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.

18 Comments

I’m not buying this argument that the team wasn’t that good.

geeez, back in late march we had:

1. no closer
2. no pen
3. 3 guys who could pitch (JV, EJ, AGalaraga)

then we sustained major injuries to what we THOUGHT we DID have:

zumaya, robertson, bonderman, and willis.

THEN we stayed in first place for the entire season, until the red hot twinks and their metrodome took it away from us.

Maybe we did more than you think.

So, it sounds like we can’t afford Polanco, Lyon and Rodney. I guess I knew that- and its no sense whining over Sheffield and Willis cause it won’t change anything- but boy does that money hurt right now.
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I REALLY like Polly, but I think it’s easier to replace a 2nd baseman than a closer. I don’t see how Ryan Perry could be ready for next year. It’s too important of a role. That being said, Rodney will probably demand too much money, so I think we keep Lyon and let the other two go.
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-Tracey

I didn’t get it on the recorder — battery went out, had to switch to the voice memo app on my iphone — but Dombrowski called Polanco a terrific player and person. It very much sounded like Dombrowski thanking Polanco before he goes elsewhere.

Ok, I just read the Freep, Drew and Mitch. Who is to blame? The Twins went 16-4 without Morneau! Gardenhire started his pitchers on short rest! Saturday was the biggest game of the season. We win that game and we did not HAVE to win Sunday. One more thought, I would have loved to see Miguel run over Mauer on the force at home. JL says to his kids, go outside and play but don’t get hurt. Maybe Gibby and Tram will come back. At least the Tigers have some talent unlike Alan had. Oh yeah, per Dan, polite baseball.

I’ll say one thing for DD; when he does talk, you actually come away with some information.
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Just to throw some stuff out there:
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A priority should be to re-sign Lyon and make him the closer now. Rodney won’t be worth the money he’ll attract, and that’s not a slap at Fernando who did an excellent job this year. The guy finally pulled it off and caps off to him. I think Perry needs a year, maybe more, at setup. Let’s see if he can pull that off first. Try to get Lyon for two years at least.
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I don’t think there’s anyone who doesn’t love Polly, and I truly hope he can return. From a purely entertainment standpoint, however, it would be fun to get a youngster like Sizemore in there. If I’ve seen him play, I don’t recall it, so I’m going by reputation and stats here. Some new blood is needed to keep the fan base interested, IMO. Like a manager (sorry, couldn’t resist).
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On Porcello starting last Saturday, I think that’s a non-issue but questions obviously continue to be asked. This one is a no-brainer. Porcello doesn’t start that game. Verlander or Miner, then we’re talking. But not Rick.
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The Everett/Santiago shortstop combination worked very very well IMO. No reason we can’t do that for another year, especially with Razor to help Sizemore get acclimated.
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Laird is not here for offense and he shouldn’t be expected to provide anything but maybe a little more of that. There are guys on this club who are supposed to be hitters. We shouldn’t have to depend on the best defensive catcher in the AL for that.
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My final comment, at least for right now, involves how “good” was this team this season. As I said, I predicted 82 wins on opening day. I included in this prediction the unexpected things that happen, such as injuries and down years by some. I also subtracted wins because Leyland was the manager. If we’re talking how good we were from a pure talent standpoint, this team was plenty good enough to win 90+ games. I don’t think the “we weren’t that good” argument flies.
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–Rich

I agree with everything DD said other than the point like Rich said about the team was good enough. Having easily the highest payroll would indicate you have the most talent or is this an admission he did a lot of bad trades besides Willis?
The ealier point about so underachieving last year when pre-season favourites is so valid.
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Sorry Pup, I suspected but didn’t want to possibly offend!! :-)
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The funny thing about two Dave’s is my wife Julie of 25 years always calls me David – she can’t stand the abbreviation.
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She was looking over my shoulder as I was typing – rather bemused by my blogging about baseball. I just shrugged and said at least it’s not a porn or singles site!! :-)

Hello to my second Family. I had to give it a couple of days before posting. Our beloved Tigers came up on the sort end of the season. It was my biggest fear, that we would hold all the way through to the end before folding. For Star Wars fans, I like to think that the “Force” was with the Twinks, and there was really nothing we could about it. All those “almost”
wins early on seemingly met head on with Obe Won Joe Mauer, and company.
My biggest joys: the emergence of an ace pitcher, who at age 20, pitched well beyond Class A ball. Second was the rebirth of Magglio from August on. Honorable mention to Raburn, and a solid breakout season.
My biggest disappointments: Nothing from Bonderman, Willis,Robertson, Washburn, and Huff. Second was the terrible judgement of our young phenom, Cabbs. Was this perhaps the reason there was little clutch hitting from him when needed? Honorable mention to Brandon for stubbornly trying to contribute with no legs. I have long defended him on this blog, because I’ve known him from his high school days, and he is a class act. I hope the off season brings another Forest Gump line, “Why Brandon Inge, you’ve got new legs”
My biggest fear: We lose Polanco’s steady influence and baseball sense to free agency and Lyon’s steady influence in the pen. Second is the fear that when Spring Training opens, Dontrelle’s big smile will be waiting us. Please release him! Honorable mention would be Bonderman never making it back. As a pitcher, I see him as the heart and soul of the the agony years.
My biggest hope: We win next year due to overpowering pitching. The Twins never mount a sustained challenge and the Sox finally get tired of Ozzie’s mouth and fire him.
Second, JV wins his first Cy Young. Honorable Mention has Rich thinking Leyland is a good manager in 2010.
Tiger of the Year – JV
Flop of the Year – Dontrelle
Rookie – Porcello
Most Pleasant Surprise – Raburn
Bittersweet moment – Ernie’s announcement of Cancer/Address to Tigers
RIP – “The Bird” Thanks for that one magic year.
Finally, Thanks to all of Beck’s Bloggers for allowing me to spout my nonsense for this year. I look forward to the off season, and am ready to reclaim the prize for all of us in 2010.
Greg

Sizemore looks ready to me from what I have seen of him in Spring Training, AA and AAA levels this year. He has some pop and hit at every level this year. His defense needs some work. Polonco has been great for the Tigers, but it has seemed like has planned to move on without him all year.
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Resigning Everett and Ramon to handle shortstop would be prudent. Iorg is not ready and Dlugach would be risky even with his good year at Toledo.
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Left field and closer are the two primary positions of need. They have internal possibilities for those, but no sure bets.
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Guillen has to be the primary DH and hopefully he gets his stroke back. Rayburn needs to play the outfield everyday in Arizona or winter ball to get better in the field. Thomas needs to continue to work on his swing in the winter.
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Lyon would provide a safety net should Perry not be ready. Perry seems to have the makeup for a closer, but his control is not consistant enough yet. Rodney is to risky from a health history and consistancy to give a big contract.
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It is time for Thames to go, but I will miss seeing the enjoyment of playing baseball in his face.
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Mark

Sounds pretty certain Polanco won’t be back. That makes the loss of the division title so much harder for me to swallow knowing this same group of guys probably won’t be back next year.

Along with everyone I will miss Polly if he is not a Tiger next year. What a great guy he is, a class act.

I was listening to the local sports talk radio and one of the guys suggested that the Tigers take the leap and sign Carl Crawford. I love all the ideas that are bouncing around regarding what to do to make the team better next year.

After watching the tie breaking game against the Twinkies it showed that what we have right now is a good team………..when they grind it out and play with heart like they did that night. Oh, if only they had played more games like that.

I agree that Laird is worth it for his game calling and defensive plays. He should not be relied upon to carry a big bat. But, a clutch hit once in a while would help. : )

Here’s hoping the team comes back next year well rested & healthy. I think they learned a rough lesson this year that will carry into next year. My heart goes out to Miggy, I can appreciate that sometimes people don’t always make the right decisions. He alone cannot be blamed for the fall of the team so late in the season, even thought he put himself in the perfect position to be a scapegoat. He is in my prayers.

Unlike many of you, I am enjoying following the post season games. I love the sport so much I want to take in as many games as I can before the final out. Although, hoping next year it will be my Tigers playing.

It’s going to be a long winter.

Funny thing about the game Tuesday. I thought for sure Polanco would put the ball in play in the 9th with runners on the corners and no outs. He struck out. Then in the 10th, I thought the bouncer up the middle was a double play. Polanco didn’t get to it (very difficult play yes, but I am spoiled by his defense). What I am trying to say is that Polly is getting older, he will need to cash in with this contract. I just don’t think a 35 year old 2B is worth a big contract. Even one I love to watch as much as Polly. I hope for his sake someone overspends on him (like the O’s did on Jamie Walker)
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Free agents. I think we will get no big ticket free agents. If we do zero in on one, do not focus on Crawford, focus on Chone Figgins. That guy is great. He could bat lead off and we could slide Granderson down in the order to knock in some runs.

Not that anyone wants to know what I think but here it is anyway. To me this whole season was a season of SHOULDA COULDA WOULDA. Here are the things that I agree with, we were a maybe slightly above average team in a weak division. I agree with Leyland in this respect there are some games that we lost that we should of won (ie Tuesday night) but there were also plenty of games that we should of lost that we did win (ie the game against Toronto that Huff hit the homer in the ninth) I suppose that is the way it goes with most teams.
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Raburn SHOULDA played that triple into a single, I applaud the effort in trying to make the heroic play, but you play that ball into a single and we are in NYC right now. Rick Porcello if he WOULDA just not thrown that ball away guess what we are in NYC right now. If Polanco, Laird or Ige COULDA just got a hit in the clutch on Tuesday then might be in NYC right now. If we COULDA not given all those turns in the rotation to Willis and whatever other failing pitcher of the week was maybe we COULDA won one more game. Miguel SHOULDA gone home after Friday nights game and MAYBE we’d be in NYC right now.
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I know I went on too much but you get my point. That is why when I hear someone say well it’s only April after a bad loss, I get annoyed because that one game could possibly be the game that takes you out of the playoffs. Well in fact it was. When Morneau went out for the season the fact of the matter is, that him being in the lineup was costing them wins because his hitting was so bad it was a dead spot in the order. When he left it left room for a guy who was hitting. It actually helped them. And we all know about having dead spots in the order don’t we????
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But unlike some of you I don’t think that Leyland is the biggest problem with this team. We had a lot of guys who underpeformed for part or all of the year. (Polanco, Graderson, Inge, Magglio) I still insist that people get all upset about guys like Laird and Inge, but you wouldn’t mind having those guys in your lineup if the big guys were playing up to their potential..
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Granderson needs to fix it, he cannot rest on his laurels and must come up with a new approach, because this one isn’t working and he is embarressing himself at the plate. Inge needs to fix his knees, because if he can be the guy we saw in the first half again, that is plenty good for me. Please keep Polance although I fear he might be lost. Figure out something for Magglio. Miguel fix your life you are too talented to throw it all away. I like our shortstop duo. I think the rotation will be okay. And the pen well who knows.
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GK

In regard to Polanco, what no one is mentioning is the fact that Polly has played 322 ML games at thirdbase and 122 ML games at shortstop. Before coming here, he was a valuable utility player. The guy could even fill in as a DH at times. Before we and Detroit management decide his worth, let’s look at the big picture. I find myself saying that a lot lately. Don’t rigidly pigeonhole players into one role. That’s one of Leyland’s failings.
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I can see I’m going to lose the battle over getting rid of Leyland. Maybe I should insert one example of the damage he does into each of my posts. How about this one? His mis-use of Zach Miner cost us how many games? Can anyone even guess? He stuck him in there as a reliever for his superhuman ability to get DPs. So how many did he actually get when we needed one? I remember about two. The rest of the time, Miner was a middle of the road relief pitcher. Meanwhile, we had a hole in the rotation the entire season and by the end, we had three. Don’t you think Miner could have pitched some, if not all of those games?
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Ask yourself this and be honest. Do you think Jim Leyland will make this a better club?
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I caught the end of Dodgers-Cardinals last night. Anyone see what happened there? 2-1 Cards, 9th inning with two out and none on. Holliday muffs the final out (easier than Raburn’s play) and the Dodgers go on to score two and win. The Twins don’t stand a snowball’s chance against NY and, as weakly as we were playing, actually had a better shot with our starters. I like watching the Angels. They’re the only club in the big leagues who play the game correctly. If it becomes Red Sox-Yankees, I’m tuning out till the WS.
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–Rich

I am finding it very hard to cheer for anyone of these teams in the playoffs. I don’t want to see Philly get in, not that I have a problem with them in particular, but they were there last year. Yankees and Boston well do I even need to go there?? Will never forgive Cardinals for well 2006. The behavior of their pitching coach Duncan and the things he was saying, their crappy weather which in my opinion ruined our mojo, Larussa’s stupid sunglasses he wears day and night, and their fans well, I just don’t like them. Minnesota, while I don’t hate them I don’t think that any team should be in the playoffs simply because they play in a stupid dome. I don’t mind Colorado. The Dodgers has Manny Ramirez and all I want to do is clean his grubby helmet and chop off that stupid hair, not to mention they have Casey Blake and I can’t stand him from his Cleveland days. LA is okay, I guess but Bobby Abreau drives me nuts and the oohing and gooing over Tori Hunter. But I can cheer them on. But your right Rich a lot of very unlikable teams. I did see Holliday screw up too, he must be killing himself.

Colorado then daylight to the Angels and I wont puke if the Phils or Cardinals win the WS.
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The one silver lining from Tuesday is JV’s still young and Ricky’s youthful right shoulders can now get some rest, both of which were already well extended into the danger zone.
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DD’s comments about being the lowest in doubles – when I am 47 and could go close to beating 4 of the regular top 5 in a sprint, it didn’t surprise me in the least.

To answer Rich’s question, nope, JL will not make this a better club.
I am going to get shot for saying this, but since the Tigers are not an option, I would love to see Joe Torre & his new boys take on NY. Might be some exciting moments. As Joe said, he would finally get to see the new Yankee Stadium.

Not that I am on their bandwagon, but I am always amazed at the people that hate the Yankees because they are a team bought with money. Honestly folks, isn’t that what the Tigers tried to do since ’06 but failed at? Throw lots of money out there on contracts for players that would get the Tigers to the WS.
Love the posts here, so much passion coming out.

No, Rich, you’re not alone with regard to your feelings about the Skipper. I’m with you on that one!

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