Good move, Dave Dombrowski


On the heels of Chris Hannum’s and Matt Snyder’s superb Doug Fister retrospectives, I wanted to come out and publicly say that I am solidly pro-Doug Fister trade. It was a good move made by a GM we have been lauding since the Fielder Miracle.

Feb 21, 2012; Lakeland, FL, USA; Detroit Tigers general manager Dave Dombrowski during spring training at Joker Merchant Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Andrew Weber-USA TODAY Sports

The main thing this deal did was to address the Scherzer situation: all offseason I have done nothing but read about Tigers’ fans fretting and complaining about Max Scherzer being traded, or reading how Dave Dombrowski should do anything possible to ensure that Scherzer (and to an extent, Miguel Cabrera) stays a Detroit Tiger. Well, guess what? He did. We got exactly what we asked for.

The neat thing about this deal was that the Tigers actually got a potentially great haul in return. Think about it this way: let’s say Scherzer decided to leave next offseason. Do you know what the return would be? A single draft pick if he is a Type A free agent. So, basically NOTHING. By trading Doug Fister Dombrowski bolstered the farm system, the bullpen, and acquired someone who can make Don Kelly expendable (seriously, check out their minor league numbers. Impressive and improving). He also gave Drew Smyly, one of the Tigers’ most promising young pitchers, a shot at the starting rotation. He achieved all that, and now resigning Scherzer seems more and more realistic! How is that not a good trade?

“You fool!” you may be thinking, “He could have gotten more for Doug Fister from any other team!”

Really? Then why didn’t he? Why weren’t 29 other teams falling over themselves to pick up a very good pitcher with two years of team control left? In this respect I think Dombrowski knows something that we all don’t. Maybe he’s seen something in Fister’s development that he’s not too fond of. Maybe, like Chris said, he sees Porcello or Smyly as more than suitable replacements.

“But Fister was a known commodity as a starting pitcher!” you counter, “Dombrowski got barely any experience in return!”

How highly did we think of Doug Fister in 2011? Were any of us aware of his existence prior to the trade deadline? He was a solid pitcher on a crappy team at that point. He had good peripherals, but nothing that stood up and screamed “FANTASTIC!” Dombrowski saw something in him back then, and the rest is history. Are we so quick to dismiss the chances that DD has done it again? That Robbie Ray won’t keep improving, that Ian Krol‘s burgeoning K/9 is fake? Everyone acquired in this deal is 25 or younger, and we should give them the chance to reach their potential before we make a dismissive wanking motion.

This is a very divisive deal, and until the 2014 season starts there will be second-guessing by the truckload. And really, anyone who disagrees to this trade is completely entitled to: Doug Fister is an extremely talented pitcher who is excessively likable, and whose efforts helped this team achieve the success that it did. However, by disagreeing with this trade now you are basically admitting that you have no faith in Dombrowski and no optimism for the future – you aren’t giving Ray, Krol, or Steve Lombardozzi time to justify their acquisitions, and you”re saying that Porcello and Smyly won’t be improving any further despite their age and potential.

Dave Dombrowski isn’t finished improving this team – transitioning from a division winner to a World Series winner isn’t done overnight – and after he has done so much good for this organization in the past we should give him the benefit of the doubt. After all, when it came to all but bargaining with the devil for a realistic shot at retaining Max Scherzer, we got what we asked for.

Let it the deal’s bouquet mature, and show a little faith.