive style of team-building has fallen by the wayside in this league. At the end of the day, though, he gets results everywhere he goes. He helped build the Expos team that could have won in ‘94 in there hadn’t been a strike. He helped give the Marlins their first title and left many of the pieces for their second. He didn’t win a championship in Detroit but quickly transformed one of the worst teams of all time into a perennial contender. And then of course in Boston he built what will likely be the best Red Sox team any of us will ever see.
On the other side of the coin, he does tend to leave organizations in a rough spot with regards to their farm system, but I would argue that is the cost of doing business. If that’s what it takes to win — and again, he’s done just that at every job, and that ultimately is the only goal — who’s to complain? With the Phillies, he’s not exactly taking over a top-tier farm system, but to say they don’t have prospects would also be an oversimplification. The key here will be whether or not John Middleton, their owner, is willing to spend. He hasn’t seemed to be willing for much of this winter, but it’s hard to see Dombrowski taking this job without those assurances.
Prior to taking this job, he had been working with a group trying to get a major-league franchise in Nashville, and it didn’t appear there would be much that could pull him away from that. With the Phillies being able to lure him, you have to imagine Dombrowski will be given a lot of autonomy to do his thing. Given their roster, his kind of aggressive thinking is exactly what they need. Just, maybe let someone else take care of the bullpen decisions.
Rays trade Nate Lowe to Texas
Our long national nightmare is over. The Rays no longer have two men with the last name Lowe but with different pronunciations. On Thursday, Tampa Bay traded first baseman Nate Lowe, along with prospect Jake Guenther and a player to be named later to the Rangers for prospects Heriberto Hernandez, Osleivis Basabe, and Alexander Ovalles.
Lowe is the big name here insofar as there is one, as he has been solid in his chances over the last two seasons. He hasn’t been able to crack significant playing time due to the depth on Tampa’s roster, but he has put up a 107 OPS+ in both of his seasons with 245 plate appearances combined between the two years. While he’s played a couple of innings at third, Lowe is mostly a first baseman. He should have every opportunity to take over a full-time role with the Rangers, and at only 25 years old he represents a potential long-term answer at the cold corner for Texas.
Meanwhile, the Rays are able to make a trade like this where they get prospects for a major-leaguer while still trying to win because of Ji-Man Choi, who has taken a strong hold of the everyday first base job in Tampa. Hernandez, a catcher, and Basabe, an infielder, are the two best gets here for the Rays as they built what is already an extremely deep and talented farm system.