This Just In: Dave Dombrowski is Still the Best GM in Baseball

This post will not please the mouth-breathing, knuckle-scraping, Sports Radio-calling, Dombrowski haters. But it is the truth. Dave Dombrowski is the best GM in baseball, and he just proved it again. For the third year in a row (and in a lousy market for contenders needing to shore up a position or two), DD went out and made a move that no one saw coming to address his team’s needs.

First he got a much-needed veteran back-of-the-bullpen arm in Houston’s closer Jose Veras for a 19-year-old OF prospect. Veras gives Jim Leyland plenty of depth and options for the late innings, and lessens the chance that he’ll have to rely on someone he doesn’t trust (Coke, Alburquerque, Valverde, etc.).

Then, in the closest thing to a blockbuster that this year’s trading deadline produced, he solved shortstop for this year and for the next few years. Jose Iglasias is universally regarded as the second coming of Omar Vizquel and Ozzie Smith defensively (and if he hits like them, that would be pretty good too). He is only 23 years old, and he can play all over the infield. Right now, that’s pretty important, what with Miggy’s hip/ab issues, Infante’s anke, and Peralta’s impending PED suspension. When the other shoe drops for Jhonny, Iglasias will slide into SS, and immediately improve the left side of the infield, because Miggy won’t have to cover as much ground. While Peralta is here (most likely through the weekend) Iglasias provides the luxury of resting Cabrera against a team that they shouldn’t need his help to beat.

Now, Iglasias didn’t come free. But hey, nothing worth anything does. But Dombrowski got him without giving up the jewel of the farm system, Nick Castellanos, who now moves to the front of the line for a call-up when injuries or ineffectiveness strike the major league roster. It will hurt to see Avisail Garcia in a White Sox uniform for the next few years, but seeing Iglasias scoop up everything hit near him for that same amount of time will ease the pain. Garcia was projected to be a very good ML outfielder, maybe even an All-Star. But the Tigers had a surplus at OF in the minors AND the majors, and a dearth of sure-fire middle infield prospects, and nobody that was close to being ready to step in now or next year at SS.

Once again, Dombrowski never tipped his hand, and the deal he eventually made caught everyone by surprise, and solved the exact weakness of the roster as it stood. In 2011, it was Fister, last year Sanchez and Infante, and now, Veras and Iglasias. Each time, he gave up highly-touted prospects to get exactly what he needed. So far, the young players haven’t come back to haunt him or the Tigers. Garcia, and Jacob Turner may yet do that. But even if they do, Dombrowski and the Tigers are still WAY on the positive side of the ledger when it comes to trades. Just ask the Marlins.

In Case You Missed It: Dave Dombrowski’s Twitter Chat

Here are some of the highlights:

Priorities

@iTigerTravie What is your top priority right now for the team? #AskDave

If we could find the correct right handed bat for the outfield.-DD

Prospects

@Colinverlac17 which prospect other than Castellanos and Rondon should we be on the lookout for this year? #AskDave

Players you’ve already seen like Garcia and Crosby. -DD

Crowded Lineup

RT @Dlehman1230 #AskDave What will Jim do when playing an NL team with Cabby, Prince & now Martinez? Can Vic catch or will one of them sit?

Victor will not catch. So Jim will try to find playing time for all of them. Will not be easy. -DD

About Days at Western Michigan

@FUGEESanFUNYUNS I’m at WMU and was wondering what some of your fondest non-baseball memories were during your time in Kal. #AskDave

Made some of my best friends in life during these times. -DD

Find the entire chat on the Tigers’ Twitter page.

2012 Top 10 Stories: #9 – Brennan Boesch Vanishes

What difference can a year make? Look no further than The Case of Brennan Boesch.

In the 2011 ALCS, the Tigers desperately missed Boesch in the lineup’s number-two slot. How he could’ve elevated the order’s production when Magglio Ordonez went down with a broken ankle.

A year later the Tigers were back in the ALCS and Boesch was nowhere to be found, left off the roster just as he was in the ALDS against the A’s. How far had he fallen? Far enough to be replaced by a 21-year-old who didn’t face big-league pitching until September – and who started the season at Lakeland.

If ever a player embodied the notion of wait-’til-next year it was Boesch. Coming into 2012, the Tigers were counting on the 27-year-old to have a breakout, injury-free season and live up to the promise we’d all witnessed in 2010 and ’11. With Victor Martinez on the shelf for the year, Boesch’s healthy return was crucial.

He got off to a promising start in Spring Training, hitting .288 with six homers, and 21 hits in 24 games. Unfortunately, his Grapefruit League performance didn’t translate to the regular season.

By the end of June, it looked like his return was anything but healthy. He was hitting below .250 and with only seven home runs showing none of the power the Tigers had hoped for (and probably expected.) About six weeks later, he talked about his still-tender thumb and how it hampered his swing:

“Once you do surgery on your hand, things need to re-create, they need to reboot,” Boesch said.

(snip)

“I never blame performance on injury,” said Boesch, who was expected to deliver a steady punch in manager Jim Leyland’s lineup, but who found himself Tuesday batting .247, with 11 home runs and 48 RBIs. “But have I played long enough to make necessary adjustments when dealing with an injury?

“Probably not.”

By the time August arrived Boesch was a non-factor, appearing in a mere 19 games. In fact, beginning in May, Boesch played in fewer games each successive month: 27 in May, 25 in June and 23 in July. Not coincidentally, his playing time reached season lows when Andy Dirks returned from the disabled list in August.

So it came as no surprise that Jim Leyland left Boesch off the ALDS roster.

“The Boesch decision was a tough one,” said Leyland, “but it made sense for versatility and things of that nature. Plus he hasn’t been playing lately, so it was common sense.”

Again: What difference can a year make? Enough that Don Kelly and Quintin Berry leapfrogged Boesch on the Tigers’ depth chart. I agreed with the decision at the time, but admit I would’ve rather seen Boesch taking cuts against the Giants’ bullpen than Berry, even if the results were the same. There’s always a chance Boesch, unlike Berry, will connect on a long ball.

At the Winter Meetings this week, the Tigers were reportedly listening to offers for Boesch; among others, the Mariners and Mets were showing guarded interest. But as of this writing, he’s still a Tiger. But if he has a lackluster Spring Training and Garcia or Nick Castellanos pass him on the left, chances are Brennan Boesch is to achieve his potential, it’ll be for a team other than the Tigers.

Brennan Boesch’s 2012 Stats

Split G PA H 2B HR RBI BA OPS
April/March 22 94 21 2 3 11 .231 .607
May 27 110 25 7 2 8 .245 .663
June 25 97 20 3 2 8 .220 .576
July 23 82 23 7 4 17 .295 .868
August 19 63 14 1 0 5 .246 .616
Sept/Oct 16 57 10 2 1 5 .196 .614
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table | Generated 12/6/2012.

The Top 10 Stories of 2012

Play of the Game Delivered by a ‘Tools Guy’

As much as I loved seeing Don Kelly come through when every expected the opposite, the play of the game for me in the Tigers’ 5-4 win in Game 2  is Avisail Garcia‘s rifle-armed throw to gun down Co Co Crisp at the plate in the third. (Though Crisp’s botched basket catch in the seventh is in the running.) Jim Leyland agrees:

“Huge,” manager Jim Leyland said. “It was a huge throw. You know, this kid is an athlete. He can run and throw. He’s a tools guy. You saw one of the tools show off at a big time today.”

Garcia seemed to savor the moment himself:

I was thinking and anticipating the play,” said Garcia, adding he noticed Crisp rounding third base. “When I got the ball, I knew I had to make a good throw.

If this postseason marches on deep into this month, let’s hope Garcia’s throw doesn’t get forgotten.

What’s your play of the game?