July 11, 2015

Bless You Boys (This Is Not the Year)

Bless You Boys

The Spirit of Detroit's Tiger jersey has been sent away for cleaning and will be unavailable in the fall of 2015. 

Miguel Cabrera.

David Price.

Jose Iglesias.

J.D. Martinez.

Even Yoenis Cespedes.

This team has four, possibly five All Stars. And the team's record hovers around .500.

You can blame two people for the strife: Dave Dombrowski who built the team and Brad Ausmus who manages the team. You possibly can blame the GM for the whole thing since he is the one who hired the manager.

Papa Grande saved 49 straight games. None were easy. 

Doug Fister.

Rick Porcello.

Max Scherzer.

Even Drew Smyly.

Sixty percent of the former starting rotation jettisoned or allowed to leave as a free agent.

The Fister trade made no sense when it happened — and even though he is struggling in 2015 — and makes no sense today. Fister is a quality starter who was jettisoned in a bizarre trade which we assumed was made to free up money to be able to keep Scherzer. Scherzer bolted "for a chance to win." At the time I wondered what he meant by "chance to win" but maybe he knew more about the status of the 2015 Tigers than us laymen.

The Tigers might have done okay with the Smyly trade because we acquired Price (who we probably have to jettison now) but we gave up some potential prospects. Further, the Joakim Soria trade was similar — acquiring an aging reliever for prospects. Now, maybe they can do the same thing: trade away an aging reliever for prospects. Probably not after last night's debacle, though. Probably not.

Bring Mr. Leyland back to the organization was a great move by Dombrowski. 

At this point, it appears the Tigers won the Alex Wilson and Cespedes for Porcello trade. The Red Sox even signed Porcello to an ill–advised four–year contract extension. The Sox may be willing to trade away Porcello at this point but they'd have to pay some of his contract.

Dave Dombrowski has done an admirable job running the organization. He brought the team out of many seasons from Hell to many seasons of glory; however, his legacy will be the failure to put together a bullpen. The Tigers last "good" bullpen was the 2006 squad that featured Jaime Walker, Joel Zumaya, and Fernando Rodney setting the table for the original scary closer, The Rollercoaster, Todd Jones. Each carnation of the bullpen since then has basically failed.

Dombrowski hit a home run by bringing in Jim Leyland to — sorry, friends — "make talent a team." Leyland performed admirably. With several opportunities to hire his replacement, the Tigers' brass went with the wild card, Brad Ausmus. Ausmus had never managed or coached; he worked for the Padres in the front office. Two seasons in a row the team has looked prepared for the season and came out of the gates rolling: aggressive, organized, tight, loose. They looked ready to kick some butt. And then they faded.

As 2015 set in, I expected either a great season or a terrible season. This average season has been a disappointment. After the 11–2 start excited everyone, the aggressiveness disappeared. I don't know who would be a good replacement for Ausumus, maybe Dusty Baker for the remainder of the season. Maybe Leyland. I think if they replace Ausmus, it has to be with someone with a track record. This veteran team needs a veteran manager to lead it.

I also think that if Dombrowski were going to be returning next season, he would have signed an extension. It wouldn't surprise me if (as Jon Morosi speculates) Dombrowski ended up with the Los Angeles Angels or Toronto Blue Jays. I don't see him going to the Phillies (too much to do there) but moving on to one of these teams on the cusp may make sense. Does that mean Al Avila takes over in Detroit or does he move on, as well? It's hard to say what Mr. Illitch might decide to do. He really wants a World Series with the Tigers.

When the winning returned, making the playoffs was a new experience for all of us. Contending is not enough to many fans as the team continues to fall just short of a World Series title.  

But now that Mike Babcock left for Toronto star players will again sign with the Detroit Red Wings, so maybe Mr. I will focus more on hockey and consider the Tigers experiment a failure. The team has been so close … Anyhow, last night's bullpen meltdown put a stake in the season that was the Tigers. I don't even want them to make the playoffs because with this bullpen, they would be unsuccessful. Anyhow, this team with four All Stars in underachieving.

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