Detroit Tigers: Dombrowski fired for cause? Plan for Al Avila? Miggy’s return?


There have been a lot of intriguing story lines in Detroit sports this year, mostly focusing on defections of iconic sports figures in this town.

Max Scherzer, Ndamukong Suh, Mike Babcock and now Dave Dombrowski have all left town in the same calendar year, but perhaps the most intriguing and unanswered question of the year is “what happened with Dombrowski and Mike Ilitch?”

It is an odd thing, the timing after pulling off universally praised trade deadline sales to set the team back into contention for the foreseeable future. The way it was handled and everything else.

Things we do know, or sorta know:

  • Al Avila signed a GM contract on Saturday
  • Dombrowski was fired on Tuesday
  • Ilitch fired him through a phone call
  • DD kinda knew it was coming on Monday night
  • There was no reason given to DD other than “a new direction”

There can be some theories here:

  • Either Dombrowski balked at signing an extension and wanted to be a free agent before resigning with Detroit, making Ilitch upset, hence the unusual in-season firing.
  • Maybe DD wanted out, made it clear this was his final year here and Ilitch decided to move on after the trading deadline deals.
  • DD wanted Ilitch to commit to an extension, and when he did not, he asked to be released.
  • Ownership and DD did not agree on the sell course of action

It is very strange how it all went down. Ilitch is usually a loyal guy, sometimes to a fault (see the length of the Randy Smith era for proof). He has to be thankful for the job Dombrowski did, at least up until the last couple seasons, so why dump him in such a course manner and not let DD say goodbye in a press conference (as sometimes happens if it was “mutual”) or show up himself?

Detroit media scalawag Gregg Henson has a theory through a, uh, confidential GM source, saying DD mentioned the possibility of becoming Toronto Blue Jays GM after the season during the David Price negotiations.

Interesting if true, but rumors and unnamed sources are far from truth, but it could possible explain why Al Avila, who has been with DD for two decades, would go behind his back and sign a contract, wouldn’t it?

We’ll have to see how this angle develops.

Transitioning to the Avila era, there are several things he must accomplish the final two months of the year and heading into the offseason to ensure that the reboot effort continues to unfold properly.

Finally, while we learned a few days back that the Tigers told Miguel Cabrera to “slow down” his recovery efforts a bit, manager Brad Ausmus seemed inclined to believe that Miggy would be back perhaps by Aug. 19

Why Dave Dombrowski was fired – Gregg Henson

"The source told me that Dombrowski made some comment about “becoming the new GM of the Blue Jays” during the trade discussions.We all know owners are ego maniacs and apparently Ilitch wasn’t thrilled about DD discussing a future gig while in the middle of trade negotiations and while under contract with the Tigers.This clearly explains why DD was fired so unexpectedly and was treated so poorly on the way out after so much success in Detroit."

Six priorities for new Detroit Tigers GM Al Avila – Chris Iott, MLive

"Try to make minor moves prior to the Aug. 31 deadline.This isn’t critical to next year’s playoff chances at all, but if the Tigers are truly trying to reboot for 2016 then they should at least attempt to get potential free agents Rajai Davis, Alex Avila and Alfredo Simon through waivers to the point that they can be traded. There are extra hurdles that have to be crossed now that the non-waiver trade deadline is in the past. But Al Avila should do his best to get something, anything, in return for those three potential free agents. It’s not as if the Tigers are going to make a qualifying offer for any of them in the offseason. It’s doubtful that they will make a run for a playoff spot if they keep them. If they want to re-sign one or more of them for 2016, they can do that whether they play the rest of this season here or somewhere else."

Tigers could have Miguel Cabrera back within two weeks – Aaron Gleeman, NBC Sports

"Tigers manager Brad Ausmus told James Schmehl of that it “wouldn’t shock me” if Cabrera rejoined the Tigers by August 19, which is the end of the team’s next road trip.Cabrera has been out since early July with a strained calf that was initially expected to keep him sidelined for six weeks, so he’s right on schedule."

Next: Dombrowski turned around Tigers despite no title