Roughly six weeks after the Red Sox hired Dave Dombrowski to serve as their new president of baseball operations, prompting GM Ben Cherington to resign, the Red Sox named Cherington’s top lieutenant — assistant GM Mike Hazen — as their new general manager. Hazen’s promotion was officially announced at a press conference yesterday. Here are some takeaways from the conference as well as reactions to the Sox’ decision to stay in house as opposed to selecting someone outside the organization…
- Via the Boston Globe’s Alex Speier (Twitter link), Dombrowski said yesterday that a list of about 30 general manager candidates was compiled early in the search. However, somewhat surprisingly, only two candidates — Hazen and Astros director of player development Quinton McCracken — were formally interviewed.
- In a full column, Speier writes that Hazen had the opportunity to pursue advancement with another organization six years ago but elected to remain with the Red Sox. When Jed Hoyer left Boston to become GM of the Padres, he offered Hazen, who was then Boston’s director of player development, the opportunity to be an assistant GM in San Diego. Hazen, a Massachusetts native, spoke yesterday about the decision to remain in Boston due to a passion for the Red Sox. The ability to impact a team for which he grew up cheering trumped the notion of climbing the front-office ladder in a new organization.
- Speier also spoke to Hazen’s Princeton baseball coach, Scott Bradley, at length about the way in which Hazen broke into the front office game; Bradley introduced Hazen to Peter Gammons after Hazen’s minor league career ended, and after doing some work scouting the Cape Cod League, an impressed Gammons put him in touch with Indians GM Mark Shapiro, encouraging Shapiro to hire him as an intern. Shapiro made the hire, and within a month contacted Bradley and Gammons to profess what a special career he believed Hazen to have in front of him.
- Gammons recalls the story from his own end (Twitter links from Gammons), explaining that Bradley initially called him seeking an opportunity for Hazen, whom he described as the best leader he’d ever coached. Gammons set up the scouting internship and promised to send Hazen’s reports to GMs around the league, and Shapiro “immediately hired Mike” after being impressed by his work. Gammons considers Hazen one of the most honest people in the game and adds that Dombrowski won’t ever get anything other than what Hazen truly believes in terms of feedback.
- The promotion of Hazen is a vote of continuity for the Red Sox, writes the Providence Journal’s Tim Britton. Twenty-two members of the current front office piled in the back of yesterday’s press conference to applaud Hazen, and as Britton notes, his ascension to GM all but ensures that there won’t be a mass exodus of front office talent from the pre-existing regime. Dombrowski is quoted as speaking highly of Hazen and the baseball ops staff that he inherited upon being hired. Hazen will have Dombrowski’s ear on all baseball ops decisions, especially early on as Dombrowski familiarizes himself with the system. Britton reports that Hazen interviewed for the Angels’ GM opening last week as well, and Speier noted in the above-linked piece that the Brewers had sought permission to interview him also.
- Though McCracken wasn’t hired as Boston’s GM, Dombrowski told reporters that he was thoroughly impressed with his interview. Per the Houston Chronicle’s Evan Drellich, Dombrowski sees a bright future for McCracken: “Quinton McCracken is going to be a general manager. There is no doubt in my mind. He’s got a lot of great qualities.” Dombrowski also cited his experience in the game and the fact that many GM candidates seek final authority over baseball operations decisions — something the Sox wouldn’t be offering, given Dombrowski’s role as president — as reasons that only two candidates were interviewed.
- Scott Lauber of the Boston Herald writes that Hazen’s honesty and personality make him well-suited to fill the sometimes-difficult role of being a GM that works underneath a president. Hazen’s former Princeton coach spoke to Lauber as well, explaining why that’s the case. “I think Mike will be his own person, but he’s also such a team guy that he will work really, really well with Dave in that regard,” said Bradley. “Too many people in those types of (GM) positions in baseball avoid really difficult conversations. I think that’s Mike’s strength. That’s who he is.”
- Dombrowski will be faced with an offseason of trying to clean up some missteps by the Red Sox — most notably the signings of Hanley Ramirez and Pablo Sandoval, writes ESPN Boston’s Gordon Edes. Ramirez, as was announced yesterday, won’t play again this offseason due to a shoulder injury, of which the origin is unknown. Edes points out that in a way, Dombrowski and Hazen wouldn’t be in this spot were it not for those signings, as Cherington’s job probably wouldn’t have been in danger had neither player been signed to his ill-fated contract. Dombrowski gave a diplomatic answer when asked about Ramirez, as Edes notes, stating that he’d be the team’s first baseman in 2016. That could, clearly, change depending on the course of the offseason.
- Cherington texted the Boston Herald’s Jason Mastrodonato and expressed praise and congratulations for his former assistant (Twitter link). “Mike is very deserving and ready to be a GM and I think the Red Sox made a smart choice,” said Cherington.