Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Tigers keeping busy is a good thing


Who are these guys? The Yankees?

Seriously. Since when do the Detroit Tigers make two lineup-altering trades before turkey is served on Thanksgiving? Since when do the Tigers not fret about a $100-million payroll?

Since last fall, Alex. That would be the answer.

And as long as GM/president Dave Dombrowski continues to hold the reins, I don't sense any slowing down in the pursuit of perfection (isn't that some company's slogan?).

It's even difficult to keep up with the Tigers' transactions these days. Not only has Dombrowski dealt for shortstop Edgar Renteria and outfielder Jacque Jones since the conclusion of the World Series just over two weeks ago. He also re-signed closer Todd Jones to a $7 million, one-year contract on Tuesday, the first day of free agency.

Apparently Dombrowski's mother never preached, "Patience is a virtue."

But that's all right, because in this case the GM's quickness to act is a good thing. In a slim free agent market, and with trades never easy to complete, Dombrowski simply gets the job done.

Are the moves risks? Of course. Just about any off-season acquisition or re-signing comes with a set of "ifs." For instance, will Jones, 39, hold up health wise and be the closer he's been the past two years. Is the left-handed hitting Jones really an upgrade from Timo Perez, who hit a scorching .389 last season in 29 games? Will Renteria, 32, hold up any better in the middle of the infield then converted first baseman Carlos Guillen, also 32, did?

There are plenty of questions. And, for now, no answers. Those won't arrive until baseball is back in full swing.

Then we'll know, for sure, if Dombrowski made the right moves.

But just the fact that he acted to make the acquisitions — and now is trying to re-sign veteran pitcher Kenny Rogers — says something about what he's attempting to build heading toward the season.

"We’re trying to win now,” Dombrowski said in the Detroit Free Press. “This fits with what we’re trying to do.”

Yes, trying to win now. Not in two years, not in five years. Since that miracle 2006 season, Dombrowski n' Co. have adopted a few pages from the Yankees' philosophical guide — the "win now" chapter. Last fall Dombrowski traded away a few talented — but unproven — prospects for the proven thunder stick of Gary Sheffield. While injuries derailed the slugger's season, that didn't make the acquisition a poor one. A hurting Sheffield still did much more than any of the traded prospects, none of whom made it to the Bronx.

Now Dombrowski has shipped away another promising prospect in pitcher Jair Jurrjens, sent to Atlanta in the deal for Renteria. Jurrjens was stellar in a few starts for the Tigers last season.

But Dombrowski knew he would have to sacrifice a talent to procure Renteria, so he sucked it up and made the move — stabilizing Detroit's infield in the process. There will be more Jurrjens, he must think. The window of winning a World Series with older players such as Sheffield, AL batting champ Magglio Ordonez and Gold Glove second baseman Placido Polanco, on the other hand, is closing.

Which comes back to the "win now" doctrine. It is now officially a motto of the Tigers organization, which has to rub off positively on the players. Close to no one wants to play for a "rebuilding" team. Just about everyone wants to play on a team like the Tigers.

A team that will take risks to improve itself during the off-season. A team that has one goal each season — to win the World Series.

Must be talking Yankees, right?

Surprisingly enough, I'm not. I'm talking that team in Motown.

Yes, the same Tigers who lost 119 games in 2003.


Robert said...

$7 million for Todd Jones? I believe there is a word for that: "overpaying"

Bobby said...

Bthe way, the above post is me, Bobby. Need to change my google account name...

Jake Lloyd said...

With Zoom-Zoom out for at least half the season, they needed Jones back. Seven million was the price.

zekejennings said...

With no salary cap in baseball, there is only one person who determines if someone is overpaid -- the owner -- especially on a one-year deal. Like Jake said, they couldn't afford to go into next season without an experienced closer.