With just a week until Opening Day for the Detroit Tigers, it seemed as if the Tigers’ wheeling and dealing had finally cooled off. Monday morning however, fans woke up to the news that the Tigers had shipped utility-man Steve Lombardozzi to Baltimore for shortstop Alex Gonzalez.
Tigers fans may be familiar with Lombardozzi, even though most have never even seen him step onto the field in a Tigers’ uniform. Lombardozzi was a piece of the controversial trade that sent Doug Fister to the Washington Nationals in December. The Tigers also acquired pitchers Robbie Ray and Ian Krol in the trade.
While many fans were calling for Dombrowski’s head after that trade, he still gave fans hope calling Lombardozzi, “…really one of the best utility players in baseball that can help us at second, short, outfield.”
I too gave Dombrowski the benefit of the doubt after the trade. Surely the general manager who traded virtually nothing to acquire Fister, (not to mention Miguel Cabrera, Anibal Sanchez, Max Scherzer and Austin Jackson), knows what he is doing.
Even after Dombrowski trusted to sign Joba Chamberlain, a man seemingly made out of glass, to be his set-up man, I still had a little of that benefit of the doubt left.
After today however, that is all gone. Although this trade is quite minor in the long-run, I just do not see any logic in the move. Lombardozzi is a 25-year-old switch hitter who can play multiple positions on the field. Gonzalez is 38 years old and has played in only 65 games the last two seasons combined.
If this were 1999, I perhaps would have been okay with the trade. Gonzalez was a 22-year-old All-Star shortstop for the Florida Marlins. The problem however is Lombardozzi was 11 and probably blowing up the little league circuit at the time.
Dombrowski also just traded for another shortstop days ago. On Friday, the Tigers acquired Andrew Romine from the Angels for pitcher Jose Alvarez. Alvarez was a nice asset for the Tigers in 2013, filling a hole in the starting rotation when Anibal Sanchez went out with an injury. He was competing for a role as a long reliever in the bullpen this season.
Romine, 28, has produced minimal numbers in his four seasons in the Majors. In 74 games he has a .250 batting average with 11 RBI’s.
Of course, this is not currently the ideal situation for Dombrowski. I am sure he did not expect to lose Andy Dirks, Jose Iglesias and Bruce Rondon to long-term injuries all within the span of a month. The bad news continued into Sunday when news broke that the AL Cy Young Max Scherzer rejected the Tigers’ contract offer and will test free agency in 2015.
What was a team headed into Spring Training confident and the favorites to win the AL Central by a wide margin is now a team full of question marks.
It is the general manager’s job to right the ship when it slowly starts sinking, but Dombrowski’s recent moves are just sending it further underwater.
Michael Higer is a multimedia reporter for Impact Sports.