Some of you may be familiar with Holly Horning, formerly one of the more intelligent and well-considered regular commenters on Tigers articles on DetNews.com and now co-writing the blog Totally Tigers. Today she has addressed several "urban myths" concerning Tigers issues based on credible reportage at the time, a few of which have been addressed and opined about on this very thread -- particularly the hiring of Brad Ausmus and the trade of J.D. Martinez. Fans and participants here may find them interesting.
1. Mr. I was cheap and made a H*** mistake by not retaining Max Scherzer.
Mike Ilitch reportedly asked Scott Boras what it would take to keep Max as a Tiger. He was given a number and Mr. I agreed to it. He considered it to be a gentleman’s agreement, but instead, Boras used that salary as leverage with other teams to drive up Max’s asking price.
2. Dave Dombrowski ruined this team by signing both Justin Verlander and Miguel Cabrera to obscene contract extensions several years before their current contracts expired.
It was Mr. I who initiated those extensions because he wanted JV and Miggy to remain Tigers-for-life.
3. Why on earth did Dave Dombrowski hire a rookie manager, Brad Ausmus, to run this team?
Dave himself revealed that he put Jim Leyland in charge of finding his own replacement. The Front Office signed off on Ausmus but Mr. I balked and it took a lot of convincing to get him to reluctantly agree.
4. Dave Dombrowski was fired by Mr. I because Dave said the team needed “rebooting” and as a result, traded David Price, Yoenis Cespedes and Yoakim Soria.
Dealin’ Dave was in the last 6 weeks of his 14-year run as GM (with no World Series ring to show for it) and he had had no contract extension talks with Mr. I, which is telling. He was “released” from his contract because multiple sources reported that Dave saw the end coming UCB earlier and he had started job hunting while still the Tigers GM.
5. Dave Dombrowski stripped the Tigers farm system bare.
Not clearly a black-and-white decision may be made on this one. While Trader Dave did trade off the most valuable Tiger prospects, the majority of them were not ranked as big impact players. The Tigers prospect development system was also considered suspect. Dave clearly knew how to sell, but he did leave the system much weaker, plunging it to the near bottom in rankings by most established evaluation systems.
6. Al Avila repeatedly said that the trade market was weak.
Avila actually received 2 offers for Michael Fulmer in which both a young Javier Baez and Alex Bregman were offered to him but he turned both teams down.
7. Al Avila took a poor deal from the Arizona Diamondbacks in exchange for J. D. Martinez because he said they were the only interested team.
He had a much better deal from the Boston Red Sox for J. D. but it was reported that he refused to deal with Dave Dombrowski.
8. The Tigers said that Justin Verlander’s resurgence with the Houston Astros was due to him finally being healthy and reinventing himself as he got older.
JV has done a number of interviews praising Houston’s analytics, hi-tech equipment and staff in helping him understand his strengths and formulating strategies. His form has been tweaked and modern info such as spin rate was introduced to him for the first time which allowed him to pitch more effectively.
9. Justin Verlander did not desire to be part of the Tigers’ rebuild and wanted out.
The Tigers actually created a public situation where they advertised JV’s availability in order to put pressure on him (along with Justin Upton) to accept a trade. In interviews, JV said the decision to leave was the hardest one he ever had to make in his careeer as seen in the signing of the trade agreement just 1 minute before a midnight deadline.
10. The Tigers justified the trade of Justin Verlander as the need for the team to get “younger and leaner.”
A dozen or more former players-turned-analysts as well as former Front Office executives classified the move as a “pure salary dump”, exemplified by the very poor return. They all confirmed that when you accept lesser prospects and have to chip in your own prospect as well – and part of the salary – it is seen as a desperate move to get payroll off the books no matter what.