Fish out of water
Dombrowski leaves Marlins to head Tigers
Updated: Tuesday November 06, 2001 1:49 AM
DETROIT (AP) -- Dave Dombrowski, who helped build the Florida Marlins into World Series champions in just five years, was hired Monday as president of the Detroit Tigers.
Dombrowski, the Marlins' president and GM, said he was committed to turning the Tigers into champs and filling Comerica Park after years of bad teams and empty seats.
He replaces Tigers owner Mike Ilitch, who appointed himself team president when John McHale left the Tigers for the Tampa Bay Devil Rays.
Tigers general manager Randy Smith and manager Phil Garner are expected to keep their jobs. Both have two years remaining on their contracts.
Dombrowski is widely regarded as one of baseball's top executives. He has two years left on a five-year, $5 million contract, but owner John Henry gave him permission to talk to other teams.
"All of us wish Dave Dombrowski well and thank him for his years of service to the Florida Marlins," Henry said in a statement Monday. "I know he will be highly successful in his new endeavor."
Dombrowski had been the Marlins general manager since 1991 - 18 months before the expansion team's first game. He helped build the Marlins, who won the 1997 World Series. Dombrowski went to Florida after serving as general manager of the Montreal Expos for two years.
He also leaves behind a Florida franchise in limbo because of alienated fans and owner John Henry's stalled campaign for a new ballpark. The Marlins now have no manager, no general manager, no president and perhaps no future.
Assistant general manager Al Avila, special assistant to the general manager Scott Reid and legal counsel John Westhoff will take over baseball operations for now, Henry said. He shed no light on the fate of the franchise.
Some speculate the Marlins will be eliminated this winter if major league baseball shrinks the league.
More likely, Florida will play at least one more season with Henry as owner -- but without Dombrowski, and without some of the Marlins' best players. Dombrowski's departure suggests another round of payroll slashing looms for Florida, painfully reminiscent of the dismantling following the World Series season.
The Tigers (66-96) finished last season with a losing record for an unprecedented eighth consecutive season. They lost 13 more games than they did in 2000.