Wednesday, December 05, 2007

Cabrera And Willis Make Everybody Better

Miguel Cabrera and Dontrelle Willis not only add production for the Tigers, but as important will be the domino effect they will have on the rest of the team. Cabrera gives the Tigers one more huge bat in the middle of the lineup, protecting yet another hitter. The pressure on opposing pitching staffs will great. Think last season before Gary Sheffield got hurt and how productive the Tigers’ lineup was - they were averaging more than six runs per game. Now it will be enhanced - if Sheffield is healthy. And even if he isn’t, the Tigers will at least be back to where they were before he was injured.
As for Willis, he takes a lot of pressure off Jeremy Bonderman. For reasons I, honestly, haven’t been able to figure out, he has not responded well to pitching at the top of the rotation in the heat of a pennant race. Willis has thrived under such pressure in the past. He has had his problems when the Marlins have fallen out of contention. There is also the matter of innings. Willis chews them up, which takes pressure off the bullpen.
This was a great trade for the Tigers. It doesn’t guarantee them a spot in the playoffs. Baseball is a fickle beast. Nothing does. But the Tigers odds have skyrocketed.

Note: You can read my column about the trade at "Sports Columns" at or in the print edition of The Oakland Press.

Random Thoughts

- Honestly, Detroit general manager Dave Dombrowski must have told the Marlins to pick any six prospects from the Tigers organization. Outside of Rick Porcello, who can’t be traded at this point (you must to be in professional baseball for a year before eligible to be traded), the Marlins cherry-picked the Tigers’ five best prospects - and backup catcher Mike Rabelo. The Tigers farms system has been gutted. I did the Baseball America Top 10 prospects list for a dozen years and, in my opinion, the Tigers have traded seven of their top 10 prospects within the last month or so.

- The Tigers had to go for it now. They made their bed when they traded Gorkys Hernandez and Jair Jurrgens to Atlanta for Edgar Renteria. This trade, despite the considerable cost, was a wise move.

- This trade tells you exactly why Mike Ilitch is Mike Ilitch and Dave Dombrowski is Dave Dombrowski - and why William Clay Ford is William Clay Ford and Matt Millen is Matt Millen. Know what I mean?

- Until the Tigers add legitimate quality to their bullpen, they are still behind the Red Sox. They have, however, blown right on by the Indians and the White Sox within their division.

- Of all the prospects the Tigers have dealt this off season, I have a hunch Hernandez will ultimately be the best player.


Anonymous maddog52 said...

WoW book your blog is more popular then I thought. I didn't realize the tigers orginanization has been reading your blog. Just yeasterday I was just complaining about whya re the tigers so quiet at the meetings then after picking my daughter up listening to the book on sports on the way home I hear u mentioning this deal I was pumped. I understand people's concern about Maybin and Miller both going. I can see if we parted with both those guys for 2 34 plus year old veterans, but we got 2 guys who are just entering there primes and have already proven to be star quality.

I still think we need some bull pen help. I am kind of hoping we can swing a deal for a latroy hawkins or someone solid like that. We got a nice offense to get us some runs. We still need some guys to do some holding. At the same time the mroe I think about it.

When the tigers went to the world series there starters were going 6 to 7 innings a night. A lot of the action the pen got last year they didn't see in 06 when the tigers went to the series. So i think our rotation needs to be stronger and it will help our bullpen out again. I think we did thatb y adding willis a big innings eater.

11:54 AM 
Blogger Pat Caputo said...

LOL. It had nothing to do with me. I think they understood the idea is to win now and when this opportunity presented itself, they struck swiftly.

12:00 PM 
Anonymous Danny said...


Talk about Blockbuster, this is huge. This is bigger than even I ever imagined in my wildest dreams. What a lineup and an awesome starting pitcher too? I see no downside. The farm system will be fine.

Puts Detroit in league with NY and Boston and Cleveland can only sit. Awesome.

Can't wait to get this thing started. They can raise ticket prices all they want. I will pay.


1:09 PM 
Blogger Barry said...

Wow DD and Mr.I and gang done it again, this is a great sales/business play. Find out what the other teams are offering and wait for the best moment and trump it. Tigers now have the best offence in baseball. Their starting 5 must be second to none. This takes a lot of pressure off the bullpen. There will be lots of 11 to 3 score in Tigers favours going into the 7, 8 and 9th innings. Every inning the Tigers will be a threat. This players are relatively cheap because they are so young.
Tigers next move will be interesting, trading Thames or Inge ect to get a set-up guy or rebuild their system. Signing Dotel (if used right and healthy) would also help solve the late innings problems. If they do sign another pitcher, Tigers have one problem. Pitchers like Bazardo, McBride, Cruceta, Bautista, Grilli, Durbin and maybe Tata are out of minor league options I think. With really only one position open if Tigers go with Jones, Rodney, Minor, Seay, Byrdak and another signing or trade. Bazardo and Cruceta might have a hard time getting through waivers. So they should make another trade

1:39 PM 
Anonymous Andrew Winkle said...

Pat the Book,

I stubbed my toe jumping off the Pussycats bandwagon, then was floored by the news from Nashville. Oh happy day!

Please let maddog52 know that Dealer Dave also obtained Danny Bautista. I have no doubt that he'll acquire another reliever prior to the start of the season.

What really stuns me is that Cabrera's stats compare to Hammerin' Hank Aaron's early years in MLB. Truly amazing.

What day does spring training start?

1:51 PM 
Blogger Max Perilstein said...


As always I enjoy your work- and like someone said on the Sports Inferno board, nothing better than a big Tiger trade and "The Book" on the airwaves.

If I have any fear here its that the Tigers are going to be in a lot of high scoring games. I still worry about the pitching- Rogers coming off a major injury and at an advanced age, Bondo's maddening inconsistency and the fear that Willis is really losing it and not just a by product of a terrible organization... and on top of that the bullpen scares me beyond belief... not sure I can handle another year of Jason Grilli.

Anyway, it should be interesting and maybe Inge being traded for some quality bullpen help will be the key.


2:20 PM 
Blogger Pat Caputo said...

I agree this is far bigger than anything I could have imagined, either. The Tigers still have some work to do down in the bullpen, though.

2:24 PM 
Blogger Pat Caputo said...

They absolutely have to make another trade. Look for Inge to used as bargaining chip for bullpen help.

2:25 PM 
Blogger Pat Caputo said...

Andrew Winkle,
I don't see Bautista as the answer to anything. He is just another arm, not necessarily what they need. They need a top line reliever, whether it be as setup man or closer. The Red Sox, Yankees, White Sox and Angels all have far better bullpens.

2:26 PM 
Blogger Pat Caputo said...

Max Perilstein,
I think that is true. There are some questions marks on the pitching staff - the bullpen and guys like Willis, Bonderman and Rogers coming off subpar seasons.

2:28 PM 
Anonymous Marty said...


The Angels need 3B help and they always have great bullpen arms; maybe we will see a trade with them? Do you see a more likely option? Perhaps they will move Cabrera to LF and play Inge at 3B, because defense at 3B is pretty important; not so much in LF.


2:45 PM 
Blogger Fred Brill said...


What do you think happens to Inge? I know he has his detractors - but he is such a great defensive 3b - could he play short?

My concern is not so much our farm system - for this reason - we know how to grow them. That's as good if not better than having the Maybins and Millers.

Still a lot to digest. Hard to get my head around yet what this really means. But in Toronto they are playing this up like we need not even play the season next year - just give the Tigers the world series.

PS - Leafs have 3 game winning streak and a hot goalie (right now)- aren't ya glad you're a red wing fan :)

2:56 PM 
Blogger World of Isaac said...

Good read Pat....The difference between Illitch/Dombrowski and Ford/Millen is so astounding

3:47 PM 
Anonymous Brian said...


I agree with you about how much this will help the Tigers but it'll be interesting to see how it helps the Marlins as well because this could very well be one of these trades that helps both teams. What do you think the chances of the Tigers and Marlins squaring off sometime around 2011 and 2012 in the World Series because of this?

6:25 PM 
Anonymous sportznut said...

This is terrific news. Dontrelle is going to be a favorite in the D, and he'll add 200 IP to that rotation, lessening the burden on the bully.

Cabrera is a young Manny Ramirez type. Great, great hitter, but not a great fielder.

Miller and Maybin's top ceiling is really to reach the potential of the two guys the Tigers got, and Dombrowski drafts guys like Rabello, Trahern, and Badenhop every single year.

Only De La Cruz (amongst the others) has a legit shot to be anything special.

Yes, they gutted the system, but they still boast the 2007 class of Porcello, Crosby (yes I know TJ surgery), Hamilton, Furbush, Iorg, and others.

They also still have Larish, Sizemore, and a few others as well.

Also, this team was ranked #14 overall last year even with two top 10 specs in Miller and Maybin.

Its not like they were #1 overall, and now they're last.

Going from their new probable position (in the 20s somewhere) back to 14, is really just a matter of drafting one more guy just like Miller, Maybin, Verlander, and Porcello.

DD has proven time and time again that his willingness to draft the best player available regardless of signability is the reason why the Tigers can make a deal like this and not miss a beat.

The Indians, Yankees, and Angels might still be tough, but with one more arm in our pen and the Tigers are just as good, if not better than the RedSox.

Lastly Pat, I know much has been said about the window of opportunity and having 2 years. That might or might not be true.

They have a 2 year window with many of these vets at the various positions (and Leyland), but they'll end up with an excess of around 50M when those guys come off the books.

Yes, I know Willis and Cabrera will take a bit of that to be extended, but even so you'd have Grandy, Polly, Cabrera, Verlander, Bonderman, Willis, and Porcello to all re-tool your team around.

Now I think trading Inge to a team like the Cardinals, Brewers, or the Phillies and Giants (as rumored) for bully help would be nice.

I also expect DD to get a player for Shelton before having to dump him for nothing.

Sorry for the long post, but its exciting to be a Tigers fan these days!

7:17 PM 
Blogger Pat Caputo said...

Honestly, if you were the Angels, how interested would you really be in Inge? He hit .236 last year. His power numbers, given the lineup he was a part of, weren't that good. He strikes out a ton. His trade value is limited - but not if he will catch.

10:37 PM 
Blogger Pat Caputo said...

Fred Brill,
I wouldn't classify Inge as a "great" defensive player. He makes some spectacular plays, but messes up plenty of rountine ones. His 15 minutes of fame might have been that 2006 season. The Tigers will try to use him as trade bait. I'm sure they find anyone to bite.

10:40 PM 
Blogger Pat Caputo said...

world of issac,
I agree. Like night and day.

10:41 PM 
Blogger Pat Caputo said...

I am not so sure about that. Seems like once Maybin and Miller are ready and arbitration eligble and headed toward free agency that the Marlins will be looking to dump them, too. It's why they need to get those teams out of Flordia. They're an embarrassment to baseball. At their player payroll, the Marlins will make plenty of money, too. It's a joke. But where do you put another franchise?

10:44 PM 
Blogger Pat Caputo said...

I hear you about being excited about this trade. If you are a baseball fan living Southeast Michigan, how can you not be. This figures to be a very interesting season.

10:45 PM 
Anonymous Marty said...


You are right. The Angels really need offense, not defense. I didn't think about that. Oh well, Inge has a lot of value as a defender, so I think they will be able to move him. I don't think they will get much in return, but they should be able to get rid of his salary, I would think. I no longer expect a decent 7th or 8th inning type guy in return after thinking about it a little more.


11:24 AM 
Anonymous MelloKello said...

Pat, I think the trade the Tigers made for Cabrerra and Willis is great!
I was listening to your radio show last night and a lot of callers were worried about the Tigers bullpen. I think a lot of other teams are going to be worried about their own bull pen when they face the Tigers because they're going to be batting around the order a lot in 2008.
I'd also like to comment about Mike Illitch, Dave Dombrowski vs. William C. Ford and Matt Millen. Illitch and Dombrowski have what Kirk Gibson used talk about as having 'it'. Ford and MIllen don't have 'it' and don't even have a clue as to what 'it' is.


12:05 PM 
Anonymous Brian said...


I know we're getting off subject, but do you think the Marlins will finally get the stadium in the next couple of years, and when they do, they buck up and start acting like a real franchise? Or is that just wishful thinking?


12:38 PM 
Blogger Pat Caputo said...

After reading your post I took a little longer look at Inge and where he might fit in. I don't see where he has that much value - unless he catches. Really, other than 2006, he hasn't been much of a hitter.

6:00 PM 
Blogger Pat Caputo said...

The landscape down there is different. It is so much about football. I don't see them getting a baseball-only stadium with public funding. And that is what virtually all teams have now.

6:01 PM 
Blogger Pat Caputo said...

"It" is the desire to win. Period. Ilitch and Davidson can't stand losing. Ford is more worried about letting the world know he is in charge as some sort of ego thing.

6:03 PM 
Blogger sweetwater said...

I like the trade a lot, and for the most part agree with your one concern is that Willis' performance has deteriorated significantly over the last couple years. From what you heard, does Willis still have great stuff and just needs a change of scenery or is he prematurely starting his decline phase? I thought I read something recently about a loss of velocity on his fastball?

One other comment, for the last couple of years I thought it would benefit the Tigers to move the left field fence in. We seem to lose a lot more HR's than our opponents. Now we have yet another right-handed slugger who is going to hit 400ft outs to left center. I wonder if this has been one reason the Tigers seem to play better on the road at times? To your knowledge, is there ever any consideration for bringing the fences in?


11:00 PM 
Blogger Pat Caputo said...

I saw Willis pitch a couple times last season. His command, not velocity was the issue. When he has had big seasons and when he has had mediocre seasons, there has been a direct correlation between his walks/so ratio.

12:31 PM 

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