The Detroit Tigers notched their 12 straight win last driving the Cleveland Indians into the ground and sweeping the four game series with almost all the credit going to Dave Dombrowski.
It is hard to be a member of the front office in the Detroit sports scene. Maybe it is because the Detroit Red Wings’ front office set such high expectations for the last two decades, but it seems like every general manager is under constant scrutiny. None more so than Dombrowski who is criticized every year for either not signing a guy or signing the wrong player, he is constantly stuck on the perpetual hate train that is Detroit sports talk radio discussion.
As of this moment though, hot off a four game sweep in a key divisional series, it is time for everyone to admit Dombrowski is one of the best, if not the best, general manager in Major League Baseball. A track record that spans back to his signing of Ivan “Pudge” Rodriguez leading up to his most recent move, trading for Jose Iglesias, Dombrowski took a perennial loser and turned them into a power in the American League. More importantly though, he turned them into a team with staying power.
Every move he makes seems to be scrutinized as one that sacrifices the future for the now. Looking at it though, with the exceptions of some failures like Aubrey Huff and Jarrod Washburn, every one of Dombrowski’s trades have shaped the Tigers for many years. Jhonny Peralta gave the team some stability at shortshop for several years, Delmon Young helped Detroit get to the postseason his first year and then won the ALCS MVP last year. Max Scherzer, Anibal Sanchez and Doug Fister, all acquired through trades, look to be the anchors, with Justin Verlander, of the best staff in baseball for several years to come.
The bottom line is no matter what, Dombrowski continues to make shrewd moves to keep his club in contention for many seasons, not just one run to the postseason.
His work may have fully come to fruition and shown its value this past offseason. The Tigers were a wasteland for years with free agents only stopping over in Detroit to revive their careers and move elsewhere or to end them. No longer is that true, Torii Hunter was arguably one of the best outfielders available in free agency and he sought out the Tigers. Read that again, he contacted the Tigers about playing for them. Sure, the price tag was hefty, but to think a player actually wanted to come to Detroit is a welcome feeling people are only familiar experiencing with the Red Wings. Without Dombrowski’s trades to keep the team competitive instead of relying on prospects helped make it happen too.
His latest move, Igelesias, saw a top player shipped out of the area in Avisail Garcia, but the trade makes the Tigers clearly better for at least the next five years. In just a few games it is clear to see how good Igelesias is and the potential for him to be the best defensive shortstop in baseball. It was another large price tag, but as Dombrowski has shown again and again, not all prospects turn out to be stars. In the face of great adversity, losing Peralta, Dombrowski was able to fill a need this year and one that was going to be present at the end of the year anyway. It may have been the best move of the deadline in baseball.
Detroit has yet to capture the World Series title the city yearns for, but Dombrowski has put them in position repeatedly. This year may be the one where the Tigers are easily the favorite to take home the crown. To do so though is up to the players on the field and Dombrowski put them there. Without him, the Tigers would still be just another American League bottom feeder, instead of a superpower. So, it is time for Detroit to embrace him.