October 17, 2006


Detroit's architect has built champion: Shrewd moves by Dombrowski led to reversal of fortune (Associated Press, October 17, 2006)

The man who built the turnaround Tigers still has work to do before the World Series.

Like getting his voice back.

General manager Dave Dombrowski hollered himself hoarse after Magglio Ordoñez hit a home run to clinch the American League pennant Saturday, throwing his hands in the air and hugging everyone around him. It was a rare display for the reserved, buttoned-down executive.

"When you're in charge, you often have to keep your emotions inside," Dombrowski said Monday in an interview with The Associated Press.

"People don't see the emotional side of me often, but there are times you just let it go - like when you win the pennant in dramatic fashion at home like we did. Now, it's time to get composed again and, hopefully, we can react like that again because there's still another notch to go." [...]

After helping Florida win the title in 1997, Dombrowski was lured away from the Marlins to be the Tigers' president and CEO on Nov. 5, 2001. Dombrowski fired and replaced general manager Randy Smith five months later.

Along with the signing free agents, Dombrowski, 50, has pulled some trades that turned out to be steals, made savvy picks in the draft and reconnected with an incredible manager in Jim Leyland.

Quite a bit of success for someone who started his baseball career at 21 as an administrative assistant with the White Sox in their minor league and scouting department.

He kept working his way up and by 1990 was general manager of the Montreal Expos.

Perhaps the biggest player coup with the Tigers was acquiring shortstop Carlos Guillen from the Seattle Mariners two years ago for minor league infielder Juan Gonzalez and infielder Ramon Santiago. And Santiago is back with Detroit.

Trading to get ALCS Most Valuable Player Placido Polanco for closer Ugueth Urbina in June 2005 and acquiring Nate Robertson for Mark Redman in a swap of pitchers were among the other moves that were unpopular at the time but seem brilliant now.

"I looked at some of the moves he made when he came in and I wondered what he was thinking," said third baseman Brandon Inge, one of the handful of players still around from the Smith (1996 to 2002) years. "That's why Dave is in the front office and we're not. At this point, you understand what he was thinking."

Smart drafts also have helped. They took center fielder Curtis Granderson (third round) and fireballer Joel Zumaya (11th round) in 2002 and selected future ace Justin Verlander second overall in 2004.

The No. 1 move Dombrowski likely pulled was putting Leyland back in the dugout for the first time since 1999.

Posted by Orrin Judd at October 17, 2006 9:34 AM
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