Blogging the Red Sox presents: A discussion with Brian O’Halloran

To say Red Sox general manager Brian O’Halloran’s baseball journey has been unique to this point would be an understatement.

Whether it be studying abroad in the then-Soviet Republic of Georgia, working for an international logistics company in Moscow, or substitute teaching in his hometown, the Weymouth native has certainly seen plenty on his way to spending the past 19 years with the Red Sox occupying the following positions:

  • Baseball operations assistant (2002-2006)
  • Director of baseball operations (2006-2010)
  • Vice president of baseball operations (2011)
  • Assistant general manager (2011-2019)
  • General manager (2019-)

A member of four World Series-winning front offices in Boston, O’Halloran, affectionately known as “BOH,” recently took some time out of his busy offseason schedule to answer a handful of questions from yours truly via email.

Among the topics discussed were O’Halloran’s upbringing in Weymouth, his experience overseas, getting his foot in the door with the Red Sox, what it has been like working under Theo Epstein, Ben Cherington, Dave Dombrowski, and Chaim Bloom, and focusing on team goals over individual ones. Enjoy.

What do your favorite memories of growing up in Weymouth entail?

Brian O’Halloran: That could be a really long answer, so I will try to keep it short! I loved growing up in Weymouth. My favorite memories mostly center around my group of close friends I grew up with, many of whom I am still close with today. This includes a few that I’ve been friends with since elementary school at the old Hunt School. I have a lot of great memories around sports – youth soccer and little league baseball in particular. Perhaps the most notable is being a member of the 1983 Eagles of East Weymouth Little League, with an undefeated regular season and a hard-fought win in the championship series, two games to one, against a very game Weymouth Elks club lead by head coach and Weymouth sports legend Mark Ducharme.

Is there anything that you learned or picked up while living in Georgia or Russia that you apply to your role as general manager of the Red Sox?

O’Halloran: I think my experience overseas helps me every day. Living and working in a totally different culture, far from home, and meeting people with all different backgrounds, provides great perspective and opportunity for growth as a person. I encourage anyone who can get such an experience to jump at the chance.

What were some of the benefits and challenges of working unusual hours when you first joined the Red Sox?

O’Halloran: There definitely were challenges — some nights I would work until 5 a.m. and then substitute teach in Weymouth a few hours later. I guess the benefit was that I got an opportunity to show my level of commitment to working in baseball.

On that note, does the Red Sox’ baseball operations department still work out of the Fenway Park basement?

O’Halloran: No, we are upstairs now.

What role, in baseball, politics, etc., do you think Theo Epstein will pursue next?

O’Halloran: I don’t know, but whatever he does, I’m sure he will be successful at it!

Speaking of Epstein, what have been the similarities and differences between working with him, Ben Cherington, Dave Dombrowski, and now Chaim Bloom?

O’Halloran: The biggest similarities are competitiveness and burning desire to win, as well as a love of and commitment to the game of baseball. Of course they are all different personalities with different ways of going about their jobs. I certainly have learned a lot from all of them!

As you see former colleagues such as Mike Hazen and Jed Hoyer become heads of baseball operations for different clubs, do you start to wonder when you will get that opportunity?

O’Halloran: No, not really. Although I am happy for my friends and colleagues who earn such great opportunities. Personally, I am 100% focused on working with Chaim and our group to bring more championships to Boston. I have always tried to focus on team goals over individual ones. When the team succeeds, individuals who have contributed tend to get increased opportunities, either within their current organization or outside it.

Finally, what do your December plans look like now that there will be no in-person winter meetings?

O’Halloran: Our day-to-day is very similar to usual, except we are working from home. We are talking to other teams and agents, looking for any opportunities to improve the team and achieve our goal of building a sustainable, championship caliber team year-in and year-out. It’s a little strange not to be able to do that in the office or at in-person winter meetings, but it’s 2020, we have to adapt! That includes adjusting to the fact that my office-mates now include two teenagers (doing distance learning from home) and a dog!

Thank you to Brian O’Halloran, who recently teamed up with the Red Sox Foundation to offer fans the chance to win his personal collection of over 20,000 baseball cards in support of the foundation’s ongoing commitment to Social Justice, Equity and Inclusion, for making this possible.

That sweepstakes has since ended, but a pretty nice gesture nonetheless.

Theo Epstein Shoots Down Red Sox Rumors Amid Speculation Surrounding Potential Reunion

In the last few weeks following the firing of now ex-president of baseball operations Dave Dombrowski, rumors had been swirling that the Red Sox were interested in a potential reunion with former general manager and current Chicago Cubs president Theo Epstein.

Epstein himself shut down those reports on Wednesday, telling reporters before the Cubs took on the Pittsburgh Pirates that, “I’m here. We have a lot we need to work on to get back to the level we’re accustomed to. I’m invested in that. That’s what I’m focused on.”

The Brookline, Ma. native’s current contract with Chicago runs through the end of the 2021 season. He initially joined the Cubs back on October 21st, 2011, the same day he resigned from the post as GM of the Red Sox for a second time.

At just 45-years of age, Epstein has already established himself as one of the more accomplished baseball executives of the 21st century, snapping an 86-year World Series drought with the Sox in 2004, winning another in 2007, and snapping a 106-year drought with the Cubs in 2016.

As you may have already guessed, the Red Sox are going to need someone to lead their baseball operations department ahead of what looks to be a crucial winter for the club with plenty of important decisions to be made.

And with that bit of knowledge, Epstein also confirmed Wednesday that, “neither he, GM Jed Hoyer or executive Jason McLeod were linked to the Red Sox position,” per the Chicago Sun-Times’ Gordon Wittenmyer.

“I have really good relationships with a lot of people there,” Epstein said. “And I certainly wish them the best, but there’s nothing to that story.”

So, unless something dramatic happens relatively soon, it seems as though the Red Sox will have to look elsewhere for a new head of baseball operations. Perhaps Eddie Romero, an internal option, is a viable choice?

Arizona Diamondbacks Extend Contract of General Manager and Potential Red Sox Target Mike Hazen

The Arizona Diamondbacks have reportedly reached agreement on a contract extension with general manager Mike Hazen, per the Athletic’s Zach Buchanan. The terms of the deal were not disclosed.

Hazen, 43, was viewed as a viable to candidate to take over for Dave Dombrowski as the head of baseball operations for the Red Sox.

The Abington, Ma. native spent 11 years in the Sox’ organization, serving under Theo Epstein, Ben Cherington, and Dombrowski in various scouting and executive roles before accepting the job of executive vice president and GM of the DBacks back in October of 2016.

In Hazen’s tenure with Arizona, the Diamondbacks secured the top National League Wild Card spot with a 93-69 record before being swept and eliminated by the Los Angeles Dodgers in the NLDS in 2017, missed the postseason altogether with an 82-80 record in 2018, and are currently four full games off the pace for the second NL Wild Card spot with a 75-72 record to this point in 2019.

When speaking with reporters on Friday, Hazen noted that extension talks between him and the DBacks began before the Red Sox and Dombrowski parted ways, so it would not appear as though the club reached out to their former executive beforehand.

With Hazen off the list of potential names to head Boston’s baseball operations department moving forward, it will be worth monitoring who else the Sox may be interested in.

For me personally, getting Theo Epstein back would be incredible, but that seems to be more of a pipe dream at this point.

Eddie Romero, one of the three assistant GMs tasked with leading the Sox’ baseball operations department in Dombrowski’s place, seems to be the leading option internally.