It’s difficult to find fault with the Red Sox hiring of Tony La Russa as vice president/special assistant to president of baseball operations this past week. La Russa was a brilliant manager and tactician throughout his long career and his presence can only be a positive influence upon incoming rookie manager Alex Cora.
Importantly, La Russa said all the right things about allowing Cora his own space and not sending mixed messages – to the players and those outside the organization – about who’s in charge in the dugout and in the clubhouse.
But a more troubling story line is emerging throughout the game regarding the Red Sox. Since Dave Dombrowski’s hiring in August of 2015, the Red Sox have gone from being at the vanguard of the analytics movement to falling behind the competition.
This is precisely what some feared upon Dombrowski’s arrival. He had earned the reputation as an effective but decidedly “old school’’ executive in Detroit, where the Tigers lagged in adapting to the model so many other successful franchises had embraced.
At his introductory press conference, Dombrowski maintained that he wasn’t philosophically opposed to embracing analytics and noted the Tigers failure to do so was more a matter of resources than his own resistance.
And indeed, Dombrowski has empowered the team’s analytics/data department, ably headed by Zach Scott, and has encouraged its input.