Dave Dombrowski is going to have a lot of gigs from which to choose

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source: AP
Dave Dombrowski

Dave Dombrowski is 59 and unemployed. That’s scary for most people, but when you have his track record you could very well have your choice of your next gig. So, a day after he was let go, it’s worth thinking about where he might go after this season. Some candidates:

  • Boston: Larry Luchhino is stepping down at the end of the season and, while Sam Kennedy is taking over as team president, he’s not a baseball ops guy. It strikes me that the role of President of Baseball Operations so many teams now have over their GM is one that Ben Cherrington could easily fill based on his experience — is he any less qualified than Andrew Friedman was when he got the gig with Los Angeles? — but many in the Boston media are talking about Dombrowski coming in and a working above Ben Cherington. That’ll be interesting to watch;
  • Toronto: The Blue Jays are looking for a president, too, with Paul Beeston stepping down at the end of the season. It would be a different sort of setup for Dombrowski there than he had for the past 13 years in Detroit, with Rogers Communications usually setting a budget and stepping back as opposed to being open to persuasion about bold moves like Mike Illitch seemed to be. Still, the Jays have a nice core in place and could be winners for a while and that may be enticing;
  • Anaheim: This is one a lot of people are talking about due to Dombrowski’s reportedly close relationship with interim Angels GM Bill Stoneman. Also appealing is that the club requires the sort of team-building, as it were, that the Tigers of the past few years have: the maintenance of a winner, not a rebuild. The problem, of course, is that as we saw with Jerry Dipoto’s ouster, the GM is probably the least powerful person in that organization. If you think for a minute that Dombrowski wants to take orders from Mike Scioscia, you gotta be crazy. Also, like Detroit now, the Angels farm system is thin and whether Dombrowski wants to do that kind of building is an open question;
  • Seattle: This is based more on the notion that, after a disappointing year and underwhelming results, GM Jack Zduriencik is clearly on the hot seat. Howard Lincoln is the CEO of the club and he basically represents the absentee owners of Nintendo. There has always been the sense that, in some ways, Seattle operates like Toronto — corporate sets a budget and then steps back — but it could be that the Mariners are looking for a more dynamic front office setup. Or, at the very least, they should be;
  • Baltimore? Milwaukee?: Less chattered about in the past 24 hours, but interesting all the same. Doug Melvin has been said to be considering retirement. Dan Duquette in Baltimore was rumored to be up for the Jays job earlier this year so some musical chairs could happen. There are likely other teams who will find themselves with openings by the time, or soon after, the season ends.

Either way, this is a good time for Dombrowski to be on the market.

Orioles show progress in second year of rebuild under Elias

Trey Mancini
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If Baltimore Orioles general manager Mike Elias was to assess his rebuilding project on results alone, he’d take no satisfaction in finishing 10 games under .500 and in fourth place in the AL East.

Elias, however, remains focused on the long term. So he sees reason to be enthusiastic about the improvement the Orioles showed in the second year of his quest to bring glory days back to Baltimore.

Young starters Keegan Akin and Dean Kremer shined in their first season in the majors. Second-year starter John Means got in a groove in September, and Hunter Harvey and Tanner Scott took the next step in their development as effective relievers. The offense received a boost from the power of former No. 1 draft pick DJ Stewart, the all-around play of Anthony Santander and the surprising consistency of 23-year-old Ryan Mountcastle, who batted .333 with five homers and 23 RBIs in 35 games after making his long-awaited debut in August.

The Orioles were 20-21 on Sept. 8 before fading, but despite the slide they looked better than the team that suffered through two straight 100-loss seasons before negotiating this pandemic-shortened, 60-game slate.

“It’s very difficult for me to label any season a success where we have a losing record and don’t make the playoffs, but I see enough positive things where we can feel good that this year was not wasted and we made progress toward our ultimate goal,” Elias said. “I think that the style of play, the competitive nature of the team and the individual improvement was self-evident.”

It might be a while before the Orioles catch up to the Yankees, Tampa Bay and even Toronto in the AL East, but at least now there’s reason to believe Baltimore is on its way up.

“We’re really trending and heading the right direction, and that’s what you want to see in Year 2 of this,” manager Brandon Hyde said.

MISSING MANCINI

The Orioles played the entire season without their best player of 2019, slugger Trey Mancini, who was sidelined while receiving treatment for colon cancer.

Mancini batted .291 with 35 homers and 97 RBIs last year, numbers that would fit well into the middle of the batting order in 2021.

“We’re very hopeful and excited that he can come back and help us,” Elias said. “He went through a lot and is going to have get his strength back and baseball activities back, but we have nothing but confidence that he’s going to do it this offseason and have a great year.”

DAVIS A DOWNER

The sad saga of Chris Davis continued in 2020. In the fifth season of a seven-year, $161 million contract, the former two-time home run champ bottomed out with a .115 batting average, no homers and one RBI while battling injuries.

His extended slump, which began before Elias arrived, has been a hindrance in the rebuilding process because of Davis’ salary and age (34).

“It was not a successful year for Chris on a number of fronts,” Elias acknowledged. “It’s a tough situation for everyone involved. He is under contract with the team. There’s a lot that goes into that, and we do not have plans to alter that.”

LOOKING AHEAD

With no money generated from attendance, the Orioles will be very budget conscious in the months ahead.

“We’re going into a very uncertain offseason from a number of angles,” Elias said. “Baseball teams do a lot of planning and budgeting, and all of that is totally out the window because of this (pandemic) that turned the world upside down. We can’t estimate our revenue. There’s been a lack of ability to plan that we expect will persist this winter.”

Nonetheless, the Orioles are optimistic about what lies ahead.

“We’re seeing a youth movement on our team, and you can kind of look toward the future to what we’re going to look like in a couple years,” Hyde said. “Yeah, we’re taking our lumps. But we’re competing.”