July 14, 2015

The Future of Baseball in the Motor City

What Happens When Dave Dombrowski Gives Himself the Escape Card and is Able (to get out of jail free) 

What if they changed direction? What if the Tigers decided that the current way didn't work so we have to adjust and take a new route. Not necessarily rebuilding but changing the direction on the fly?

Dave Dombrowski is an effective — if not incredible — general manager for a baseball team. He puts together a good scouting team, drafts prospects, and finds ways to turn those prospects into tradable components to acquire Major League talent. That has always been the Dombrowski way (any Expos fans out there can feel free to correct me if I'm wrong here). It's possible that Dombrowski is in the final year of his contract and it's likely that he is going to leave the Tigers. It's rumored that he may be a prime candidate for the Blue Jays or Angels; I wonder if he would be a good fit for the Phillies. That's not my point.

Dave Dombrowski, general manager of the Tigers. 

I read today that Assistant General Manager Al Avila may have the inside track for the GM position should Dombrowski decide not to return. I'm not sold on this at this point. I wonder if the Tigers might go the route of finding someone who can lead the team in two areas I believe they lack: 1) someone who truly leads the development of baseball players who end up playing for the Tigers and 2) someone who is adept with analytics. I'm not sure who might be a good candidate, but a new direction may better prepare the team to compete. The top–heavy, sign all the stars route has proven good but not great. And we all know that the Tigers want to be a great, not good, team. Remember, the enemy of great is good.

Assistant General Manager Al Avila could be a candidate to run the organization. 

The Tigers could look to both the Cardinals and Astros as teams who have developed Major League ready players and allowed them to flouish; they could also look to the Cubs and Rays as teams who use advanced metrics effectively. Now, I don't want the Tigers to become the shiftiest team in baseball by any means, but I think it's time for the team to embrace the information and use it more. I'm a baseball traditionalist but I think this is the natural progression of the great game. Regardless, it will be interesting to see how this plays out during the next several weeks.

Maybe Dombrowski will make a couple of great trades, improve the team, they roll off 20 wins in 30 games, and suddenly knock the Royals out of their thrown, make the playoffs, and suddenly come alive in October and everyone will forget all of these discussions of whether he would return in 2016. But, maybe not.

Will the GM and his assistant walk away together this fall? 

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