Dave Dombrowski said at his opening news conference that he did not arrive in Boston to “blow things up.”
And the Red Sox’ president of baseball operations hasn’t.
While Dombrowski said there will be changes, he kept some continuity Wednesday by naming Gus Quattlebaum the team’s director of pro scouting, and he hired former major league pitcher Brian Bannister to the newly developed role of director of pitching analysis and development.
Quattlebaum, who is from Andover, was the assistant to Jared Porter, who left the organization to join the Cubs as director of pro scouting and special assistant to Theo Epstein.
Quattlebaum certainly was a part of the personnel decisions made by the pro scouting staff, but Dombrowski, following a lengthy meeting with Quattlebaum and the recommendations of scouts and others in the Red Sox organization, promoted him.
“I like Gus and what he brings to the organization. A lot of energy. He’ll take charge of that and coordinate our professional scouting,” Dombrowski said.
Quattlebaum has been with the Red Sox for 10 years and was not only assistant director of pro scouting, but of international scouting as well. The Davidson College graduate began his baseball career as a player development intern for the Expos in 1998. Before coming to the Red Sox, Quattlebaum served as a scout in the Yankees (1999-2003) and Orioles (2004-06) organizations.
“I think continuity is extremely important assuming you have good people,” Dombrowski said. “I think the best organizations in baseball generally have a lot of continuity and I said when I first came here there’s a lot of good people here. I’ve met with a lot of good people.”
The one big job he hasn’t filled yet is general manager; he said he has compiled a list of possibilities but has yet to act on it. The Red Sox will be required to interview minority candidates for the job.
“I think if you give people an opportunity and structure some things differently, and I’m sure there will be some changes, some people won’t want to work with me. That’s the way it goes. But I think continuity is important,” Dombrowski said.
Even before Dombrowski arrived, chairman Tom Werner had emphasized that he wanted a pitching guru in the organization to identify top amateur and pro pitching. When Dombrowski was with the Tigers he employed former Red Sox pitcher and coach Al Nipper in that role.
Bannister’s role will be slightly different because much of it will be analytics-based. And while Bannister will have a lot of say in pitching recommendations, Dombrowski made it clear he will not be the be-all end-all when it comes to pitching.
But the hire certainly reflects Dombrowski’s willingness to embrace analytics-based data when it comes to pitching. Dombrowski said Bannister impressed him with his presentation and the types of data he can provide.
Dombrowski was all ears and appreciated the effort and thought Bannister put into his presentation, and thus created a new job for him.
“He’s a quality individual, very intelligent,” Dombrowski said. “He’s got a different way of approaching analytics. He’s been a major league pitcher. He grew up around the game. His dad [Floyd] was someone I knew. Brian was a guy who really learned how to pitch, studied how to pitch.
“He made a presentation to me. He explained to me what it’s all about. We created a unique position. He’s in charge of developing players from an analytic approach and also a pitching philosophy. He’ll work closely with Ben Crockett. He’s already talking to [pitching coach] Carl Willis, but he’ll report directly to me. So we’ll see if we can do things a little bit better and give us an edge.”
Bannister was hired by the Red Sox this year as a pro scout and analyst. He played five seasons in the majors between the Mets (2006) and Royals (2007-10), finishing third in American League Rookie of the Year voting with the Royals in 2007. The native of Arizona was selected by the Red Sox out of the University of Southern California in the 2002 June draft but didn’t sign. Floyd Bannister pitched for the White Sox when Dombrowski was in that organization as an assistant GM.
Bannister was also involved not long ago in a study of physicists on the effects of doctoring a baseball. Bannister played the role of the pitcher, doctoring the ball via scuffing, and other liquids and materials.
“One of the things we identified is to do some things from a pitching perspective and bring those ideas together, as far as trying to further develop pitchers a little bit better,” Dombrowski said. “Look more analytical and develop a coaching philosophy in the organization.
“We also had a cross checker that was never really replaced for whatever reason. So we decided to have that job replaced with Chris Mears, a very respected scout.”
Bannister is big on spin rates and bio-mechanics, so that should bring the Red Sox into the 21st century on that front. Dombrowski said he’ll use Bannister for recommendations on the major league staff as well.
“I could see where you get a lot of great information,” Dombrowski said. “How do we get that edge? It’s something we always talked about in Detroit. We had more support staff here. And here’s a guy like Brian right here. Other people told me you need to spend some time with this guy, he’s really sharp.”
Dombrowski said he will still rely on scouting as his main source for pitching recommendations, but will incorporate Bannister’s input.
“Not my main source, he’ll be an important part, not my main source,” Dombrowski said. “We’ll be heavy on scouting and that will be a big part of it. There are some adjustments we’ll make in our scouting and how we do things.”
But this is a big leap for Dombrowski, who always has been seen as a traditional GM, who now has created a position that is unique in baseball. You can bet that Dombrowski will provide a counter to Bannister, a pure pitching scout like he had with Nipper.