Craig Remsburg column: Did moves make Tigers better?
Dave Dombrowski seems to be done tinkering with the Detroit Tigers roster, at least for now.
The team’s president/general manager traded Prince Fielder and Doug Fister and signed two free-agent relievers and an outfielder.
Dombrowski sent Fielder and some cash to Texas for veteran second baseman Ian Kinsler.
The Tigers executive then traded Fister to Washington for utility man Steve Lombardozzi, lefty reliever Ian Krol and minor league southpaw Robbie Ryan.
Dombrowski signed closers Joe Nathan and Joba Chamberlain, then came to terms with outfielder Rajai Davis.
The club also let closer Joaquin Benoit, shortstop Jhonny Peralta and second baseman Omar Infante go.
The question is, does Dombrowski make the Tigers better than last year and more qualified to advance to the World Series with his decisions?
Kinsler is a solid pickup. He can handle the bat and has some speed. And the money saved by the Tigers in shedding Fielder’s massive contract should help the club down the road.
Dealing Fister has the potential of being a bad move. Unless Krol and Ray pay big dividends, the Tigers essentially gave away a pitcher who was 14-9 last year with a 3.67 ERA.
It did allow the Tigers to move lefthander Drew Smyly from the bullpen to the starting rotation. But is it enough to make the Fister deal worthwhile?
Nathan has been a solid closer. But he’s 39 years old and besides being a longtime thorn in the Tigers’ side, is he any better than Joaquin Benoit was last season when the latter saved 24 games in 26 chances?
Chamberlain, he with the power arm, is a little risk, potentially high reward pickup. He has been bothered with injuries the last few years, but the righthanded reliever is hard to hit when he’s on.
Davis will – like Kinsler – give the Tigers some speed. He stole 45 bases last season, but hit just .260 and drove in only 24 runs.
“His speed, defense and bat provide us with more depth and versatility,” Dombrowski said after signing Davis.
The Tigers lineup will certainly be different this coming season. New manager Brad Ausmus will have a more “multi-dimensional” roster than the now-retired Jim Leyland had in 2013.
Instead of waiting for someone to hit a home run, the Tigers may be able to generate more runs through the “small ball” approach.
Stealing bases, going from first to third on a single and using the hit-and-run strategy more will be the Tigers’ mantra this coming season.
But does it all mean the Tigers will be better able to advance to the 2014 World Series and then win Major League baseball’s most coveted award?
We won’t know until next October, of course. But at this point, unless Dombrowski makes another move to strengthen the Tigers roster, it doesn’t appear the Tigers are stronger than they were.