Dave Littlefield Rumors

Front Office Notes: Dombrowski, Chernoff, Avila, Tigers

There’s been plenty of front office turnover this summer, with Dave Dombrowski’s departure from the Tigers’ front office, the beginning of Doug Melvin’s transition to an advisory role with the Brewers and the abrupt resignation of Angels GM Jerry Dipoto (who has since taken a temporary consulting position with the Red Sox).

Here’s the latest buzz pertaining to executives around the league…

  • The Nationals, Blue Jays and Mariners appear to be the most likely landing spots for Dombrowski, tweets USA Today’s Bob Nightengale. The Blue Jays and Mariners were immediately speculated upon landing spots, as Toronto has long been on the hunt for a president to replace the retiring Paul Beeston, and Seattle GM Jack Zduriencik’s job security has been questioned in the wake of a disappointing season for the Mariners. The Nationals don’t have an immediate need and seem a somewhat curious fit, given the fact that the well-respected Mike Rizzo currently holds the president of baseball operations title in D.C. The combination of Rizzo and Dombrowski, though, would give Washington a pair of very accomplished baseball minds atop their decision-making pyramid, if the two were to work together.
  • “I’ve had a number of people tell me today they think [Indians assistant GM Mike] Chernoff will be the one to beat,” Peter Gammons replied to the MLB Network’s Chris Russo yesterday when asked who will be the new GM of the Brewers (video link, with Brewers talk beginning at about the 4:00 mark). Gammons also lists Red Sox assistant GM Mike Hazen as a possibility and notes that he believes Melvin could very well remain on board with the Brewers as a club president.
  • New Tigers GM Al Avila spoke at length with Tony Paul of the Detroit News about his new position. While Avila didn’t want to get too in-depth about the differences between him and his friend/predecessor, Dombrowski, he did tell Paul that the Tigers’ front office will take more of an analytical approach to roster construction. “One thing I will bring different is expanded analytics,” said Avila. “I will tell you that I feel that we have a ways to go to catch up with the industry. We have been making some strides, but we’ll fast-forward a little bit and add to that department. You’ll see a big difference there.” However, Avila also stressed the importance of maintaining a balance between traditional scouting and the statistical component of player analysis. As Paul notes, the presence of J.D. Martinez on the Tigers can be chalked up to traditional scouting, and Avila played a huge role in bringing Martinez to Detroit.
  • Lastly, the Tigers announced three more front office promotions earlier this week. Major League scout Dave Littlefield (the former GM of the Pirates) has been promoted to vice president of player development. Scott Reid has been bumped from special assistant to senior advisor, and Dick Egan is now a special assistant to the executive VP and general manager.

Pirates Fire Dave Littlefield

The reign of terror is over – the Pirates have fired GM Dave Littlefield.  He’d been the team’s GM since July 31st, 2001 and his contract actually runs through 2008.  A partial list of his bad moves is below.

  • 1/2/02 – Agreed to terms with free-agent RHP Mike Williams on a two-year contract with a club option for 2004. 
  • 12/20/02 – Acquired RHP Matt Herges from the Montreal Expos in exchange for minor league pitchers Chris Young and Jon Searles.
  • 1/31/03 – Designated RHP Bronson Arroyo for assignment.
  • 7/22/03 – Acquired IF Jose Hernandez, minor league RHP Matt Bruback and a player to be named later from Chicago Cubs for 3B Aramis Ramirez, OF Kenny Lofton and cash considerations. 
  • 11/20/03 – Claimed off waivers: pitcher Matt Guerrier by Minnesota, pitcher Duaner Sanchez by Los Angeles.
  • 12/16/04 – Acquired C Benito Santiago, along with cash considerations, from Kansas City in exchange for RHP Leo Nunez
  • 7/28/05 – Acquired Minor League INF J.J. Furmaniak from the San Diego Padres in exchange for C David Ross
  • 7/31/05 – Acquired OF Jody Gerut and cash considerations from the Chicago Cubs in exchange for OF Matt Lawton
  • 1/4/06 – Signed OF Jeromy Burnitz to a one-year contract with a mutual option for 2007.
  • 2/28/06 – Agreed to terms with SS Jack Wilson on a three-year contract extension (through the 2009 season) with a club option for 2010.   
  • 7/31/06 – Acquired OF Xavier Nady from the New York Mets in exchange for RHP Roberto Hernandez and LHP Oliver Perez.
  • 2/1/07 – Signed RHP Tony Armas Jr. to a one-year contract, with a club option for 2008. 
  • 7/31/07 – Acquired RHP Matt Morris from the San Francisco Giants in exchange for OF Rajai Davis and a player to be named. 

Draft picks:

  • 2002 – Bryan Bullington at #1 overall (over B.J. Upton, Zack Greinke, Prince Fielder, Jeff Francis, Jeremy Hermida, Joe Saunders, Khalil Greene, Scott Kazmir, Nick Swisher, Cole Hamels, James Loney, Jeremy Guthrie, Jeff Francoeur, Joe Blanton, and Matt Cain).
  • 2006 – Brad Lincoln at #4 overall (over Andrew Miller, Clayton Kershaw, Tim Lincecum, Ian Kennedy, and Joba Chamberlain)

I admit that showing only this stuff is not fair, hindsight is 20/20, and the Pirates had certain financial constraints.  Littlefield made good deals and good draft picks too.  However, these are the reasons he was fired as far as I can tell.