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 2008 GM meetings News

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PostSubject: 2008 GM meetings News   Tue Nov 04, 2008 11:03 am

JON PAUL MOROSI'S BLOG

At GM meetings, Dombrowski says Tigers have in-house closing candidates for 2010

By JON PAUL MOROSI • FREE PRESS SPORTS WRITER • November 3, 2008

DANA POINT, Calif. -- The general managers’ meetings are under way at the palatial St. Regis Monarch Beach resort, a sign that baseball’s off-season landscape is about to take form.

After speaking with Tigers president/general manager Dave Dombrowski, here are a few updates to pass along:

When asked whether he believes one of the team’s relief prospects will be ready to close in the major leagues by 2010, he replied, “Oh, yes. There are a lot of guys in the organization who could do it.”

That might not sound like a major proclamation, but it could have a significant bearing on the Tigers’ off-season pursuits. After all, if Dombrowski believes that he will have a young closer (at low cost) in 2010, why would he spend more than $10 million per year on a free agent such as Francisco Rodriguez or Brian Fuentes?

It’s much more likely that Detroit will trade for a closer who is a year or two away from free agency -- Florida’s Kevin Gregg, Oakland’s Huston Street, Seattle’s J.J. Putz, to name three possibilities -- or sign a lower-cost free agent for one or two years.

Dombrowski would not list the internal candidates, but we know that team officials have been thoroughly impressed by Casey Fien, Rudy Darrow, Ryan Perry, Cody Satterwhite and Robbie Weinhardt this year.

And what about Joel Zumaya? He’s still recovering from the stress fracture in his shoulder and has yet to resume throwing.

Dombrowski declined to provide specifics but said there is “not going to be a significant difference” in the team’s 2009 payroll. The Tigers spent more than $130 million on players this season, a franchise record.

In other words, it’s possible that Dombrowski will trade a veteran player -- maybe even two. But do not expect a mass sell-off.

Some in baseball believe that the Tigers will at least listen to trade offers for outfielder Magglio Ordoñez this off-season.

The view here is that, while Detroit is not eager to trade Ordoñez, he represents the team’s best chance to address multiple needs with a single deal. In other words, the Tigers will be more likely to trade Ordoñez if they still have holes in their roster at this time next month.

Dombrowski was asked whether he expects other GMs to inquire about the availability of Ordoñez. “I never get into discussing specific players (in the media),” he replied. “I have no idea what I’ll be asked about.”

Still no update on whether Kenny Rogers, a prospective free agent, plans to pitch next year.


“It takes pitching, hitting and defense. Any two can win. All three make you unbeatable.”    
–Joe Garagiola
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PostSubject: Re: 2008 GM meetings News   Tue Nov 04, 2008 11:19 am

Tigers payroll likely to stay the same for 2009

BY JON PAUL MOROSI • FREE PRESS SPORTS WRITER • November 4, 2008

DANA POINT, Calif. -- The Tigers spent roughly $134 million on player payroll this year, and president/general manager Dave Dombrowski said there is "not going to be a significant difference" in that figure next season.

"We have a very competitive payroll, and we'll continue to have a very competitive payroll," Dombrowski said Monday as the annual GM meetings commenced.

So what's going to stop the Tigers from investing heavily in the free-agent market?

It's simple: A lot of those dollars have been spent.


The club has committed about $100 million to 10 players, including Gary Sheffield ($14 million), Dontrelle Willis ($10 million) and Nate Robertson ($7 million).

Not included in that group: a No. 1 catcher, starting shortstop or any relief pitchers.

Translation: Unless the Tigers find a team willing to absorb one or more of those bulky contracts, they will need to make the rest of their pennies count.

In the near term, that means Detroit is an unlikely destination for free-agent closers Francisco Rodriguez and Brian Fuentes. Both are expected to command annual salaries in excess of $10 million.

“I think everybody’s realizing the importance of the bullpen,” San Diego general manager Kevin Towers said Monday. “You saw where the prices went last year for setup-type guys, seventh-inning-type guys. Everybody’s looking for relief help.

“Clubs are probably as aggressive on relief pitching as they are starting pitching nowadays. It makes it a little bit more difficult when you’re a small-market, middle-market club. We used to attack those guys early while everybody was feasting on the starting pitching.”

Jeff Borris, one of Fuentes' representatives, said Monday that he expects to talk with Tigers officials this week. Borris' firm, the Beverly Hills Sports Council, represents a number of free-agent relievers, including right-hander David Weathers, who saved 33 games for Cincinnati in 2007.

Weathers has not pitched for an American League team since 1997.

The Tigers also have the option of trading for a closer who is one or two years away from free agency. Florida's Kevin Gregg, Oakland's Huston Street and Seattle's J.J. Putz fit that description.

In general, the Tigers are expected to avoid signing relievers to long-term deals because right-handed relief pitching is a strength of their farm system. When asked if he believes one of the team's relief pitching prospects will be ready to close in the majors by 2010, Dombrowski replied, "Oh, yes. There are a lot of guys in the organization who could do it."

Dombrowski would not list the internal candidates, but team officials have been impressed by the performances of Casey Fien, Rudy Darrow, Ryan Perry, Cody Satterwhite and Robbie Weinhardt.

Joel Zumaya, who was supposed to have become the closer by now, is recovering from a stress fracture in his shoulder and has not resumed throwing. "He's in a healing process," Dombrowski said.

MAGGLIO MARKET: Some in baseball think the Tigers will listen to trade offers for rightfielder Magglio Ordoñez this off-season.

While the Tigers aren't eager to trade Ordoñez, he represents the team's best chance to address multiple needs with a single deal. In other words, the Tigers will be more likely to trade Ordoñez if they still have holes in their roster at this time next month. ...

Dombrowski said he has not heard from Kenny Rogers on whether the left-hander plans to pitch or retire in 2009.

NOTEBOOK: Dombrowski said the team has already discussed its 2009 budget but said he was not prepared to reveal whether there would be any changes in ticket prices. Despite setting attendance records in back-to-back seasons, a slumping economy and this year’s last-place finish could limit demand. “We’re very aware of the economy,” Dombrowski said. … Dombrowski said he has still not heard from Kenny Rogers on whether the left-hander plans to pitch in 2009. … Shortstop Edgar Renteria, right-hander Kyle Farnsworth and left-hander Casey Fossum filed for free agency on Monday. … , one of the top free agent closers, may not be available for long; Towers wants him to return to San Diego. “There’s a desire from both sides to work something out,” Towers said. “I couldn’t tell you when that’s going to happen. My hope is that he comes back.” … Tigers hitting coach Lloyd McClendon has been mentioned in Seattle Times and Seattle Post-Intelligencer reports as a possible candidate for the Mariners’ managerial opening.

Contact JON PAUL MOROSI at 313-223-4097 or jmorosi@freepress.com. Check out his Tigers blog at www.freep.com/sports


“It takes pitching, hitting and defense. Any two can win. All three make you unbeatable.”    
–Joe Garagiola
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