Tigers top scout Mike Russell joins Diamondbacks as special assistant (updated with likely replacement)

One of the remarkable notes about Dave Dombrowski’s reign running the Tigers is the continuity in the front office and player personnel. He has been able to keep his inner circle of trusted advisors together, more or less, for more than a decade in an era when even top evaluators often bounce around and success usually leads to bigger things for assistants.

That said, the Tigers just lost someone from their core group. In the case of veteran scout Mike Russell, he’s leaving for a new opportunity and an old friend, heading to the Arizona Diamondbacks as a special assistant for pro scouting.

Russell will serve as a special assistant to new Diamondbacks senior VP of baseball operations De Jon Watson, whom he has known since they worked together with the Florida Marlins in the mid-1990s, both working under Dombrowski. He’ll help coordinate the extensive pro scouting staff the Diamondbacks have put together.

“I’m really excited about it,” Russell said. “It was nothing negative. It was just a promotion and a chance to go help a friend.”

Russell’s ties with Dombrowski date back to 1996, when he joined the Marlins as an area supervisor and a special assignment scout. When Dombrowski left Florida for the Tigers, Russell was one of his earliest hires, coming on board as a Major League scout in 2002. He had been in that role ever since, making him the longest-tenured member of the Tigers scouting staff, and one of Detroit’s longest-tenured evaluators.

Russell’s primary role was scouting Eastern Division teams and players. However, he also went out on several special assignments to evaluate Tigers prospects. Russell has scouted for four World Series teams, signed seven Major League players and provided the background work that led to franchise-changing trades such as the Miguel Cabrera deal.

Along with assistant GM Al Avila, VP of player personnel Scott Reid and VP/special assistant David Chadd, Russell was part of the core group on the scouting side.

“Our pro scouting department was very successful in what we did,” Russell said. “I’m proud of it. I’m proud to be able to say I helped Dave and played a small part.”

Russell was inducted into the Professional Baseball Scouts Hall of Fame last summer. He also made his impact on the charitable side, including a donation to pay for the funeral for James Van Horn, better known for his Eat ‘Em Up Tigers chant around Comerica Park, after Van Horn was killed in a hit-and-run accident last summer.

Russell thanked Dombrowski for the opportunity. He also thanked Tigers owner Mike Ilitch, who helped Russell and his family rebuild their Florida home when Hurricane Ivan hit the Gulf Coast in 2004.

“I benefited by being a part of his organization,” Russell said.

As for filling the void, the Tigers are still working that out, Dombrowski said in an email Saturday morning, but he appears likely to turn to an ex-member of his core group. Former Pirates general manager Dave Littlefield, who served as assistant GM under Dombrowski with the Marlins from 1999 to 2001, is expected to join the Tigers scouting staff. Littlefield spent the past seven seasons with the Cubs, most recently as a Major League scout.

26 Comments

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Dave Littlefield? Lord have mercy.

The man that lost Shelton to the Tigers and Jose Bautista among others

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littlefield on Jeter:
http://scouts.baseballhall.org/report?reportid=03071&playerid=jeterde01
.
where can i get a review of littlefield’s work? is this a bad or good thing for the scouting dept?

You will notice a few names: Shelton, Kelly, Marte,Sean Casey . Kind of a revolving door between Pittsburgh and Detroit. He also traded Rajai Davis

he looks like he sucks at evaluating guys at the mlb level. just what we need!

Cafardo:
“…Colletti’s mistake, just as it was Dave Dombrowski’s mistake in Detroit, was not obtaining Andrew Miller. Colletti would not give up one of his three top pitching prospects, and neither would Dombrowski.”

“Word is spreading that the Red Sox could make Cespedes available.”

Who are (were) the three top pitching prospects?

Miller was traded on July 31. Soria on July 24th. And DD said that the traded for Miller was in place when they heard that Miller was going to Baltimore :”Joel Sherman earlier this month countered that, saying the Tigers had met Boston’s asking price but were outbid at the last minute by Baltimore” So Thompson and Knebel were out of the picture, leaving Ray, Crawford and Ziomek.

“We really did make a good run at him,” Dombrowski said. “It was a situation where we thought they were going to call us back, and they didn’t call us back, and they just decided to go in another direction.”

They traded away 4-5 of those prospects before the trade deadline already, who was left to deal away?

I guess we all know that Tigers have had a recent dismal record of developing quality bullpen arms. Zumaya probably the best. Henneman was the last quality homegrown closer and that was 20 years ago. relief arms they’ve drafted recently have either washed out (Perry) or been traded (Ruffin, Knebel). starting pitching prospects like Crosby and Oliver haven’t been able to transition to the pen. quite a drought, and difficult to attribute to bad luck only.

Rodney,homegrown, saved 37 in 38 for the Tigers and was part of the 2006 BP that helped them to reach the postseason

Wasn’t Miguel kinda home grown? Via dombrowski / leyland ….

Al Avila scouted him, DD signed him. JL was not his manager with the Marlins

For me, he is part of the homegrown Tigers

They let Benoit walk away for nothing and traded Fister for a single prospect. What did anyone think was going to happen in 2014?

Who needs Benoit and his shiny 2.32 FIP and 0.773 WHIP, anyhow?

here are some of the things I thought the org did that kinda “stunted” our growth internally:
1) Jair Jurrjens to the Braves for Edgar Renteria
2) Doug Fister and David Pauley for Chance Ruffinr, Francisco Martinez (minors), Charlie Furbush and Casper Wells.
3) Luke French and Mauricio Robles for Jarrod Washburn.
4) Austin Jackson Drew Smyly for David Price.
5) Wil Ledezma to the Atlanta Braves for Macay McBride
6) Signing Prince (casty moved to LF, Miggy probably hurt himself playing 3rd)
7) Humberto Sánchez, Kevin Whelan, and Anthony Claggett for Sheffield

I think often times there is enough of a support from ownership/fanbase in the way of “we must win now” that these things happen. it’s not the worst that can happen, but it prevents us from doing things the way KC, TB is/has

Before the season, KC had just one homegrown player more than the Tigers. As Kathy mentioned, being at the bottom for a while allow you to draft good players. Hey, 2003 brought us JV. And Boras gave us Porcello taking him away from KC and TB

Good info. Lucky me I discovered your blog by chance
(stumbleupon). I’ve saved as a favorite for later!

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