October 8th, 2009

Dombrowski on Cabrera, Polanco, coaching staff, etc.

Jason Beck / MLB.com

As expected, LOTS of stuff coming out of Thursday’s year-end media availability (no, it’s not a press conference) with GM Dave Dombrowski, first among them the Miguel Cabrera situation, which sounds like it’s being taken care of.

“We know he made a mistake. He knows he made a mistake,” Dombrowski said. “And I feel he’s going to take the steps.”

After talking several times with Cabrera and his agent, Diego Bentz, Dombrowski said he’s “very satisfied they are dealing with the issue that they need to address.”

Asked about his emotions when it happened, Dombrowski pointed to the situation.

“One part of that is obvious,” Dombrowski said. “You’re at home at 7:30 in the morning and you get a call to come to the police station and pick up one of your players. Of course you’re upset.”

That said, he later added, “Even though you’re upset, you have to give tough love.”

As far as why Cabrera played after the incident Saturday, when he went hitless with two strikeouts and an inning-ending double play, Dombrowski said, “The feeling was at the time, he was capable of playing in the game.”

Other matters:

  • The opinions Dombrowski gave about the final few weeks of the season and the division lead that evaporated was very much a view of a team that didn’t necessarily collapse, but a team that wasn’t very good in the first place. “I never felt we had a powerhouse club,” he said. “I felt we had a good club. We have a club with shortcomings.”
  • Later, Dombrowski said, “I really didn’t think we’d win a lot more than 86 games this year. For a very long time, I thought 86 wins would win the division. Unfortunately, I was wrong, 87 won.”
  • More Dombrowski: “I don’t think our club lacked for urgency whatsoever. But it was a club that was befuddling at times.”
  • No major changes were announced in the session, which was why they didn’t label it a press conference. Dombrowski gave a vote of confidence to Lloyd McClendon, whom he called “a very good hitting coach.” However, Dombrowski would not say that all of the coaches would be back, nor would he say there were changes coming. “We’re not done with all those conversations,” Dombrowski said, referring to his talks with manager Jim Leyland.
  • In regards to moves, though Dombrowski hasn’t yet talked about a budget with owner Mike Ilitch, he compared this coming offseason to last one, when the Tigers didn’t go big into free agency and made more complementary moves. “It’s really very similar to the challenge we faced last winter, to me,” Dombrowski said. “It’s a situation where you have to make wise decisions with some of our acquisitions. … I would think there would be a lot of similarities at this time, and that’s what we would look to do.”
  • Not a whole lot of insight on free agents, whether they could keep both Fernando Rodney and Brandon Lyon, and what it would take to bring back Placido Polanco. He stated the obvious, that they would not be able to keep all of their free agents. Keep in mind, Jarrod Washburn and Aubrey Huff are also free agents.
  • Though he didn’t get into the chances of resigning Polanco, he sounded very much like a GM who’s prepared to move on and give prospect Scott Sizemore a shot unless they can get a reasonable deal done with Polanco. “We think he’s ready to play,” Dombrowski said. “He’s a good hitter. He has a nice, short stroke. And he has more power than you think.”
  • By contrast at shortstop, Dombrowski said, “I don’t think Cale Iorg is ready to play.”
  • Expect another rotation in the designated hitter role, rather than a full-time guy. “Most likely, we won’t have a full-time DH,” he said. “We have candidates, Ordonez and Guillen, who could DH.”
  • After the trio of Verlander, Porcello and Jackson, Dombrowski sounded like he expects to fill out the rest of the rotation internally. He expects Bonderman to be back in the rotation next season, that the stuff is back. He sees Galarraga and Robertson as candidates for the fifth spot. “I can’t even exclude a guy like Eddie Bonine,” Dombrowski said.
  • Dombrowski supported the decision not to pitch Verlander or Porcello on short rest last Saturday. “We were never close,” he said. “They both volunteered.”
  • He said in his 20 or so years as a Major League GM, he doesn’t think he has ever had a young pitcher come back and pitch on three days rest. It isn’t something I’ve had a chance to look up.
  • On Porcello: “If he came back and pitched on three days rest, he’s in a spot where if anything happened, you’d never forgive yourself.”
  • He still sees Granderson as a leadoff hitter, but he has to make some adjustments, especially against left-handed pitching. “We debate that all the time,” he said. “The Curtis Granderson we saw this year was not an effective leadoff hitter.”
  • What surprised Dombrowski the most, he said, was that they finished last in the league in doubles.
  • Part of the team’s upgrade offensively is going to have to come from the players they have. He doesn’t see anyone who had a career year at the plate, including Granderson despite his 30 home runs.
  • Very telling remarks from Dombrowski on the future of their offense. He plans to have meetings with his staff about discipline at the plate, and how to improve that at all levels, not just in Detroit.
  • Dombrowski: “We also have to realize there’s been an adjustment in the game the last couple years. I don’t think you can live and die with the home run all the time.”
  • Asked if they have an internal candidate at closer if they can’t bring back Rodney or Lyon, he said they might. His remarks later seemed to be referring to Ryan Perry, though they haven’t decided that. “Some people in our organization thought Perry was ready,” he said.
  • On Zumaya, Dombrowski cited doctors’ opinions that he should be fine after surgery to get rid of the bone shard in his shoulder in August. “They think he should be able to throw the ball as well as he had this year [before getting hurt again],” Dombrowski said.
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