Smith failed in other arenas as well as the GM for the Tigers. It wasn’t just about trading for that bum Gonzalez. His draft record left something to be desired as well, especially his 1st round picks. Lets review. His first pick in 1996? Seth Greisinger. Number 6 on the disappointment list. 1997, he got Matt Anderson, who made #2 on the disappointment list. And let’s talk about that one further. Who in the heck picks a reliever with the number one overall pick in the draft? That is downright embarrassing, and he should’ve been run out of town for that right then and there. Most teams stay away from relievers in the first round altogether. There is little value in them, and certainly no value in them as a #1 overall.
1998 brought Jeff Weaver, and that one I can’t get too upset about. Weaver was Detroit’s best pitcher for a couple of years, but his career faded pretty fast. Still, at 14 overall, not a bad choice. David Dombrowski of course traded him later for Jeremy Bonderman, Carlos Pena, and Franklyn German, most likely in an effort to get rid of any contagion that was associated with Smith and his picks. Don’t worry, a year later, Smith went back to his bad picking ways.
1999 brought Tigers fans Eric Munson. Surprise! Munson is #3 on my list as well. 2000 brought the Tigers and the fans Matt Wheatland. Remember him? Of course many of you don’t. He never made it out of A ball. 2001 brought Kenny Baugh and Michael Woods. Two more guys that never really saw the light of day. How about 2002? Scott Moore. Moore has played in the majors, but let’s just say it hasn’t been memorable.
There of course was injury that played a part in a lot of those guys never panning out, but the bottom line is you can’t miss on all those 1st round picks, or you end up like 2003. It could be said that this was on Scouting Director Greg Smith, who I thanked in an article a couple days ago, but ultimately the buck stops at the GM position. That same Greg Smith, working with Dombrowski for two years, produced Curtis Granderson, Joel Zumaya, and Justin Verlander, and is currently producing strong drafts for the Pittsburgh Pirates. In the battle of which Smith is to blame, I vote Randy by a landslide.
As mentioned, Smith did have some good, and some bad trades. His greatest deal might have been for Damion Easley. After all, he just gave up the #4 disappointment on my list, Greg Gohr, to acquire him. But good deals or bad deals aside, his affinity to deal with the Astros and Padres was annoying. I mean he exchanged Brad Ausmus multiple times, almost like him and his old man in Houston were trying to help each other out after assessing their competitive situations. He had an unhealthy obsession with C.J. Nitkowski, acquiring him several times over. He traded a still viable Cecil Fielder for Matt Drews and Ruben Sierra, and then traded a couple years later a still viable Travis Fryman for Matt Drews, Joe Randa and GAbe Alvarez. He apparently didn’t get the memo on Drews the first time around.
I shouldn’t have to explain to those reading this much further why I have Randy Smith #1 on the disappointment list, but I will close with this. Yes, he wasn’t a player, and I think that is what most of you were probably expecting.
For being responsible for the majority of players on this list, and the horrible years of baseball he put Tigers fans through, Randy Smith is the biggest disappointment in the past 30 years of Tigers baseball.