August 19, 2015

Dombrowski to the Red Sox

Baseball is the greatest game.

As you may have noticed, I have tried to write about more things other than baseball. It's not even that the Tigers are having such a lackluster season; it's that I need to explore all of my interests in more detail than I have for the last several years. I'll try to combine two facets into one but once again I'm writing about leadership and the greatest game.

In 2001, the Tigers hired a new President, Dave Dombrowski. No one can argue that he completely changed the culture of the Tigers organization. The '90s were abysmal in Detroit if you were a Tigers fan. The ballpark at the Corner of Michigan and Trumbull was allowed to crumble as relatively–new owner Mike Illitch aimed to build a new home for the Tigers. Even after a major upgrade to the Tigers Plaza, a carnival–like area at the entrance to Tiger Stadium, things were allowed to oxidize and rust. By 1999 the "last season" the Stadium was a shadow of its former self. The Tigers went through several general managers in the '90s as well as a few managers — strange considering that the Tigers though 1995 had Sparky Anderson at the helm for 17 seasons.

It's irrelevant to name all of the GMs from the '90s nor is it important to name the subsequent managers after Anderson's blackball, er, retirement from baseball. In 2001 Dombrowski joined the Tigers are President, in the spring of 2002 he added the title of General Manager after firing Randy Smith, who himself was brought in to the be the bright and shining star. His claim to fame in Detroit was trading the team for Juan Gonzalez who hated playing for the Tigers and bolted as a free agent following the 2000 season after rejecting an offer that would have made the poster boy for steroids the highest paid and longest termed player in baseball. We can be thankful that playing for the Cleveland Indians sounded better than sticking with the Tigers as it might have been difficult to overcome such a contract.

So, that brings us to Dombrowski who is joining the Boston Red Sox as President of Baseball Operations. He comes on the scene with two albatross contracts just signed last winter in Hanley Ramirez and Pablo Sandoval. The pitching is in rough shape, as well, and the closer has struggled and is injured for the remainder of the season. So Dombrowski joins the Sox with a couple of jobs: do something with at least Ramiez's contract and find a bullpen. (Sound familier?) Plus, he has to determine if the Sox keep former Tiger Rick Porcello or try to move his contract as well.

Dombrowski joins an organization with more in the coffers than the Tigers currently have, plus the team has won three World Series in the past several seasons. He has work to do in Boston, as noted. Today at 2 p.m. the Sox will hold a press conference introducing Dombrowski and its reported that following the season current GM Ben Cherington will step down. The Tigers' former GM is a great baseball man but the word is that he's micromanaging and rigid. Upon joining the Tigers in 2001, the organization needed that. Over the course of the following 14 years, though, that need may have waned. That seems to be par for the course in leadership. Certain types of leadership work at certain times. The Tigers determined that they needed to relax things a bit (as well as bring a focus on to analytics) and the Red Sox determined they needed more rigid leadership. Baseball truly is the greatest game.

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