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.

A Few Thoughts on Leyland and Dombrowski

LeylandFrom what I can gather on the web and on Twitter, the local reaction to the extensions of Jim Leyland and Dave Dombrowski has not been broadly positive. Nationally, it’s another story.

If you’ve followed this blog for a while, you know that I’ve been a Leyland backer — and one of Dombrowski, too. Fifty-one weeks ago I wrote a piece titled In Defense of Jim Leyland and though the circumstances are different this year than last, I still think Leyland deserves another year.

That’s not to say some of his in-game decisions don’t drive me batty. Ryan Raburn as late-inning defensive replacement? Jose Valverde in non-save situations? Brandon Inge? The featherweight lineup featured in so many getaway games?

For me, the bottom line is that Leyland knows more about his team than I do. He knows who’s got aches or pains or problems on the homefront that can affect performance. I don’t. What’s more, the players sure appear to respect the man — something you didn’t sense in the bad old days of Alan Trammell, Luis Pujols or Phil Garner.

A few years ago I went to a Tigers-Angels game in Anaheim and sat in utter disbelief that Leyland bypassed every opportunity to pinch hit Marcus Thames against a lefty for light-hitting batters. What was he thinking?!

Later that day I read in the game story that Thames had sore ribs and wasn’t available. And to think I could’ve used that my energy on the more productive and satisfying booing of Craig Monroe.

I know many Tigers fans believe Leyland has screwed up this team in one way or another for the better part of six seasons. For me, I see a guy who has the Tigers with a four-game lead in early August.

And I think he’s the guy who can lead the club to a first-place finish this year.

Okay, tell me how wrong I am.

Could Jacob Turner be the Tigers rotation answer?

Yahoo Sports

With the July 31st trade deadline just two weeks away, what the Detroit Tigers are going to add to the Major League roster in these next two weeks has become a hot button topic to say the least. The Tigers, like many teams, are looking for another starting pitcher. Sports Illustrated’s Jon Heyman reported that the Tigers, Red Sox, Yankees, and a few other teams are looking at Dodgers starter Hiroki Kuroda; Fox Sports’ Jon Paul Morosi reported that the Tigers were in Colorado scouting Rockies starter Ubaldo Jimenezon Thursday night. The Tigers are also looking for someone to plug in at third base, but haven’t been directly linked to names yet.

There is the chance, though, that the Tigers have a solution in their own farm system. I’m of course talking about the organization’s number one prospect Jacob Turner. Many Tigers fans and people around the team are worried that if he’s brought up before he’s “ready” it’ll hurt his future. Jim Leyland even told the Detroit News when asked about Turner’s chances of being called up in the next month, “Long shot speculation.” But, with Turner, Nick Castellanos and not much else down on the farm, the Tigers may be hard-pressed to find a deal that gets them more than a Jarrod Washburn redux.If the Tigers can’t make a deal for Kuroda or the Orioles’ Jeremy Guthrie without gutting the farm system, then they should just call up Turner.

With Turner pitching Friday night and the Tigers needing a Wednesday starter, there’s no reason not to call him up for that start as he is the club’s best internal option. It’s doubtful that in the last year of his contract Tigers General Manager Dave Dombrowski is worried about starting Turner’s service time or the possibility of him eventually earning “Super Two” status, which is something that may not even exist anymore after this next round of collective bargaining.

The biggest issue for Turner the rest of the way will be managing his innings. Turner has already thrown 100 innings at Double-A this year and the Tigers don’t want to push the 20-year-old too hard. I’d be speculating on the innings limit, but it’s probably in the neighborhood of 150. Still, even if they hold him to six innings a start the rest of the way he’d make a big impact on this team if he’s effective.

The Tigers need a pitcher for next week unless they decide to skip someone and Turner is the best option at their disposal. He may not be 100% “ready” for The Show as his secondary offerings could still use some work, but we’re talking about a 6-foot-5 power arm with plus control. As they say, flags fly forever. You don’t let premium talent work on stuff at Double-A during a pennant race. You may think I’m crazy about rushing this young kid, but there were plenty of people in Spring Training saying this young guy on Seattle still needs to work on his secondary pitches. His name was Michael Pineda and so far this year he’s outpitched teammate and 2010 Cy Young award winner Felix Hernandez.

Turner isn’t going to be the horse that carries them deep into the playoffs, but the Tigers already have a guy for that job. The idea that Turner isn’t “ready” and therefore can’t fill-in as the fifth starter down the stretch is a bit of hyperbole. That seems like the perfect role for him this year.

Nick Shlain, a Journalism student at Eastern Michigan University, writes for Detroit Baseball Page.com. You can follow him on Twitter @nshlain.

Tuesday Tananas: A-Jax, Bondo and Joe Isuzu

bananas.jpgI just couldn’t see the Tigers making a move for Dan Uggla and hoped, quite frankly, that they wouldn’t. The added power behind Miguel Cabrera certainly would’ve been nice but not in the form of another righthanded bat. I’m willing to wait and see what Dave Dombrowski has up his sleeve.

Until then, here are some notable notes from around the Web:

  • If you want one more Sparky Anderson photo gallery, ESPN.com is happy to oblige.

  • Austin Jackson, in the eyes of Ian and many others got robbed on Monday when he finished second in the American League Rookie of the Year voting. His catch during Armando Galarraga’s near-perfect game should’ve cinched for him.

  • The 1934 Detroit Tigers infield tonight was featured in a new episode of MLB Network’s Prime 9: Infields. If you missed it this evening, fret not, MLB Network airs its Prime 9 series almost on the hour in the offseason. The ’34 Tigers will be ranked alongside other infields, including the ’13 Athletics, ’27 Giants, ’75 Reds and ’99 Mets. As always, check your local listings.

  • Where will Jeremy Bonderman end up in 2011? As we learned at the end of this season, there’s an outside chance that he’ll return to the Tigers. Not every team can afford Cliff Lee, which means you’d think someone like Bonderman would be an attractive and affordable option. Nosing around online I found two potential suitors: the Pirates (story here) and the Padres (story).

  • On Wednesday night I’ll be taking in my first Arizona Fall League game of the year — and likely the last seeing as the season ends on Saturday. I won’t be watching Tigers prospects though. Nope. I’ll be watching the Scottsdale Scorpions and Nationals’ phenom Bryce Harper. I don’t like what I read about this kid but what the hey? When am I ever going to see him again for just $5?

Finally, Happy 60th Birthday to actor David Leisure, a.k.a., Joe Isuzu.

Fungo Flashback: The Juan Gonzalez Trade

Dealing Cards.jpg Eleven years ago today Randy Smith rolled the dice and pulled the trigger on a trade that will be his legacy in Detroit: trading pitchers Francisco Cordero, Justin Thompson and Alan Webb, catcher Bill Haselman, infielder Frank Catalanotto and outfielder Gabe Kapler to the Rangers for righthander Danny Patterson, catcher Gregg Zaun and, the crown jewel of the deal, outfielder Juan Gonzalez.

The strategy both simple and fatally flawed: trade a boatload of young talent for a big-name slugger to play in a cavernous, new ballpark.

Smith doubled-down when he offered Gonzalez an eight-year,$140 million contract. Thankfully, Gonzalez spurned the offer to play for the … Indians.

In case you’ve forgotten, he appeared in 115 games for the 2000 Tigers, hitting .289 with 22 homers and an .846 OPS. After leaving Detroit, Gonzalez appeared in an average of 65 games over the next five seasons — including his one, final hamstring pull in what would be his one, final at bat on Opening Day for the Indians in 2005.

Both of Smith’s big gambles that season — hiring Phil Garner as manager and the Gonzalez trade — failed spectacularly, just like the GM’s tenure in Detroit.

As frustrated as Tigers fans have been with Dave Dombrowski‘s kooky contract extensions and trades, at least he’s made them in an effort to improve the team over the long term. Smith’s trades rarely were more than moving players around — usually to Houston or San Diego — not following a plan.

Monday Mankowskis: Inge and Peralta More Alike Than You Think

No Tigers baseball for a week, how are you managing? Here in Phoenix we’re prepping for another season of Arizona Fall League action. (More on that later.)

In the meantime, here are some odds and ends from the last week:

  • If you’re still coming to grips with the notion of Brandon Inge and Jhonny Peralta manning the left side of the Tigers’ infield next season, here’s something I noticed that will either make you feel better or worse – and nowhere in between.

    Based on this year’s stats, it appears that Inge and Peralta are practically twins:

    2010 Stats Inge Peralta
    Games 144 148
    At bats 514 551
    Hits 127 137
    Home Runs 13 15
    RBI 70 81
    Average .247 .249
    On-base Percentage .321 .311
    Slugging Percentage .397 .392
    OPS .718 .703

    Of Peralta, Tigers GM Dave Dombrowski last Sunday said: “We don’t know what we will do with his ($7.25 million) option, but would like him back next year as our shortstop.”

    I’m like many Tigers fans: skeptical, at best, about Peralta as a full-time shortstop. True, he’ll bring more pop to the position than either Danny Worth or Ramon Santiago. But that’s not saying much, is it? As for his defense, the 2010 edition of Baseball Prospectus described Peralta as “increasingly immobile.”

    Gee, if we wanted an immobile shortstop, why not give the job back to Carlos Guillen?

    Discuss.

    Continue reading “Monday Mankowskis: Inge and Peralta More Alike Than You Think”

News Galore on the Way Out the Door

It’s not often Tigers GM Dave Dombrowski gets loose and talks at length about the club’s plans, but on Sunday in Baltimore he did just that, breaking some news and confirming a few long-anticipated decisions:

  • Inge.jpgBrandon Inge gets offered an extension. As Ian wrote this summer, Inge is either loved or loathed in Detroit — with little in between. But I think even those of us who are frustrated by his lack of a strategy when he’s at the plate feel better about third base next season and maybe in 2012, too. In our recent Fungo Pulse Check, 79 percent of respondents (207 of 263 votes) preferred bringing back Inge over Jeremy Bonderman.

  • OrdonezHead.jpgMagglio Ordonez might be back. This isn’t a surprise. The Tigers aren’t picking up the $15 million option on Ordonez’s contract which means he’ll be a free agent, but the Tigers are open to re-signing him. I kept thinking that sentimental Mike Ilitch would tell Dombrowski to pick up the option for old time’s sake. I hope he comes back. If he does sign elsewhere — and you know Scott Boras is already firing up his hyperbole machine — I just pray that he doesn’t go back to the White Sox.

    Continue reading “News Galore on the Way Out the Door”