Posted: Wednesday November 1, 2006 7:52AM; Updated: Wednesday November 1, 2006 11:12AM
Dombrowski will stay
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Tigers owner Mike Ilitch knows when he's got a good thing, and he isn't about to let president and general manager Dave Dombrowski go to the Cubs. Dombrowski & Co. -- his baseball people Al Avila, John Westhoff and Scott Reid -- did a miraculous job (and it didn't hurt that Ilitch went against conventional wisdom and overspent for Magglio Ordonez and Ivan Rodriguez). Word was circulating at the World Series that Dombrowski was in line for a five-year extension, and while he wouldn't comment on that yesterday by phone, he made it clear he wasn't thinking of leaving.
"I'm very happy here," Dombrowski said when asked about outside possibilities, particularly the Cubs, his hometown team. "They've treated me very well here. And we have a chance to have a pretty good club for a few years. We're hoping to build on that."
Now that doesn't sound like a man who's even considering a move, does it?
Series cleanup (And what a mess it was!)
Try as I might, I couldn't get Dombrowski to admit what seemed obvious to me, that the layoff killed the Tigers. Because that wasn't the same team I saw for most of the first 162 games. But like manager Jim Leyland, Dombrowski will not make excuses (even where one is so plainly obvious). "There have been other clubs that came off a layoff and came back and won the Series," Dombrowski said, refusing to take my bait.
Dombrowski also wouldn't second-guess Leyland's decision not to push Kenny Rogers up to start Game 5 (while I think Leyland made other mistakes, that decision makes sense to me, too). "That was Jim's decision, and I'm fine with it," Dombrowski said. "To me, it makes no difference. You still have to win four games ... And [Rogers] pitched all his games at home in the postseason."
Justin Verlander pitched well in Game 5, Dombrowski pointed out. Of course, he was felled by the same bizarre fielding malady that struck four other Tigers pitchers. Rogers is one of the game's two or three best-fielding pitchers, so it's doubtful he would have suffered the same fate. But I still agree: There was no sense in taking Rogers out of his comfort zone.
Around the Majors
Soriano seeks a deal similar to the one Carlos Beltran got from the Mets, $119 million and seven years, the Washington Post reported. However, he's going to have to explain why Vladimir Guererro and Miguel Tejada, two better players with the same representation, signed for about $70 million. The guess here he gets somewhere in the middle -- say $85 million.
As predicted here several times, Aramis Ramirez opted out of the remaining $22 million and two years (plus an option that could have brought it $33 million), and now the Cubs have company in their pursuit of their own third baseman. So Lou Piniella's new team has yet another worry.
All three teams in Southern California -- the Dodgers, Angels and Padres -- will likely have interest in Ramirez. As Soriano will try to follow Beltran, it wouldn't surprise a soul if Ramirez tries to duplicate Adrian Beltre's $64 million deal.
The Giants paid an awful lot of money -- $6 million over three years -- for Bruce Bochy, who like Leyland learned not to pitch to Albert Pujols this postseason (as a National Leaguer, Bochy should have known better). Bochy was upset that Vinny Castilla and Eric Young were released, he preferred to manage where the manager has more input (and of course, where the manager is paid excessively), and the Padres eventually wanted someone who's willing to be tougher on veteran players. So it worked out for both parties.
The breakup of Bochy and GM and good buddy Kevin Towers is something some of us figured we'd never see. "I'd be lying if I said I didn't have a little separation anxiety," Towers said
Towers also said they are interviewing five managerial candidates to start: Bud Black, Jose Oquendo, Trey Hillman, Ron Wotus and Tim Wallach. If they hire Wotus from the Giants, it's like a trade. But Black looks like the favorite from here. Friends say he wants to manage now, although some wonder how well he'll deal with the front office input he's bound to get there.
Hillman will get a job, but probably the Rangers' post.
For those fantasizing about nobody taking Barry Bonds and him having to retire 22 home runs short of breaking Hank Aaron's home run record, consider that over the last two months, in 136 at-bats, Bonds had 45 hits and 12 home runs.