I am reminded of the old saying “Be careful what you wish for, it might just come true.”
For 13 years, fans were frustrated by Dave Dombrowski’s refusal to even hint at what he was thinking or doing. Thirteen years of being left in the dark until….BAM!… a move was made and surprised absolutely everyone. How we so wanted him to offer a clue, any clue.
Dave would have made such a great spy because if he was captured and tortured, he wouldn’t have uttered a syllable. He was that self-disciplined.
So, it’s rather ironic that we have gone from a chatty, entertaining owner and a silent GM to an M.I.A. owner and a GM who divulges every little detail. Is this proof that opposites attract?
Please bring back the old days. We promise we’ll behave and won’t complain about the lack of information this time.
But as fans, we immediately noticed this new trend of our GM speaking early and often. And now, it is also a major story within MLB media. Witness the 3 separate programs on MLB just this past weekend alone. Three different programs, three different sets of hosts. All of them surprised and concerned over Informative Al’s non-stop confessionals. One program even spent an entire hour discussing the history and ramifications of our GM’s loose lips.
We know it started with the promise to get “younger and leaner.” Followed by the warning that every single player had the potential to be traded.
Then came the names. There were players, because of their contracts or salaries, who understood that they were the logical choices to leave. But Al broke the cardinal rule of saying it out loud. And often. And to everyone. Worst of all, he sounded desperate.
It’s one thing to understand you need to trade expensive players. And it’s another to tell the media that you have to trade them – and now. Even the media analysts echo what we’ve been saying. When you show your desperation and appear weak, you lose your negotiating power.
There are some who will argue that Avila had to trade JD, Upton and Ian. That he had no choice. But the thing is, expert negotiators understand that having a poker face, acting cool and unrushed, walking away and waiting, as well as how and when to time the action are what get you the best deals. Great trades are not totally dependent upon the actual talent.
Case in point – can anyone actually say that Dave Dombrowski would have garnered the same deals as Al if he was still the GM?
Of course not.
Witness that all 6 analysts this weekend mentioned that they would have loved to have Avila sitting across the table from them while making deals. Several said that in all their years within baseball, they have never seen or heard a GM be this openly transparent.
And this is the real concern. It is one thing for fans to criticize the GM. It is another when those within baseball do it publicly. When have we heard such open and widespread concern within the baseball world about any team’s GM? I certainly can’t remember. Usually such criticism comes out after he has left the organization – not while he’s still there.
With this concern comes a question. Why has no one within the Tigers organization told him to zip it? Why is he allowed to continue divulging strategy and uttering desperate comments? Why are his statements in direct competition with the Marketing Department which is trying to push as many season ticket sales as possible during a very tough time?
Later on, we witnessed the discussions about trading Michael Fulmer and the concern posed about trading a proven commodity who was also under club control and making minimum salary. And when a team indicates that they are willing to listen on a Fulmer trade, it whispers that the Tigers may be in for a much longer than anticipated rebuild. Just what any organization doesn’t want their fans to hear.
Unfortunately, the missteps continued with our garrulous GM continuing to show his entire hand regarding other players. Revealing that Nick Castellanos and now James McCann could also be traded. Castellanos because of the news that he is no longer talking extension with the team. But McCann comes as a surprise given both club control and his near league minimum salary.
Again, we need to ask why. This is simply information that no one outside of the Front Office should have. It creates doubt. It creates concern. It creates panic. And it impacts the fans, players and organization negatively.
And there is the statement about how Jose Iglesias will be gone sooner rather than later. This year. A statement actually made that identifies an attempt/re-evaluation to be made during spring training.
One analyst this weekend laughed and said this was quite the way to build team spirit and make your players feel welcome and excited to return to the team. Two others mentioned that in all their years working for Front Offices, they have never seen anything like this. One even called it “complete transparency” – and didn’t mean it in a good way.
All of the hosts were in agreement that this is no way for a GM to behave if he wants to perform well and achieve the organization’s goals.
They backed up their statements by replaying interviews with Al and evaluating his statements. And in one segment, Avila actually sidestepped an interviewer’s question and changed the subject. Imagine that!
So what was the topic? He was asked to reveal more information about the infamous Tigers’ Way manual and to highlight some key points about what it was about. How ironic is that?
So while we wait for someone within the Tigers organization to fetch the duct tape, I have a related chore I must complete this week. Ordering a care package for the PR and Media Relations departments at Comerica. They’re really gonna need it.
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