When I was talking to Flynn about what to write for Boston Week this year I suggested ranking the Boston team’s front offices. He thought it was interesting but made an interesting observation – doing it since 01 would be pretty biased. While we may consider that the beginning of Boston sports dominance, it’s really the beginning of the Patriots dominance. So we agreed to rank the front offices for their efforts over the past five years.
Let’s start at the bottom.
Tied for Last : Red Sox and Bruins
I’ll be honest: I don’t really follow the Bruins. Over the last five seasons they’ve been somewhat mediocre. Part of that seems like poor coaching and keeping Claude on the staff is just as much of a decision as firing him was after years of mediocrity. Now, it seems like they’ve turned things around. They’re starting to bring in the next crop of young talent with Pastrnak and McAvoy and they’re awesome again.
As for the Sox, they succeeded in 2013 by not over committing to players and by bringing in high character guys. They built a great culture that was a perfect counter to the chicken and beer fiasco from 2011 and the result was a championship.
What happened next? Well, they finished in the basement for two consecutive years. Then they turned around gave two contracts worth close to a quarter of a billion dollars to Pablo Sandoval and Hanley Ramirez. Pablo worked out for a bit…
Since then they won the AL East in back to back years for the first time ever (how has this not happened before??) but they’ve been bounced from the playoffs in round 1 both years with relative ease. Still, they’ve done an excellent job developing young talent. It’s crazy looking back and seeing how the Sox used to rely so heavily on trades and free agency to build out their rosters. Check out their starting 9 from their championship teams in 04 and 07. Now? Look around. Almost the entire lineup is homegrown talent. Their commitment to developing their own talent is outstanding.
Finally, while it’s still early and tough to truly judge Dombrowski, I will say that he is way too willing to trade prospects for relievers. Sometimes it works out like it did with Craig Kimbrel. Other times, not so much. Is Tyler Thornberg a real person?
Overall both of these teams have had a tumultuous past five years yet they both appear to be set up pretty well going forward. How would I plot these front office performances?
Just. Like. That.
P.S. – Ignore the details of the graph like the axes and focus on the general trends.
Two Championships. Nearly 3. So, why aren’t they first? Well, they came into 2013 with the best coach, quarterback, and tight end. Tons of existing talent. Still, the team has been able to identify so many under the radar players, build them up, and then let them go in free agency only to do the same thing again the next year. Guys like Dion Lewis and Akeem Ayers. They were nobodies when they came here on cheap deals. But they were put in a great position to showcase their skills and before you know it they were free agents making out like Scrooge McDuck. Whether that’s more front office for identifying the players, or coaching for building them up, is tough to say. Regardless the front office deserves some credit here.
Also, consider that the team hasn’t drafted in the first round in years and they are still able to bring in high producing players in the later rounds.
Where the Sox and Bruins have been up and down over the past five years, the Patriots have basically stayed the same, mayyyybeee a slight dip this past year considering the Jimmy G trade.
How they’re trending:
How could you not love what Danny Ainge has done?
When the big 3 came together we thought we had a three year window. We ended up riding with KG and Pierce probably for a little longer than we would’ve liked. Without much young talent on the roster it seemed like the C’s were doomed to mediocrity for the foreseeable future. But then, in 2013, Danny pulled off two moves that changed everything:
- He signed Brad Stevens, the best coach in the NBA. Just like Belichick he has a knack for getting marginal players to play well beyond their abilities. Just look at how guys like Isaiah Thomas and Jae Crowder have played in Boston compared to how they’ve played everywhere else.
- Trading away an aging KG and Paul Pierce to the Nets for basically what amounts to Jaylen Brown, Jayson Tatum, a piece that helped land Kyrie, and the Kings pick next year. Pretty incredible.
Not only that but the Celtics are now starting to land big name free agents like Al Horford and Gordon Hayward. When have the Celtics ever been a serious destination for those types of players?
And the result:
Alright that’s it. Agree? Disagree? Leave a comment and let me know!