I think this is an over-simplification.
Drombowski was in Detroit a long time. He took over an organization that was pretty awful and turned it around to have a decade of sustained success, including 2 pennants and acquiring/developing a few Hall of Famers. He took over a much better club in Boston but he delivered some great results quickly too. Let's pause before we declare the Levine/Falvey approach to be superior, shall we?
Dombrowski also did quite well in trades for Detroit:
Yes, the Tigers biffed a couple contracts at the end, although only Cabrera really stands out as hamstringing the franchise, and of course it was Dombrowski who acquired him relatively cheaply in the first place and oversaw his performance jumping to new level. (And I wonder what ownership pressure was like at that point -- didn't Detroit ownership intervene to sign Prince Fielder a few years earlier, leaving Dombrowski to eventually clean up the mess, which he did fairly well.)
Worth remembering the Jordan Zimmermann disaster was on Dombrowski's successor (as was Mike Pelfrey ). Detroit was heading for a dry spell although it's possible that Dombrowski could have maneuvered to avoid the current depths. (Dombrowski's successor arguably screwed up by dumping Verlander's contract the way he did too.)
Yes, the minor league pipeline dried up and Dombrowski bears some responsibility for that, but after 15 years, even Falvey and Levine will likely have cycles like that. Hopefully they have multiple pennants and Hall of Famers on their resumes when it happens!
This is a very fair take. Back at the time when the pizza guy was clamoring to not take it with him when he was risen from Detroit, I argued that his approach, spending cash and depleting the farm system, was one way to try to skin the cat, and not the way I'd operate. Reason? Risk. The risk of making a mistake that eventually sets the franchise back, possibly for years. A Cabrera-sized mistake. The risk that you go "all in" and it doesn't work. You're right about his final trades. Things could have been much worse. We'll see about the Verlander haul. We'll see about the Moncada price in Boston.
I think it's harder today to do the spend/mortgage the future type strategy. The risks are higher with established players, and the predictability with prospects has improved, thus lowering those risks, IMO. So, whereas it my have in many ways just have been different ways to skin the cat before, I now have come to believe the superior strategy is what I think our guys are trying to pull off: increase asset player) value simultaneously at both levels, actively manage (trade from surplus) the assets opportunistically with a LT goal of trading excess present value for better future value build through talent development, avoid paralyzing financial transactions, play the long game. We'll see if they're as smart as they think they are in the next couple of years.
I don't think Falvey and Levine are very likely to have putrid cycles with the farm system. At least I hope not. They appear to be investing heavily in development, spending in IFA, trading for prospects of value. I'd compare their strategy to that of Brian Cashman's without all the cash, man.