Monday, May 30, 2011

Is Trader Dave Any Good at Making Trades?

David Dombrowski has been doing this for a long time, you know. From 1988-1991, he was GM of the Montreal Expos. He followed that up being the GM of the Florida Marlins from 1993-2001, winning a World Series along the way. And of course, he’s been the GM of the Tigers from 2002-now. I thought I’d take a look at Dave’s trading history over the years and see how they’ve turned out.

Now, I’m not going to cover EVERY trade. That would take forever, first of all, as Dave has done dozens and dozens of deals over the years. And secondly, does anyone really want my dumb ass trying to analyze the epic Jeff Reed/Herm Winningham/Randy St. Claire for Tracy Jones/Pat Pacillo trade of 1988?

I didn’t think so. But I will go in chronological order through Dave’s career covering any big names he’s been involved in trades with. Let’s take a trip down memory lane, shall we?

5/25/89: Dave’s Expos trade Brian Holman, Gene Harris, and Randy Johnson to Seattle for Mark Langston and Mike Campbell. Langston came to Montreal and pitched well, going 12-9 with a microscopic 2.39 ERA. He didn’t stick around, though, bolting for the Angels as a free agent after the season. Johnson, meanwhile, became a sensation for Seattle and went on to a probable Hall of Fame career. The Expos finished the season 81-81 and in fourth place.

Dave is 0-1 in notable trades.

8/16/90: Montreal trades Zane Smith to Pittsburgh for Willie Greene, Scott Ruskin, and a player to be named later. That player would be Moises Alou. The young Alou would go on to play in parts of 6 seasons in Montreal hitting .292 with 84 homers and 373 RBI. He would go on to six All-Star games, however only one was as an Expo. Zane Smith went 6-2 with a 1.30 (!) ERA for Jim Leyland’s Pirates helping them win their division and make it to the NLCS where they would lose to the eventual World Series Champion Cincinnati Reds. He would then pitch 5 more years in Pittsburgh going a total of 47-41 with a 3.35 ERA. Both teams did well here as Alou didn’t become a star until leaving Montreal.

I’ll give Dave a push on this one taking him to 0-1-1.

12/23/90: Montreal trades Tim Raines, Jeff Carter, and Mario Brito to the White Sox for Ivan Calderon and Barry Jones. Raines was a seven-time All-Star at this point and probably Montreal’s most popular player. He would be a productive starter for another 8 years before becoming a good bench guy his final couple seasons. Calderon was thought to be a power guy, but had only one decent year in Montreal before being traded to Boston in December of 1992 for two no-namers and being out of baseball a year later.

Dave drops to 0-2-1.

4/1/91: Expos trade Otis Nixon and Boi Rodriguez to Atlanta for Jimmy Kremers and Keith Morrison. Kremers and Morrison never amounted to anything. Nixon, however, for the next 8 years would be in the Top Ten in the league in stolen bases as he bounced around. He would play in two different World Series matchups for the Braves.


11/17/92: Now with the Marlins, Dave trades Danny Jackson to Philadelphia for Joel Adamson and Matt Whisenant. Jackson would be a key part in the Phillies’ World Series run in ’93 and be even better for them in ’94. Adamson and Whisenant never amounted to anything.


6/24/93: Traded Trevor Hoffman, Jose Martinez, and Andres Beruman to San Diego for Gary Sheffield and Rich Rodriguez (not the Michigan coach). Sheff would spend parts of six seasons as a Marlin hitting 122 homers there and helping them win a World Series along the way. Hoffman would make six All-Star games as a Padre, three times finish in the Top 5 in the Cy Young voting, and become MLB’s all-time saves leader. Only because I think saves are over-valued do I give Dave another push here. But I can see arguments either way on this one, I guess.


7/17/93: Florida trades Cris Carpenter to Texas for Robb Nen and Kurt Miller. Carpenter and Miller didn’t last long, but Nen saved 108 games as a Marlin before going to San Francisco to save another 206. Dave finally gets his first win in a major trade. Hooray! It only took him five years…


11/29/94: Marlins trade Carl Everett to the Mets for Quilvio Veras. Everett, though a nutjob, would go on to hit 200 home runs for various teams and make two All-Star games. Veras led the NL in stolen bases in 1995 for Florida, but would be traded a little over a year later.


8/8/95: Dave trades Bobby Witt to Texas for two players to be named later: Wilson Heredia and Scott Podsednik. Witt wins 33 games the next 2 ½ years in Texas. Heredia is quickly forgotten and Scotty Pods never plays for the Marlins and later leaves as a free agent.


7/31/96: Florida trades David Weathers to the Yankees for Mark Hutton. Weathers goes on to play 13 more years including a 33 save season in 2007. Hutton would pitch 45 games as a middle reliever in Florida.


4/26/97: DD trades Dustin Hermanson and Joe Orsulak to Montreal for Cliff Floyd. Hermanson pitches in 323 games the rest of his year including four solid seasons as a starter for the Expos. Floyd hits 110 homers as a Marlin before being traded back to Montreal later. I’ll give it to him.

Dave now has 2 good trades, 7 bad ones, and 2 pushes.

7/27/97: Florida trades Mark Hutton to Colorado for Craig Counsell. We’ve covered Hutton, but Counsell spends three SCRAPPY seasons as the Marlins 2nd baseman and goes 12 for 41 (.293) with 5 RBI in the ’97 playoffs for Florida.


8/12/97: Marlins trade Rick Helling to Texas for Ed Vosberg. In ’98, Helling would win 20 games for the Rangers and 13, 16, and 12 the next three years there. Vosberg would appear in 17 uneventful games out of the Florida pen.


11/11/97: Dave trades Moises Alou to Houston for Manuel Barrios, Oscar Henriquez, and Mark Johnson. Alou would be a great hitter for another decade. Yikes, Dave.


11/18/97: Florida trades Robb Nen to San Francisco for Joe Fontenot, Mike Pageler, and Mike Villano. That didn’t work out well.


12/15/97: Marlins trade Kevin Brown to San Diego for Derrek Lee, Steve Hoff, and Rafael Medina. Brown remains an elite pitcher for several years in SD, LA, and NY. Lee hits .264 with 129 homers in 6 years in Florida before being moved to Chicago. Considering they were in severe cost-cutting mode in Florida at this time, I’m giving Dave a win here. I’m quite generous, aren’t I? Later on, the Fish would trade Lee to Chicago for a bunch of garbage, but Dave can’t be blamed for that one.


2/6/98: Dombrowski trades Al Leiter and Ralph Millard to the Mets for AJ Burnett, Jesus Sanchez, and Robert Stratton. Leiter wins 95 games in 7 seasons as a Met. Burnett only goes 49-50 for Florida, but his 3.73 ERA over those 7 years in Florida shows he didn’t have much support. I’ll give it a push.


5/14/98: This is the biggest trade of Dave’s career at this point. He deals Bobby Bonilla, Manuel Barrios, Jim Eisenreich, Charles Johnson, and Gary Sheffield to the Dodgers for Mike Piazza and Todd Zeile. Only Sheff would be productive after this trade for LA. Zeile only played 66 games in Florida. Piazza only played in 5 games for the Marlins for being dumped. Considering Sheff was still at the top of his game here, I’m counting this is a loss. You’ll see more on why in just a second.


5/22/98: Traded Mike Piazza to the Mets for Preston Wilson, Ed Yarnall, and Geoff Goetz. Wilson was okay for a while, but he’s no Mike Piazza.


7/31/98: Remember Todd Zeile? Now he and Piazza are already gone as Todd’s dealt to Texas for Daniel DeYoung and Jose Santo, neither of who ever see the majors. Zeile plays another 7 seasons of solid baseball.


12/14/98: Dave trades Edgar Renteria to St. Louis for Armando Almanza, Braden Looper, and Pablo Ozuna. Renteria goes on to play in four All-Star games after the trade. I’m sure we’ll be hearing about him later, too.


2/1/99: Florida trades Mark Johnson, Todd Noel, and Ed Yarnell to the Yankees for Mike Lowell. Easy win for Dave here.


6/14/99: Trades Craig Counsell to the Dodgers for Ryan Moskau. Counsell, while not a star, is still playing today. Moskau…not so much.


7/8/99: Marlins trade Matt Mantei to Arizona for Vladimir Nunez, Abraham Nunez, and Brad Penny. Mantei’s career would be ruined by injury. Penny’s hadn’t even started yet. Win.


7/25/99: Traded Livan Hernandez for Nate Bump and JASON GRILLI. Fail.


12/13/99: Traded Johan Santana AND CASH to Minnesota for Jared Camp who never saw the majors. Good lord, Dave. Worst trade ever…and I never knew Dave did this. So, HE’S the one that cursed us with having to face Santana all those years. Fire him, Mr. I.  (Note, esteemed know-it-all, Blake from the blog-in-hibernation, The Spotstarters, tells me in fairness to DD, Santana was a Rule 5 pick and the trade was arranged ahead of time.)

Dave’s now 6-17-3.

6/9/00: Florida trades ex-Tiger Danny Bautista to Arizona for Andy Fox. Fox was awful. Danny was not.


3/28/01: Dave trades Mark Kotsay and Cesar Crespo to San Diego for Matt Clement, Eric Owens, and Omar Ortiz. Kotsay has his best years as a Padre while Clement goes 9-10 with a 5.05 ERA in his lone Marlin season. Another loss.


7/5/02: Welcome to Detroit, Dave. Tigers trade Jeff Weaver and cash in an three-team-deal with the Yankees and A’s and receive Carlos Pena, Jeremy Bonderman, and Franklyn German. It was a big deal at the time and ended up helping the Tigers as Bondo was a key part of the team before hurting himself. Pena had his moments, too, before going on to better things in Tampa. It was a win as Weaver was never the same except when he faced us in the ’06 World Series.


7/23/02: Dave trades Brian Moehler, Matt Boone, and cash to Cincinnati for David Espinosa, Noochie Varner (great name), and Jorge Cordova. Moehler would start another 121 games in the majors. The three guys we got never contributed.


7/25/02: Trades Tom Farmer and Jason Frasor to the Dodgers for Hiram Bocachica. Frasor goes on to be one of the better relievers in the game still today, while Bocachica hits .192 in two Tiger seasons. Sigh.

Dave is now 7-21-3.

1/11/03: Tigers trade Mark Redman and Jerrod Fuell to Florida for Gary Knotts, Rob Henkel, and Nate Mothertruckin’ Robertson. This is a win because without this trade, you would probably be reading the “Release Don Kelly Before I Burn Down An Orphanage” blog instead of “Designate Robertson”.


1/8/04: Traded Juan Gonzalez (no, not THAT one) and Ramon Santiago (yes, THAT one) to Seattle for Carlos Guillen. Despite what it’s costing us now, this is an easy win for Dave.


4/1/04: Tigers trade Cody Ross to the Dodgers for Steve Colyer. Colyer never panned out while Ross would blossom in the NL into a fine player. Fail.


1/5/04: Traded Anderson Hernandez to the Mets for Vance Wilson. Vance sucked in ’05, but was a great backup catcher for us in ’06 before injuries shortened his career.


2/9/05: Detroit trades Roberto Novoa, Scott Moore, and Bo Flowers to the Cubs for Kyle Farnsworth. Despite my hatred for The Farns now, this was a good trade as Kyle performed well in Detroit his first time around.


1/8/05: Traded future murderer Ugueth Urbina and Ramon Martinez to Philadelphia for Placido Polanco. This was a steal for Dombrowski, Detroit, and all of us.


7/31/05: Traded Farnsworth to Atlanta for Zach Miner and Roman Colon. Miner wasn’t great, but he ate up some innings. Farnsworth was still good at this point, too, so I’m calling it a wash.


7/31/06: Traded Brian Rogers to Pittsburgh for Sean Casey. Great trade by Dombrowski that helped us reach the World Series.


11/10/06: Tigers trade Humberto Sanchez, Anthony Claggett, and Kevin Whalen to the Yankees for Gary Sheffield. This is a win, though the contract extension Dave would give to Sheff would hurt us down the line. If Sanchez never got hurt playing in the minors for NY, this could have really hurt if he panned out.


6/22/07: Traded Mike Maroth to St. Louis for Chris Lambert. Maroth never mattered after this, but neither did Lambert. I only put it on here because I was a big fan of Mike’s and if this trade doesn’t happen, maybe Mike doesn’t get hurt and his career continues in Detroit. Whatever, it’s a wash.


8/14/07: Detroit trades Jack Hannahan to Oakland for Jason Perry. Hannahan’s still in the bigs helping Cleveland off to their big start. Perry…never heard of him.


8/23/07: Traded Craig Monroe and cash to the Cubs for Clay Rapada. Initially, I was going to call this a loss, but Craig was done at this point. Rapada was inoffensive in his limited Tiger action. It’s a push, though I don’t know why we gave cash in the deal.


12/29/07: Detroit trades Gorkys Hernandez and Jair Jurrjens to Atlanta for Edgar Renteria. Hindsight’s a bitch, isn’t it? Epic fail.


11/12/07: Dave trades Omar Infante to the Cubs for Jacque Jones’ corpse. Awful.


12/4/07: The BIG one. Tigers trade Cameron Maybin, Andrew Miller, Eulogio de la Cruz, Mike Rabelo, and Burke Badenhop to the Marlins for Dontrelle Willis and Miguel Cabrera. Sorry, Marlins fans.


2/5/08: Tigers trade Michael Hernandez to Texas for Armando Galarraga. We all know Armando’s story. Hernandez never had one. Another win for Dave.


4/30/08: Dave trades Jason Grilli to Colorado for Zach Simons. Simons hasn’t seen the show, but it got Grilli out of here. That’s a win to me.


7/30/08: Detroit trades Ivan Rodriguez to the Yankees for Kyle Farnsworth. No, no, no…


12/7/08: DD trades Guillermo Moscoso and Carlos Melo to Texas for Gerald Laird. Laird was good on D, people. Give him that.


12/10/08: Tigers trade Matt Joyce to Tampa for Edwin Jackson. This worked out well for us in EJax’s short time in the D. Joyce hasn’t done anything until this year. It’s a win, especially if you consider what Edwin would help bring us later.


7/31/09: Traded Luke French and Maricio Robles for Jarrod Washburn. Washburn was washed up as a Tiger. French and Robles still have futures. Loss.


8/17/09: Dave trades Brett Jacobson to Baltimore for Aubrey Huff. This seemed like a good idea at the time, but Huff was awful other than his walk-off against Toronto. Jacobson’s now an AA pitcher in the Twins organization where he’s 1-0 with a 2.93 ERA. Not a win, but not a loss, either.  Yet.


12/9/09: The OTHER big one. Traded Edwin Jackson and Curtis Granderson in a three-team-deal with the Yankees and Diamondbacks for Austin Jackson, Phil Coke, Daniel Schlereth, and Max Scherzer. This has worked out well so far.


The Scott Sizemore deal and any others are too soon to judge. But Dave’s trading record, while better since coming to Detroit, is not very good overall. Obviously, if we’re going to contend in September and October, some more trades are going to be needed by DD and the Tigers.

But will it be a Cabrera deal…or a Santana deal?

Thanks to and for being invaluable in putting this together.


Blake VandeBunte said...

Fine work, sir.  I know posts like this take a lot of work.  It is appreciated.

Trout Jefferson said...

Interesting. Before Dombrowski joined the Tigers he was 6-19-3. He finished 20-27-7, meaning he's been 13-8-4 in deals as a Tiger. 

So he's actually improved as a GM in terms of trading since becoming a Tiger? Never would have thought that.

Trout Jefferson said...

D'oh! Make that 14-8-4. I can't count.

JacksTigers said...

I cringed when I read his first trade.

Greg Tracy said...

This was truly hilarious, and damn good analysis.  Lots of cringeworthy deals here.  I'd love to see someone run down say "Billy Beane's" trades with 100% hindsight.

Sutelc Remoh said...

To be fair he should really get a pass on the Washburn trade.  We had no idea he was hurt and the guy was pitching like an ace in Seattle.  If we'd gotten the first half Washburn instead of the injured bum who showed up we would never have needed to witness the abortion that was game 163.

And might I suggest a follow up examination of DD's history of giving out lousy contracts? That would probably be more damning than the trades.

Ali Hammoud said...

It really should be taken into account that in Florida he was forced to make a lot of those bad deals as salary dumps. 

Wilsonm24 said...

In his defense for Montreal and Florida, he was almost always in cost cutting mode with those teams.  He was usually trading more proven about to be expensive talent, for unproven cheap prospects that are much harder to predict.

Still some major "What the F@@@ were you thinking!?" moments.

SRogo said...

If you give him a pass on Washburn, you give him a pass on all of them.  I agree, it sounded good at the time, but it turned out bad in the end.

SRogo said...

True, and I think I mentioned that in here somewhere.  But still, that hasn't been a problem in Cleveland.  They keep turning their leaving stars into future ones.  Dave hasn't had that kind of luck.

Phlorida Phred said...

didn't the Tigers lose 119 games the brfore DD arived

Sutelc Remoh said...

I don't know, I think a lot of the others looked bad at the front end, not just in retrospect.  Did anyone think letting Jurjenns go for Renteria was a good idea?  I wanted to punch him in the face for that one the day I read about it.

Poolagoo said...

I don't know if he deserves a pass on the Washburn deal . Sure , he was getting results at the time but he was historically a .500 pitcher or worse..half a season doesn't change that.  Lucas French was as viable a candidate to take that spot. DD needs to go .

Edward Romeo said...

Outstanding work here sir...DD made a lot more of cringeworthy trades than thought...and just a few really good ones...

DD Hater said...

Yeah, he's better than Smith so thats good enough.  From the same Detroit minds that brought you Matt Millen, Rich Rod, 6 years of Jim Leyland ets.  We suck and can't attract the best.

Tiger337 said...

Good job Rogo.  That must have been a lot of work.  My feeling on  DD is that he has been good at acquiring big pieces for the Tigers, but has had a difficult time filling in the holes around the core. 

Blake VandeBunte said...

Pretty sure DD was the GM when the Tigers lost 119.  Not before.

Chris said...

The only problem here is treating the totally irrelevant trades the same as the ones that count.  Sure Moehler made 121 starts, but they weren't good ones.  No value was had on either side.  Same goes for Pudge/Farnsworth or Sandwich/Laird.  Those can't be compared to trading Johann Santana for an empty uniform (or Jair Jurrjens...)

jonathan said...

This is totally bias... you give him credit ( and wins ) for helping the tigers win a world series with guys like casey but a lot of the trades you are calling losses helped the marlins win the series in 03... trading brown for lee was an easy win regardless of what brown did for the rest of his career and a lot of these trades like was mentioned earlier were cost cutting with players that weren't going to re-sign, hard to call it a loss when the player was leaving in 2 months anyway and its unfair to look at the entire career of the players traded away while only looking at the years with his team for the ones acquired... he's a great trader, his trades build championship clubs

jonathan said...

thats because you're only remembering the ones that worked out... the ones that worked out for dombrowski built two championship caliber clubs but you guys are looking at all of the ones that didn't work out... he acquired miguel cabrera via trade what would the tigers have ever been without him? or the marlins without derrek lee and mike lowell? its about winning championships and he does it

Szretaete said...

"Before I burn down an Orphanage"

George said...

Your not taking into account the total picture. In many of the cases the main player in the trade was going to be a FA and potentially leaves anyway. If you factor that in, those trades should be trading partial seasons of a player plus a draft pick for what ever he got. Same for cases where he traded for a short term rental.

Also your counting what the player did in his total career against him - would that player have stayed on the team that long - doubt it in most cases

DCCorey said...

He might have been the GM, but he sure didn't build the team that lost 119.

DCCorey said...

You don't worry about losing a Lucas French in order to obtain a proven MLB starter that was having a great season. A Lucas French type pitcher  means little upside and easily replaceable.

Irv said...

As a So. Fla. resident and Marlins fan, I thought Dave's trade of Sheffield and company to the Dodgers for Piazza was brilliant. He eliminated countless millions of future payroll obligation for the flotsam that went along with Sheffield (whom the team owner hated) and got back a HOF catcher. The mistake was in trading Piazza but I blame scumbag Heizinga (team owner) for that.

If you really want to criticize DD then take a look at his abysmal drafting record while with the Marlins. True, he did draft Beckett, but that one was a no brainer. But Josh Booty over someone named Nomar?