There’s a lot of misplaced hate for the Tigers right now.
Most of it can be attributed to frustration and the lingering disappointment fans will feel for the remaining two months of the season.
My only suggestion is this: Don’t lose sight of the fantastic position Dave Dombrowski has put this team in for the next decade.
This year was a transition. That’s just a fact. It was a self-admitted fact following the Granderson trade. The Tigers brass said they were consciously and carefully posturing for the future, while still making minor manipulations to remain competitive in 2010. To that end, this season was a huge success riddled with misfortune.
The Tigers were more than competitive. They were in first-place approaching the All-Star break and they were doing it with rookies, sub-.200 hitters and suspect starting pitching. Anytime you have a little taste of success and then fall down into the pits, it stings. But to blame Leyland, or Dombrowski, or to even consider going down road of blaming players, is ridiculously unfair. This group is playing their behinds off. They give you 110% everyday. I understand that it only matters when it translates to wins, but this team is just shot. The season effectively ended on July 24th when Magglio slid into home. Write it up to misfortune, not mismanagement or lack of effort.
We knew this season was a long shot. Not often are you competing for playoff sports when you lose your 1-2 hitters, your closer, your number two starter and a ton of offensive production. But Dombrowski toed a line, and, to me, did it brilliantly. He brought in a ton of high-ceiling young guys who have all shown serious potential. The major league experience they are getting will have a huge payoff, especially when you look at the flashes we’ve seen from Jackson, Coke and Scherzer.
But DD and Mike Ilitch also brought in veterans like Johnny Damon and Jose Valverde. They even traded for a cheap veteran bat in Jhonny Peralta. They didn’t quit. They did the best they could considering the economic enviornment, and, more importantly, talent decline of some former Tigers. With Magglio, Cringe, and Guillen in the lineup, this team would’ve remained competitive.
But they aren’t. That is no one’s fault. Not Leyland’s, not Dombrowski’s, not Will Rhymes’, not Ryan Raburn’s..no ones. We can debate into the night about the position the Tigers were in going into this season (the bad contracts, the unsuccessful trades, the collapses), but if you look at the course of this season, starting last December, you see a very smart string of decisions made by the Tigers’ front office.
You should all be extraordinarily optimistic about next season and beyond. The next decade will be filled with teams far superior to the 2006 and 2009 teams that were in first place until the last days of the season. Those teams, frankly, were not that good. You can chalk up those “successes” to a lot of luck. But now, you are building upon a rock solid foundation instead of continuing to fill holes in March.
Justin Verlander, Rick Porcello, Max Scherzer, Austin Jackson, Miguel Cabrera, Phil Coke, Joel Zumaya, and Jose Valverde are all mainstays. Ordonez and Damon are to be considered. Now take $40-70 million and apply it to free agents, then mix in a few farm guys..you got a lot to be happy about.
This season is very disappointing, I know. It is really unfortunate to be so injury depleted, especially because this division is so winnable. What happened, though, happened. So don’t discredit what this team is trying to do. December 2010 will be more fun than August and September 2010.