Elections, Barack Obama once acknowledged, have consequences. And so, too, do hugely disappointing seasons, especially ones that cost nearly a quarter of a billion dollars to finance.
It's been five days since Boston Globe columnist Dan Shaughnessy wrote that he believed Dave Dombrowski would not return as president of baseball operations next season. Since then, there's been nothing said, issued or refuted by the team's upper management or ownership (oh, and the team heard boobirds from their faithful Saturday while the Red Sox were blasted 12-4, by an Angels team that had lost eight straight, to fall 15 games back in the division and six games out of the second wild-card spot).
Follow-up questions have resulted in either "no comment'' or outright avoidance of the issue.
Think about it: if the Red Sox truly wanted to send the message that Shaughnessy's reporting was without merit, they've had ample opportunity to do so -- and yet, have not. That silence, it would seem, speaks volumes.
Indeed, around the game, there is a consensus that Dombrowski will not be back for another season.
Here are seven thoughts on the subject of Dombrowski, his future and where the Red Sox might turn next.
1. A number of people in the industry believe Dombrowski will be fired.
"I'm assuming that will happen,'' said one baseball source. "They're coming up on a difficult offseason and I can't see (the Red Sox) thinking that he's the guy to oversee that.''
Over the course of the season, the fact that no extension was in place for Dombrowski didn't go unnoticed. And now that simply qualifying for the playoffs at all is a decided longshot, the Red Sox have their "out.'' It would hardly make sense to have Dombrowski on the job this offseason if he's not going to see through the result of his work.
Similarly, it would be difficult for Dombrowski to go into 2020 without an extension place, serving as a lame-duck executive.
Among the items on the to-do list this winter: determine the fate of Mookie Betts, who is eligible for free agency after 2020; decide whether to re-sign J.D. Martinez if he exercises his opt-out clause; oversee the continued overhaul of the minor league system; and above all, for the immediate improvement of the team, fix the team's pitching issues.
"Dave's fine for when you're trying to win right now,'' said an executive with another team. "But this is a team that's sort of in transition and has some things to figure out. It just feels like this might be the time to move on.''
2. In an increasingly collaborative business, Dombrowski has tended to maintain a small circle of advisors.
Shaughnessy's report painted Dombrowski as something of a lone wolf within the organization, relying on Frank Wren and Tony La Russa as trusted voices, but few others. (Dombrowski, to his credit, communicates daily with manager Alex Cora and involves him in roster decisions).
Others in the organization, however, have felt shut out of the decision-making process, which tends to depress morale, and over time, leads to defections from the Baseball Operations department.
Another executive noted that, for someone who's been in the game for more than 30 years, Dombrowski doesn't have much of a "tree'' -- that is, people with whom he's worked and brought along. Wren fits that description, dating back to Dombrowski's time in Montreal and Florida.
But otherwise, Dombrowski has tended to operate independently, without a support network or band of close associates.
3. John Henry is tired of spending so much money.