Detroit Tiger fans are, quite simply, excellent, both in their understanding of the game and in their support of the team at the turnstiles. In return they deserve excellence, not only from the product on the field but also from management in the front office. This is where decisions are made that can bring them joy, excitement and relief.
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Alas, the path to achieving these emotions are directly proportional to financial input and player procurement. This is where the team falls short. David Dombrowski has a reputation nothing short of brilliance. Indeed he has made many brilliant transactions and probably fewer gaffes than most other GMs. The cleverness he exhibits also manifests itself in his “general management” of those excellent fans who awaken with expectation and hope for 6 months every year. Somehow he is able to perpetuate the myth that both he and a generous owner are doing all they can to resurrect memories of former Tiger triumph.
This is business. Business owners have to provide their operation with money. Mike Illitch is no more noble than any other owner of any other major league baseball team. Earth shaking transactions every 2 or 3 years notwithstanding, the fact is Dave has been able to dish out enough clever rhetoric to fans to keep them believing in “the dream”.
This brings us to the present conundrum of fielding a championship calibre team in 2015. Every, and I do mean every Tiger fan, knows that the bullpen has let the squad down for three years running now.
Signing “names” with past success does not provide a well-crafted bullpen. Sticking with those same “names” in the misguided hope that this integral component of a good ball team will re-invent itself or re-visit past glory is insulting to knowledgeable fans.
To exacerbate matters we hear proclamations of inexperienced hurlers as solutions every year. A prime example is exploiting the huge potential of a talent like Bruce Rondon. Two seasons ago he was anointed as the Tiger closer without so much as ever having thrown a single pitch at the major league level. That year his failure to provide Dombrowski with lofty expectations, resulted in a philosophical demotion to set-up man in 2014. Next season Dave sees Rondon as the new hope to resolve the 7th inning dilemma, even though he did not throw a single solitary pitch for the parent club this last season.
I like Dave Dombrowski and appreciate the ability to make super-star transactions but I do not like the ease with which he can also sell a bill of goods to the good fans of Detroit. To say he is “comfortable” with this bullpen is either negligent thinking or, worse, a misrepresentation of the truth.