"It's hectic, it's exciting, it's baseball," Dombrowski said.
His Fort Lauderdale office is bare, except for a bouquet of roses and a balloon that says "Welcome," but his files beat his clothes down from Montreal, he has club president Carl Barger and newly hired director of scouting Gary Hughes with whom to confer, and he has a telephone. The business of building a franchise is in full swing.
"The phone has been ringing non-stop," Dombrowski said. "It has been well-wishers, job applicants, office business people and the media. Fortunately, I've been able to turn some of the calls over to Gary now."
Marlin priorities are to hire scouts and a director of Latin American operations, a position Dombrowski says will be filled within a month. He is waiting to get permission to talk to candidates. The emphasis on the Latin American post is logical because Hispanic players, with the exception of those from Puerto Rico and Mexico, are not included in the amateur draft, but can be signed by anyone as free agents.
"It wouldn't surprise me if young players from Latin America are the first we sign," Dombrowski said.
Hughes already has gone over all the resumes and inquiries from scouts received by the Marlins. He and Dombrowski have discussed names of others they might be interested in hiring. Hughes worked for Dombrowski in Montreal. To say Dombrowski is happy to have landed him here is an understatement. "Gary is probably regarded as the premier scouting director in baseball," Dombrowski said.
Eventually, Marlin offices will move to Joe Robbie Stadium in Miami. They likely will be modeled after those of the Chicago White Sox, whose digs are reportedly state of the art. The Marlins' troika will be in Chicago on Tuesday (Barger and Dombrowski to attend a meeting of the major leagues' operations committee) and will check out the White Sox complex.
But Dombrowski doesn't need an office. He's prepared to work anywhere, any time. He opened his briefcase and took out a dog-eared stack of three-by-eight cards covered with names and numbers and held together with a rubber band. It's his traveling file cabinet.
"It's a listing of every minor-league player on every team, the position they play, the way they hit and their rating by scouts, both our own [the Expos'] and those of the scouting bureau," Dombrowski said. "I take them with me everywhere. You can never tell when you might do business."
He doesn't have a satellite dish yet, either in his office or at home (currently a hotel room), but he will, and at both locations. When Dombrowski isn't talking baseball, he's watching it. He's a junkie, and so is Hughes.
"You can do a lot of scouting by television," Dombrowski said. "Sometimes you can see more than you can at the park, especially when it comes to pitching. Velocity is hard to judge, but you can see delivery, control, movement on the ball, sharpness of breaking pitches. Or maybe a guy comes into the game you're not familiar with and shows you a quick bat or sharp slider. It sticks in your mind."
Dombrowski's mind is working overtime these days. He held up a lined yellow legal pad. "When I met with Carl yesterday, this pad was blank. Now it's got four pages filled of things to be done, 15 items per page, 60 in all."
He loves it. It's hectic, it's exciting, it's baseball.