On Tuesday, the Detroit Tigers let longtime president/general manager Dave Dombrowski go after both sides mutually agreed to part ways. All reports indicate Dombrowski was effectively relieved of his duties less than a week after unloading three of the Tigers’ biggest starts as part of a rebuilding project. Dombrowski had been with the Tigers since 2002 and was the man who orchestrated a major turnaround in the Tigers fortunes over the past thirteen years. The move immediately made Dombrowski one of the most valuable available commodities in baseball, on or off the field.
Despite having just replaced their general manager last year, there is absolutely cause for the Colorado Rockies to aggressively pursue Dombrowski for a front office role within the organization.
In his time at the helm of in Detroit, the Tigers made five playoff appearances and won two AL pennants. Inheriting a team that had not been to the playoffs since 1987, Dombrowski was able to reshape the direction of the Tigers and turned them into one of the most competitive teams in baseball year in and year out. In his final four full seasons with Detroit the Tigers won the AL Central each year and never finished with less than 88 wins.
The 59-year-old Dombrowski has been involved in baseball since the late 1970s when he began as an administrative assistant for the Chicago White Sox in their minor league organization. Dombrowski would then move to the Montreal Expos where at 31-years-old, he became the youngest MLB GM at the time .
After four relatively successful years in Montreal, Dombrowski was recruited by one of the newest franchises in baseball, the Florida Marlins. Making the move to the sunshine state and as GM, he would bring the Marlins their first championship, winning the 1997 World Series.
Dombrowski’s success over the years has cemented his place in the upper echelon of executives. His ability to navigate losing teams into a contender, win big trades and build a team around stars were all key components to making his franchises a winner.
As such, Dombrowski proves a very tantalizing free agent for struggling clubs looking to turn around their fortunes, including the Rockies.
The playoff appearances of 1995, 2007 and ’09 are rapidly disappearing in the rearview mirror. Now, they’ve recently traded Troy Tulowitzki to the Toronto Blue Jays, arguably the Rockies star player this past decade. Add the fact that the Rockies play in the NL West with the San Francisco Giants, who have won three of the past six World Series, and the Los Angeles Dodgers, who are annually investing millions to make sure the Dodgers stay winning, and it’s easy to wonder how the Rockies could have any success in the near future.
This is not an easy scenario by any estimation. As a mid-market team, becoming a winner, and a sustainable winner at that, is not a quick process. But that is where Dombrowski has excelled. And with the Monforts not looking to sell the team anytime soon, the Rockies need to make sure they have the right people – baseball people – in place to make the correct baseball moves in the future.
After the 2014 season, GM Dan O’Dowd, and director of major league operations Bill Geivett resigned and Jeff Bridich was appointed as the team’s new GM. The 37-year-old Bridich has been with the Rockies front office since 2004 and now is assigned the task of making the Rockies a contender again.
With the young Bridich set as the GM for the Rockies for the foreseeable future, the Monfort brothers should seriously consider hiring Dombrowski as the team’s president, working hand-in-hand with Birdich on Major League operations.
Dombrowski is at a point in his career that he could benefit from a more supervisory role, furthering his legacy by showing that he can teach younger GMs how turn around a struggling franchise, rather than being a one man band and doing it all on his own. The Rockies upper management has long been accused of being too-cozy with ownership and failing to bring a Major League pedigree to the job. Hiring Dombrowski would instantaneously erase both of those claims and create an immediate buffer between Bridich and the Monforts. He could still allow Bridich to carry out all of the GM duties, but hold veto power while simultaneously coaching up the young executive.
Dombrowski will certainly not have a difficult time finding another front office job as many MLB teams will be looking for a change as this season comes to an end. A Hardball Talk article on possible destinations for Dombrowski listed up to six teams, not including Colorado. That doesn’t mean Dick Monfort shouldn’t pick up the phone and let Dombrowski know there is an office, a paycheck and another notch in his belt waiting.
Dombrowski doesn’t need the money and he has already proven he can turn around young and/or struggling franchises and lead a club to sustained success. Colorado gives him a chance to show that he can not only develop the on-field product, but the all-important font office as well. Given the team’s lack of success on the field and its front office dysfunction through the years, turning around the Rockies could be his greatest achievement yet.
Sammy Mugharbil, a Mile high Sports intern and student at MSU-Denver contributed to this report