August 1, 2013 at 10:07 am

Bob Wojnowski

Dombrowski gets proactive to keep Tigers' World Series dream on track

Tigers GM Dave Dombrowski, here talking about the team acquiring reliever Jose Veras from Houston, continues to fortify the roster for an anticipated World Series run. (Elizabeth Conley/Detroit News)

Detroit The Tigers are taking no chances with their championship hopes, and wasting no time. And thats exactly why Dave Dombrowski takes more chances, and waits for no one.

The man is maniacal, in a good way. Whatever you think of the Tigers World Series chances, theres no ambiguity about their ambition. Mike Ilitch isnt sitting back and accepting the fate of the baseball gods and neither is Dombrowski, and they just significantly boosted their odds.

With All-Star shortstop Jhonny Peralta likely to get suspended, Dombrowski grabbed one of the best young fielding shortstops available, Jose Iglesias. With holes in his bullpen, he went and grabbed another solid, veteran arm, Jose Veras.

The Tigers rolled again Wednesday, blasting the Nationals, 11-1, for their ninth victory in 10 games. Theyre 61-45 and in first place, but like I said, theyre taking no chances. The Indians keep pushing, and that adds to the urgency.

Dombrowski has turned the trade deadline into his personal shopping spree, and its not about collecting average Joes, but the best Joses available. When the 4 p.m. deadline struck Wednesday, I imagine Dombrowski looked forlornly at his cell phone, double-checking for one last call. If necessity is the mother of invention, Dombrowski is the crafty father. Nobody shops more diligently and shrewdly for necessities, and the Tigers had serious necessities.

Peralta might have played his final game with the Tigers, with the commissioner reportedly poised to levy suspensions in the Biogenesis drug scandal. He could get 50 games, and with only 56 remaining, thatd push him up against the postseason. In a soft tone after the game, Peralta made it clear he doesnt want to leave.

I dont feel nervous, but I worry a little bit because I want to play every day here, Peralta said. I love being here in Detroit.

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The Tigers didnt have many options, and clearly got indications the decision was drawing near. So Dombrowski did what he does, and just past midnight Wednesday morning, he was standing in front of the media, smiling as he discussed the trade of prime outfield prospect Avisail Garcia to the White Sox and reliever Brayan Villarreal to the Red Sox for Iglesias.

We traded a real good young player for another real good young player, but at a position we needed right now, or potentially could need, Dombrowski said. Theres a lot of uncertainty (with Peralta), which concerned me, especially with our scenario of trying to win a championship.

Bingo. The Tigers are being proactive in ways most teams wouldnt, because Ilitchs World Series push is relentless. Dombrowski always is willing to deal prospects, a bold strategy Im amazed more teams dont employ.

Even if Peralta were eligible for the postseason, Dombrowski was taking no chances. And what about the possible delicate choice should the Tigers win the division: Iglesias or Peralta after a 50-game layoff?

Im not getting into choices at this point, Dombrowski said. But if you ask me, would I feel comfortable with (Iglesias) being our shortstop? The answer would be yes. This guy is special defensively.

The Tigers semi-stunning move was lauded around baseball, although the White Sox (Garcia) and Red Sox (Jake Peavy) also got what they wanted. The difference is, the Tigers got what they needed.

Iglesias, 23, already is considered a premier fielder, and was hitting a surprising .330 with the Red Sox. He certainly doesnt have the punch of Peralta, whos hitting .307 with 10 home runs and 53 RBIs. But the deal serves multiple purposes, fitting with Dombrowskis recent headline deadline moves. Last year, he added Anibal Sanchez and Omar Infante, who filled holes in the run to the World Series. The year before, he landed Doug Fister.

Iglesias arrival means Peralta could accept a suspension in good conscience, instead of appealing to keep playing this season. As terrific as Peralta has been offensively, hes limited in the field, and Iglesias is anything but limited. With his range and glove, he provides defensive protection on the left side, with third baseman Miguel Cabrera battling various muscle strains.


Give Dombrowski credit for persistence. He said the Red Sox called a few weeks ago, knowing the Tigers might need a shortstop. Dombrowski played it cool, then struck quickly.

And this wasnt a money move made possible by Ilitchs bankroll. In fact, Iglesias makes considerably less than Peralta, whos due to become a free agent. So is Infante, and rather than count on big-bank replacements, Dombrowski plucked a promising piece for now and the future.

These were clever, aggressive preemptive strikes by Dombrowski and his staff. The Tigers couldnt wait for young arms to develop in the bullpen, so here comes Veras. Peralta could be gone and the infield doesnt exactly vacuum ground balls, so here comes Iglesias.

In the span of two days, Dombrowski addressed Jim Leylands two nagging concerns.

I think Daves biggest attribute is, hes not afraid, Leyland said. People can agree with deals, disagree with deals, but they cant ever say he sat on his haunches and didnt do something.

The Tigers couldnt afford to be afraid of the impending hammer. Something had to be done, and with Dombrowski, something almost always gets done.