Dave Dombrowski

Update: Dombrowski didn’t know of his “release” from the Tigers until Tuesday morning

Update: August 5, 2015 8:30 pm PT

Ok, now that Dave Dombrowski has made a statement, things are coming a little more into focus on this situation. The former president, CEO and GM of the Detroit Tigers wasn’t told anything about his “release” from the team until just before we were. Dombrowski told MLB.com on Wednesday,

It’s pretty simple. Mike Illitch let me know yesterday, they were going in a different leadership direction.”

Dombrowski wasn’t exactly shocked, however, with his contract expiring at the end of the season he hadn’t heard anything about its renewal either.

Still, it means that the deals made by Dombrowski before the trade deadline were not made with any real knowledge or suspsicion of what was about to transpire. Dombrowski didn’t see a team that was going to win a World Series Title in the direction it was going so he made the decision to trade ace David Price, left fielder Yoenis Cespedes and reliever Joakim Soria

“I didn’t make [the deals] with any expectations other than I felt it was the best thing for the organization, ” Dombrowski said, “I will always hold my head up high that every day I did what I felt was best for the organization.”

Personally, I believe Dombrowski didn’t have any idea that he was about to be fired. The lack of talk about renewing his contract, if anything, likely led him to believe it would be addressed at the end of the season. Meaning that the Tigers organization, much like the Los Angeles Angels organization, does not know how to handle sensitive situations with integrity and have basically make themselves appear to be extremely callous. 

One would think that after 14 years with the organization, Dombrowski deserved a little more notice than a quick phone call prior to the Tigers’ press release that his long-time assistant would be taking his job. I guess (and quite frankly much like the Angels’ treatment of Josh Hamilton) it doesn’t surprise me. Certain organizations are just classier than others.

The Texas Rangers and the way they dealt with not one but two potentially embarrassing situations with former manager Ron Washington showed that regardless of what was happening inside the organization they could handle their problems without being obvious about it – but that’s a whole different story or is it? Ron Washington had a relapse and was able to remain manager while Hamilton was essentially kicked off of the Angels for doing the same thing.

Dombrowski, who had done nothing wrong but fail to somehow will his team to win the World Series in 2012, gets a phone call right before the information was released to the press. At some point, meaning when the team is actually playing in the postseason there is little that the general manager can do. They are not the ones on the field but they did put together a team good enough to get there. 

My point in writing this was absolutely not to go off on how conduct themselves and how it makes them appear publicly and since it has kind of turned into that kind of rant – I’ll go back to the facts and call it a night:

Dombrowski got a phone call on Tuesday morning informing him that he no longer worked for the Detroit Tigers and that the news was a shock to Dombrowski, the media (see the Original Text below) and the fans. It’s also true that Dombrowski hopes to continue working within the sport, particularly at the club level. I believe there are a number of teams that would benefit from his experience.

I’m sure I’ll be back somewhere,” Dombrowski said. “I’m not sure when that’ll be.”

I think it’ll be sooner rather than later but that’s just my opinion … take it or leave it. It’s also my opinion that this has been one weird season … maybe not the strangest I have ever seen in my 30 years as a baseball fan but it is up there!

Original Text: August 4, 2015 2:10 pm PT

Alright, I find this to be a bit strange. For one thing it is just AFTER the non-waiver trade deadline and two, the word “fired” is not ever used, at least not in any tweet or headline I’ve seen so far. The one thing that is certain is that Dave Dombrowski no longer works for the Detroit Tigers organization in any capacity. This news even shocked reporters at the Detroit Free Press, most of whom you would expect to be in the know or to have at least heard rumblings somewhere, right?

Dombrowski even attended a charity event supporting autism along with other prominent players and coaches from Detroit collegiate and professional teams, including new Michigan State football coach Jim Harbaugh. That was yesterday and according to onlookers Dombrowski showed no signs that he was about to be “released from his contract” the next morning.

So it all just seems a bit odd. However, I guess that’s not really our business – for now at least. Tigers’ assistant general manager Al Avila has now been promoted to executive vice president of baseball operations and general manager and will report directly to the team’s owner Mike Illitch.

Regarding the situation, Dombrowski was not quoted in the Tigers’ press release but Illitch had this to say,

“I would like to thank Dave Dombrowski for his 14 years of service … I’ve decided to release Dave from his contract in order to afford him the time to pursue other career opportunities. I feel this is the right time for the Tigers to move forward under new leadership.”

Dombrowski took the Tigers to five playoff appearances and one World Series. However they lost that World Series to the San Francisco Giants. 

Avila has been with the Tigers since 2002, having worked previously for the Miami Marlins, Pittsburgh Pirates and as the head coach at St. Thomas University in Florida. Here’s what he had to say in the Tigers’ statement

“I’m very excited for this opportunity, and honored and grateful to Mr. Ilitch for having the faith and trust in me to run the ballclub in our continuing pursuit of a World Series championship. After 24 years in professional baseball and 14 with the Detroit Tigers, I believe I’m uniquely qualified to be successful in this role in leading this organization. We’re confident we can make a strong push to win this year, and that we have the foundation in place to win next year and for years to come.”

Honestly, I think it’s doubtful that the Tigers will be World Series bound without a rebuild at some point first. This may be the first step towards that rebuilding or it may be that Avila is doomed to fail. As it seems Dombrowski was “released” due to his inability to bring a Championship Title back to Detroit.

I suspect there is much more to this than that but it’s hard to speculate at this point. There have been no reports of a rift between Dombrowski and Illitch. Until today, actually, it was believed that Dombrowski, whose contract would have been up at the season’s end, would be rejoining the Tigers for future seasons.

Sooner or later Dombrowski will make a statement or some kind of issue between him and Illitch has got to come to light … you can stay with BBST when that information does make itself public because I am probably even more curious as to the actual reason for Dombrowski’s departure than you are. Maybe he quit or has another job pending. That seems unlikely as it would have been rumored and likely announced. At the very least you would think that Dombrowski would have been part of the statement.

I mean, call me crazy, but usually things like this – the odd timing, reporters being caught off guard, Dombrowski acting as if nothing were happening as late as last night? – don’t happen in baseball. Something is always leaked or there are always rumors whereas this appears to be relatively out of the blue. Can’t wait to find out the truth! Can you?

  • Mike Burrill

    Jen, as a Tiger fan I was completely caught off guard by this, as were all my friends and family that are Tiger fans. I think DD did a fine job in his 14 yrs with the Tigers. I honestly believe they were the best team in baseball from 2012-13, and probably should have won at least two WS during his tenure. They actually went to the WS twice with him, once in 2006 against the Cards, and 2012 against SF. I think they were better than both teams but simply didn’t get the job done, not the players or the manager (I still believe that NL teams have the advantage every year in the WS, but that’s another story). They were better than the BoSox in ’13, too, but some bad bullpen decisions blew that. I don’t know if AlAv can do a better job, but only time will tell. Even as far as Ausmus goes, this season isn’t entirely his fault, so we’ll see if they throw him under the bus, also.
    -Mike (Minoring In Baseball)

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