November 02, 2006

DD Signs through 2011

It's with great relief that the Tigers announced today that President and General Manager David Dombrowski had signed a contract extension through the 2011 season. There was concern that the Chicago Cubs might come calling ...

I wonder if Rob Parker still feels the way he felt in February 2006:

Taken from The Detroit News:


The worst general manager in Detroit?

It's not who you think.

Sure, Matt Millen, president of the Lions, has tried to grab the title. His 21-59 record in five seasons is horrendous.

But realistically, it's got to be Dave Dombrowski of the Tigers.


At least Millen has an excuse. He hadno experience when he was hired to lead the Lions.

Dombrowski has been at this gig for a while -- initially with Montreal in 1988, then in Florida in 1993 and with Detroit in 2003.

And he still can't get it right.

The Tigers were supposed to get better when Dombrowski got here. They haven't.

Worse, the organization has rewritten the bad-team record book since Dombrowski's arrival.

Want proof?

Name the first team in baseball history to be 10 games out of first place by April 15? The 2002 Tigers.

Name the second team to accomplish the same feat? The 2003 Tigers.

Under Dombrowski, the Tigers also set the American League season record for losses with 119 losses in 2003. And the last three seasons, the Tigers have averaged 100 losses.

"I think we're in a situation, as (manager) Jim Leyland has said, we're not in a long-term program here," said Dombrowski, whose team has its first workout today.

"We're in a process where we're trying to win. Jim is 61 years of age. You don't bring a guy at that age if you're talking about a long-term process."

Moves backfire

Clearly, nothing Dombrowski has done has worked. The Tigers (241-400) are 159 games below .500 since he took over. Some reasons why:

  • The trade Dombrowski made, getting Jeremy Bonderman, Carlos Pena and Franklyn German -- for Jeff Weaver.

    Clearly, Weaver is a better pitcher than Bonderman. In three-plus seasons in Detroit, Weaver improved, especially his ERA (5.55 in 1999 to 3.18 in 2002). When he was dealt to the Yankees in 2002, Weaver was 6-8 with a 3.18 ERA.

    Bonderman, on the other hand, has a lifetime ERA of 4.98 in three full seasons. Weaver had a real shot at becoming the Tigers' ace. For Bonderman, it's still in question.

    Pena and German haven't panned out as impact players.

    As well as Pena did after he was recalled from the minors, he hit .235. His average has declined each of his three years in Detroit (.248 to .235). Plus, he has struck out 364 times in 352 games in Tigers. This trade was supposed to set the Tigers up with a No. 1 starter, a closer and a regular first baseman. None of that has happened.

  • The free-agent signings of Pudge Rodriguez, Troy Percival and Magglio Ordonez.

    Rodriguez had a wonderful first season in Detroit, but presented problems off the field last season (he had little to no respect for manager Alan Trammell, and let everybody know it; he left the team during the season).

    Plus, Rodriguez's production has never translated into victories on the field -- the Tigers finished 72-90 in 2004, when Pudge hit .334 with 19 home runs and 86 RBI.

    Percival was a huge mistake. Everybody in baseball knew he was not healthy and there was a chance he'd go down again.

    And Ordonez was a question mark, too. His oft-injured knee was an issue and the reason his free-agent market wasn't very impressive (the Mets took a pass).

    Maggs hit .302 with eight homers and 46 RBI. It's a far cry from the 32 homers and 118 RBI he averaged in five seasons (before he was injured in 2004) with the White Sox.

  • And certainly not the hiring of Trammell, a Tigers legend.

    Dombrowski should have known Tram wasn't the right guy for the job. He had no experience.

    It was a disaster just waiting to happen.

    No improvement

    So, can you really get that excited about this season?

    Even if the Tigers are a healthy club, they still haven't improved enough -- on paper, at least-- to beat the White Sox and Indians in the Central Division.

    And the Twins are always in the mix, so the Tigers could end up staring at fourth place -- again.

    This franchise is no closer to a division title than it was before Dombrowski arrived.

    "The biggest stride is within the system," Dombrowski said. "So it hasn't been an easy situation. But it's one that we've had a lot to tackle. And I think we're in a process of starting to see some results."

    Dombrowski is banking on some help from his minor leagues -- namely pitchers.

    If Justin Verlander and Joel Zumaya deliver, perhaps things could be a little bit better than expected.

    Still, those are big ifs.

    Win or go home

    Nonetheless, don't expect to see the Tigers make the same stride Dombrowski's Marlins made in 1997 -- winning the World Series.

    Consider that the Marlins were among the top teams in terms of payroll in '97. Dombrowski doesn't have a blank check here, so it's hard to believe he'll turn it around.

    And remember: Only one Dombrowski-built team has finished over .500 -- the '97 Marlins.

    So, when will Dombrowski's team finally win?

    "I think we're in a spot where we have to start producing on the field and win some ballgames," he said.

    If not, Dombrowski should be shown the door.

    You can reach Rob Parker at

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