The abrupt end of the Dombrowski era

The biggest signing of the Dave Dombrowski era, Prince Fielder’s arrival as a free agent, took a week to officially announce. Adam Everett once agreed to a deal during the winter meetings that didn’t get announced until closer to the holidays.

That was Dave Dombrowski’s way sometimes, maddeningly thorough, hesitant to rush. And yet, the end of the Dombrowski era in Detroit went down in a half-hour clubhouse meeting, a quick yet detailed press release and a hastily arranged press conference that included neither Dombrowski (Randy Smith had a press conference after he was fired in 2002) nor anyone from the ownership family that made the move.

“I assure you,” Dombrowski said last Friday after the Yoenis Cespedes trade, “that our goal going into next year will be to try to win a world championship.”

Less than 24 hours later, supposedly, Al Avila was offered the GM job.

“On my way home [owner Mike Ilitch] called me,” Avila said, “and he offered me the job on Saturday afternoon. So I did know on Saturday. Obviously he asked me to wait, that he was going to make this announcement.”

The move came on the heels of franchise-shaping trades that Dombrowski put together and ownership approved. The David Price trade would’ve been done late Wednesday night or early Thursday morning, but Dombrowski waited until Friday morning to get the OK.

And yet, here we are. A team that went through a relative shock with the decision to trade Cespedes, David Price and Joakim Soria now deals with the departure of the general manager who made the deals, even though Avila was part of the trade discussions too.

“I was in the clubhouse with everybody else going through a normal routine, and all of a sudden it was like shutdown in here for a little while,” Alex Avila said. “I found out with everybody else in here when he came in here to let everybody know.”

The rumors about Dombrowski’s future were as rampant as David Price rumors among scouts and executives in the days leading up to the trade deadline — Toronto, Anaheim, Boston, eventually Seattle. But the strong belief was that he wouldn’t undertake a rebuild, or a retool, or a reboot, that he knew he wouldn’t be a part of.

“If he’s selling,” one evaluator who worked with Dombrowski for years said, “he’s staying.”

With neither Dombrowski nor Ilitch talking publicly yet beyond the press release, we’re left to speculate what brought this, whether Ilitch felt Dombrowski had to atone for the moves that turned the Tigers into sellers this morning, or if there was a disagreement on salary, or if Dombrowski decided to end the wait and force a decision now to either resign him or let him look for his next job now instead of serving out his deal as a lame-duck GM.

Keep this in mind as you ponder that: The only change in the organization was the guy at the top. His front office, his core advisors behind his decisions, at least for now, remain in place. His longtime assistant took over with a longer contract (five years, reportedly) than the man he replaced (Dombrowski signed a four-year extension late in 2011). Does that sound like a clean-cut firing to you?

“The only conversation I had with Dave,” Al Avila said, “was basically, when he left, we said our goodbyes. Obviously, we’re still great friends. Really, I don’t know the how, the why. Mr. Ilitch made the decision. It’s really a question more for him, but that’s something I really had nothing to do with.”

26 Comments

Look forward to watching Al work.

should be interesting when Dombrowski finally talks about the matter. maybe the change was prompted by his interest in working elsewhere or in another role. timing seems right to me…after the selling was done, a lull until World Series ends.

DD extension was announced August 8 2011.Of course the expiration date of the contract could be different but ,maybe, it was jut that he was set to be without a contract in 3 days
He is said to be a candidate for President of the Jays. Dallas Greene in reverse direction. He took Jays talent

Developing players?
From Jason´s post for MLB:”I’ve been involved in every single transaction in this organization since the day I came,” Avila said. “I’ve been involved in everything as far as the amateur Draft, international signings, player development, I’ve overseen every single department from the day I got here. That was my job. And I worked with Dave hand-in-hand at putting together the Major League roster.”
The doing and undoing of the farm is on him too

He is high about Moya. Not the best presentation card

A situation like this, no one involved is going to give it to you completely straight, so we may never know what actually transpired. There have been and will be some educated guesses. Usually a combination of things take place over time and then a tipping point.
It did appear obvious last week that there was disagreement between ownership and management over team direction, perhaps even disagreement within ownership. We saw the same disagreement here on this blog, and for many of the same reasons. I don’t see Mr. I as the kind of person to take quitting easily. They were 1.5 games behind the nearest legitimate WC contender when the hammer fell. He may have found that particularly galling.

It is like you could feel the friction . Something made this come to a head . I remember last weekend watching Jim Leyland talk to DD in the dugout . You almost knew that something was wrong . No one else was around they were talking in private .

What was seen and what was not said when Casty enteredt the dugout and walked past Ausmus. Found it very interesting.

I noticed that, too.

The true, if I were DD, I would have resigned in 2011 after being disauthorized twice (bypassed by Inge)

I agree with Rich, things usually add up over time and then reach a boiling point.
Mr. I. counted on DD and he did not deliver what was expected in all his years here. Unreachable expectation…..I don’t so. The Tigers have had the talent. Will Al be able to do better? I am looking forward to the off season deals to see what he can pull off. Until then, go Tigers!

Mike Smith , hired.Analitycs mind

If the expectation was only to win a WS, I have to think back to 2013, game 2 in Boston, and the way Leyland used his bullpen in the 8th inning. The entire history of the franchise changed in those few minutes that October night. History happens in minutes.

You just had to remind us all again. That was so painful and still is.

Sorry about that. It was just an example of how MLB playoffs are so random once the field is set. You can’t buy a WS.

I agree Kathy. World Series are won on the field with the best players and manager available that knows how to make those pieces work together. Having pitchers who pitch consistently, with few mistakes, and hitters who know how to connect with the ball are the main keys. It’s days like this when I miss guys like Sparky and Walter Alston. They knew how to manage.

“Abrupt end” says it all and we are still reeling. Mario seemed a little upset that Rod said he “was shocked” when he heard the news, but he was just being honest. “Stunning” is how Mario referred to the news. Even Alex Avila was not aware of the pending change to his dad’s status. Things may be rough this year, but I’m looking forward to Al’s stewardship.

I love Miggy and JV, but IMO those two contracts were followed by warning signs that the last two weeks would happen. These guys are on the books for a long time.

The thing is , without long term contracts, the Tigers would be like the late 70s, early 80s teams,until Monaghan became the owner and kept them together.They were in rebuilding mode all the time. As soon as the players were near FA, gone.
And Miguel should be a good hitter well into his final seasons. JV and Miguel add to 60 MM.
After 2017,only those 2 and VMart will remain on the books.And Victor has limited no trade for 2018

Throwing another stick in the fire, remember it appeared it was Mr. I who promised Victor his contract at the end of last season.

Those 2 contracts were, and will be, a sore spot with a lot of people as long as both players are here. If Miggy’s contract was mainly driven by Mr. I., then I sort of understand it. He is known to love super stars and if he felt Miggy could be a DH for years to come it probably made sense to him at the time. JV is another matter, I don’t agree with long, bloated contracts for pitchers. I realize any position is fair game for a diminished career, but pitching scares me.
I hope the team puts all this drama and guessing game behind them and just concentrates on the game. Have fun & win!!!!

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And there are no better option than VMart to protect Miguel. JD lacks consistency and pitchers are not afraid of him
For all the MVP talk , the MVP is on DL. He still leads the AL in avg OBP OPS.

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