Wednesday, June 07, 2006

An open letter to Dave Dombrowski

To: Dave Dombrowski, Detroit Tigers Grand Poobah
From: The Wayne Fontes Experience
Re: Lefties and Rollercoasters

Dear Dave,

The Tigers have been going just gangbusters. First place in the central, best record in the bigs, number 1 prospects dropping to your amateur draft slot, Jim Leyland smokin' cigs and kicking ass, the Tigers big guns staying relatively healthy. It's more than I would have asked for, even dreamed of, at the beginning of the season. Kudos to you.

As with any contending team, it's not all peaches and cream. There are holes that need fixing, and have stopgap patches instead. I can live with Brandon Inge at third and Craig Monroe in left. The bench is...well...thinner than we'd like. I realize that it may look like "The Gong Show" for a few weeks while you're attempting to replace Mike Maroth's spot in the rotation. I'll put up with Jim Leyland's sometimes unorthodox looking lineups and bullpen use, as he makes the correct move many more times than not. Those I can tolerate.

Unfortunately, there are a couple GLARING issues that have been nagging me for the last few weeks. Those issues have suddenly come to the forefront once the Tigers started playing the American League Axis of Baseball Evil, the Yankees, BoSox, and White Sox. And what are those issues, you ask?

Left handed bat with power.
Todd Jones closing.
Left handed bat with power.
Todd Jones closing.
Left handed bat with power.
Todd Jones closing.
Left handed bat with power.
Todd Jones closing.
Left handed bat with power.
Todd Jones closing.

Get the drift?

I'm not jumping off the bandwagon. The Tigers are good enough to, at the very least, stay in the wild card hunt. But expectations have changed. You need to be aggressive.

Jim Leyland has been oft quoted, "We need a left handed bat, not someone who bats left," and has called called the lefty situation "An obvious shortcoming." That bat sure would have come in handy last night, you think?

It's the first inning, the Tigers have Freddy Garcia on the ropes. 2 outs, based were juiced. Those bases were full because the Sox pitched around Carlos Guillen. Why? Batting behind Guillen was your latest left handed swinging call up, the retread that is Alexis Gomez. The result? A weak pop up to end the inning. Garcia lives to pitch another inning, the Tigers go on to lose a gut punch of a game. It's not the first time, and won't be the last, that the lack of left handed pop has bitten the Tigers on the ass.

The lack of balance in the lineup has been a thorn in the Tigers side all season. I know you'd like to plug the hole from within. You tried Jack Hannahan. He went 0 for the major leagues. We know the limitiations of Gomez, he's not the solution. The less we talk of your original pick for a big lefty stick, Dmitiri Young (Who's been big in the wrong ways, that being big at the buffet table and on the police blotter), the better. The only other left handed stick on the bench is the switch hitting Ramón Santiago, whose bat seems to have an aversion to touching cowhide.

I'm sure you are aware of the lefty need. Names are being bandied about. Jeromy Burnitz, Cliff Floyd, Aubrey Huff, J.T. Snow, Daryle Ward, Raúl Ibañez, Matt Stairs, to name just a few. Some would be better fits, some would be easier to obtain, some are best case scenario. Talk is that there will be a move by the trading deadline.

Waiting till the deadline, in my mind, would be too late. Be aggressive and make the move sooner, rather than later. That lefty bat is a glaring need, it's costing you games NOW, and will cost you games down the line. Let alone the competition for these players will just become more intense as the season progresses, as teams with more to offer address their needs.

I don't care if that bat turns out to be a DH type, a left fielder, or a corner infielder. It's offensive production and that gaping hole in the batting order that I'm worried about.

I'm not asking you to mortgage the future. But there is an opportunity to win now. Get Leyland the lineup flexibility, and lefty production he desperately needs. ASAP...

Now for the elephant in the room. The one all the fans see, but one you either refuse to, or won't admit, is there. You know that rollercoaster of a closer whom you signed to a 12 million, 2 year contract, Todd Jones? Well, to put it bluntly, he causes Tiger fans to die a little inside every time he pitches.

Sure, the Rollercoaster 16-18 in save opportunities. But even you have to realize that saves are an overrated stat. Let's do a comparison of 3 Tiger relievers, using the stats everyone agrees are the most important when evaluating the effectiveness of a pitcher. Earned run average, walks and hits per inning pitched, and batting average against.

  1. 5.85 ERA, 1.55 WIHP, .329 BAA
  2. 1.98 ERA, 0.99 WHIP, .132 BAA
  3. 2.63 ERA, 1.13 WHIP, .189 BAA

Can you guess which stats belong to your closer? It's sure isn't #2 (Fernando Rodney), or #3 (Joel Zumaya). The Rollercoaster loses this stat matchup in a McGovern losing to Nixon style landslide. So why is he still closing? Is it the 2 and 12? The fact that he's a veteran? You like living dangerously? Just like to torture us? Please tell me, because I can't come up with a legit reason. Not using logic, anyway.

Do us all a favor and add a few years to my lifespan by demoting Jones. Jones can still be a useful pitcher. But he's not the best you have in the late innings. He's not in the long term future of the Tigers either. But you can say both in regard to Rodney and Zoom. So you'd be doing us all a favor if you talk to the Marlboro Man, and ask him do not have blind faith in the Rollercoaster, remind him that he has bullpen options. I know he's called Jones out in regard to the recent home run binge, and the 2 blown games. But Cigarette Smoking Man has to have a short leash with Jones. Very short...

I hate to see winnable games slip away. As well as the Tigers have played, the Sox are on their heels and not going anywhere. The Tribe are one hot streak away from catching both teams. And there is no guarantee that he Tigers will be able to beat out the Yanks or BoSox for the wild card.

We Tiger fans are desperate for a pennant race. I'd hate to see the team fall back to medocrity due to a couple of issues that are lingering, yet fixable. That's why you need to be proactive, Dave. That's all I'm asking. Be proactive.


The Wayne Fontes Experience


  1. Fuck. Todd. Jones.

    That is all. Dave D should have left him on the scrap heap to stew in his homophobic juices (to (badly) mix a metaphor).

  2. Detroit Tigers Baseball Club, Inc.
    Attn: Dave Dombrowski
    Cornerica Park
    2100 Woodward Avenue
    Detroit, MI. 48201

    Get it sent! Great letter! and Great points!

  3. Where Have You Gone, Johnny Grubb?

    (sung in an Archie & Edith Bunker voice): "Mister, we could use a bat like Johnny Grubb againnnnnn..."