November 15th, 2011
News out of the General Managers meetings in Milwaukee tonight includes a headline for Dave Dombrowski that doesn’t involve a trade or a signing. The Tigers CEO/president/general manager has been named a co-winner of this year’s Sporting News Executive of the Year Award, sharing the honor with Brewers GM Doug Melvin.
It’s the first tie since the award began in 1936. It was decided by votes of 55 Major League front-office members, with Dombrowski and Melvin earning 13 votes each.
Amazingly for somebody with more than 20 years as a GM, Dombrowski is a first-time winner. Minnesota’s Terry Ryan beat him out in 2006, when the Tigers went to the World Series. Pittsburgh’s Cam Bonifay won it in 1997, when Dombrowski’s Florida Marlins won a world championship.
Those were two wild card teams in two different stages of construction. This year, Detroit’s first division title since 1987 — and the late-season charge with a trade-bolstered roster that earned it for them — was the right situation for Dombrowski to earn some recognition.
Dombrowski already had credit for one of the best free-agent signings of the offseason, wooing Victor Martinez instead of Adam Dunn. His aggressive signing of Joaquin Benoit paid dividends after early-season struggles. But he was at his best in July and August, when he swung deals for Wilson Betemit and Doug Fister around the deadline before making an under-the-radar trade for Delmon Young in mid-August.
The Fister trade in particular, especially in comparison to the Ubaldo Jimenez deal that Cleveland made around the same time, was a stunner for how well it worked out. Fister came to Detroit looking like a middle-rotation arm, but pitched like a front-liner down the stretch, especially against the Indians.
All of this happened in what began as a must-win contract year for Dombrowski, who received a four-year extension from owner Mike Ilitch in early August.
Dombrowski is just the third Tigers executive to win the award. Longtime general manager Jim Campbell won it in 1968 in the wake of the Tigers’ World Series title that fall. Former team owner Walter Briggs Sr. won it in 1940, a year the Tigers won the American League pennant.
Just because Justin Verlander doesn’t want to diminish his AL Cy Young award by focusing on MVP, doesn’t mean he doesn’t want it.
MVP voting wrapped up a month and a half ago, but if Verlander is asked whether he believes pitchers should be eligible for MVP, he isn’t going to hold back his opinion. It came up Tuesday in his Cy Young conference call with reporters, and his answer was similar to what he gave MLB Network a couple weeks ago.
“Pitchers are on the ballot. We are players,” Verlander said. I’ve talked about it. Two arguments: One is the rmendous effect that we have on the day of our game. If we have a bad day, 95 percent of the time we’re gonna lose. If we have a good day, 85-90 percent of the time we’re gonna win. You save the bullpen the day after, the day of.”
The flip side of that, Verlander argues, is that a player can have a three-homer game in defeat, easily.
The other argument he made is that the criteria for Cy Young consideration has changed as well, from the most valuable pitcher to the best pitcher.
“For me, the trend recently for the Cy Young has gone to the best statistical pitcher,” Verlander said. “And for me, I think that bolsters the case for the MVP. Now, it’s not the most valuable pitcher. It’s the best statistical pitcher, which is a totally different thing. And like I said, that bolsters the case [for pitchers as MVP].”
Manager Jim Leyland took up his case again as well, though he didn’t have a conference call as a forum.
If you were worried about Verlander’s chances, you shouldn’t be. All 28 first-place votes from the Baseball Writers’ Association of America went to Verlander, who won the AL pitching Triple Crown. Here’s the story from the site.
Jered Weaver, whom Verlander outpitched July 31 at Comerica Park, took second place over James Shields and CC Sabathia. In a bit of a surprise, Jose Valverde finished fifth, including one second-place vote and three votes for third.