To date, Dave Dombrowski’s pitching acquisitions feel a little like a horror movie pitch.
Picture this: the producers are sitting in a Hollywood office behind a glass table, the City of Lights stretching out beyond the floor-to-ceiling plate glass windows. They’re wearing expensive suits, sans ties, with their hair gelled back and a practiced look of indifference. In other words, they look exactly like Dave Dombrowski and John Henry. In fact, they are Dave Dombrowski and John Henry. And maybe Tom Werner is sitting behind the table, too, with a gassy smile, looking a little like he might excuse himself at any moment because his IBS is flaring up.
You walk into the office, hands sweating and heart pounding. You have one minute to sell your screenplay. Go.
“In the small city of Fort Myers, Florida, everything seems sunny on the surface,” you begin. “The weather is warm, the skies cloudless. The pitchers report to camp brimming with optimism, awaiting a season of peak performance. They joke as they slow-jog on the lush outfield grass. Little do they know the peril that stalks them.
For every pitcher brought in from outside the organization, a phantom terror awaits. Within weeks of beginning their new training regimens, their pitching arms—their livelihoods and careers—will completely and inexplicably fall from their frames.
Combining The Fog and The Night of The Living Dead, The Foggy Night of the Living Dead Arms is guaranteed to terrify New Englanders everywhere.”
And you wait for the producers’ response—a steel silence stullifying the room. Then John Henry starts a slow clap, and Werner joins.
On the eve of the 2017 Opening Day (as I’m writing this), I’m already somewhat terrified. Not necessarily because I worry about the Red Sox competing in the loaded diaper that is the AL East, but because I worry that the pitchers coming from outside the organization, the ones Dombrowski sold the farm to acquire, seem to be dropping like decapitated extras in a B-zombie flick.
Let’s look at the body count, starting last spring. Carson Smith, who came from Seattle in the Wade Miley trade, promised to be a hard throwing set-up man out of the bullpen. But before he could make his presence known, the zombies ate his arm. He had Tommy John surgery last April, gone for last season, and he might comeback in June.
Then there was Drew Pomeranz, the All-Star starter from San Diego for whom Dombrowksi dealt for top-prospect Anderson Espinoza. Needless to say, Pomeranz’s performance in Boston was underwhelming at best, finishing the season with a record of 3-5 and a 4.50 ERA with the Red Sox. The zombies got him as well, and now he’s starting the season on the 10-day disabled list with arm tightness.
Then the Red Sox dealt Travis Shaw and prospects to Milwaukee for reliever Trevor Thornburg. But guess what? But the fog encroached on him. He will also be starting the season on the disabled list.
And, finally, there’s everyone’s favorite snowflake—and his dog, Astro—David Price. The fog, the zombies and the Ghost of Postseasons Past seem to have caught up with the $30 million man that no one in Boston understands. He is also starting the season on the 10-day DL, but forgive me if I believe this might be something more serious.
So who could be the next one to succumb? I won’t say the name in fear of jinxing it, but certain deliveries make me feel like a teenage babysitter when the phone rings and the kids are upstairs, asleep.
So the question remains: Does this have something to do with the Red Sox training regimen, as Dave Dombrowski adamantly and defensively denied in Jason Mastrodonato’s Herald piece? Or is Dombrowksi selling the farm and throwing around cash for lemons. Neither scenario is exactly palatable.
The slow clap stops, and you’ve finished your pitch. Then Dombrowski lowers his glasses, peering at you over the rims. “It just doesn’t work for me,” he says.
No. Me neither.