Title or no title, Dave Dombrowski’s tenure in Detroit was a success

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In the wake of Dave Dombrowski being released as Tigers GM I’m seeing some sentiment on the web which goes: “Dombrowski had almost unlimited resources and over a decade at the helm; the Tigers not winning a title in that time means he was a failure.”

Sorry, not buying it. Not at all.

Yes, it would be nicer for Tigers fans if a title had been brought back home, but let’s assess Dombrowski on what he did in his entire tenure, shall we?

He took over in 2002 as team president. At the time Randy Smith was the GM and Phil Garner the manager. Dombrowski fired them early in the season and took over as GM. Those were some bad Tigers teams and they would only get worse — they’d lose 106 games in 2002 and 119 in 2003 and more than 90 each of the next two seasons — but he was building the team from the wreckage that Randy Smith had left. And it was some serious, serious wreckage.

By 2006 the Tigers, with manager Jim Leyland at the helm, were in the World Series. They got there via a number of Dombrowski moves and with the help of players Dombrowski developed. Veterans Ivan Rodriguez, Magglio Ordonez and Kenny Rogers came to Detroit. Justin Verlander and Curtis Granderson were drafted and quickly rose through the system. Within the next few years he’d flip Granderson for Max Scherzer and Austin Jackson, develop Alex Avila, Rick Porcello and, in a move that will be at the top of his career accomplishments no matter what else he does, managed to trade for Miguel Cabrera in his prime. And he gave up very damn little for him. The winning that was teased by that 2006 pennant came to fruition with four straight division titles beginning in 2011, three straight ALCS appearances and another AL Pennant in 2012.

Could the run have been better? Of course. If Dombrowski had done a better job putting a bullpen together there may have been another pennant and perhaps a World Series title in Motown in the past four years. And, yes, one can question some of Dombrowski’s moves such as letting Max Scherzer go, Justin Verlander’s massive extension and trading Doug Fister. Any general manager has missteps, Dombrowski is no different.

But to look at Dombrowski’s tenure with the Tigers demands that one judge it positively. The entire organization was an utter disaster in the early 2000s and now, its slipping in 2015 notwithstanding, it is considered one of the best organizations in baseball. This is no accident. And for that Tigers fans can thank Dave Dombrowski.

Larry Walker to wear a Rockies cap on his Hall of Fame plaque

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I guess this came out the day he was elected but I missed it somehow: Larry Walker is going to have a Rockies cap on his Fall of Fame plaque.

While it was once solely the choice of the inductee, for the past couple of decades the Hall of Fame has had final say on the caps, though the request of the inductee is noted. This is done to prevent a situation in which a cap truly misrepresents history. This issue arose around the time Wade Boggs was inducted, as he reportedly had a deal with the Tampa Bay Devil Rays to pick their cap on his plaque which, to say the least, would’ve been unrepresentative.

There have been some mildly controversial picks in the past, and some guys who would seem to have a clear choice have gone with blank caps to avoid upsetting the fan base of one of his other teams, but Walker’s doesn’t seem all that controversial to me.

Walker played ten years in Colorado to six years in Montreal and two years in St. Louis. His numbers in Colorado were substantial better than in Montreal. His MVP Award, most of his Gold Gloves, most of his All-Star appearances, and all of his black ink with the exception of the NL doubles title in 1994 came with the Rockies too. Walker requested the Rockies cap, noting correctly that he “did more damage” in a Rockies uniform than anyplace else. And, of course, that damage is what got him elected to the Hall of Fame.

Still, I imagine fans of the old Expos will take at least some issue here. Those folks tend to be pretty possessive of their team’s old stars. It’s understandable, I suppose, given that they’ve not gotten any new ones in a decade or two. Add in the fact that Walker played for the 1994 Expos team onto which people love to project things both reasonable and unreasonable, and you can expect that the Expos dead-enders might feel a bit slighted.

Welp, sorry. A Rockies cap is the right choice.  And that’s Walker’s cap will feature.