Heyman: Dombrowski didn’t favor V-Mart contract terms

Most of the October notes around baseball deal with either postseason teams or managerial changes. Within Jon Heyman’s notes for CBSSports.com, however, was a tidbit on the Tigers from last offseason:

It can be told now: Then-GM Dave Dombrowski was not in favor of $68 million for four years for Victor Martinez. It was owner Mike Ilitch’s call to make sure to bring back V-Mart.

Later in the notes, Heyman notes that the Mariners’ bid for Martinez last fall was a three-year, $45 million offer. Seattle moved on to sign Nelson Cruz to a four-year, $57 million deal.

A disagreement on Martinez would not be a big surprise. Ilitch has consistently been loyal to players who have won for him, picking up the option year on Ivan Rodriguez’s deal in 2008 and re-signing Magglio Ordonez for 2011. When the Tigers formally announced Martinez’s deal last November, there was this quote from Ilitch, who made a rare appearance at the press conference:

“Victor, you had a fantastic year,” Ilitch recalled telling him. “You played great. You showed good sportsmanship. You never seemed to lose your cool. I’m going to take care of you next year.”

In that same story, there was also this quote from Dombrowski:

“It was a situation where, talking to Mr. I again, he said, ‘We need to get this done,’ which we did.”

Martinez, of course, had a lot more leverage last fall coming off the best offensive season of his career and a free-agent market that did not have an abundance of elite hitters. The Mariners and Blue Jays made a push before the Tigers raised their offer just before the GM meetings ended last November. Still, it raises the question of what the alternative would’ve been had the Tigers not stretched their terms and Martinez had signed somewhere else. Besides Cruz, Kendrys Morales was on the market before signing a two-year, $17 million deal with Kansas City, while Billy Butler signed a three-year, $30 million contract with Oakland.

Martinez’s first season under the new deal went awry when he tore his meniscus playing catch at his house a few weeks before Spring Training. He made it back, but never seemed at full strength, falling from a league-leading .974 OPS in 2014 to .667 this year. He now faces the challenge of getting back to healthy form with his 37th birthday coming up just before Christmas.


for what it is worth, that’s how i felt too, Dave.

We know

And history will show I was right! That – I am confident in.

If this is true, AHA!

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I would think that on one hand it must be nice for a GM to have a guy as owner who is willing to spend but on the other hand it must be a nightmare having him be the guy who decides what to spend it on.
Illitch’s contracts to his mega stars have seriously burdened the budget and have impacted the potential signings of lesser paid players for areas of dire need.
I hope he can stay out of his own way this year.

I give Illitch credit for wanting a winning team, and he and DD did build a championship team in Detroit for a few very solid seasons (the players and manager simply couldn’t get the job done). It’s definitely hurting the team now, though, and will for a few more years.

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Drew Sharp, Nov 15, 2014:
Ilitch spoke in a strong voice. He recalled after the Tigers won their fourth American League Central championship on the regular season’s final day that he found Martinez tucked away in manager Brad Ausmus’ office away from the spraying champagne. He told Martinez how much he marveled at his serious approach to the game and how he never loses his cool, maintaining an equilibrium that permeated the entire clubhouse.

“I put my arm around him and told him that I would take care of him,” Ilitch said

I see this (now fired Dombrowski ) trying to distance himself from everything. ..”hey its not me it’s him!” and dissing the organization. I say he Dave even if you didn’t condone this deal how about the crappy deals your responsible for…how about your inability to judge pen talent…… I say shut up and worry about the Red Soxs

yep- Bosox will be sorry he ever came there. Should hire Jimbo as a red sox special assistant so the Tigers can spend his salary on pitching.

He might just need a complete knee replacement. We’ll have to wait until spring training.

Victor might well start the season on the DL . Only time will tell.

nothing wrong with retiring at 37

Well if he needs a TKR and he plays MLB after he would be the first to do so.

BTW, I had one myself in early May and was able to play some competitive slo-pitch.
Has affected my foot speed but not hitting really so maybe Victor could tolerate one. It’s not like he needs to run much.

You’ve been more lucky than my wife Dan. 4 J&J TKR’s (first 2 were part of a negligence case) and still having problems and only 53yo.
I always wondered who was behind the rather extravagant contracts given to the key players given we then often struggled with depth and the bullpen.

“If score holds, & you hear “David Price 0-8 as playoff starter” for rest of your life, know that in 4 of those losses his team scored 1 run.”

“Avila confirmed earlier this week that no team has yet to request permission to interview Vizquel for a managerial vacancy”
“And I’m not too surprised about that,” Avila said. “Just because he hasn’t had that much time coaching at the major league level. He hasn’t managed at any level.”
Pity Avila was not around when they hired Ausmus… oh wait

My thoughts go out to her DaveB. It is not a pleasant experience and I can only imagine how frustrating and angering it must have been for your wife.

“It can be told now: Then-GM Dave Dombrowski was not in favor of $68 million for four years for Victor Martinez.” – Heyman
Looking back over actual quotes and information from last year, I don’t see anything that demonstrates that this is nothing more than surmise from Mr. Heyman. Is he just now discovering how the Victor signing came about?
Yes, in this era of biased reporting disguised as news, I question nearly everything I read. In this case, I’m not buying. No proof.

How did we get to Victor needing a TKR?

I missed that too. I just responded as the devil’s advocate!

If he continues limping and not able to run in spring training, I’m surmising that his knee is still hurt, might need additional surgery. That’s where TKR came from.

Rather than a TKR, he could retire if he can still do day to day activities other than baseball. That’s a big time surgery to have, as some here know.

I think it was Rich that said it may be best if the Royals win it all, curbing their hunger next year. It certainly looks like that might happen. Go Royals, win the WS and go away next year.

The Tigers played KC nearly to a draw, ending up 9-10 against them. What we’re seeing in the postseason is what most other teams had to deal with when facing the Royals. Those guys are good.


Love this column in SI by Tom Verducci about how the Royals beat the Blue Jays due in part to their advanced scouting. I remember Cain scoring from 1st, not quite figuring how he did it. But, Verducci gives a lot of credit to the Royals advanced scouts.

Sign of a well organized ball club.

Cain scored from 1B twice. The first time was against Texas. Gomes stumbled but still . Jays were aware of that
One thing is to have the information, every team do advanced scouting even during the regular season. But managers can be reluctant to give it to the players. Supposedly, that was the breaking point between Mattingly and the Dodgers
Too much information can make players slower like it does with the hard disk.
The key play for the Royals was another failure of replay. It was not a HR, it was fan interference.

Every team does some sort of advance scouting, but not all teams will have a scout follow upcoming opponents. Some teams will use video and stat reports to do advance scouting during the regular season, then do in-person scouting on potential opponents heading into postseason.

From the SI piece: Price tipping his pitches as a Tiger. Where was Jeff Jones?
KC advanced twice thanks to a pitcher unable to throw to first base: Lester in 2014 and Price in 2015

Looking forward, the Tigers need 2 starters and a closer. Cueto, Zimmerman, Price and Greinke are by far the best of the available FA starters. With the Dodgers in need of starters, Illitch needs to put the pedal to the metal financially.Top end closers are going to be costly also, but it’s unlikely the Dodgers or Yankees will be in that mix.

The Verducci piece is excellent, a fine example of things happening that average fans, and many well versed fans, don’t often consider. That said, everything in the postseason is magnified and it apparently took quite a bit of work by Tom to put this article together. And a guy going first to third in a deciding postseason game is quicker and more alert than he’d be on a Tuesday night in June. Advanced scouting is, of course, very important with the difference between baseball failure and success so razor thin.

I thought both game 5 and 6 hinged on pivotal strike zone calls. There was the 3-2 pitch in game 5 called by Iassogna (a call he apparently apologized for) and the pitch to Revere in the 9th inning of game 6. That one called by Jeff Nelson, who I’ve always thought was too tall to call balls and strikes properly.
Fortunately here, the calls evened out, but it’s another example of why the human element needs to be eliminated from the most integral part of the game. I don’t want to see another super frustrated Ben Revere in the tunnel bashing at the wall with his bat.

At least the Tigers are better than the Lions. Who are dreadful from the top down.
Here is a team that can’t block and never know when a good time to run the ball is

going back to the comment about complete joint replacement in elite athletes. i can only recall Bo Jackson who had a total hip after getting avascular necrosis, which is essentially the blood supply to the bone being disrupted and the bone dying. incredible that he was able to return even for a short period of time. Albert Belle retired in mid 30s with severe hip arthritis. Martinez is following down the Carlos Guillen pathway i.e. multiple knee surgeries to clean up/repair ligament and meniscus injuries. it’s usually either loss of blood flow to bone or severe cartilage loss on end of bone that leads to joint replacement.

Sure like the way Machado is hammering the ball. 3 Dingers so far, bunch or RBIs and great bat avg

Interesting comment above from Jason re methods of advanced scouting. I’ve been reading a number of articles where the concern is the trend towards advanced metrics in place of an eyeball boots on the ground approach. Obviously both methods should be used, but it may be too easy to rely too much on mountains of stats.

“Commissioner Rob Manfred said Monday that Major League Baseball is committed to making strides in minority hiring amid the possibility that the 2016 season could begin without an African-American manager.”
Iissues. while Dusty Baker and Guillén are without a job, a guy with no experience is hired to manage on of the biggest payroll in MLB.
McClendon after failing with a low expectations team , is fired. Ausmus, keeps his job.

I use ended reading Aaron´s autobiography, he makes the first point about Piniella being hired without experience while Cito Gastón was hired only when he gave no options to the Jays , winning as interim manager

If “strides in minority hiring” means major league field manager jobs, there are only 30 of those jobs to go around. Where did this quote come from, LT?
Looking at non-field management jobs, Ivy Leaguers.

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