Table of contents for The Cabrera-Willis Trade
Wrapping up some outstanding items from what very well could be one of the most significant trades in franchise history…
Peter Gammons astutely pointed out that the Tigers were able to make this trade because of Ilitch’s and Dombrowski’s refusal to adhere to the asinine draft slotting system. Not only did a willingness to pay above slot money directly allow for the acquisition of main trade chits Andrew Miller and Cameron Maybin, it also meant that a this type of aggressiveness meant that the Tigers cupboard – while depleted – isn’t bare.
Many of the Tigers new top prospects are the product of slot-buster signings in the most recent draft. Headlined by Rick Porcello, the group also includes Cale Iorg and Casey Crosby among others.
The question then becomes how long can this remain an advantage for the Tigers? Surely other organizations have taken notice of the Tigers strategy, and it’s not that different than what other big market clubs have done. While some teams will still religiously adhere to the slotting system, I have to believe that more teams adopt a more aggressive stance on acquiring top shelf talent early on.
Will the Tigers be able to reload quickly by just outspending on the draft? I don’t mean to minimize the work that David Chadd and his scouts do, because it is easy to make bad decisions with big piles of money. But when you’re willing to spend what it takes to get Maybins and Millers and Porcellos, it certainly improves your chances for success.
On the defensive
I just wanted to do a quick follow up on the value of Cabrera’s defense. It was a hot topic here on Friday and commentor Ryan S pointed out that PMR thought Cabrera was okay in 2006. I should have looked at more than one year of data, and in my haste I got a little sloppy. In terms of run value PMR had Cabrera at +5.2 runs in 2006 at the hot corner. Perhaps Cabrera isn’t awful, and simply underperformed in 2007 due to his weight gain, or the crappy Florida environment.
Taking it a little further I also looked at UZR numbers for Cabrera. In 2006 he rated -14 runs per 150 games. That happened to be the worst rating for third baseman who played at least 120 games. In 2007 UZR rated Cabrera as the worst third baseman in the National League at -28 runs while Brandon Inge ranked tops in the AL at +12.
As for his outfield prowess, he was merely below average in UZR splitting time between left and right field in 2004, but was -21 runs per 150 games while manning left in 2005.
But as I suspected even before I wrote the post, Inge won’t be playing third base for the Tigers. The high socks will be of a different color in 2007 as Inge has requested to be traded. I understand Inge’s desire to still be a starter, but I have to wonder if it’s in his best interest. He was mighty peeved when he got bumped from his starting catcher role in 2004, but that seemed to work out pretty good for him.
But given his 2007 offensive season, and his remaining contract, there doesn’t appear to be much of a market for Inge. Bless You Boys takes a look at several possible destinations.
Detroit Tiger Tales takes a look at Cabrera’s offense and puts in the context of Tigers history. If Cabrera can do for the Tigers what he has done for the Marlins, his OPS numbers will rank behind only Cobb, Greenberg, Heilman, and Crawford.
The Dombrowski factor
The praise for Dombrowski has been effusive to say the least, and deservedly so. As I’ve mentioned here before, I wrote a piece about Dombrowski for this year’s Hardball Times Annual (shipping now! get it in time for the holidays! please buy the book!). While I wrote the thing in September, it seems so dated given the flurry of activity this off season. But at least some of the main points of the article still hold true – so I got lucky that Dombrowski didn’t change his methodology.
I bring this up because Eric bought the book and read the article and had some comments on it worth checking out.
But mostly I bring up Dombrowski in this post so I can reference a certain article written by Rob Parker in February 2006. I’d link to the article, but it’s gone from the News site (I’m not implying anything – just that you have to pay to see it now), and the cached version in google has even been removed. So I thought it was worth the $3 to buy it from the archives for entertainment purposes. I won’t reproduce the whole thing to avoid any legal issues, but I will quote the beginning of the article:
The worst general manager in Detroit?
It’s not who you think.
Sure, Matt Millen, president of the Lions, has tried to grab the title. His 21-59 record in five seasons is horrendous.
But realistically, it’s got to be Dave Dombrowski of the Tigers.
At least Millen has an excuse. He had no experience when he was hired to lead the Lions.
Dombrowski has been at this gig for a while — initially with Montreal in 1988, then in Florida in 1993 and with Detroit in 2003.
And he still can’t get it right.