I woke up this morning with a text from a friend and all it said was “What is Dombrowski doing?” And for the first time in years I had to sit back and really question the latest trade the Tigers’ general manger just executed.
We all knew that replacing Jose Iglesias at shortstop was going to be a difficult task but today’s acquisition of Alex Gonzalez from the Baltimore Orioles for Steve Lombardozzi had me starching my head.
Gonzalez, 37, has passed his prime and due to injuries has only appeared in 65 games over the last two seasons with the Milwaukee Brewers. The 15 year veteran hit just .211 during this time with the Brewers and out of the 65 games he played in, he only played shortstop for 27 of those games including just three in 2013.
Many Tigers fans are questioning the move and it’s hard not to sympathize with them. Dombrowski already made one very unpopular move in trading Doug Fister to the Nationals this off-season. But after sitting down and really analyzing the deal, it’s starting to make a little more sense to me now.
Yeah the numbers aren’t spectacular but there’s more to it. Gonzalez is a former Gold Glove winner and World Series Champion. And despite the injuries that cost him playing time with the Brewers, numerous Tigers’ officials feel that he can hold down the position and fill in for Iglesias while he recovers from his shin injury.
According to Tigers’ beat reporter Jason Beck’s twitter page, Dombrowski took the recommendation from new Tigers’ 1st base coach Omar Vizquel that Gonzalez can definitely still play shortstop and that Dombrowski feels they traded for a guy that can play the majority of the games at shortstop.
I also spoke with Ryan Powell, head of independent pro scouting for the Baltimore Orioles, who played and trained with Gonzalez, and he feels that Gonzalez’s range maybe a little seasoned, but he still has great hands and will provide great leadership to the clubhouse and will help mentor Tigers’ 3rd basemen Nick Castellanos.
Gonzalez has also shown that his bat is back, as he has posted a .429 batting average this spring.
As for Lombardozzi, who was acquired from the Nationals in the Fister trade, his struggles this spring and his lack of experience at shortstop, he’s only started one game at short in his career, made the trade possible and despite the Tigers acquiring Andrew Romine from the Angels just four days ago, there was still a huge gap to fill at short and Gonzalez is a viable short-term solution.
Only time will tell if this trade will pay off in the long run, but as I’ve said many times before, In Dombrowski we trust.