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Friday, February 21, 2014

Fox Sports: Tigers might get short end of Fister trade, but they thought it through

Well that’s a relief.  Here I was thinking that Dombrowski had just been on a bender the entire offseason:

Because it helps explain a trade by the Tigers that left many of us baffled—right-hander Doug Fister to the Nationals for a modest pitching prospect, left-hander Robbie Ray, and two complementary parts, left-handed reliever Ian Krol and utility man Steve Lombardozzi.

My initial reaction—and the initial reaction of many in the industry—was that Tigers general manager David Dombrowski did not get enough. But Dombrowski, one of the game’s sharpest and most thorough GMs, had his reasons for making the deal—reasons he explained to me Thursday, knowing full well that this trade, like all trades, may or may not work out.

The criticism of Dombrowski was rooted in the success of Fister, who ranks ninth among starting pitchers in Wins Above Replacement the past three seasons, according to Fangraphs.com. Righty James Shields, who ranks two places below Fister, brought back two top-100 prospects, outfielder Wil Myers and right-hander Jake Odorizzi, the previous year.

Yet, as Dombrowski pointed out, that kind of return simply was not available this offseason. [...]

“You can see that young pitching right now is very difficult to acquire,” Dombrowski said. “We had a list of about 15 pitchers that we would consider in various deals. He was one of the 15. The other 14 people said no. And (the Nationals) said no at first.”

Nationals GM Mike Rizzo confirmed Dombrowski’s account, saying, “Robbie Ray is a guy we were reluctant to move at the beginning. It’s why the trade took 2-1/2 weeks to consummate.”

Esoteric Posted: February 21, 2014 at 12:22 PM | 20 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
  Tags: detroit tigers, regrets, i've had a few, washington nationals

Reader Comments and Retorts

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   1. JE (Jason) Posted: February 21, 2014 at 12:57 PM (#4660263)
I'd be interested in knowing what other executives thought of Ray and if some of them checked in with Rizzo as to his availability.
   2. Best Regards, President of Comfort, Esq. Posted: February 21, 2014 at 01:06 PM (#4660270)
Yet, as Dombrowski pointed out, that kind of return simply was not available this offseason.

Damn that rule that did not give them the option of *not* trading Doug Fister.
   3. Never Give an Inge (Dave) Posted: February 21, 2014 at 01:08 PM (#4660274)
I'm always skeptical when teams think they have too much starting pitching (one of the reasons they list for trading Fister was because they wanted to move Smyly to the rotation).

The payroll reason makes more sense, although they might have gotten a better return holding onto Fister for a few months until some other team got desperate. Of course, holding onto Fister carries risk too.
   4. attaboy Posted: February 21, 2014 at 01:09 PM (#4660277)
Just horrible! How many top flight, successful teams go into a season with 6 or 7 options for their rotation. Smyly would have had his chance, you just don't make this trade unless you get your man and if the top flight prospects weren't made available, you don't make the trade. FTFA: Righty James Shields, who ranks two places below Fister, brought back two top-100 prospects, outfielder Wil Myers and right-hander Jake Odorizzi, the previous year. Get what you want or stay pat!

I guess they do have a sixth option in Alvarez but the old saying is you can never have enough pitching.
   5. JE (Jason) Posted: February 21, 2014 at 01:19 PM (#4660292)
The payroll reason makes more sense, although they might have gotten a better return holding onto Fister for a few months until some other team got desperate. Of course, holding onto Fister carries risk too.

If payroll was so important, why trade Fister but sign Nathan?
   6. madvillain Posted: February 21, 2014 at 01:19 PM (#4660293)
@2, yup, many made the same point when the deal went town. Then don't trade him, ya know? Some reasoned Detroit needed to clear some payroll for more moves, which OK, but those moves or move never came. Just a bad trade.
   7. Nasty Nate Posted: February 21, 2014 at 01:23 PM (#4660296)
“You can see that young pitching right now is very difficult to acquire,” Dombrowski said. “We had a list of about 15 pitchers that we would consider in various deals. He was one of the 15. The other 14 people said no. And (the Nationals) said no at first.”


Why not try for a position player prospect instead?
   8. GregD Posted: February 21, 2014 at 01:28 PM (#4660299)
"They thought it through" is the weakest defense ever! It's like students who say in writing workshops, "But I intended the story to be confusing...."
   9. Jeltzandini Posted: February 21, 2014 at 03:34 PM (#4660417)
"They thought it through" is the weakest defense ever!


Yes, thinking it through is a pretty low bar. We didn't just give this trade a "sure, whatever" on the way out the door one Friday afternoon.
   10. Ned Garvin: Male Prostitute Posted: February 21, 2014 at 04:07 PM (#4660438)
My theory: Dombrowski was paying it forward. The Mariners generously donated Fister to the Tigers a few years ago as a kind gesture of friendship. The Tigers are merely doing the same with Fister now. Maybe your team will be next to receive Doug Fister!
   11. TerpNats Posted: February 21, 2014 at 04:25 PM (#4660451)
Or he may have thought, "We have to peddle Fister -- let's send him to a team we're not scheduled to face in interleague until 2016, by which time he may have signed elsewhere."
   12. Walt Davis Posted: February 21, 2014 at 05:54 PM (#4660493)
If you find yourself in the position where you have to trade Fister, then you've done something wrong.

And Rizzo initially said no ... hard to believe. And he later included other players? More likely, DD originally asked for Ray and more than Krol/Lombardozzi and that's what Rizzo rejected.

And 15 young pitchers you'd take for Fister?

I also hope the Tigers preferred to trade Porcello but found they couldn't get anything in return for him.

Still, if DD really did talk to a number of teams and none of them were willing to beat this offer ... OK, as others noted, you just hang onto him.
   13. BDC Posted: February 21, 2014 at 06:40 PM (#4660527)
It's like students who say in writing workshops, "But I intended the story to be confusing...."

At Iowa, of course, the CIA wanted it that way :)
   14. bigglou115 Posted: February 21, 2014 at 06:55 PM (#4660536)
And 15 young pitchers you'd take for Fister?


That's the biggest thing for me, it speaks to a massive undervaluing of Fister's worth. If the list is 15 names long the majority of those guys had better be centerpieces in actual packages, not the 1 prospect and filler the Tigers got.
   15. RMc's desperate, often sordid world Posted: February 21, 2014 at 07:30 PM (#4660551)
I guess the Tigers figure that Fister was due for a fall, and besides, they have plenty of starting pitchers, don't they? (Of course, they thought this in 2006, too, and all of them except Verlander immediately got hurt and/or began to suck...)
   16. Crispix reaches boiling point with lackluster play Posted: February 21, 2014 at 07:34 PM (#4660554)
The Mariners generously donated Fister to the Tigers a few years ago as a kind gesture of friendship.

Hey, Charlie Furbush could still surprise ya!
   17. GregD Posted: February 21, 2014 at 07:36 PM (#4660556)
At Iowa, of course, the CIA wanted it that way :)
Left unexplained in that absurd feelings dump masquerading as an essay was the question of why the CIA was funding draft dodging? Iowa expanded the workshop massively during the Vietnam War to help writers stay out of the draft, which seems like a weird thing for the CIA overlords to sign off on. It produced some of the famed great classes of grads and also, by legend, the start of the model of graduating and then just hanging around Iowa City forever drinking cheap beer and talking about the novels you had in your drawer (instead of moving to NYC and drinking expensive beer and talking about the novels in your parents' basement.)

As a takedown of the Frank Conroy workshop years, that piece has nothing on those devastating sentences by DFW on Conroy's absurd "cerulean skies" writing for some cruise ship line.
   18. The Duke Posted: February 21, 2014 at 07:57 PM (#4660565)
A lot of gnashing of teeth. The trade and free agent markets are not liquid. It is rare to have 4-5 choices to achieve your goal. Sometimes, the trade is 50-50 and sometimes not. They clearly wanted to make this trade (likely related to salary constraints than anything else), and wanted a prospect in return and not only was this the best deal, but likely the only deal on offer and one that could have evaporated if the Nationals sign a pitcher.

Let's see how it plays out. Looks like Nationals got a better deal but not by so much as to be a wipeout.

I thought the article was good in that it laid out the logic, explained that they talked to 15 teams at least, and laid to rest the argument that he DD didn't know what he was doing.
   19. Steve Treder Posted: February 21, 2014 at 08:23 PM (#4660573)
They clearly wanted to make this trade (likely related to salary constraints than anything else)

Then they clearly committed an error in planning/judgement.
   20. Knock on any Iorg Posted: February 21, 2014 at 08:39 PM (#4660576)
I still can't shake the nagging feeling that maybe, just maybe Dave D. knew of a ticking timebomb in Fister. Maybe a subtlety in a doctor's report or X-ray had a little something that bothered him. Nothing that might raise the eyebrows of the Nats medical staff but just something. Or maybe Fister has photos of Dave in a compromising position and wanted out of Detroit.

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