When the Detroit Tigers announced a change in general managers, in which the team released Dave Dombrowski from his duties as president and GM, the 14-year Tigers executive was mentioned once. A day later, Dombrowski spoke to reporters about the decision, which, as more details come out, gets messier, increasingly strange, and suspect.
The departure of Dombrowski was sudden. At least, it was from everyone on the outside looking in -- to includ the former-Tigers GM. While there had been a sense in the team's upper echelon that Dombrowski's position was not safe -- conclusion of his contract notwithstanding -- the change in course was still abrupt. Not only with Dombrowski, but the decision to become sellers rather than buyers.
"I was not given any explanation, other than a change of direction, and I respect that," Dombrowski told FOX Sports' Jon Morosi. "Nobody owes me any type of reason at all."
Al Avila was notified on Saturday that he was being handed the job. Then told by Mr. Ilitch not to say anything until he made the announcement. Dombrowski wasn't notified until Tuesday, after Avila had signed his own contract. This is a Tigers team that used to lay everything out, plan for each scenario, and coordinate the best course of action -- in every respect.
But recently, more often than not, decisions have been made abruptly, without the use of proper channels, and with the tossing aside of key pieces. Dombrowski and the Tigers never discussed his contract, which was set to end after this season, according to MLB.com's Jason Beck.
Dombrowski never saw it coming, until he saw Avila at the ballpark and realized something was amiss. Not long after, he received a call from Mr. Ilitch. Looking back, though, Dombrowski told Beck that he wouldn't change a thing, and still believes the decision to sell was the right one. He remained loyal until the end.
"I didn't make (the deals) with any expectations other than I felt it was the best thing for the organization," Dombrowski told Beck. "My feeling in my heart was that we were not going to win a championship. I will always hold my head high," he said, "that every day I did what I felt was best for the organization."
As Dombrowski left on Tuesday, he said his goodbyes to his longtime friend and now-GM of the Tigers, Al Avila. In discussing his greatest regret with Morosi, Dombrowski referred to not being able to bring a World Series title to Detroit, and that the 2013 postseason might have been very different had the Tigers not lost Bruce Rondon to injury.
"Al (Avila) is great, a dear friend of mine," Dombrowski said. "He deserves this opportunity, and I hope everything works out well for him."
Yet, despite being tossed aside -- as this essentially was -- by ownership, FOX Sports' Jon Morosi noted that Dombrowski "expressed no hint of animosity toward ownership," and wanted to remain working in baseball. He added that he would prefer to remain at the club level. He noted that, while no team was specifically mentioned, Dombrowski has been in contact with a number of teams, with whom he's had "some nice conversations."