Paul Wezner, Executive Editor
Eight years ago, Dave Dombrowski took over a struggling franchise that lacked direction, and since that time, has rebuilt the farm system, put a competitive product on the field, and landed the 2006 American League pennant. For taking over a franchise that hadn't sniffed the playoffs since 1987, and hadn't produced a strong crop of homegrown talent since the days of Tramm and Sweet Lou, these were no small achievements. But still, there is plenty of work to be done. Despite the competitiveness, the team still hasn't clinched a division crown (despite becoming oh so close in 2009), they still haven't ended the now 30 year World Series crown drought, and in many ways fans are looking at 2010 as a rebuilding or transition year after jettisoning All-Stars Curtis Granderson and Edwin Jackson. There's no question Dombrowski has been a welcome addition to Detroit, but now that the organization has returned to respectability, it's time to expect more than just a competitive team. Dombrowski still has more work to do in that regard. For his eight years, I give him a B+. An A is possible, but he'll need to bring a World Series crown to Detroit before that happens.
Mark Anderson, Managing Editor
It's been an interesting tenure for Dombrowski, as he's been asked to completely rebuild a franchise that was completely down and out, and now is being asked to make the Tigers a World Series a contender. Expectations for what Dombrowski can accomplish have been skewed over the last few years as a result of the improbable 2006 run to the AL pennant. That pennant run sped up the clock on how quickly fans expected the DD administration to put a consistent winner on the field, and may have ultimately screwed up his master plan. Since then, he has been forced to chase division crowns and playoff births, but in the back of his mind remains a desire to continue rebuilding the franchise from the ground up. There have been some stinkers along the way, including the contract extension to Dontrelle Willis, and the decision to trade for Edgar Renteria. There have also been some huge successes like the acquisition and long term extension to Miguel Cabrera, the deal for Carlos Guillen, and the development of several top notch pitchers like Justin Verlander and Rick Porcello. All-in-all, Dombrowski has generated a team that can compete within the division during most years, but the roster remains flawed and their chances are therefore incomplete. In the end, I think I would give Dombrowski a solid 'B' for his efforts since taking over the helm of the Detroit Tigers.
Jason Avery, Associate Editor, Amateur Baseball
I would give Dave Dombrowski a B for his work since coming to Detroit. Considering that the Tigers didn't have a winning season since 1993 when he arrived, Dombrowski has guided the Tigers to winning seasons three of the last four years, not to mention going from 43-119 to the World Series in three years, so it's pretty fair to say the franchise has taken a step forward under his stewardship.
The Tigers have also taken positive steps in procuring amateur talent either from the draft or in signing players from Latin America. The club has also begun to scout much more in the Pacific Rim as well.
Dombrowski also has not shied sway from pulling the trigger on controversial trades (Jeff Weaver, Curtis Granderson), while also making other deals that will shape the franchise for years to come (Miguel Cabrera), but he has also had several missteps that include the ill-fated trade of Edgar Renteria for Jair Jurrgens, plus several contract extensions have backfired that have hampered the team's payroll.
The Tigers have also had second-half struggles that have cost the Tigers two division titles, including blowing a seven-game lead last September, plus a last-place finish in 2008 after the Tigers were picked by several prognosticators to win the World Series.
When it's all said and done, you have to look at the big picture, and since rebuilding the team from Randy Smith's rubble, the Tigers have been a contender in the AL Central in three of the last four years. By putting more money into the draft, overseas scouting and their academy in Venezuela, the Tigers have gotten very serious about bringing in top young talent, which will give the team flexibility on the trade market and they also will not be forced to keep aging veterans on the roster when they reach free agency.
There is no question that Dombrowski has made mistakes, but the team has also enjoyed the most success it's had since the 1980's, and they are positioned to have success in the foreseeable future thanks to a solid collection of pitching at the major league and minor league levels.
For that, Dombrowski deserves his grade, and it will be interesting to see if he stays with the Tigers for the long haul when his contract expires after the 2011 season.
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