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Tigers owner Mike Ilitch made a major change to his front office after the 2001 season.

In November, Ilitch hired Dave Dombrowski to be team president. Dombrowski, who started his executive career in the Chicago White Sox organization, had some success as GM in Montreal and Florida, winning a World Series with the Marlins in 1997.

Everyone looked at GM Randy Smith and wondered how Dombrowski's hiring would affect Smith's job security. In six seasons as Tigers GM, Smith never had a team finish above .500.

In December 2001, Smith traded OF Juan Encarnacion to Cincinnati for switch-hitting 1B Dmitri Young, who was coming off four straight .300+ seasons as a Red.

It didn't take long for Dombrowski to make his move. After the Tigers started 0-6, Dombrowski fired both GM Smith and manager Phil Garner, installing bench coach Luis Pujols as the new manager.

It took the Tigers 12 games before they got their first win; the season was downhill after that.

No less than 30 pitchers threw for the Tigers in 2002, with little success; the team ERA was 4.92, while opposing pitchers combined for a 3.33 ERA against Tigers hitters.

Young only played a third of the season due to injury. No Tiger hit more than 17 HR, none drove in more than 63 runs, and none scored more than 66 times. 1B Randall Simon led with a .301 BA, but in only 482 AB.

No pitcher won more than eight games, though Juan Acevedo managed to record 28 saves.

The final record was 55-106 as the Tigers fielded one of their worst teams ever in all categories.

Dombrowski knew he had a lot of work to do, as he assumed the GM duties himself. It began in July, when he participated in a three-team trade with the Oakland A's and the New York Yankees. The Tigers sent RHP Jeff Weaver to the Yankees; in return, the Tigers received 1B prospect Carlos Pena and RHP Franklyn German from Oakland, along with RHP Jeremy Bonderman, who was sent to Detroit in August to complete the deal.

After the season, Pujols was informed that we would not return as manager.

By GregEno
 

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Tagged:
Carlos Pena, Dave Dombrowski, Detroit Tigers, Dmitri Young, Franklyn German, Jeff Weaver, Jeremy Bonderman, Juan Acevedo, Juan Encarnacion, Luis Pujols, Phil Garner, Randall Simon, Randy Smith

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