UPDATE: Shortly after this post was published, the Detroit Tigers released a statement saying that Dave Dombrowski has been released from his contract “in order to afford him the time to pursue other career opportunities.” We’ll keep updating as this story continues to develop.
Jack Zduriencik is the general manager of the Seattle Mariners, a disappointing 49-58 ballclub that appears to be on a mission to prove that last year’s successes were indeed a total fluke. It’s not a given that the Seattle Mariners will replace him after the season, but it’s looking more and more like that’s the fanbase’s prefered course of action. It’s practically an official stance at this site. It’s a popular, wide-spread sentiment.
While we’ve dedicated countless thousands of words to the notion that the Mariners would be better off without Zduriencik, we’ve hardly gotten around to discussing potential replacements. There are tons of GM “prospects,” and it’s always a tall task to identify who should or will get any given job. The fact that the M’s don’t even have a vacancy makes it even harder to say, though I’d like to step forward with one suggestion.
Dave Dombrowski is the general manager of the Detroit Tigers, a disappointing 51-54 ballclub that just traded it’s ace, closer, and left fielder for a bevvy of prospects. Dombrowski’s been doing this whole GM thing since he ran the Montreal Expos from 1988-1991. He was then selected as the inaugural head decision-maker of the expansion Florida Marlins. After building a World Series winner there he was hired over to the Tigers in 2002, where he’s built two World Series losers and enjoyed another exceptional run of success.
Dombrowski is notably working without a 2016 contract. Though he’s signed late-season extensions with Detroit in the past, there’s been some speculation that perhaps he could be lured away this time. The Boston Red Sox, in particular, are said to covet him. They probably aren’t the only ones, and one would hope that the Seattle Mariners, too, have interest in him. If they don’t, then something is wrong.
Why Dombrowski? The track record, for one: he helped build the awesome early-and-mid 90’s Expos teams, the world champion ’97 Marlins, and the current powerhouse Tigers. The closest he’s come to failure is the incredible 119-loss Tigers of 2003, but even then he bounced back quickly, taking that team to the World Series three short years later. He’s proven to be excellent at his job over a long period of time, and has the reputation to show for it.
One can only imagine how drastically different the 2016 Mariners would look if they were headed by Dombrowski instead of Jack Z. Keep this team in Z’s hands and he’s liable to trade, I don’t know, Seth Smith and prospects for a bundle of fifteen Dayan Viciedo clones. Give this team to Dombrowski and he’d be more likely to go after two-way players while shedding unnecessary salary obligations and trying to improve upon the team’s young core.
Dombrowski is an analytically-minded GM who wasn’t always that way: he’s shown a willingness to adapt with the times and use technology and statistics to help him in making the best-informed decisions possible. Jack Zduriencik aggressively doesn’t care about crazy new-fangled things like getting on base and playing strong defense. One of these methods is obviously and vastly superior: do you want your baseball team run by someone who makes the best decisions he possibly can or the guy who just gets the same mostly-useless player type over and over and over and is constantly surprised when it doesn’t work out?
There are more options out there than Dave Dombrowski, who, I’ll repeat, might not even be an option. He’s been talking like he wants to stick with Detroit, and who could blame him? If he were to hit “free agency” he’d be highly coveted, and the M’s ownership would have to make the uncharacteristic move of spending big to bring in a top executive. Maybe he’d be totally uninterested in the job. Who knows.
If he were to be available and interested, it’s hard to imagine he wouldn’t be the very best choice for the job. Dave Dombrowski, Seattle Mariners GM is a longshot, but it’s worth dreaming about. If only because it’d be a dreamy situation.