The Detroit Tigers announced yesterday that they had signed General Manger Dave Dombrowski, and Manager Jim Leyland to contract extensions. Dombrowski and his senior staff were all given contracts through the 2015 season, while Leyland was given a one year re-up through the 2012 season. This comes mere weeks after Tigers owner Mike Illitch told the local Detroit media that he expected his team to win the division in 2011. All of us local Detroiters assumed that meant they needed to win the division this year, before contracts would be extended.
As a life long Tigers fan I can go back and fourth on this one. In fact I spent a good portion of my Detroit Sports Authority podcast this week doing just that (that podcast will air on mtrradio.com Thursdays and Sundays at 3am, 11am, and 7pm all times are EST). Dombrowski came to the Tigers prior to the 2012 season, and I can begrudgingly say he has done an adequate job rebuilding the big team. Including constructing the team that reached the 2006 World Series. However, when I look at this team’s farm system I see a virtual wasteland and that means at some point this team will collapse onto itself. To accomplish this Dombrowski has spent over half a billion dollars on payroll. Mostly spent on expensive free agents and misplaced loyalty to aging players.
Leyland was hired by Dombrowski before the 2006 season, and was an instant hit in Detroit for his blue collar mentality and a speech he gave to the team early in that season that motivated them all the way to the World Series. However, I think we can effectively argue that the players (and really this town) have grown tired of his act. In a little over five years he has averaged a third place finish in a somewhat weak division, and made the playoffs just once.
As you can see I am very skeptical about this decision. Had this team won the division, or ran away with an extremely weak division this year I would be happy. However, I do not think what these two men have done a good enough job, and that Detroit fans should hold the Tigers to a higher standard.