Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Tigers Face A Different Landscape This Off Season

About this time, the past two off seasons, the Tigers had already made big trades.
Last year, it was acquiring Edgar Renteria from the Atlanta Braves. Two years ago, it was getting Gary Sheffield from the Yankees.
It seems highly unlikely the Tigers will make any major moves early this off season.
Their priorities are obvious. Pitching. Catching. A shortstop. Identifying the issues is easier than actually filling them.
I’ve read reports the Tigers are interested in signing Francisco Rodriguez. Don’t see that happening. His a risk, despite his stellar numbers, because of the salary he will command, and because he doesn’t throw as consistently hard as he used to, an indication he might struggle to match his past performances.
Brian Fuentes would be a perfect one-season fit for the Tigers, but so is he for several other teams. He’ll be overpriced and want too many years for his value.
J.J. Putz is intriguing, but how healthy is he? And do the Tigers have the prospects to interest anybody - at least those they can afford to unload - for such a deal.
The key isn’t necessarily who the Tigers acquire as much as the development of Ryan Perry and Casey Fien, and the return to health of Joel Zumaya, which is becoming increasingly iffy. I do believe the Tigers will find a veteran closer of substance, but it’s not going to matter if their bullpen depth isn’t much better. It’s what made them in ‘06. It’s what broke them in ‘07 and ‘08.
The starting pitching rotation will be difficult to change. The Tigers are boxed in, because of long-term deals with Nate Robertson, Dontrelle Willis and Jeremy Bonderman. They need them to be healthy and throwing well. A reasonable expectation from those three before last season would have been combining for 40 victories. Instead, they combined for 10. Some of that was made up by an unexpected season by Armando Galarraga, but was negated by Justin Verlander’s subpar performance.
Like it or not, the Tigers are dependant on those three pitchers - and Verlander to pull himself together. While there is some potential help arriving from the minor leagues to benefit the bullpen, it’s not there for starters - at least until Rick Porcello is ready. And that might be later instead of sooner given his youth.
The Tigers catching as it stands is awful. They need to find at least one veteran to fill the spot. Ideally, it would be a couple. I don’t see them signing Jason Varitek for what he wants, or re-signing Pudge. They need an adequate defensive catcher first, and will likely sacrifice that spot in the lineup. That makes it more important that Brandon Inge picks it up offensively at third base, and Carlos Guillen has a bounce back season.
Will the Tigers trade Magglio Ordonez? It’s possible, not probable. Thing is, he is their most popular player. It’ll take front line pitching to do it - or an every day catcher. I do agree with some reports I’ve read that the Angels would be the ideal trading partner with the Tigers should an Ordonez deal come down.

Random Thoughts

- Even with Rodney Stuckey out, the Pistons went to a small lineup Tuesday night and it worked very well. Allen Iverson was terrific. He not only scored, but hustled defensively and did an excellent job of distributing the ball. Will Bynum is a better player than I thought. The Pistons have very good depth right to the end of their bench.

- What happened to the Red Wings Tuesday? Real simple: Who wanted that game more? There’s your answer. The Penguins are going to be formidable as long as they have two No. 1 overall picks, and two No. 2 overall picks in their lineup. Jordan Staal is coming of age and it will negate a lot of the Penguins’ losses.

15 Comments:

Blogger Dee said...

Pat,

Tigers need defense too. I have faith the doctors put Bonderman back together, don't know about Joel. How about Dusty behind the plate?

I hope Mags can be traded for a couple of young arms. Shef may work out well in '09, he seemed a lot better in September chasing 500 bombs.

12:53 PM 
Blogger Fred Brill said...

Book,

You broke the Tigers down so well, there is nothing to disagree with. Not that I disagree with you often.

If the Tigers were to trade Mags, I think that would - at least for the first half of 2009 - kill all the momentum of recent fan appreciation. Their record will deterine the second half.

Mags will have to leave Detroit on his terms.

I have faith that our starting rotation will return to form this year. Faith is the term used when there is no logical, scientific, rational reason why one should believe - except that ones gut tells you so.

But ... bullpen, bullpen, bullpen.

Sacrafice a bat at third and superstar ctacher - just please Mr. Dombrowski - pull some magic out of your sleeve and get us a bullpen.

1:06 PM 
Blogger Barry said...

Pat where do you start? The whole thing is mess up. The large contracts that has been signed that does not leave DD with a lot of dollars to play with this free agent season and next. You have a catcher that is going to play 3B, you have an infielder that is going to play LF, you have at least half-dozen LF nowhere to play. Now you just created a hole at catcher. Ryan and others near at least half season in the minors.
K-Rod drop in velocity as you mention could be a sign of shoulder problems that has not surfaced yet. I would not sign him either unless Mr.I wants to spend a ton of money to put at risk. Fuentes would be cool for one or two year deal but he going to get more than that. I would not be surprise that Cruz gets a three or four deal. Hoffman does throw strikes but he usually stay on the West Coast. I would not count out a trade because Maggs is a bargain at 16million/season over next three years compare to Manny $25million/season contract.
If Tigers are smart, stick to signing the stars and I think they have enough room to add $10 million to the payroll. Players like Furcal might be available at 2yr/20 million. That solved a lot of issues by signing Furcal( good ss, good speed, good left handed bat and lead off hitter). Then move Guillen ( surely his body will hold up for half a season or so) back to third and Inge behind the plate solves another problem. I would push Putz or Gregg trade especially if it does not cost you Maggs.

2:33 PM 
Anonymous Dave from Waterford said...

I think the Red Wings have to get used to teams coming at them at "full speed" every game because the Wings are the champs and it means so much more for the other teams to knock them off. Once they get that idea in their mind set, I think they will be fine.

6:29 PM 
Blogger Eric Chase said...

Pat - While KRod's lost some MPH's, hasn't he added a changeup to his repertoire? He's prbably not Trevor Hoffman with it, but a 91 mph fastball, a curveball that still has a vicious bite, and an effective changeup is a nice arsenal for any pitcher. And kudos to KRod for being smart enough to realize he needed another pitch, instead of stubbornly trying to "blow" a guy away a heater that just wasn't there anymore.

If you truly want to pick at him, do it for the lack pressure saves he racked up.

Oh, and if you hear anything about the Phillies trying to replace Burrell with Ordonez and his enormous contract, do you what you can to prevent that from coming to fruition. Thanks!

9:29 PM 
Blogger j-thug said...

Pat,

Isnt it amazing how much Rip relied off of the decisions Chauncey made? I dont know what his field goal percentage is without Billups, but Rip has looked simply god awful in the games that he has played with Iverson. The Pistons need to have Rip contribute offensively because that is his role on the team. McDyss cannot come soon enough I'm afraid.

However, I do feel that Iverson has played relatively well so far despite their 1-2 record with him. I just hope Rip can get out of this slump soon or its going to be a long season.

12:49 AM 
Anonymous Hollis Keys said...

Book, the Pistons may have more depth in certain areas but they must get McDyess back because Kwame Brown for lack of a better phrase is stealing money. The Pistons rebounding is woefully inadequate when Amir Johnson is not in the game and he is. He looks lost, tries to rebound with one hand, doesn't know how to block out, cannot make free throws or a jumper, slow as a turtle on his defensive rotations and his pick setting is atrocious. Hopefully Joe Dumars is travelling with the team to watch him and the sooner he is gone the better the Pistons depth will be if they get McDyess back.

10:59 AM 
Blogger Pat Caputo said...

dee,
Ryan didn't look like a bonafide major league catcher last season. If the Tigers trade Mags for "young arms" That's a sign they have given up on next season. They need pitching now.
Caputo

5:11 PM 
Blogger Pat Caputo said...

Fred Brill,
It is about the bullpen more than anything else. To me, tradiing Ordonez doesn't make sense unless you get a front line starting pitcher or catcher for him. Don't see that happening.
Caputo

5:12 PM 
Blogger Pat Caputo said...

Barry,
Some guys just lose the zip in their arm, but don't necessarily have shoulder problems. Hoffman, to me, would be a disaster in the American League. He throws in the low 80s now and would get clobbered in the AL. More than anything else, they need Ryan Perry to develop quickly.
Caputo

5:15 PM 
Blogger Pat Caputo said...

dave from waterford,
I'm not sure if the Red Wings could play worse than they have so far this season - and they still have a teriffic record. That says a lotabout how great this team can ultimately be.
Caputo

5:17 PM 
Blogger Pat Caputo said...

eric chase,
My point is that while K-Rod still will be an effective closer, it may not be to the level in the past - when he was the very best. I'm not sure he'd worth the megabucks he is going to get on the open market.
Caputo

5:19 PM 
Blogger Pat Caputo said...

j-thug,
That's a valid point. Billups and Hamilton weren't that good until they played together. It's possible they just had a great chemistry between them that won't be duplicated with other players - even as good as Iverson is.
Caputo

5:21 PM 
Blogger Pat Caputo said...

Hollis Keys,
The danger going small lack that is a lack of rebounding. They need Herman, Maxiell, Johnson and Brown to fill specific roles that involve mostly rebounded when it gets to a crisis point.
Caputo

5:22 PM 
Blogger Jim15032 said...

Maggs is a great player, but the Tigers need a SS. If they could get one and keep Maggs, great. But they probably cannot. If there is a GM dumb enought to give up a SS who can field in exchange for Renteria and Sheffield, that would be great, but it would take someone who, like Leyland, thinks those two are still the 1998 versions of themselves. And a good fielding SS who can score a few runs and help generate runs by advancing baserunners would be a vast improvement over Renteria, even if he is below the Mendoza line.

If the Tigers don't get a SS, any pitcher they do get won't be as good as he would be if they do. The Tiger pitchers got a lot better in 2006 when the infield got better. They got progressively worse in 2007 and 2008. Was it just a coincidence that the infielders also got progressively worse?

2:09 AM 

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