Now that the dust has settled a bit on the Dombrowski firing, and there’s been plenty to read about the subject, I’d like to offer up a few thoughts:
A. This was a win big or go home year for Dombrowski. It’s been revealed that Dombrowski never got any indication of an extension during the season, which we would have expected for someone with his tenure and past success. I think Mr. I wasn’t happy with a string of unsuccessful playoff runs and likely felt that the team shortcomings (lack of a bullpen, no young talent) were mostly, or at least partly, on Dombrowski. As the season progressed and the mediocrity set it, Mr. I made up his mind.
B. Mr. I played this masterfully. According to Lynn Henning, Illitch made up his mind during a front office meeting in Florida before the trade deadline when DD confirmed that the Tigers didn’t have the roster, or the chips to get the right pieces, to make a playoff run. (Why anyone would have to travel to Florida to learn that news is a mystery to me; DTW faithful have known this for a month.) But Illitch still left DD in place to do what he does best – make deadline deals. I’m sure that DD was well aware that his job was in jeopardy, but by Illitch keeping DD in the dark, DD was left with no choice but to make the best deals possible for the team, in hopes of keeping his job. He did make great deals, netting 6 prospects, 5 of whom are pitchers, and I’m thankful that he was around to do it. This may not have been the nicest way to treat a great employee, but it was best for the ball club, which is what is most important to me. Dombrowski has been well compensated for his time here, and I’m sure he’s still collecting a paycheck. No need to feel sorry for him.
C. Great Move Putting in Avila Early. Once Illitch made up his mind and the trade deadline had passed, there was no reason to keep a lame duck around. By calling Avila and offering him the job before letting DD know, that gave Avila the chance to round up his team, and make sure the other lieutenants didn’t bolt with DD to wherever is next for him. Moreover, since Illitch was willing to commit to Avila (5 year contract, never any talk of an “interim” tag), why not let him start playing around with the roster to try some things out over the rest of the meaning less season?
D. I think (hope) that Ausmus is auditioning for his job. I really don’t have lot of insight as to who hired Ausmus, but given Dombrowski’s tenure and multiple titles (President, CEO, GM), I’m guessing that it was Dombrowski’s hire. Hopefully Al Avila isn’t yet committed to Ausmus and can objectively evaluate things over the remainder of the season.
E. We’re stuck with Alex Avila. Alex is a great game caller and a good defensive catcher. He’s young enough that there is still hope for him to be a close to average hitter, which could keep him in the bigs for a long time. (Does that resume sound familiar to anyone?) I think he has a lot of value here b/c of his familiarity with the staff and the lack of any left handed bats in the dugout. With his dad now in charge, I don’t see how he ever gets dealt. I’m sure that Illitch thought this through. What makes this even more difficult is that McCann looks to be a real leader (see below), and he’s earned the starting role. If Avila can be the #2, I’m fine with that. Hopefully his Dad is too.
Good chatter on the thread yesterday regarding the McCann/Iglesias scuffle. It’s hard to believe that with Iglesias’ range he ever takes a play off, but usually where there is smoke there’s fire. Kaline Fan mentioned that he (she?) remembered Iglesias and Kinsler getting into it earlier in the season. Maybe there is some precedence, but considering Kinsler took off the entire month of June, perhaps it was the other way around. Regardless, I’m happy to see some spirit in the dugout, because I worry about apathy.
Iglesias was unapologetic today after no comments last night. I don’t have a problem with Iglesias standing up for himself, but I do have a problem with the way he handled it. Ausmus seems in the dark about everything. Par for the course.
What I loved most about the scuffle was the way the team handled it afterwards. Good solidarity. And I get the feeling that it came from the players, and not Ausmus. McCann and Gose, however unlikely, look the be the ones who are stepping up. Maybe this galvanizes the team. Not to make a playoff run, but at lease to play smarter and harder. Also, if you didn’t see it already, check out the comments from David Price regarding James McCann. Those got me fired up. McCann should be getting the majority of the ABs moving forward.
Overall, I like where the players are going, in spite of their direct leadership.
Pray that Simon goes at least 6 tonight, because Buck Farmer is the designated long man.
TIGERS (career numbers off Miley)
- Rajai Davis, LF (1-for-2, HR, K)
- Jose Iglesias, SS
- Ian Kinsler, 2B (0-for-3)
- Victor Martinez, DH
- J.D. Martinez, RF (0-for-2, walk, 2 K’s)
- Nick Castellanos, 3B
- James McCann, C
- Jefry Marte, 1B
- Anthony Gose, CF