10/08/09 4:42 PM EST
Dombrowski addresses Cabrera, offseason
Tigers GM confident that troubled slugger will resolve issues
By Jason Beck / MLB.com
Though Dombrowski didn't get into the specifics of his discussions with Cabrera and agent Diego Bentz, he said he was satisfied with what he heard. Cabrera, almost inconsolable after Tuesday's 6-5 loss to the Twins in the American League Central tiebreaker, told reporters that he was going to get his life in order this offseason.
Police in the Detroit suburb of Birmingham took Cabrera into custody early Saturday, but he was not charged in regard to a fight with his wife that left scratches on both of them. Rosangel Cabrera called 911 around 6 a.m. that morning after her husband had returned home at 5 a.m. intoxicated and loud enough to wake up their four-year-old daughter.
According to the police report, officers couldn't determine whether Cabrera or his wife was the aggressor in the incident, and neither of them would explain their injuries. That, plus the fact that neither side wanted to press charges, meant no arrests could be made. Because Mrs. Cabrera wanted her husband to leave, however, police took him to the station. They wouldn't let him drive home afterward because he registered a .26 blood-alcohol level on a preliminary test, more than three times the legal limit.
Dombrowski picked Cabrera up from the police station later that morning. Asked about his emotions at the time, Dombrowski pointed to the situation.
"You're at home at 7:30 in the morning and you get a call from the police station to come and pick up one of your players," Dombrowski said. "This is not the first time this has happened to me in 20 years as a general manager. Of course, you're upset. You're not happy with that. But you also have to realize at the time, you have step-by-step issues in which you have to deal with things.
"First thing is, the person needs some sleep. Realistically, you're not going to have a logical conversation with somebody at that time of the morning. We have had numerous conversations with him and his representative. Major League Baseball, from when I first started to where I am now, and our organization, is in a situation where you have very good programs to deal with problems that take place, very thorough employee-assistance programs.
"I realize that when people do some things, sometimes they have a problem, and you have to deal with that problem. And sometimes, even though you're upset, you need to give tough love."
Cabrera was in the starting lineup on Saturday night, when the Tigers lost to the White Sox, 5-1. He went 0-for-4 and hit into a bases-loaded double play that thwarted an eighth-inning rally, continuing a slump that had reached 0-for-14 before he doubled and homered in Tuesday's loss to the Twins.
"On Saturday, when he played, the feeling was that at the time, he was capable of playing in the game," Dombrowski said. "That was really the decision that was made."
Dombrowski's remarks were part of his annual end-of-season session with local media at Comerica Park, a session he didn't expect to be having so soon. Detroit became the first team in Major League history to lead its division or league by three games with four games to play and lose it at the end. It also became the first team to lead its division or league from May 10 until the season's final week and lose.
Dombrowski's remarks made it clear he saw this as less of a collapse by the Tigers and more about a good, but flawed, team that lost out when the Twins went 17-4 down the stretch.
"I've said all along, I never thought we had a powerhouse club," Dombrowski said. "I thought we had a good club, but we had a club that had shortcomings attached to it. To me, our biggest shortcoming was the offensive part of the ballclub.
"The majority of the games which we lost, you could almost write the same story. ... Normally we pitched well. Normally we played good defense. We didn't score enough runs."
Given what he expected his club to do with those faults, his club actually performed to expectations.
"The effort was there," Dombrowski said. "I really didn't think we'd win a lot more games than 86 games this year. I mean, really, that's really about where I thought like our club's capabilities were at the time, in that neighborhood. For a long time, I thought 86 wins was going to win our division. Unfortunately, I was wrong, 87 won. I tip my cap to the Twins. They played great."
As for how the Tigers will address those issues this offseason, Dombrowski suggested his club could have the same approach as last winter, trying to make decisions with finances in mind for a roster that has a lot of money tied up in guaranteed contracts.
"It's really very similar to the challenge we faced last year," Dombrowski said. "We had a lot [of money] tied up last year, too, coming into the wintertime. We knew we were going to have to be wise with our decisions. Now, I haven't had conversations with [owner Mike Ilitch], so I don't know what his direction may be. But it's a situation where you have to make wise decisions.
"And when you look at some of the acquisitions that we made, they worked out well for us. They were not necessarily moves that everybody looked at as being high profile at the time, but they were moves that helped us. And I would think that there would be a lot of similarities at this time, and that's what we would look to do -- although, again, those final decisions haven't been made."
Jason Beck is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.