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Detroit Tigers Team News

Sunday, 9 October, 2011 11:06 AM

Dave Dombrowski Makes the Right Moves

ALCS Games on Fox Sports and TBS

Photo by Rolco Sports Network

The team approach of Jim Leyland and Dave Dombrowski is moving the Detroit Tigers into the next round of the MLB playoffs and earned them both contract extensions.


by Raymond Rolak Web Team



The baseball success of the Detroit Tigers this year is pointed toward one man. In the journey to the World Series it all started at the top and Dave Dombrowski made the right calls. This experienced and knowledgeable baseball man executed a season long plan.

The Detroit Tigers are in the post-season because they are much bigger than Justin Verlander, Miguel Cabrera and Alex Avila. Those three players have been a key to the playoff journey for sure. Dombrowski pulled the trigger and made the acquisitions to give his manager the players he needed. The team came together like a giant construction project with a good foundation and kept on building higher and higher.

Dombrowski has been Tigers president since 2001 and general manager since 2002 and he has seen highs and lows. The business end of professional baseball is very complicated. It is a system of managing contracts. Since winning the American League Pennant in 2006 everything hasn’t continued smoothly for the Tigers.

As a longtime skipper, Jim Leyland made the correct field decisions. It was amazing the criticism Leyland got for resting certain players during the approaching playoffs. The post season play has proved the manager correct. Everyone throughout America thinks they know baseball. Dombrowski and Leyland really know baseball, and at the highest level. They have both been here before and they know the season is a long journey.

This year has been both adventurously different and exciting. The late season additions of Doug Fister, Wilson Betemit and Delmon Young gave Leyland what he needed. The September run of 22-4 showed that the Tigers weren’t flukes and the Central Division wasn’t entirely weak. The Bengals flexed their muscles. It wasn’t the fade of Cleveland and Chicago; it was the strength of Detroit that won the division.

Of course Dombrowski had the support of team owner Mike Ilitch. Ilitch also liked the pre-season acquisitions of Victor Martinez. It cost the Tiger payroll a bundle but in spring training Ilitch told Martinez, “You’re my future leader.”

Leyland added about Martinez, “He’s been a God-send for us. Not just as a productive hitter, but as a valuable teammate who’s become one of the true leaders on the team.

Everything isn’t perfect on the field as the Tigers defense is still suspect and base running is questionable. Recent hitting success though has them primed for the playoff run.

Some of the playoff roster spots seem questionable. As a longtime manager, Leyland knows the value of loyalty and Brad Penny did win 11 games. Avilla, the 24 year old catcher who has had a breakout season said, “We have a great mix. We’ve gotten a little bit of everything throughout the year and haven’t relied on any one aspect.”

The closer role of Jose Valverde has been as phenomenal as the seasons of Verlander and Cabrera. Including the playoffs, Valverde had 51 saves. Regarding comparing this team to the 2006 American League Champion Tiger’s, Leyland added, “These teams are pretty similar. Todd Jones was a good closer and Valverde is a good closer. Fernando Rodney was our setup man and now we have Joaquin Benoit.”

The 2011 Detroit accomplishment was put together by two guys who deserve so much credit. Dombrowski and Leyland got contract extensions and they earned them. I say reward success and celebrate excellence.

Leyland had his 24-5 ace ready to start Game One of the American League Championship Series. The masterful rotation of his players makes him appear to be a genius. Justin Verlander was never was going to pitch in Game 5 of the American League Division Series against the New York Yankees. Leyland said so before the game. When Leyland addressed the media before ALDS, he spoke about not pitching Verlander on short rest. He emphasized it.

Leyland used his staff wisely in New York; Benoit in relief is a key for the Tigers success. It sets Valverde for the ninth inning stopper role. Cabrera knows he will get some good pitches to hit as Martinez will be batting behind him.

Verlander confirmed he’ll pitch Saturday night to open the series at Rangers Ballpark in Texas. After winning the series in New York, a very subdued Verlander said, “This is just the first step. We have two more steps to go.”

Verlander did his side-line throwing before Game 5, a normal practice. Leyland even came up and teased him. The experienced skipper is trying to keep everyone upbeat and light.

Leyland was cautiously jubilant after the game. “The Yankees are so good that I would be lying if I said it didn’t give me a little extra satisfaction to be able to do it here in the fifth game,” said Leyland postgame. “I don’t mean that disrespectfully, I mean that respectfully. ... I was just talking to Dave (Dombrowski) -- other than the American League pennant and the World Series, this will be a game I’ll remember for the rest of my life.”

Added Dombrowski, “He (Valverde) backed it up, and I give him credit. He put himself in a position where he was under a lot of pressure in the ninth inning. He rolls with it. He doesn't take himself too seriously. He is great at that. He gets the job done.”

Pitching and defense wins in post season baseball. The Tigers can muster enough good pitching. Defense for the Tigers is their ‘black hole’ and if this team has a destiny earmarked for the World Series, the manager will have to juggle his lineup. Leyland must somehow impart, emphasize and motivate fundamentally smart defensive play.

Valverde Gets Relief Pitcher Honor

Jose Valverde of the Detroit Tigers has been selected as the Major League Baseball Delivery Man of the Year. This Major League Baseball award recognizes the most outstanding relief pitcher of the regular season as voted on by a panel from Major League Baseball.

Valverde went 2-4 with a 2.24 ERA while converting each of his 49 save opportunities during the 2011 season. In a career-high 72.1 innings, Valverde allowed 52 hits and 34 walks with 69 strikeouts while holding opposing hitters to a .198 batting average. The 33-year-old right-hander, who appeared 75 games, established a Tigers single-season record with 49 saves. This topped the previous record of 42 set by Todd Jones in 2000.

The San Pedro de Macoris, Dominican Republic native became just the third pitcher in Major League history to convert all of his save opportunities during a single season while posting 40-or-more-saves. He joins Eric Gagne, who converted all 55 of his save chances for the Los Angeles Dodgers during the 2003 season, and Brad Lidge, who converted all 41 of his save opportunities for the Philadelphia Phillies in 2008.

The 49 consecutive converted saves also set the longest single-season streak in Detroit franchise history, surpassing Guillermo Hernandez, who converted 32 straight saves in 1984.

Valverde, who was originally signed by the Arizona Diamondbacks as a free agent in 1997, was selected to his third career All-Star team in 2011, including his second as a member of the Tigers (also 2010 and 2007 with Arizona). Valverde, who has 242 career saves, posted a save in 10 straight appearances from July 24th - August 13th, matching Todd Jones (May 10-27, 2006) and John Hiller (June 26-July 10, 1973) for the most consecutive outings with a save in club history. Over his last 50 outings, Jose registered a 1.61 ERA, permitting nine earned runs in 50.1 innings pitched to help lead the Tigers to the A.L. Central title.

Courtesy of and

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Unauthorized duplication or use of Text, Photos, Videos, Site Template, Graphics and or Site Design is Prohibited by Federal and International laws. See our Notice/Disclaimer.