Friday, November 03, 2006

Tigers' First Good Offseason Move Is Keeping Dombrowski Around

So Tigers GM Dave Dombrowski will be in Detroit thru 2011. A no-brainer, if there ever was one.

Sports executives, the really good ones, don't come along all that often. Some could make an argument that they are even rarer than the successful coach. And the Tigers wrapped up Dombrowski with a four year extension, which is, it can be hoped, the first of many smart offseason moves for a franchise that has only just recently begun to "get it" when it comes to making the right decisions.

Dombrowski will stick around to try to add the NEXT trophy

No coincidence that doing it the right way started happening shortly after Dombrowski took over almost five years ago to the day (11/5/01).

First there was the expected purging of GM Randy Smith, so that DD could take over that title, in addition to that of president. The only surprise about Smith's ziggy was that it came five months after Dombrowski was hired, after a miserable start to the 2002 season. (Manager Phil Garner was fired, too, on the same day).

Then there were the trades.

The three-teamer in 2002 is the most famous, probably. And, ironically, with the two teams the Tigers vanquished in the playoffs this fall: the Yankees and the A's. Gone was pitcher Jeff Weaver -- and this year's World Series notwithstanding, still the right move -- and in was Carlos Pena and a throw in named Jeremy Bonderman. Yes, you have to be lucky to be good sometimes, but the Tigers sought out Bonderman -- he wasn't just selected randomly.

Nate Robertson came over from the Marlins in another fleecing. And Marcus Thames, from Texas.

The free agent signings are stand alone entities that need no further cyber space here.

And of course, the right manager to pull it all together.

It all added up to the awakening of a sleeping baseball giant. The rising up from the ashes, like a phoenix, just three years after 119 losses and into the World Series.

Now, the hope is here that the Tigers don't go the way of some recent lightning catchers. That is, to take themselves so seriously and confidently that they think all they need to do is return the same 23 or 24 players and let them take the next step, as if anointed. The Tigers are in fact ridiculously rich now with young talent, especially in the arms. But they are not a team that can be put away in the closet all winter, sans any tweaking, and returned to Florida in February with the expectations that 95 more wins, or more, are in the offing.

But it's doubtful that Dombrowski will let that happen. He has some money now, and an attractive destination, and there will be additions. And, more starkly, some subtractions. It can all be heady stuff, and that's why it isn't always done successfully by the garden variety general manager. The Tigers have a good one, and those are the kind you don't let go.

Offseason tote board: Good Moves, 1.

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