By: Holly Horning
It’s been an interesting off-season so far as the Tigers move from the Dave Dombrowski era into one headed by Al Avila.
Yet while Al has yet to make his mark, Dave’s work will continue to impact the Tigers for years to come despite his departure. And like our former Presidents, the true value of his work won’t be seen immediately. History will tweak Dave’s reputation for better or for worse.
Fourteen years is a long time to be in any one job. Dave was the third longest-tenured GM behind two guys named Brian, who, incidentally, have won 3 and 4 World Series rings apiece. And this is the reason why we simply can’t wrap up an analysis of someone in a single blog.
As the most powerful man after Mr. I in the Tigers organization, Dave had the ability to leave his fingerprints everywhere within the organization. His impact was felt beyond the roster and the signings. So it’s only appropriate that we delve into the many facets of the Detroit Tigers organization to analyze his work.
So why are we doing this? Isn’t Dave gone? Haven’t we moved on with the ascension of Al Avila?
Very simply, what he did, and didn’t do, is impacting what Al is able to accomplish. Avila is not yet at the point where he can make the decisions he wants to make because of limitations placed upon him by his former boss’s decisions. Decisions that will impact the team for potentially the next 5 years – or longer given some of the monster contracts Dave gave out.
We all know the great things Dombrowski did since he joined the Tigers. He helped make Detroit a desired place to play. He assisted their evolution into perennial contenders, facilitated multiple division titles and took the Tigers into October baseball.
Best of all, Dave brought us Miggy, Max and a host of other top players. He was one of the best traders for talent – and for getting rid of one impossible contract. He was a total and complete professional in his work and helped make the organization a great place to work.
But let’s face it – in 14 years, Dave never even got close to helping Detroit get that ring. And that’s why he’s gone.
We don’t need to further revisit Dave’s accomplishments but we do need to step back and analyze where it went wrong and where it negatively impacted the Tigers. Doing that will give us the background needed as Avila moves forward to make his mark. It gives us a historical perspective that we can use to evaluate Al as he begins the first of a 5-year contract as GM.
I will say that like many of you, I loved Dave. But as time went on, I found myself questioning more and more of his moves. Simply, his track record with the Tigers over the years started to dim his light. It was time for him to move on.
Over the course of several blogs, we’re going tackle the aspects and issues that make for a successful team and winning organization – and how Dave addressed them. Some of the questions we’ll ask:
– Did Dave have a viable strategy for winning?
– How big of a role did Mr. I have in Dave’s success?
– Were Dave’s big signings really good for the Tigers?
– How is Dave connected to team depth?
– What does payroll flexibility impact?
– Were there signs that his strategy wasn’t working?
– Is Al Avila going to adopt his former boss’ strategies?
– Where was Dave’s focus?
– How important were the drafting and farm systems?
– How strong was Dombrowski in analyzing people skills?
– Did Dave strengthen the Tiger organization as a whole?
– Why did he have so much trouble assembling a bullpen?
Appropriately enough, our GM conversations coincide with the Winter Meetings. As in past years, the same place – but with different faces.