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Dombrowski shares thoughts on Sox's roster

After dealing Porcello to Boston, newly hired exec gives righty vote of confidence

BOSTON -- In the coming days, Dave Dombrowski will be completely immersed in all things Red Sox.

But the club's new president of baseball operations provided several interesting glimpses into his thought process during his introduction to the media on Wednesday.

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Hanley's future in outfield? Prior to this season, the Red Sox signed Hanley Ramirez to a four-year, $88 million contract to be their new left fielder. As recently as Tuesday, the club sounded adamant that Ramirez could still be an outfielder in 2016 and beyond. Dombrowski sounded less certain.

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"Hanley can swing the bat," said Dombrowski. "I know his numbers aren't as good this year as they have been. He's been hurt a little, but he can hit. What's his best position? I'm not sure at this point. I haven't seen him play left field very much.

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"The one thing you have to be careful about, and I've had some experiences with even good athletes: You just can't assume that they can play a new position. I've seen it not work at times. There's always a correlation between [being] a liability [on defense] and how well they hit.

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"That's just what it comes down to, no matter who they are or where they are. You're willing to give a little bit more on defense on some spots if they crush the ball. I've had those types of guys. But we also want to make sure that if you're doing that, that they've got to crush the ball. I'm not referring to him. I'm just talking in general."

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An ace for the rotation: The Red Sox made a controversial decision this season to try to win with a rotation that didn't have a true ace. It doesn't sound like Dombrowski would have been on board with that.

"Normally, if you're going to have a world championship club, you need to have a No. 1 type of guy," said Dombrowski. "Normally that's the case. Again, you're talking about flexibility and building a roster; that doesn't mean that you might not have more middle-of-the-rotation guys if your bullpen is extremely good.

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"But ideally, you want to have a top-of-the-rotation guy if you go forward. It gives you not only a better chance to win that game, it takes some of the pressure off the other pitchers. You're also in a spot where they give you more innings, you can rest your bullpen a little bit more."

Pitchers in their 30s: In recent years, the Red Sox have been hesitant to sign pitchers in their 30s to lucrative contracts. That played a large role in the club allowing Jon Lester to sign with the Cubs. Where does Dombrowski stand on the value of such pitchers?

"I think that every pitcher will run into their 30s at some point if they sign a long-term contract; it's how long into their 30s that they will go," said Dombrowski. "So, [Anibal] Sanchez, and he's not having as good a year, but he's still an effective big league pitcher. In [Justin] Verlander's case, he was the best pitcher on the planet at that time, one that we didn't want to lose as an organization. [His seven-year, $180 million contract] was what it was going to take to sign him.

"It was very similar to what [Felix Hernandez] signed for. He's a couple of years younger than that. And I'm really surprised that Justin didn't work this year. He's now starting to pitch better lately. But that was really a price that we as an organization decided that we would collectively make, so it was a risk that we were willing to take."

Porcello's struggles: It was Dombrowski who traded Rick Porcello to the Red Sox for Yoenis Cespedes back in December. Before Porcello even pitched a regular-season game for Boston, the club signed him to a four-year, $82.5 million extension. Porcello is 5-11 with a 5.81 ERA, and he will return next week from a right triceps injury.

"I think Rick Porcello has the ability to be a very solid Major League pitcher," said Dombrowski. "He's a young pitcher that's been through a lot. He was always a tough competitor. I really don't know what's happened to him this year, because I haven't seen him pitch very often. I'm surprised he hasn't done better. I'm not really sure why.

"I'll be very interested to find out what people's observations are. When we traded him, we didn't think we were in a position to sign him long term. We liked him, thought he'd be a real solid guy, but we probably weren't going to pay him the terms that would be necessary to have him stay. We always thought he'd be a good big league pitcher and still do."

Ian Browne is a reporter for Read his blog, Brownie Points, follow him on Twitter @IanMBrowne and listen to his podcast.
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