By: Holly Horning & Kurt Snyder
In the aftermath of Dave Dombrowski’s departure, the Tigers move forward with a new GM in Al Avila leaving fans with a lot to wonder about.
Since this is such a pivotal time, really, in Tigers’ history, we will spend a couple of days addressing this move and pose a few more questions. In part 2 on Friday, we will discuss further the decision made to let Dave go.
Many were surprised by the decision, many were not. But let’s allow our writers take a shot at that question. Their answers may not quite jive. Let’s find out.
Were you surprised by Dave Dombrowski’s departure?
Holly – It appears, at least by the sheer volume of comments in the press and social media threads, that I am one of the minority because it did not shock me. I expected someone to be let go before the KC series – it just seemed more likely that it would be Brad as the first to go.
The bottom line for me is the lack of any contract negotiations for this entire year. Words, or posturing for the media mean nothing. It’s all about action. And nothing was happening.
Two contracts ago, Dave was extended a full year in advance. His last one was signed with just 2 months to go but there were reports of ongoing negotiations. A timeline of going from one year to 2 months to no talks is quite telling.
But I also couldn’t get over the visual clues being passed down. This year, Dave went “ghost” on us for long periods of time. And all of a sudden, Al Avila was everywhere doing media. It all just started to add up.
It also isn’t shocking that he left before the end of the year. Dave finished his term by doing what he did best – trading. I see his departure as affirmation that the Tigers are now fully focused on assembling a fresh vision for 2016 by giving Avila a head start.
Maybe I’ve just turned into a cynical East Coaster. But a long tenure just increases the chances you are eventually going to leave.
But 14 years is an awfully long time to hold the same position, especially when you haven’t obtained the goal laid out for you by your boss. Quite frankly, I would have been surprised if Dave was asked to stay.
Kurt – Over the last week, the prevailing attitude and opinions in the press in Detroit were all pointing towards Dombrowski returning.
But I didn’t quite understand why that was the case. We were continually reminded that it was nothing new for Dave to work under an expiring contract. But as the season grew longer in the tooth, the more I was unsure.
There was one thing that made my opinion sway a bit. If Ilitch was intending for DD to leave, why would he allow him to go through the process of executing the direction at the trade deadline? He certainly would not have been retained for that whole process if he had known. But it turned out that he didn’t know.
When I heard about Dave’s demise, I was not surprised. Just the decision to sell versus buy was not the direction Ilitch has been accustomed to and it may be that he was not too pleased to be in that position. In having to concede the season and unload some of their best, it sealed the deal for me. Dave was done. And the quest for the World Series was taking a year off.
Always keep in mind Mike Ilitch’s persona. He seems to enjoy the bright lights and the baseball fan in him more than likely comes alive at trade deadline every season.
Well, waving the white flag is not Ilitch’s style and I believe it sealed Dombrowski’s fate. They have sunk a lot of money into another year of Tiger baseball, and anything but the World Series at this point left Dave Dombrowski in a very vulnerable and obviously unrecoverable position.
So the departure did not surprise me. But this season leading up to it has.