Tag Archives: Doug Fister

Detroit's Dealin' Dave Dombrowski

Matthew Kline’s analysis of the David Price trade was spot on and it got me thinking about my perspective on the issue. The deal was an utter failure for the Tampa Bay Rays, their fans and the general state of baseball in Florida (do they even deserve two teams down there?).

I’ll admit I was convinced the Rays were keeping Price to make a run at this year’s pennant in an up-for-grabs AL East. Apparently the surging Baltimore Orioles convinced them it would be better to deal away the best thing (maybe the only thing) they had going for them.

Drew Smyly and Nick Franklin are serviceable Major League talents and will positively impact the team in the years to come but c’mon. The Rays should have needed a barge to haul all the prospects they got in return for the most sought-after player at the deadline. Instead, they needed only a makeshift raft. I’m left wondering how the team with seemingly all the power in these negotiations ended up getting the shortest of all possible straws.

The Seattle Mariners got an absolute bargain here! All they had to do was go along for the ride and hang on tight. They picked up a reliable everyday centerfielder in Austin Jackson just by sending Franklin to Tampa. It seems like the Rays got cheated.

If that’s what you believe then direct your anger toward the Rays’ front office. Sending away your best player while in the middle of a division race means you cannot play that “small market” public relations card that has allowed you to hide the fact you aren’t truly committed to winning championships. Having little spending money is one thing, indifference is quite another. Notice how Oakland all of a sudden doesn’t care much about payroll.

The only logical explanation I can offer is this: Dave Dombrowski, the Detroit Tigers General Manager/ President/ CEO. He is the very best in the business at what he does. At least it appears that way with all the tremendous transactions he has made in his tenure. (I also believe all but a handful of GMs aren’t given enough authority to effectively alter their teams’ rosters, thus making it hard to compete with Dombrowski who clearly does.)

The acquisition of David Price is one of the many blockbuster moves Dombrowski has pulled off for the benefit of the Tigers and their fans. The complete list is long. Most of these moves go under the radar or are forgotten about in due time, but the highlights are evident when watching the team. Take a look:

Jan. 2005: Ugueth Urbina, Ramon Martinez for Placido Polanco.

  •  Seems like ancient history by now but Polanco was invaluable during the resurrection of baseball in Detroit along with Ivan Rodriguez and Magglio Ordonez.

Dec. 2007: Cameron Maybin, Andrew Miller, Eulogio de la Cruz, Burke Badenhop for Miguel Cabrera, Dontrelle Willis.

  • Willis was fun to watch for maybe three starts but who cares about him. This deal landed the game’s best hitter in Detroit. Maybin and Miller have had marginal success in the Bigs but again, who cares.
Dombrowski laughing at the haters.
Dombrowski laughing at the haters.

Dec. 2009: Curtis Granderson, Edwin Jackson for Austin Jackson, Phil Coke, Max Scherzer, Daniel Schlereth.

  • Boy oh boy did I have a hard time talking to Tigers fans about this trade. Granderson was loved in Detroit and it seemed everyone refused to acknowledge this as a good trade simply because he was shipped out. He never would’ve become the player he is today had he not gone to the Yankees back then. Edwin Jackson continues his grand tour around baseball playing for the Cubs these days (his ninth team in his twelve seasons). Austin Jackson stepped seamlessly into the void left by Granderson and remained the starting centerfielder until recently being dealt in the Price trade. Coke struggles a lot but who in the Tigers ‘pen doesn’t nowadays. Scherzer took some time to pan out but I’d say winning last year’s Cy Young more than makes up for his late bloom. And I will continue to ask Detroiters if they still miss the Grandy man.

July 2010: Giovanni Soto for Jhonny Peralta.

  • Not Soto the catcher, some lefty who I haven’t heard anything from since. Peralta literally made history immediately dropping bombs over the Green Monster in his first two at-bats with the Tigers (the only player ever to do so). He was suspended 50 games last year and was forced to move to left field when he got back because Jose Iglesias was manning shortstop by then. Peralta still hit better than everyone not named Victor Martinez during the postseason. It would have been nice to have him at short this season too with Iglesias on the shelf.

July 2012: Jacob Turner, Brian Flynn, Rob Brantly for Anibal Sanchez, Omar Infante.

  • Turner is still trying to lockdown a permanent spot in the Miami rotation while Sanchez has soared. The American League ERA leader from last year has electric stuff even though he goes mostly unnoticed considering the arms that surround him. Infante was a Tiger earlier in his career. It was nice to see him back at second base since everyone and their mother in the Tigers’ system was trotted out at the position after he left the first time. He’s moved on again, to Kansas City this time but I wouldn’t be shocked to see him come back once more to finish his career in Detroit.

July 2013: Avisail Garcia, Brayan Villareal for Jose Iglesias.

  • This was part of the trade that sent Jake Peavy to Boston. Garcia has been hurt ever since getting to Chicago which really is too bad because he and Jose Abreu would have made for an incredible 3-4 punch. Iglesias wowed everyone who watched him in the field down the stretch last year. He too has been hurt for the entirety of this season. If he can’t come back healthy and stay that way, I’ll have to say I don’t like this deal because I hated seeing Garcia go, especially to a division rival.

Nov. 2013: Ian Kinsler for Prince Fielder.

  • As a Tigers fan, the only thing better than signing Fielder was trading him away. Kinsler is the straw that stirs the Tigers’ drink. I was ecstatic when I heard this news and have not at all been disappointed by the results thus far. Rangers fans would have to disagree I’m sure since Fielder didn’t play more than a couple months this season before being diagnosed with a season-ending neck injury.

Dec. 2013: Robbie Ray, Ian Krol, Steve Lombardozzi for Doug Fister.

  • This one’s still up in the air a bit. Ray has become the Tigers’ top pitching prospect. Krol has looked too much like Coke when he’s been healthy. Lombardozzi was soon dealt to Baltimore for Alex Gonzalez (ugh). Put it this way though, without having dealt Fister the Tigers wouldn’t have had the opportunity to get Price.

So now I’m thinking maybe it wasn’t the fault of Tampa Bay’s front office. Maybe Dave Dombrowski is just that damn good at what he does.

Detroit Tigers Off-Season Keys

The Detroit Tigers were two wins from playing in two consecutive World Series. If the Tigers fill some key needs they’ll be right back into the mix. Dave Dombrowski is a mastermind; we all know that, so Tigers’ Cult rest assured these needs will be filled.

Tigers GM Dave Dombrowski is a mastermind; we all know that, so Tigers’ Cult rest assured these needs will be filled.

Photo by Keith Allison

A Healthy Miguel Cabrera:

A mid-season back issue began a seemingly never-ending spiral of Miguel Cabrera injuries that included  hip, abdominal wall, and groin injuries. Cabrera underwent offseason surgery and is projected to be ready by spring training, and the Tigers definitely need him. Above all, including the bullpen’s shortcomings, Miguel Cabrera’s lack of production due to injury held the Tigers back. With a healthy Miguel Cabrera and a couple new pieces the Tigers are right back into the World Series discussion.

Bullpen Depth:

Coming into the offseason it was clear relievers, most importantly a closer, were some of the Tigers biggest offseason needs. Although Dombrowski has solidified the closer spot with the former Minnesota Twin, 39 year old Joe Nathan, you have to believe the trade that sent Doug Fister to the Washington Nationals means solid bullpen arm Drew Smyly will be moved into the starting rotation. The 8th and 9th inning guys are solidified with the 22 year old Bruce Rondon and the aforementioned Nathan in the ninth. Add Al Alburqurque and you’ve got three solid relievers, but the rest of the pen is a bit of a tossup.

Outfielders:

The Tigers need a better bat in the outfield. Everyone thought this would be Nick Castellanos, but trading Prince Fielder to the Texas Rangers will mean shifting Cabrera back to first  base, which means Castellanos will be back at his natural third base spot.

Do the Tigers stick with the route they took last year with Andy Dirks in LF, Austin Jackson in CF, and Hunter in RF? Or do they make a move for a guy like Shin-Soo Choo?

As of now Dombrowski says not to expect any big names being signed, but we have all heard this before. Remember the lead up to the Prince Fielder signing?

Austin Jackson’s bat back:

Getting Austin Jackson’s batting stride and front foot settled are key to the Detroit Tigers offseason.

After hitting .300 with 16 HR 66 RBI and having a OBP of .377 in 2012, Austin Jackson’s 2013 numbers fell to .272, 12 HR 49 RBI and an OBP of .337.

Jackson’s WAR fell to 3.4 in 2013 after he amassed his highest WAR of his career at 5.5 in 2012. On the bright side Jackson hit .318 and had a OBP of .423 in the Boston series, so hopefully that little sliver of success can carry over to the 2014 season.

A Change behind the Plate:

I often notice Alex Avila’s name being drug through the dirt on twitter, I spot people calling for him to be replaced and some tweeters even like to say he is only on the Tigers because of his father, Assistant GM Al Avila. Sure you can criticize Alex for his bat at times but if you dive into what matters most with a catcher, what he is doing behind the plate, you’ll see why Avila is so valuable.

The relationship between a pitcher and catcher is often overlooked, I get it there is no chemistry stat but it’s there and when it is good you can tell:

Alex Avila caught 21 games for Anibal Sanchez. In those games Sanchez had an ERA of 2.42, with other catchers that rose to 2.94.

When Avila was behind the plate catching 18 games for Justin Verlander, Verlander had an ERA of 3.11. With Bryan Holaday and Brayan Pena, now with the Cincinnati Reds, catching Verlander in the other 16 games his ERA rose to 3.85.

In the 18 games Avila caught, Cy Young award winning pitcher, Max Scherzer, Scherzer had an ERA of 2.49 in the other 15 games with Pena behind the plate that number rose to 3.41. When you look at the improvement Avila brings behind the plate and realize that a catcher’s first job is just that, to catch, you see Avila’s true value.

Tigers Offseason Final Thought:

All Detroit needs is a healthy Miguel Cabrera, a couple of bullpen arms, and a couple of tweaks along the way. If those issues are fixed the Tigers will solidify themselves as World Series contenders – maybe even favorites – once again.

Photo Credit to Keith Allison

If Choo, Cano Sign in the AL Central

Yesterday, I saw multiple reports that shook my inner Indians fan to its core.

First Buster Olney said this…

Then reports surfaced that Robinson Cano was on his way to Kansas City to sign with the Royals.

Gulp…

If you’re an Indians fan, this all hurts tremendously.

First of all, the Tigers, should they sign Shin-Soo Choo, might just be the best team in baseball. Take a gander at this lineup, should Shin Soo make his way to the Motor City.

Shin-Soo Choo
Ian Kinsler
Torii Hunter
Miguel Cabrera
Victor Martinez
Torii Hunter
Nick Castellanos
Alex Avila
Jose Iglesias

That lineup at its face value could easily take on any in the league. Meanwhile, Detroit houses baseball’s best pitching staff.

Justin Verlander
Max Scherzer
Anibal Sanchez
Doug Fister
Drew Smyly

The worst part of it all is that Dave Dombrowski seems to be on a World Series mission and will use all of the cash in the world to get there.

In other words, they’re not done yet. Not even close.

While the Tigers will certainly have the upper hand on the Indians seemingly regardless of the situation, the Tribe could at least compete with a Choo-less Tigers lineup. Once you put the former Indians star at the top of that order, who knows just how far the talent gap will grow.

All the while, Omar Vizquel has taken the job of first base coach in Detroit.

First Victor. Then Omar. Now Choo?

Detroit is slowly but surely destroying the Indians and their fan-base former player by former player.

Meanwhile, another AL Central team seems be on a mission and ready to spend some cash.

Rumors yesterday are showing that Robinson Cano may just be the newest member of the Kanas City Royals, in what would be an earth shattering development. Should that splash happen, the Royals could easily move into the second rung of the AL Central ladder and could become a legitimate World Series contender.

David Lough
Alex Gordon
Robinson Cano
Eric Hosmer
Billy Butler
Mike Moustakas
Lorenzo Cain
Salvador Perez
Alcides Escobar

Add in the top end of their pitching staff and they might be one of the most under-the-radar teams in all of baseball.

James Shields
Jeremy Guthrie
Ervin Santana
Wade Davis
Bruce Chen

First, the Tigers go out and get much better by moving Miguel Cabrera to first base, adding Ian Kinsler to the mix and potentially adding Shin-Soo Choo. Then, the Royals get the most highly sought after free agent in all of baseball.

Of course these are both hypothetical, but reported, circumstances, but in any case, can the Indians catch a break?
Sure, the Indians did get better on Wednesday by signing David Murphy to take over the everyday right field duties, but the Indians can’t compete with the suddenly big market teams in Detroit and Kansas City, should these deals go down.

The worst part is, there’s really nothing they can do about it.

The Indians don’t have the money to put a bid in on Robinson Cano. They can’t make a deal to bring back Choo. They just simply can’t make these splashes as, apparently, Detroit and Kansas City can.

This is all to say, Indians fans, that maybe last year, despite its heartbreak towards the end, was as good as its going to get. Maybe the magic that Jason Giambi, Nick Swisher and Ubaldo Jimenez brought to the corner of Carnegie and Ontario last season was as good as its going to get for a while.

The Tigers and Royals may be on the verge of taking over the American League and leaving the lowly Indians, White Sox and Twins in the dust.

Despite all of the good that Terry Francona, Chris Antonetti and Mark Shapiro have done for the Indians and for the city of Cleveland, it may all be for naught. The Indians, for the forseeable future, may be trapped in the dark, vast dungeon of the American League Central Division.

Is there anything they can do to get out, should Choo and Cano sign within this division?

Yes, but it would be very, very unlikely.

First of all could get out of the dungeon by getting lucky again and again as they did last season with Scott Kazmir, Ryan Raburn, Yan Gomes and Mike Aviles. If Antonetti continues to pull off moves such as those, the Indians can compete.

Even then, however, things will still be difficult.

They would still have to spend money to solidify their rotation, which is decent but needs a little help. They would also need prospects like Francisco Lindor, Jose Ramirez and Jesus Aguilar to be all that we expected and more.

Again, its not impossible, just very, very unlikely.

Other than that, just hope that these two rumors were nothing but. Hope that Choo and Cano sign with the Yankees, as that organization is a continual mess.

If you’re an Indians fan, however, just accept that should Cano and Choo sign in the Central, the new era of Indians excellence may come to a tragic and screeching halt.

All of the hope and optimism could be over with a few simple swoops of a fateful pen. Enjoy it, Tribe fans, because very soon, the fun could be over.