By Bill Murphy

There are those who do their Christmas shopping early and there are those who wait until the last minute. Both ways seem to work for the people who choose similar routes in putting together their baseball teams.. IF a sample size of two years means anything, one Dave Dombrowski, does his shopping to put under John Henry’s tree early. In addition, chances are, that early shopping works much better than the last minute stuff in the world of baseball.

Over that two year period, Dombrowski has put David Price, Craig Kimbrel, Carson Smith, Drew Pomeranz, Chris Sale, Tyler Thornberg and Mitch Moreland under the Red Sox tree and shipped out of town Wade Miley, Travis Shaw, Jonathan Aro, Manuel Margot, Javier Guerra, Carlos Asuaje, Logan Allen, Anderson Espinoza, Yoan Moncada, Michael Kopech, Luis Basabe, Victor Diaz, Mauricio Dubon and Josh Pennington,all except the first two, part of that deep Boston farm system. In short, Dombrowski brought in three starting pitchers, three bullpen arms and one position player, all expected to be important contributors, in exchange for a lesser starting pitcher than those acquired, a respectable versatile position player and eleven prospects, of which five are considered highly.

IS your glass high empty OR half full after these Dombrowski dealings? Most people tend to say half full and I happen to agree with them. What Dombrowski is saying is WIN NOW. It is clear that he understands the down side of such moves. because he has on his resume, the moving of prospects named Randy Johnson and Trevor Hoffman and most readers know what type of careers those two had,. BUT, back then, Dombrowski had a plan.

When the present Sox boss traded Johnson, he was under a mandate from his owner to win now in Montreal in 1989 and then later, seeing Mark Langston posed for free agency, was able to rent him for a year from Seattle. By the time 1993 had come along, Dombrowski was part of the early migration from Montreal to Florida and the first year expansion club was looking for names to sell tickets. Dombrowski brought recent batting champ Gary Sheffield and pitcher Rich Rodriguez to the Southeast, BUT, had to include Hoffman in the package. Two deals, legitimate transactions and Dombrowski had developed a pattern, he has often continued through 2016.

Obviously, the biggest fear for any of these deals, IS, a pitchers arm gone bad. Dombrowski has already seen this happen once with Carson Smith, and such injury may have cost last seasons Sox team, BUT, as you can see, it has not made the veteran General Manager duck one bit.

Red Sox fans have another example in recent history of a pitching arm, other than Smith, going bad. Back in 2012, Joel Hanrahan was the shiny new pitching acquisition in town, as part of a six player trade, that included Mark Melancon going to Pittsburgh. Hanrahan,who was  among the top four closers in the National League at the time, quickly went to the shelf after his Red Sox debut and two Tommy John surgeries later, has never been a factor in a pennant race again. This corner is still looking at the Sale deal as a positive, BUT, just reminding you,what looks GREAT on paper does not always come to fruition. In case you forgot, at least the Red Sox obtained Brock Holt as a throw in,in the Hanrahan trade.

After thinking this over,how full is your glass now?


The two major powers in Vermont High School basketball in recent years are the Rice boys and the Champlain Valley Union girls. On the floor,they have clearly been the best of the best.

I don’t know how you look at things, BUT, I developed a philosophy when I was a kid, that you cheer against the teams that win. I firmly put my support behind anyone who played UCLA basketball OR the New York Yankees. I really came to hate those teams of my growing up years. Fair or not, that’s what I thought at a young age. I wanted to pass the prize around. Of course, I conveniently didn’t include the Boston Celtics of that era in my list.How did I ever miss that?

Do I hate the Rice boys and the Champlain Valley Union girls? Emphatically NO. BUT, it is time for someone else to win.

Both teams have already suffered defeats this season. Rice lost their opener to a senior primed Champlain Valley Union boys team 61-52. A little over a week later, the Rice girls returned the favor by snapping the CVU’s girls incredible 96 game winning streak Can I see the rivalry among those schools and teams growing? ABSOLUTELY!!!

We spoke to Rice boys coach Paul Pecor a few days after his team fell to CVU and although he still was suffering from a feeling of what hit us, he had had time to collect his thoughts and saw a basketball season in the Vermont Division I ranks ahead, that really could be full of excitement.

“I really think there is a great deal of parity in Division I this winter. Actually looking at it, it is fun. It looks like it is going to be a guard oriented year and there could be a number of interesting games. We are still a young team and I can see us getting better, BUT, there a lot of good teams. CVU, Burlington, Rutland stand out and there are more. There will be plenty of competition,” Pecor told us.

We also spoke to Ute Otley at about the same time. “We don’t feel like we are the enemy,” she told us, despite the long winning streak, adding, “no doubt everyone wants to be the one to beat us, AND,that will be still be true after the streak is over. Our girls are about a lot more than the streak. I expect them to play a lot of good basketball this winter.”

In a weird twist of fate, CVU had a late season opener this year. I wondered IF this was on purpose, since graduation really hits the Lady Redhawks hard and an extra week of preparation might help and allow the master coach to get a look at some of the competition. Otley set me straight right away. “It’s just the way it worked out. We would rather have played earlier,” she let me know.

Otley knew the streak should end this season. She also knew, like Pecor, “There will be a lot of teams who will be pretty even now,”she noted, going on to name in no particular order St. Johnsbury, Bellows Free Academy of St. Albans, South Burlington, Mount Anthony, Essex and Rice. As you already know, Rice was the one to break the streak.

The bottom line is, there will be a lot more competition in Vermont Division I high school basketball this winter. AND, by the way, I strongly respect what the Rice boys have done since the year 2000. They have seven state titles in that time, four runner-up finishers, including last winter when Burlington came out on top  and they have failed to appear in only two Final Fours during that period. As far as the CVU girls are concerned, they ran off perfect seasons in each of the past three winters and the program has been in the last six titles games, winning the last four consecutively and they have captured seven crowns in their existence, tied for second all-time (with Rice) behind Essex’ nine. I don’t think CVU and Rice needed more numbers like that for their future match-ups in either gender of hoops.

In closing, it’s great there will be lots of competition in D-I this winter and here’s hoping for a couple of great Final Fours. You know who I don’t want to win, BUT, I don’t hate them either.