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Analysis on the Probability of Standing Pat

This is it. Here we go. As the calendar winds its way toward July 31, it’s all trade talk, all the time. What will the Tigers do? My own theory is that we’ll mostly stand pat. Why? Well, the team has hit a slump and just can’t seem to put much, if any, distance between them and a .500 record (well, not on the right side of a .500 record, anyways). So, logically, that would make us “sellers” in a potential trade market. For my next few turns, I’ll take a look at just what we have to offer. Today, the infield:

C: Ivan Rodriguez — Somewhat of an untradeable contract (especially for a catcher at age 33), and hasn’t been playing well to boot: at 4.59 Runs Created per 27 Outs (RC27), he’s ahead of only Nook Logan among Tigers who have qualifying plate appearance totals. Here’s another trade-killer… Let’s say a contending team does want him. We’ll need a major-league quality catcher in return. Our minor league system is bereft of quality catching, especially at the upper levels. I suppose one could argue that Max St. Pierre is finally hitting, but is doing so at age 25 in his third try at AA. Nobody will want Vance Wilson the way he’s been going. I’m not even sure we really much want him. Speaking of which, have you seen what Anderson Hernandez has been up to?

1B/DH: Chris Shelton — Young (turned 25 this summer), not yet arb-eligible, and hitting up a storm (a whopping 9.32 RC27, which would place him atop the league if only he had enough plate appearances to qualify) after his lost Rule V season. Not going anywhere. As close to untouchable as it gets, though if you really want to offer us 3 premium prospects (at least one of which is ready right now) or the like for him… And who’s going to do that for a guy that has a… less-than-stellar (and I’m being kind, here) defensive reputation?

1B/DH: Carlos Pena — As bad as he was earlier in the season (a woeful 2.90 RC27), dude is flat-out raking down at Toledo. As much of a disappointment as he was in the Olde English D, the Toledo numbers make you wonder if he has found it again at the age of 27. In fact, he might make some excellent trade bait, assuming we’re looking to buy instead of sell.

1B/DH: Dmitri Young — He’s kind of on the border of whether he would be on the next significant Tiger team at the age of 31 (turns 32 shortly after the end of the season). Making far too much money for his output and relatively poor defense (he’s pretty much down to 1st base duties only), and I recently learned that his 2006 season vests with 500 plate appearances in 2005. Believe me, I am not above rooting for an injury. Furthermore, he stinks right now: a 4.74 RC27, including an odious .309 OBP. His RC27 number is only that high because of his recent penchant for 400+ foot bombs on his one hit he gets in every dozen at-bats or so. He has improved lately (1167 OPS in the last 7 days), but he’s currently at 333 PA… Count me in as pulling for a pull, if you know what I mean.

2B: Placido Polanco — Might be the perfect Comerica-type player, and he won’t turn 30 until shortly after the regular season… Hits line drives, isn’t swinging for the fences on every at-bat… Has compiled a 6.71 RC27 since the trade, and was at 6.01 with the Phils. Word is that the Tigers brass would like to ink him to a Carlos Guillen-like deal… I like the idea of that. However, he might make for some fine trade bait if the Tigers feel like they’re not going to retain him in the off-season, as he is in his “walk year”. If they do sign him to a reasonable deal, he might well find himself in a “sell” trade as the deal draws to a close (see Carlos Guillen comments below).

2B/SS/possible utility role: Omar Infante — Showed a lot of promise last year after quite a down year in 2003, but has lost his job by not keeping it going… His RC27 in 2003 was 2.39, spiked to 5.01 last year, and currently sits at 3.57. On the other hand, he does have the age thing going for him (he’s just 23). If we sign Polanco to an extension or at least have indications that such a deal is close, Infante might be bait for a buying trade.

3B: Brandon Inge — Not yet arb-eligible (and is 28 years old), and his bat has made an amazing transformation since his conversion from catcher… His RC27 in his years playing primarily as a catcher: 1.64, 2.82, 2.78. In the 2 years since then: 5.43 and currently 5.90. To my mind, he’s not going anywhere, but on the other hand, he might be in the “Jeff Weaver role” as the Tiger who can get the most value in return in a “sell” trade. Could Infante play third if we did that?

SS: Carlos Guillen — Age 29 and signed to a very reasonable 4-year deal last year. Had a breakout season at 7.60 RC27 after spending 4 consecutive years in the 4’s. It looks like the improvement was genuine, as he is currently at 7.00 despite battling a knee recovering from surgery all season. About as untouchable as any Tiger, but I do wonder about his age a bit. He is one of the older players on this list, and there does seem to be a replacement there in Infante. Probably not this year, but I could see him going in a “sell” trade near the end of his contract. On the other hand, I would hope that by the end of his contract, the Tigers will be in “buy” mode.

Why is Thames still in the minors? Have you seen what the guy is doing to AAA pitching?

Posted by Dan on July 15th, 2005 at 3:52 pm

I agree dan. If Pena is “flat-out raking” then Thames must be flat out destroying. Pena has been given a long long look at the major league level. Thames hasnt been given hat chance. he has been written off. Why not call him up and plunk him in left field and say, here are 200 at bats… lets see what you can do. at worst he would be the same as monroe. but i feel he is much much more … but we might never know… i honestly think trammell doesnt like him. Maybe if he steals a belt in the off season he will gain some street cred…

Posted by Michael on July 15th, 2005 at 3:59 pm

Geez, dude… Outfield was gonna be next… Marcus Thames has this reputation. They call it “Four-A”. He amassed a 3.44 RC27 in his big-league stint earlier in the year, including a sparkling .255 OBP. Last year’s performance was much better at 5.70 RC27 and a .326 OBP. Might make for a nice hitter for the lower part of the order, but he seems to get rusty with inactivity… I think he was used more infrequently this year than last year. Check out his career numbers: .239 BA/.313 OBP/.442 SLG. In the modern game, is there room for a Dave Kingman clone?

Posted by jeff k on July 15th, 2005 at 4:00 pm

My bad… That was his career numbers without ’05. It’s actually .226/.299/.435.

For comparison, Dave Kingman finished with .236/.302/.478.

Posted by jeff k on July 15th, 2005 at 4:05 pm

Jeff i wasnt questioning why you didnt include Thames on your list. if I’m rubbing you the wrong way then i will not post. I agree that Thames gets rusty with inactivity but that can easily be cured with ACTIVITY. With Activity Thames has been consistant…consistantly hitting. It makes no sense to let someone put up those numbers in the minors. its a waste for someone to hit 20-30 homers in the minors. sooner or later someone is going to give thames 200 consistent at bats, I would just hope its the Tigers because i think given those at bats Thames will prve himself. But then whatt the hell do I know. I just look things up for a living. Im going to take a break from posting.

Posted by michael on July 15th, 2005 at 4:09 pm

Monroe’s 2004 stats were .293 /.337 /.488, and this year they are .282/.327/.448. Thames hit the ball very well all spring, and he continues to destroy the ball in AAA. Mike is not saying that Thames is going to be elected to the Hall of Fame. He’s saying that he’s earned a string of at bats that aren’t intermittent, and I agree. He’s 28 years old, his walk rate has suddenly gone way up, and he’s hitting a homer every 9 at bats or so. Maybe he’s Dave Kingman, but maybe not. We have a chance to find out. For Pena, a player who has pretty much never been adequate and is roughly the same age as Thames, you use 138 at bats in AAA as evidence that he might have figured something out, but you’re ready to call Thames’s .404/.484/.853 (NOT counting a month of mashing in the spring) a good month far Dave Kingman. Now, you give me a good reason why we can’t afford to find out. Our chance at the wild card? Thames killed the ball all spring and wasn’t invited north because we had to bring our completely useless, white, goateed “team leader” instead. Then we bring up Alexis Gomez instead of Thames .800+ slugging percentage. That’s not how you run a baseball team.

Posted by Dan on July 15th, 2005 at 4:23 pm

Nah, dude… I was just kidding. If anything, you’ve really pumped this place up with energy…

I look things up, too. Marcus Thames’ game-by-game log from last year:


Look at July… Missed 7 games all month, and he slammed out an 1141 OPS on the month. In August, played in 14 games, was held out of 14 games, OPS of 477. In September, held out of 8 games, OPS of 801… If I had enough time to combine his 3000 OPS in October into his September figures, it would probably show he was pretty bitchin’ in the month-plus. If I were Marcus, I’d be pulling for a pull… or two.

Posted by jeff k on July 15th, 2005 at 4:23 pm

Well now its a pull or four or Five… he not only has to wait behind Gomez, but Hooper as well! Hooper!

Posted by Michael on July 15th, 2005 at 4:26 pm

I have to agree, calling up Hooper seemed odd… I guess the thought was that we sent down Jason Smith, so we wanted someone who could play infield… I don’t think Hooper has seen the infield yet.

Here’s hoping Dmitri Young in LF isn’t an adventure tonight.

But, seriously, what Thames needs is to be called up with the absolute intent to start a long stretch. For instance, let’s say we discover Rondell’s shoulder needs surgery, I’d be in favor of sending down Logan, bringing up Thames and seeing what an outfield of Thames-Monroe-Magglio can do.

Posted by jeff k on July 15th, 2005 at 4:33 pm

Well, I suppose I should reveal it… My full intent was to make a play on words and point out that Pena is raking against AAA pitching, but Thames is just plain raping AAA pitching.

Posted by jeff k on July 15th, 2005 at 4:35 pm

Whoa, Jeff, that’s late night!

That was the point, that Thames needs a bunch of at bats to see if this is for real. If you bring up Gomez and all these other stiffs, it sends a bad message to the guy in AAA who is slugging .850 and who is blocked by a .320 OBP belt thief. It really does.

I think you play him instead of Monroe. At worst he will probably be about as good as Monroe. As long as you aren’t using Monroe in center, bring Thames up to take his place. The guy might go nuts and hit 20 homers this year. It’s worth finding out.

Posted by Dan on July 15th, 2005 at 4:40 pm

I think that must be what they’re telling Marcus… That they sent him down to get consistent at-bats (actually, Tram was quoted in the papers about this at the time he was sent down)… And that they keep calling up other guys because it’s just for temp assignments.

Again, the Hooper call-up… I just can’t defend that one, especially if they’re not going to play him on the infield.

Posted by jeff k on July 15th, 2005 at 4:52 pm

I agree with you about Hooper.

As for Thames, I’m saying that Monroe has shown what he’s going to give us, and it’s inadequate.

Posted by Dan on July 15th, 2005 at 5:14 pm

OK they need to sign farnsworth right now! wow!

Posted by Michael on July 16th, 2005 at 9:53 pm

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