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Some thoughts about the Dombrowski press conference

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He said a lot

MLB: Philadelphia Phillies at Miami Marlins Rhona Wise-USA TODAY Sports

Dave Dombrowski met with the press corps yesterday, giving his end of the season address. He was asked a wide ranging set of questions and gave some interesting answers. Here, you can watch the entire thing for yourself.

Some thoughts:

  • Obviously, the biggest takeaway is Dombrowski confirming that Didi Gregorius isn’t guaranteed the starting job as the shortstop. Having watched him this year, it’s kind of obvious that he hasn’t come anywhere near earning the benefit of the doubt. What was a little more eyebrow raising was the fact that he specifically said they were looking for a shortstop.

“We need to get better at shortstop. If it’s internally or externally, whatever it may be, we need to do that.”

It’s interesting in that here is the top baseball decision maker openly saying the team wants a shortstop even though they have Gregorius on the roster. It’s an admission that Gregorius is no longer viewed as a viable option there if they had their druthers, so it can come as a bit of a breath of fresh air that they are at least acknowledging they need to get better there. They aren’t just going with the status quo. Who that shortstop is - Gregorius, one of the big free agents, a trade - remains to be seen, but seeing that they are ready to acknowledge he was an issue in 2021 is good to see.

  • Knowing they need a leadoff hitter is another thing that is nice to see him acknowledge. What is a little disconcerting was he was surprised that their leadoff hitters had the worst OBP in the game. Was he not paying attention? It was written about not just by us, but many others were pretty open about criticizing the revolving door atop the lineup.
  • The discussion about payroll and the lack of constraints from ownership feels like a bending of the truth. Former TGPer Paul Boye also caught on to it.

I don’t want to characterize this as lying, but maybe let’s call it an “alternative to the truth”. We’ve heard from Dombrowski and Matt Klentak that the ownership level has never given an order to stay below the luxury tax, yet the evidence we’ve seen present is contrary to that. In trading for Brandon Workman last year, Klentak continued to dance around the topic.

It also nudged the Phillies closer to the $208 million luxury-tax threshold, although they did receive financial aid — $815,000, according to a source — from the Red Sox to defray the roughly $1.1 million that Workman and Hembree would have counted against the tax bill. The Phillies were roughly $3 million below the threshold before the trade. Klentak continued to characterize the luxury-tax threshold as “a guide, not a hard barrier.”

Even with the team in contention for the National League East division all year, the deal they made this year for Kyle Gibson and Ian Kennedy once again had them brush the tax without going over. Until we actually see it, it has to be assumed that the luxury tax and going over it is still to be avoided at all costs.

  • The whole thing about the contract option that does apparently exist on Joe Girardi’s contract was odd. Since Dombrowski didn’t sign him, it’s defensible that he didn’t know the option for 2023 existed, but c’mon man. You can’t go into a press conference about your team, knowing you’ll be asked about the manager’s status beyond the next season and not know what his contract says. It’s not a hard thing to figure out. If there was one thing in the press conference that made you question Dombrowski, that was it.
  • On the other hand, it feels much better listening to Dombrowski than it ever did listening to Klentak. Whenever Klentak talked, it felt like a large dose of gobbledygook being spoon-fed to the reporters as he tried to get around actually answering questions. You can absolutely understand why Andy MacPhail hired him. For five years, MacPhail never did anything any answering questions about the direction of this franchise other than brag about replacing the outdated cupholders on seats in Citizens Bank Park. While I, and many others, were happy when Klentak was hired since it signaled a philosophical shift change in the organization, it’s clear now that he damaged this team almost beyond repair. Listening to Dombrowski give clear and obvious answers to questions was refreshing.