Early in the offseason, someone -- or possibly some persons -- in the media came up with this idea to push: The Detroit Tigers were going to be in cost-cutting mode this offseason. Like every urban legend, it was based on a kernal of truth. Of course the Tigers had to cut their salary. I mean, just look at how much they're spending! And besides, the Michigan economy stinks.
Not that it was an original thought to this offseason. Ever since Miguel Cabrera signed a contract that pays him about $20 million a year, some in the media have had this idea the Tigers couldn't afford him and would soon trade him. Why they'd sign him to a deal worth $160 million and immediately trade him, I don't know. Maybe you can ask Bill Simmons why the Tigers would do that. Last March, national "experts" were crowing the Tigers would hold a "fire sale," probably before the season was even 25 percent completed.
How'd that go?
I bring this up because despite all evidence to the contrary, some people continue to insist the Tigers have been inconsistent in their offseason plans to "reduce their budget."
Well, not everyone thought the Tigers were trying to cut salary. CBSSports' Danny Knobler knew better.
I challenge anyone who believes the Tigers were going to cut payroll to provide specific evidence of that. Not what their gut told them. Not what anonymous rival executives told the media. No, what the Tigers said. Because they seem to have been pretty consistent in both message and actions this offseason, even if we didn't always understand what they were doing.
"We're not having a fire sale."
Before the winter meetings, Dombrowski told Knobler:
"We're going to continue trying to win in 2010."
"The reality is, no matter what, we needed to make some adjustments. In almost any scenario, it's a necessity. But it's also one of those where we're in a very good situation with a quality owner that projects to have a really solid payroll as we go forward. But at some point, adjustments needed to be made, and this was the time to do it for us."
I wrote in December that you cannot judge an offseason when it's only about a month old. You have to wait to see what the complete picture looks like when the team takes the field. Otherwise you're just trying to use a portion of the picture to stand in for the whole.
So, let's review the offseason. But before I say that, a reminder. Whether or not you view the Tigers as making the best possible moves, that doesn't matter here. What we're looking for is whether Dombrowski thought the moves made the team better both immediately and in the future.
- A stagnant, aging roster was revamped to include several younger prospects deemed ready for the majors, such as Scott Sizemore.
- Two players were exchanged for four young, cost-controlled players each about five seasons from free agency: SP Max Scherzer, RP Daniel Schlereth, CF Austin Jackson, RP Phil Coke. Of those, one is a pretty well-hyped starting pitcher who was deemed Arizona's future ace, another was called Arizona's future closer and one was lauded as the Yankees' next big-time center fielder. All but Schlereth are expected to immediately play important roles for the Tigers, with Schlereth joining soon after. Looks like making a transition, or "adjustments," if you will.
- Locked up Justin Verlander -- one of the best young pitchers in the game -- for what should be his peak years of prduction.
- Offered arbitration to a pair of relief pitchers who eventually signed $26 million worth of contracts. Doesn't sound attempting to cut costs there.
- When arbitration offers were declined, filled the closer position with Jose Valverde at a cost of $14 million over two years -- that's only $3 million more than Brandon Lyon will make during the same period.
- Signed popular, top-of-the-lineup outfielder Johnny Damon for one year, ensuring the lineup remains competitive while the future remains open.
- The budget for 2010 will be right around where the budget for 2009 was.
"Adjustments"? Looks like adjustments to me that should give the team a chance to contend for the division in 2010 and give options to mold the 2011-and-forward roster to a core group of young players.
"Really solid payroll"? The Tigers continue to have a high payroll.
We can certainly argue whether all the moves will work out -- and we do. That's the nature of baseball.
We can certainly argue whether the Tigers' plan will be successful -- and we do. That, too, is the nature of baseball.
But we can't say Dombrowski or the Tigers were inconsistent about their offseason plans.
They did exactly what they said they'd do.
Were the Tigers consistent in their offseason plans?
This poll is closed
Yes, they did what they said they'd do
No, they tried to save money, then decided at the last mintue they'd better spend some