Just when we thought the Tigers were done and wouldn’t get it turned around, just when we thought Jim Leyland had crept back down to Marty Mornhinweg level coaching competence, just when we thought second base was best off being played by a ghostman, the Tigers turned their season around in glorious fashion. Winning something like 99 out of 100 games — well, not really — the Tigers reclaimed what was rightfully theirs a few weekends ago — first place in the AL Central. It didn’t matter that the back of the rotation still was unreliable or second base was a mess. The Tigers were clicking. They were pounding the ball enough to cover their hole at second base and mask their top-heavy rotation. Miguel Cabrera and Prince Fielder were a dynamic run producing duo in the lineup again and Justin Verlander looked like a Cy Young repeater. And then Dave Dombrowski had to go screw it all up.
Ok, so I’m not really saying Dombrowski did mess with the Tigers’ mojo, but something happened. After adding Anibal Sanchez and Omar Infante from the Miami Marlins, the Tigers look worse than they did earlier this year. It’s nearly inexplicable but Cabrera and Fielder look average, Justin Verlander is doing his best Rick Porcello imitation and the underachieving foursome of Jhonny Peralta, Brennan Boesch, Delmon Young and Alex Avila look like they’re auditioning for a playoff roster spot for the Toledo Mud Hens.
You can’t say it’s their competition. Directly before the deal the Tigers took six of seven from the Angels and White Sox who are a combined 18 games over .500. Since then they’ve gone two and five against the Indians, Blue Jays and Red Sox who are one game under .500 combined. Nope, something’s wrong with the Tigers and Dombrowski and Leyland are directly in the spotlight.
It’s looking more and more like Dombrowski panicked and overpaid for a couple of average players. The Cubs were practically begging teams to take Ryan Dempster — who left Chicago — and Matt Garza — who didn’t — and Phils’ OF Hunter Pence was sent to San Francisco for an “Edible Arrangement” — a nice one though, with pineapple — the Tigers need to get their season back on track has even more urgency. Dombrowski shook up the team when he they were rolling, breaking one of the long standing baseball (and life) rules — if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.
Losing the division with this roster is inexplicable. Losing the division with this roster while giving up your top pitching and catching prospects is unthinkable, and might just cost someone their job.