Detroit Tigers Roundtable: Grading the Offseason and Season Predictions

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Feb 14, 2014; Lakeland, FL, USA; Detroit Tigers General Manager Dave Dombrowski watches during the Tiger

The Detroit Tigers could still possibly sneak in a move this spring, but it really looks like we can close the books on the offseason. How would you grade Dave Dombrowski and the Tigers on the moves they made?

Chris Hannum: It’s hard to grade DD this year and feel like you’re being fair. I suppose I’ll give him a B-, but you could make the argument that he deserves an A or something much lower. He has overseen a conscious decrease in expected win total while working hard to keep payroll under control.

Scott Byrne: B-minus. On the surface, the moves all seem to be made to appease the mindless section of the fan-base that clamors for a World Series-or-bust: Out with the Crusty Old Manager, in with the handsome, young Ivy Leaguer; out with the overweight, pouty slugger, in with the speedy, hustling second sacker; the bullpen-by-committee is gone, replaced by The Shutdown Closer; out with the three-run dinger, enter small-ball. The one move that was likely savviest is least-loved – three pawns for the popular Doug Fister. If the payroll savings translates into a long-term deal for Max Scherzer, call this off-season an A-minus.

Josie Parnell: I give Dave Dombrowski and the Tigers a (conditional) B for this offseason. If Krol kills it immediately out of the gate and makes an impact in the pen, that grade jumps to A territory. If Krol doesn’t break camp, or has major struggles, then I’d have to drop the grade to a C. I will say that with the magic Dombrowski worked pulling the Fielder trade out of his hat, this off season grade can’t fall below a C for me.

Josh Paulisin: Despite the mind-boggling Doug Fister trade, Dombrowski did an excellent job of filling the needs the Tigers had during the offseason. I like the additions of Kinsler and Davis. Kinsler via trade and Davis via free agency. The lineup finally has the speed it has been lacking. The bullpen improves in the back end with Joe Nathan anchoring down the 9th. We’ll see how things pan out.

Matt Pelc: Let’s consider this the progress report, rather than the report card: B-. I was hoping they’d do more with the bullpen and left field. Depth at catcher and third base are both concerns as well, but I think he did what he needed to. From all reports and rumors, Prince Fielder didn’t want to be here, so you didn’t want a miserable and expensive anchor on the team for another decade. They also got a little bit faster and better defensively, perhaps retooling on the fly to win deeper in the playoffs. We really won’t be able to accurately grade the 2014 off-season until the end of the season.

Tom Zahari: I would give the Tigers a B for this offseason. I am not much of a fan of the Doug Fister move, but we will have to wait a couple of years to see what Robbie Ray and Ian Krol become. I thought the Prince Fielder-Ian Kinsler swap was solid, and I really like the Rajai Davis acquisition. I would have liked to see another bullpen arm, but it was a solid offseason overall.

Michael Emmerich: There are more question marks entering this season than last season, and it didn’t have to be that way. The bullpen is still one question mark after another. Third base is a huge gamble. The catching is thin. The rotation is strong but without any reserves. They are no longer an overwhelming favorite to win the division. So, I give Dombrowski a C-, and only because they are still the slight favorite to win the division.

Matt Snyder: The Fister trade still doesn’t make a ton of sense for a team trying to win a World Series, but Dave Dombrowski deserves high marks for getting out from under the Prince Fielder contract (while getting a worthwhile piece in return). My gut says ‘B-‘ but then again, he’s one of the best GMs in the game and I’m, well, not.

Blair Tatrault: Dombrowski is one of the best in the business, but he gets a “C”. Great job dealing Fielder, that trade was a coup. I’m also fine with the guys they let walk (Peralta, Infante, Benoit, Pena), those were sound decisions under the circumstances. They needed a closer and paid market for Nathan, which was a no-brainer. I’m assuming Brad Ausmus had major input on the Rajai Davis signing, but 2 years at $10 million seems expensive for an aging platoon player, albeit a very fleet one. In my opinion, though, DD flunked the Fister deal. He was too impatient and didn’t get close to full value. One look at what mid-rotation type guys signed for in the late postseason will tell you if he felt compelled to deal Fister, at least he could have waited for a less underwhelming return. Let’s hope Robbie Ray is what DD and the scouts think he is. Also, the bullpen still worries me. Chamberlain is a $2.5M coin flip. I’m also not sure why Phil Coke is still on the payroll.

Sam O’Toole: Unloading all but $30 million of Prince Fielder’s deal and getting Ian Kinsler in return was the best move of the offseason for the Tigers by far.  The Tigers wanted to get more speed on their roster, so signing Rajai Davis to platoon in left was also a good move.  They could have held on to Doug Fister for one more year (free agent in 2016) and still get a deal similar to the one they worked out with the Nationals after the 2014 season.  Joe Nathan was an important signing as he replaces a steady Joaquin Benoit.  Signing a power bat or another more reliable bullpen arm would push the grade higher.