David Dombrowski got a contract extension on August 8th. Some questioned the move as the Detroit Tigers have not had a great deal of success in recent seasons. Yet, the team was in first place and has since gone on a huge hot streak. Timing is everything, I suppose. To his credit, he had been a busy bee in the days prior to the extension and since the extension as well.
On the deadline, he acquired Doug Fister and David Pauley to bolster the pitching staff. After the extension, he acquired Delmon Young from the Minnesota Twins for a song. The added result has been enough to propel the AL Central from a three-team race into an afterthought.
Team Payroll: $105.7 million (10th)
Composite Ranking: 13.1
Analysis Score: -3.1
As you can see with the rankings, Dombrowski is not a guy too many seamheads were excited about. The lineup itself has dying contracts in the hands of Magglio Ordonez and Carlos Guillen. The two have combined for -1.4 wins above replacement (WAR) this season. For those not familiar with WAR, that means they are a combined 1.4 wins worse than the typical AAA players at their position.
The lineup is anchored by Miguel Cabrera. Save for a slight drinking problem, few people would know about Cabrera these days. It's a shame. He should be known for being one of the top five pure hitters in the game and not for a penchant of drinking Hennessy on the road.
Alex Avila has quietly turned into one of the best all-around catchers in baseball, and Victor Martinez is performing well despite being a very handsomely paid DH.
Justin Verlander went from being a talented but flawed pitcher to a dominant pitcher nearly overnight. He has 22 wins and counting as the season winds down. The BBWAA has been unpredictable in recent seasons when it comes to Cy Young voting, but odds are that the beat writers will select him this time around.
After that, you have the solid development of Max Scherzer. Rick Porcello and Brad Penny to round out the rotation, but they are mediocre at best.
Jose Valverde has been money all season. He has yet to blow a save and is proving to be one of the most consistent closers in the game. Joaquin Benoit was signed to be a solid setup man, and he has been that this season.
However, it has been the collective performances of Phil Coke, Daniel Schlereth, and Al Alburquerque that have surprised everyone. You could argue that the Tigers have the deepest bullpen in the American League.
Response to Crisis
The main thing holding the Tigers back was depth in their starting rotation. So, they dealt Francisco Martinez, Charlie Furbush, Casper Wells, and Chance Ruffin for Doug Fister and David Pauley.
Fister has been 5-1 with a 2.27 ERA since the trade. He gives the team that key third playoff starter that they had been lacking. David Pauley has struggled since coming over, but he has a 2.90 ERA for the entire season. Now, the Tigers have an embarrassment of riches in their bullpen.
Delmon Young has been a revelation since he was acquired in mid-August (.324/.336/.481). He has an option on his contract, and he has to know it probably won't be exercised unless he keeps going nuts. He has four home runs in the span of a month when he barely hit that many in the first four months. Overall, the numbers don't look that good for him, but if he has another solid three weeks he might stick around. For the moment, he spares the Tigers from having to play Magglio Ordonez.
Analysis Rank: -3.1 (19th)
Dave Dombrowski ranks in the middle of the pack when all is said and done. His trades at the deadline elevate him slightly, but over the long haul he has been rather average. Magglio Ordonez and Carlos Guillen will come off the books this winter. If he spends the money wisely, he will rank a lot higher in this section next year.