Friday marks the one-month anniversary of the Red Sox naming Dave Dombrowski president of baseball operations. It has been a busy four weeks.
Dombrowski ended Hanley Ramirez's futile tenure as a left fielder, having him work at first base. He also made changes within the framework of the organization to better focus on the drafting and development of pitchers.
There has been a series of individual meetings with many of the approximately 150 staffers whose jobs fall under the umbrella of baseball operations. At the same time, Dombrowski has closely watched the team play to determine how best to assemble the roster for next season.
That has included going on the road. The Sox have played 12 games away from Fenway Park since Dombrowski was hired, and he has attended nine of them. He'll be with the team in Toronto this weekend.
Dombrowski stopped long enough to field a series of questions about what he has learned so far and what his plans are for the future.
Q: What in your mind is the biggest area in need of improvement?
DD: "It's pitching, and that starts with the bullpen. When I say that, there are some positive things. But the bullpen has to be addressed. It's been hard because [Koji] Uehara has been out the whole time I've been here and [Junichi] Tazawa has had a tired arm.
"They are key pieces in the bullpen, and I haven't really had a chance to view them. I need more time to sit down with people and discuss the situation. There are some good things there. But you have to be in a position where you can legitimately count on people to fill some roles."
Q: Is this team close to contending again?
DD: "I don't think we're far away. I think we have a chance to compete with some of the right moves and the right things happening. There's a good core of players here and good young players. They continue to improve.
"I've been in situations I walked into and you know you're a long way away. I don't feel that way."
Q: Has your impression of the team and its needs changed since you took the job?
DD: "I had only watched them play a little bit before. I have a better feeling now, having watched the young players more. You can see that some of them are really talented players and they could get better and better. That's how you win."
Q: What has been your impression of Torey Lovullo and how he's handled filling in for John Farrell?
DD: "I think he's handled it great. I don't think he could handle it any better. He's taken charge; he's made decisions he needed to. He's given the courtesies to John, his friend. I think he's done great."
Q: Whether it's with the Red Sox or another team, do you see him as a major league manager?
DD: "I would think, certainly. I think he can be a manager at the big-league level. I've only been around him a month. I had never known him before, other than I'm sure I shook his hand at some point.
"But he's handled himself well. I think he has set himself up. I'm sure people have noticed how well he's done."
Q: How are you looking at first base in 2016? Is Hanley Ramirez the first baseman?
DD: "I would think that. But I'm not ready to make declarations for the wintertime yet. I'd still like to see him out there at some point, but we're not going to rush him.
"Our indications are from the drills that he's taken are that he'll be able to handle first base and catch ground balls. He'll have to improve on the footwork, but he'll have six, seven weeks to do that in spring training. We're hopeful, but I don't want to make that declaration."
Q: How do you view Joe Kelly next season, as a starter or a reliever?
DD: "He can start, and if he can start, there's usually more value than being in the bullpen. I don't see why he can't be a starter. We have to have some guys who can pitch a lot of innings. But what he has shown so far, he has the ability to be a big-league starter. He's got the stuff to be a big-league starter."
Q: You have been an advocate of using Mookie Betts, Jackie Bradley Jr., and Rusney Castillo in the outfield. Do you see them as the starting outfield next season?
DD: "I'm not ready to declare things going into next season. I want to be careful about that. But I like them. We like them. They're talented all-around guys. They have multiple tools. They're good defensive outfielders. They can throw; they can run; they can hit. They have shown the ability to improve. Right now I would say it's very positive in that regard."
Q: You were interested in signing Castillo out of Cuba when you were with Detroit. Has he developed like you thought he would?
DD: "He'll even get better because he hasn't played that much. He was off for a long time. He'll continue to improve. You can see his abilities."
Q: Is there a particular aspect of your job you've particularly enjoyed?
DD: "I think it's a fun experience to be part of this organization. There are so many good things about it.
"When you start talking about the Red Sox franchise, Fenway Park, the passion of the fans, the ownership. There are a lot of good people in the organization, a lot of talented people. It has been exhilarating day in and day out. Every day I wake up and my plate's full. It's exhilarating but it's fun."
Q: As somebody with a long career in baseball, what has working at Fenway Park been like?
DD: "You almost have to pinch yourself at times. I've sat up in the office, and you look out at the park and you see a place that's iconic in the game. You're going there to do your job and it's a great experience. You sometimes say, 'Wow, this is really happening.' "
Q: Would you consider a woman to become your general manager?
DD: "Sure I would. Sure."
Q: Is there a woman you are considering?
DD: "Well, there are people of all types of facets on my list."
Q: Jason Varitek and Pedro Martinez were special assistants under Ben Cherington. What is their status?
DD: "I've talked to both of them on the phone. I want them to continue along those lines. They're both coming in next week to visit face to face.
“I have to get a better feel of the situation. I talked to Jason for quite a long time on the phone. It sounded great and I look forward to visiting with him.”