Thursday, July 30, 2015

The David Price trade

No doubt there are many Detroit Tiger fans screaming in outrage. Tigers' GM Dave Dombrowki just offed their star pitcher for three "prospects" in a trade with the Toronto Blue Jays. The double D man has gone off his cups. (Jolly good pun fun -- as the Brits would say). They have a point -- albeit a short-sighted one.

But part of Dombrowski's job is to look at the bigger picture and plan for the future. He, and owner Mike Ilitch can hardly be regarded as cheapskates over the years. They have spent a lot, and often, trying to bring enough talent to the Tigers in their quest for a World Series championship. But it hasn't happened and their window of opportunity is rapidly closing given their roster and how other teams have improved dramatically.

After over 100 games, the Tigers aren't even a .500 ball club. There will be ebbs and flows in the long season, winning and losing streaks, etc., but a team's record after 100 games paints a pretty good picture of reality. It is hard to dispute the Tigers are an average major league baseball team.

Even with Price, their chances of reaching the post-season this year appeared slim. Yes, the optimists will say they're only a few games out of a wild card spot, but let's get real. So are most other teams in both leagues. Such is parity. Yet the Tigers find themselves only the same few games out of the cellar in their own division. Bottom line is the Tigers are on a slow side downward. For every rising asset, and they are few, the Tigers have more growing liabilities as time goes on.

Here's what most Tiger fans don't get. At the end of this season, David Price was going to be an unrestricted free agent. Given his resume, age, and the fact Price is now one of the most dominant starting pitchers in baseball (besides being a southpaw -- that matters), the bidding war for him next year will be off the charts. Chances are the Tigers wouldn't have been able to retain him anyway. Price was born, raised, and went to college in Tennessee, and did his major league internship for the Tampa Bay organization. In other words, while Price may have said all the right things to teammates, fans, and the media -- he had no roots in Detroit. He'd only been there for one year.

And who knows? Maybe those pitching prospects the Tigers got from Toronto could turn out in the long run. Stranger things have happened. Wasn't Tom Brady once almost an afterthought as a sixth round draft pick? We know how that worked out. Then again, when he recruited me, my editor thought I showed promise as a writer. We know how that worked out too. Great boss to work for, but evidently a lousy judge of potential talent. Ahem.

So the Tigers parted ways with Price. Will they be even a lesser club without him? Of course. It likely spells the end of any playoff possibilities this year. But to his credit, Dombrowski is looking towards the future. Given his contract expires at the end of this season as well, whether or not he'll get re-upped with the Tigers remains to be seen. Pizza barons can move in mysterious ways.

As for the Blue Jays? Getting Price for a last ditch run at a playoff spot seems to be their plan. They better hope it pays off because at the end of the season, Price is still going to be a free agent commanding Trumpish bucks, and taxes are higher in Canada than in the USA. Chances are, they won't be able to keep him either.

So before Tiger fans start burning effigies of Dave Dombrowski while clamoring for him to be run out of town, they might want to consider the man was just trying to do his job when faced with a tough situation. True, he's made a few brilliant moves over the years, but a couple boneheads as well.

Either way, Price was likely gone. Let's see how it works out. It's been over 30 years since the Tigers won a World Series. A few more isn't the end of the world. Ask Chicago Cub fans........

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