It’s obvious that Dave Dombrowski has become Rob Parker’s personal whipping boy. When I saw the link on the Detroit News’ Tigers page today with the headline “Dombrowski has failed”, I had no doubt that the column was written by Parker. In today’s column (which I refuse to provide a link to and strongly encourage you not to click on), he makes the following (typically) specious arguments:
The Jeff Weaver trade stinks, because Weaver is “clearly” a better pitcher than Jeremy Bonderman (despite the fact that Weaver had to wait until the eve of Spring Training to sign a contract, because he’s clearly such a valuable commodity), Carlos Pena isn’t “an impact player” (mainly, according to the article, because his batting average has dipped 13 points in his Tiger tenure… Never mind that his OBP has dropped only 7 points and his SLG has jumped 37 points), and Franklyn German stinks. OK, so he’s right on that last one.
We overpaid for Pudge Rodriguez, Troy Percival and Magglio Ordonez. Well, duh, but how much of the fault for this is laid on Dombrowski, and how much on Ilitch? It is public knowledge that Ilitch personally assisted (glad-handing, attending a dinner, and/or actively negotiating) in all three of these contracts.
Speaking of Magglio Ordonez, he has an “oft-injured knee.” (Back here in reality, rational people realize that it’s only been injured once, but the nature of the injury was severe enough that he had to miss significant time for it.) Further, Magglio Ordonez stunk last year because his HR and RBI totals were far below what he had averaged in his healthy White Sox years. Gotta wonder how many interviews Magglio will grant to Rob Parker this year. I’m setting the early over/under at 1, and I’ll be betting the under.
“Only one Dombrowski-built team has finished over .500 – the ’97 Marlins.” Well, in order for this statement to be true, you have to believe that Dombrowski had little to do with the success of the 1990 Expos. I went and looked it up. Yeah, he didn’t have much to do with the acquisition of their hitters (Dave Martinez was the only regular that was a Dombrowski transaction), but he was responsible for the presence of Oil Can Boyd, Kevin Gross and Zane Smith in the rotation, who collectively started 78 games and logged almost 500 IP with ERA’s of 2.93, 3.42 and 3.23, respectively (league-average ERA was 3.79), but a win-loss record of 25-25 (I include the won-loss record for Mr. Parker’s benefit, as that is probably all he would look at, anyways). In the bullpen were Dombrowski Rule V pick Bill Sampen, Steve Frey (over from the Mets in a trade), and free agent pick-ups Dale Mohorcic and Dave Schmidt, who collectively accounted for another approximately 250 IP, with ERA’s of 2.99, 2.10, 3.23 and 4.31, respectively. They accounted for 24 wins against 14 losses and 26 of the team’s 50 saves. In other words, Dombrowski’s pitching acquisitions accounted for over 50% of the team’s innings pitched, most of those quality innings.
Now, do I think the Tigers have a great season to look forward to? Not necessarily. We’re in a tough division, the other teams in our division are only getting better, and we have a recent history of playing poorly against them, and we have an unbalanced schedule staring us in the face. Plus, most of the improvement that the Tigers are looking for is basically an improvement by guys we already have. In some cases, we’re looking for performance improvements, and in others, we’re just looking for the player to stay healthy the whole year.
I’m not saying Dombrowski is some kind of a god and should be above criticism. On the other hand, the fact that Rob Parker actually has a say in the annual Hall of Fame balloting makes me ill, because he just clearly doesn’t get it.
Parker closes his column with this:
“So, when will Dombrowski’s team finally win?
‘I think we’re in a spot where we have to start producing on the field and win some ballgames,’ he said.
If not, Dombrowski should be shown the door.”
Therefore, I close with this thought:
If Rob Parker continues to have merely a passing acquaintance with reality in his baseball columns, he should not be allowed to write them any more.