Former Trades have shaped Detroit
Eight years ago, few could predict the type of team the Tigers would turn into today. In fact, the city of Detroit was the last place any player would want to go to. Every offseason while top free agents flocked to league contenders, Detroit would have to scrape the bottom of the barrel to fill out holes in their roster. Scouting young, unproven talent that could grow in their farm system was the only plan in finding the next gem; this strategy alone produced star Justin Verlander.
2002 would be a year that changed Tiger baseball for seasons to come. Western Michigan University alum, Dave Dombrowski came over from the Marlins and cleaned house, firing manager Phil Garner and former GM Randy Smith. In his second year, the Tigers would lose an American League—record 119 games. Dombrowski made it very clear things were going to change. The following season marked 20 years since the club won the World Series in 1984; Kirk Gibson, Lou Whitaker, Alan Trammell and Parrish remained fresh on the minds of older Tigers fans. It was almost fitting that Trammell was the manager at the time and Gibson was his bench coach, along with Parrish coaching the bullpen. To help the former champions out, Dombrowski pitched hard to free agents Ivan “Pudge” Rodriguez, Fernando Vina and righty Ugueth Urbina in the offseason to get them to wear the English D. He fielded a team that ended up fourth in the AL Central, breaking their last place streak of three seasons. It was this season, however, that opened the eyes of future free agents to consider coming to MoTown. Signings Kenny Rogers, Magglio Ordonez and Carlos Guillen would grace Comerica Park with wins.
The Tigers team that plays today has been a threat in the American League since 2006. If you look at the roster, Dombrowski’s talent for winning trades has made claim to his “win now” motto. In 2007 he traded Andrew Miller, Cameron Maybin, Dallas Trahern, Burke Badenhop, Frankie de la Cruz and Mike Rabelo—top prospects who were apart of the old strategy—for the Marlins’ Miguel Cabrera and Dontrelle Willis. This was the first blockbuster deal in Detroit since the disastrous Juan Gonzalez trade of 1999.
In 2009 Dombrowski made his second big move, acquiring Austin Jackson, Phil Coke, Max Scherzer and Daniel Schlereth in a three-team trade that sent fan-favorite Curtis Granderson to the Yankees and Edwin Jackson to the Diamondbacks.
Many even cringed when top-pitching prospect Jacob Turner was dealt to the Marlins for Anibal Sanchez and Omar Infante last week. In his first start with Detroit, Sanchez was lit up by Toronto, giving up five runs—three of which were homers. His second start proved much better as he pitched 6.2 innings, striking out five and walking two in his win over Cleveland.
Infante has 41 at-bats now and is starting to meet expectations of being the club’s everyday second baseman. Sunday, August 5, Infante’s two out clutch hit in the 10 th inning set up Cabrera’s game-ending home run in Detroit’s 10-8 win over Cleveland.
Detroit is now a game and a half out of first with 53 games to go in the season. The driving force behind their fantastic second-half has been nucleus of this team, a team created from head-scratching trades that have proved successful the past five seasons.
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