Dombrowski: Every GM gets criticism

So we learned Friday night how manager Jim Leyland attached a little personal satisfaction to the Tigers’ AL Central title, because of the criticism that he took and the speculation early on that he wouldn’t be back next season. Saturday morning was the first chance for team president/general manager Dave Dombrowski to talk since the Tigers clinched Friday night. He wouldn’t go that far.

To him, it comes with the territory. He seemed to take offense to how few pundits and experts had predicted this summer that the Tigers would take over this division, but he didn’t make much of his own situation. The flip side of that, though, is that he didn’t try to take too much credit for all the July trades that worked out in the Tigers’ favor and helped turn them from a contending club into a division champion.

“Do I feel vindicated? Do I feel this? Do I feel that? No,” Dombrowski said, “but I think it’s a situation where it just kind of speaks to how delicate a situation it can be, what a balancing act it is. And you have to make the moves that you think are the right ones. And if you don’t, I think the worst thing you can do [is nothing] — because I’ve seen general managers do this — where all of a sudden they won’t pull the trigger because when they pull the trigger everybody’s on top of them, and then they end up eventually losing their jobs.

“Everybody’s going to make a trade that doesn’t work. Everybody’s going to make a decision that doesn’t work, if you make enough of them, because it’s not a scientific formula. … I think you do all your homework beforehand, but if you’re afraid to pull the trigger, you’re going to be in trouble. You’re not going to be successful. That’s just the way it is. And if you think that every one of them’s going to work, you’re going to be wrong. And you also have to understand there’s criticism that’s attached.”

Dombrowski used 2008 as an example, from the Edgar Renteria trade from Atlanta to the Jacque Jones deal with the Cubs, among others.

“We had a bad year in 2008, and everybody in the world picked us to win,” Dombrowski said. “We didn’t have the Midas touch that year. We made some moves that didn’t work out, and I know I scratched my head that wintertime and looked at those inside and out on why those things happened the way they did and we had meetings on it and discussed it inside and out.”

A year later, he said, they had a better year and contended, and they tried to bolster their case at the trade deadline. They thought they had. So did everybody else.

“To this day, in 2009, when we acquired Jarrod Washburn, I cannot tell you how happy I was and everybody in the organization was, and I remember how everybody praised it to the hilt,” Dombrowski said. “And it didn’t work. That’s why it’s a humbling game sometimes.”

He looked over that deal, no doubt, just as he did with the trade that brought them Aubrey Huff from Baltimore. Washburn had a knee injury that didn’t allow him to pitch down the stretch, when they were struggling to hold on. Huff didn’t work out for performance.

In either case, Dombrowski said, they try to break down the deals and pinpoint what went wrong. Sometimes, he said, it isn’t anything.

“Whose fault is it? Is it yours, that you acquired the guy? Is it the scouts that recommended him? Is it the manager who writes him in the lineup? Is it the players around him? Is it the player’s fault? I’ve never really figured that one out,” Dombrowski said, “because when you make the move, it’s the time where it’s the move to make. And it’s not like you don’t do your homework.

“So it’s a humbling game, and I think as a general manager, when you’re in that position, you just have to make moves and you have to do them the best you possibly can.”

Dombrowski pointed to the Curtis Granderson three-team trade as a rare example of a trade that worked out for all teams involved. The Tigers have clinched a postseason spot. The Yankees and Diamondbacks aren’t far behind.

“And every one of the guys [in the deal] are key guys,” Dombrowski said. “And I’m glad that the guys we traded are doing well, that Curtis is doing well and of course Edwin Jackson brought [Daniel] Hudson in return [for Arizona in another trade]. But our guys have done very well for us, too, and have been integral parts of why we’ve won.”

So have the deals Dombrowski worked out this summer, from the Wilson Betemit deal with Kansas City to the Doug Fister acquisition at the Trade Deadline and the Delmon Young trade with Minnesota last month.

“Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t,” Dombrowski said. “If you think that [they all work], as soon as you think that, you’re going to get smacked down. If somebody in the game thinks they’re better than someone else, boom, it ultimately hits them right between the eyes. And any success that I would have is attributed to the people in the organization — having good scouts, having good people around, having guys like Al Avila and John Westhoff and Scott Reid and David Chadd and Dan Lunetta and those groups and all our Major League scouts. Those are the ones that make us successful.”

21 Comments

As I indicated earlier today, I think DD does a fine job. I thought the Jacques Jones trade was a good one at the time because he’d been a solid Central Division LH hitter and JL wasn’t using Infante a whole lot anyway. The Washburn trade should have worked. I think Huff was mismanaged by JL. I was dead against the Renteria trade from day one, as were a lot of folks. As Dave says, you win some, you lose some. He nailed it with his in-season transactions this year. Acquiring Betemit forced us to address the Inge situation, and getting Young forced us to address Ordonez in the 3-hole. Fister has been unbelievable, although I’d hoped for a better reliever in the deal. Perhaps Pauley can be that guy, it remains to be seen. I’d say DD has earned consideration for MVT (most valuable Tiger) this year.

I really thought edgar renteria was going to help us. I watched him in batting practice and he can crush the ball. Didnt see any of that in the real at bats. They asked the outgoing ss carlos guillon who would be a good replacement and renteria was his answer. Guess asking a player isnt the best way to pick his successor. But low and behold edgar won the ws with the giants last year and hit great during playoffs. So he has tremendous talent just didnt fit well in detroit. You live you learn.

Renteira was always good in the NL. He tanked with BoSox and recovered back in the NL.
But the real problema was Renteria short range was known and Inge was supposed to cover his back . Then the Marlins put the crwon´s jewel in the market and who would blame him for robbing the Marlins. A broken arm arm and a prospect who was four years away from been a good player for one of the best hitters of all time in the same age , AB range.That put Cabrera in third and Guillen in first. But Guillen was unable to do the foot work at fisrt and like the Marlins , the Tigers did not want Cabrera risking his body at the hot corner so Guillen with his short range( Injured knees) was supposed to cover the back of a SS around 20 th in range in MLB.

I think as far vas Washburn, I was happy at the time, however I think it was a huge mistake for DD. He knew there were knee problems or should have known there were problems. He blew it. As far as Huff they got him as a DH and I just don’t think he was meant to be one. Not everyone is cut out for that job.

To me it’s a no brainer – before DD we were the worst team. Now, less than a decade later, we are a WS contender with a bright future. When playing GM from a couch and using hindsight – then posting on the internet – it can be easy to be critical of DD. You win some – you loose some -> regardless of how large you’re gamble. The difference (in the MLB) is when you are scared to pull the trigger you always loose (i.e. mediocre teams do not make the PO’s like in other sports). Mad props to DD, Al Avila (+ cast), Mr. I. and JL.

Don’t forget the contribution of Raoul Gonzalez. And I’m serious about that.

To rehash the Renteria trade, it’s what we gave up. Jair Jurrjens. That’s what I didn’t like. At that time, we still had Guillen as a shortstop, we still had Omar Infante, and we still had, you guessed it, Ramon Santiago who had just come off an excellent September. It was an unnecessary trade and we gave up a very good young pitcher.
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It’s my impression that we picked up Huff because an injured Inge was playing when he shouldn’t have. That cost us dearly when Huff became an ineffective DH that JL doggedly plugged into the important 5-hole everday. The Betemit trade parallels the Huff deal, but JL used Wilson appropriately.
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I’m not sure the extent of Washburn’s injury was known, at least not to anyone outside of Seattle.

But JL and DD never liked Omar Infante ( His problems began durin Trammell´s tenure). They traded for Neftaly Perez instead of handing him second after the Polanco ´s injury. The day he was injured , Ivan Rodriguez played second base with Infante on the bench. The next day he made an error allowing one run and hi t a HR in the nith inning. Next , Neftlay Perez, suspended for liegal sustances abuse, was in Detroit.
And they have never have confidence in Santiago, who was traded to get Guillen.
of course there was the ex marlins factor, most trades were for ex Marlins players that they know were able to do the job

That’s my point. There was no known reason to dislike Infante and no known reason to have no confidence in Santiago. You’re right, those were the days when it seemed DD/JL were trying to recreate the Florida Marlins in Detroit.

I didn’t like infante -> he never really hit close to .300, his feilding % wasn’t great at SS (which he played through 2005) and his range factor wasn’t really special either. I don’t think he hit anything that wasn’t a fastball lol.

My guess for the roster, not sure if they will cut Guillen:
Alburquerque, Al
Benoit, Joaquín
Coke, Phil
Fister, Doug
Penny, Brad
Perry, Ryan
Porcello, Rick
Scherzer, Max
Schlereth, Daniel
Valverde, José
Verlander, Justin
Avila, Alex
Martinez ,Victor
Santos, Omir

Betemit, Wilson
Cabrera, Miguel
Guillén, Carlos
Inge, Brandon
Peralta, Jhonny
Raburn, Ryan
Santiago, Ramon
Kelly, Don

Jackson, Austin
Ordóñez, Magglio
Young, Delmon
Dirks, Andy( If they leeave Guillen out)

Im only guessing. I am assuming that he will leave out the rookies: Marte(an AA player), Below, he pitched well but still is a rookie. No need to explain Turner.Pauley have not pitched much. And Perry is like Raburn or Inge, nothing will make JL put him aside.
Position players: Rhymes looked bad in his few chances. And Worth is invisible for JL.
My only doubt about what JL will do: Dirks, the rookie with few games or he rewards Guillen with a last chance. Anyway the sacrifice is to make room for Santos

My guess as of today:
.
Pitchers (11)
Verlander
Scherzer
Fister
Porcello
Penny
Valverde
Benoit
Schlereth
Coke
Below
Alburquerque (if available)
Perry (if ABQ not available)

Position players (14)
Avila
Martinez
Cabrera
Santiago
Raburn
Peralta
Betemit
Inge
Guillen
Young
Jackson
Ordonez
Kelly
Dirks

a) why would we carry 5 starters…is that implying 1 is a long relief?
b) wouldn’t you carry more righty middle inning relievers (e.g. not setup/closer/long) than lefty since more batters are righty?

here is my 25 man roster:
bullpen(8)
Valverde (closer)
benoit (set up)
Coke (lefy middle relief)
Sherleth (lefty middle relief)
Al^2 (righty middle relief)
Perry (righty middle relief)
Marte (righty middle relief) (if VMart can back up at catcher)
below OR penny (long relief)
.
starters(4)
Verlander
Fister
Sherzer
Porcello
.
positional(13)
Austin Jackon (cf)
Delmon young (lf)
Maggs (rf)
Cabby (1b)
Santiago (2b/SS backup)
Peralta (SS)
Wilson B. (3b)
Victor Martinez (DH/ C backup if possible)
Alex Avila (C/ 3b in NL games)
.
Dirks (outfield backup)
O. Santos (if VMart cannot back up at C)
R. Raburn (2b backup/outfield backup/3b backup)
Guillen (2b backup/ 3b backup)
.
and one of JL’s boys:
D. Kelly (backup at all positions)
or
Inge (3b backup)

Today’s Lineup:
1. Austin Jackson, CF
2. Don Kelly, 3B
3. Delmon Young, LF
4. Miguel Cabrera, 1B
5. Victor Martinez, DH
6. Alex Avila, C
7. Carlos Guillen, 2B
8. Andy Dirks, RF
9. Ramon Santiago, SS

I’d have Betemit at 3rd. He needs the exposure there. Kelly seems to be getting an inordinate amount of playing time. I think it’s good to play him in the OF but really unnecessary to play him at 3rd.
We need to start seeing something positive from Austin Jackson.

I agree on both the betemit and AJ point.

ON a happier note: both the NYY and Rsox are currently (2:18pm EDT) losing

Kelly is in there because offensively he is really the only guy who has shown up the last 2 days. Appearently he is seeing the ball right now.

There was talk of AJ getting today off. Guess not.
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On the playoff roster, that’s my guess as to what JL will do, although it’s pretty much in line with what I’d do too. I don’t think you leave out the guy who’s been your 5th starter all year, regardless of what I think of his performance. I think I’d trust Penny more than Perry, so that’s not saying much about Agent P. Two weeks left, all up in the air anyway. Unless Victor goes on the DL, I would not bring Santos. I want pinch runners and pinch hitters on hand to play in those “no tomorrow” type games.

As a fan, I’m pleased with the way the Tiger organization is running and has forward thinking leaders. Thank goodness we have Mr. Ilitch as the owner. He’s been very generous. I haven’t always agreed with some of the thinking, but that’s just normal. Losing in ’09 and losing Grandy have probably been the most difficult things for me to accept.
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How ’bout we win a game today? Go Tigers!!!!!!!

candid interview here, nicely done. must have been difficult for the GM to be inactive (other than Peralta trade) last year and watch the season slip away. in retrospect, the proper decision. kept some young players that they might have traded then to reinforce this year’s team when it was in a better position to reach the postseason.

also a good reminder that decisions can be made for all the right reasons and still fail. unfortunate outcome despite a thoughtful process.

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