This may have been my biggest drought yet. In my defense, the Tigers haven’t been doing much so my usual “I’m really busy” note can take a back seat to the fact that the Tigers have been so quiet. We have a little more then a month to go until pitchers and catchers report and the biggest move the Tigers have made was Octavio Dotel. Yawn (although any help to the pen is a good thing, it just doesn’t excite me).
There were some rumors thrown around that the Tigers were looking at a trade for Matt Garza that would have included Jacob Turner. Jacob Turner has been showing up in the top ten of a lot of MLB prospect lists so you have to be careful but you don’t have to look too much further then Andrew Miller to realize that sometimes a known commodity is better then the potential prospect. Turner is a lot younger then Miller was back then and he’s shown his stuff in the minors so I don’t want to deal him out of hand but Matt Garza had a really nice year for the Cubs last year and he’ll really help shore up the pen. It’s the cost that’s the big factor though because Garza is getting close to free agency where as we’d have Turner locked up for three years before we even had to consider arbitration.
The Tigers also seem to be major players in the Yoenis Cespedes sweepstakes. The Marlins appear to be the front runner but it’s not that the Tigers aren’t trying and I’ve seen $50 million as a number that’s been thrown around. Right now Cespedes has been showing his stuff in the Dominican Winter League and it looks like he might be granted free agency at any time. I’ve talked about how I’m not really high on Delmon Young and if Cespedes lives up to his billing, he should be a nice upgrade.
Right now, I’m just excited for some baseball. Late February can’t get here fast enough.
The Tigers are wrapping a one year deal for right handed relief pitcher Octavio Dotel. Details (when we know) and analysis (when I have time) will be coming soon.
Outside of signing Ramon Santiago to a two-year deal, the Tigers have been fairly quiet this winter. I haven’t seen anything official but it looks like the Tigers aren’t going to be a mover or a shaker at this years winter meeting. Rather then signing a second baseman, it sounds like they’re going to go with a Ramon Santiago/Ryan Raburn platoon. Third base we’ll see Don Kelly/Brandon Inge. At times, especially late in the season, this looked like a good idea. You have your better hitters with their defensive replacements that can come in late to lock down the game. Still, we’ll see how this works for 162 games.
I’ve heard a lot of names that the Tigers are interested. Octavio Dotel, Aramis Ramirez and Mark Buehrle have all been mentioned. I like Buehrle and think he’d be a huge addition but it looks like the Tigers are looking for something different. Of course what the team says and what they do are two different things. For now, it sounds like Jacob Turner is going to head the list for that final rotation spot until or if the Tigers sign someone else.
The Tigers outrighted Ryan Strieby. This guy can mash but his wrists have been a problem. Now he’s 26 and he’s looking more like a career minor league hitter like Mike Hessman. This opens up a roster spot so if the Tigers decide to pull the trigger on a Rule 5 pick, they’ll have a spot open.
One of the Tigers biggest needs this off season is to fill the hole at second base. Aaron Hill was one of the names thrown and he’s now re-signed with the Diamondbacks and Jamey Carroll signed with the Twins. So there’s little surprise that Jon Paul Morosi broke a story that the Tigers were looking to deal Delmon Young for a second baseman. The guy who’s name is being thrown around is Martin Prado.
I know he had a decent post-season but I’ve never been high on Delmon Young. I think his stock is a little higher then when they picked him up and if he can be the cornerstone of a trade to get a good second baseman, I’d be all for it. Prado reminds me a little bit of Placido Polanco. Not a lot of strikeouts and while he has some extra base power, it’s mostly doubles. The downsides are, he’s coming off an off year and he’s probably due for a bigger pay check here soon because he’s entering his second year of arbitration.
Of course if the Tigers decide to stay with what they have, you’re probably looking at a Danny Worth/Wil Rhymes/Brandon Douglas/Ramon Santiago mish mash. Leyland already said that Ryan Raburn isn’t the answer at second base. Kelly Johnson is still out there though and if they wanted more of a bargain, there’s guys like Felipe Lopez, Aaron Miles, Adam Kennedy and Julio Lugo out there.
MiLB.com has kicked off their organizational All Stars series and the Tigers review went live over the weekend. The Tigers farm system is still pretty thin from all of the trades they’ve made since their last World Series appearance in 2006 but there’s still a few people to get excited about. I mentioned Brandon Douglas over the weekend at second base and he shows up here. A few people have also asked me if the Tigers might go after Aramis Ramirez but I think Nick Castellanos is a reason why the Tigers might hold off replacing Brandon Inge to see if he’s the third baseman of the future.
Of course then you have guys like Timo Perez, who had nice seasons in the minors but who are a decade past their prospect status. Anyway, it’s a good read but I didn’t recognize the author’s name. Then again, I haven’t stayed with a lot of this stuff so Ashley may have been with the team for a while now.
Alright, free agent season is upon us. The Tigers were a couple of wins away from a World Series appearance and most of their key players will be back this year. Still, Dave Dombrowski has some work to do because the Tigers had some serious holes come playoff time. Let’s take a look…..
Catcher – Alex Avila is the starter for sure as he should be after an awesome season but he just seemed to hit a wall. While his September wasn’t awful, he did have his second worst slugging month and then he laid an egg in the postseason. I think a big reason behind this is because he was catching every game down the stretch. One guy that comes to mind if we can get him for the right price is Ivan Rodriguez but there’s plenty of guys out there who could fill this role and not hit the pocket book to hard.
Second base – This one is going to be tricky. The Tigers will most likely bring back Ramon Santiago but he’ll be a utility infielder again. I’m not sure if they’re willing to give Wil Rhymes another go but he may not be a bad choice and I don’t think Ryan Raburn is the answer either. I’ve heard Aaron Hill’s name tossed around and that wouldn’t be bad if we again, get him at the right price. If they look within, there’s also Danny Worth and coming soon will be Brandon Douglas, who had a decent season at Erie.
Right Field – I haven’t heard much as to whether Brennan Boesch will be ready to play on opening day or not so this is a spot the Tigers have to think about. My guess is, this is one of the last spots they fill as they see how some of their farm hands do in spring training as well as monitoring Boesch’s progress. If they want to make a big splash, Carlos Beltran is out there and a second tier guy is Michael Cuddyer. If the Tigers wanted to go with a cheaper Free Agent option, David DeJesus might not be a bad guy to pick up if you assume 2011 was a blip. Jason Kubel was hurt last year but he may be another guy the Tigers look at although having him in right and Young in left would mean Austin Jackson would have his work cut out for him.
Fifth Starter – This may end up being Jacob Turner but the Tigers may sign another guy like Brad Penny (not him, but an older, veteran guy) to a one year deal. A guy who might make sense if you figure Turner is there to fill in would be Erik Bedard although he may be looking for a longer term deal.
Middle Relief – Lots of options here. Frank Francisco would make a nice addition but there’s plenty of guys the Tigers should be looking to fill in those spots where they didn’t have help in the post season.
So it should be a fun free agent season. Barring a big trade which I don’t see, the Tigers won’t be picking up any of the big guns but there should definitely be some activity.
The list of Type A and Type B free agents was put out today and while this shouldn’t come as a huge surprise, there’s not many Tigers on the list. The Tigers have no Type A free agents and the lone Type B free agents are Wilson Betemit and Magglio Ordonez. I highly doubt Magglio Ordonez gets offered arbitration and I’m guessing with Brandon Inge already locked up for another year and guys like Don Kelly who can fill in when Inge is hurt (or bad) that Betemit isn’t offered it either.
Of course the Tigers should be buyers this off season so this list is important for a different reason. Namely, the Tigers could potentially lose a pick or two depending on what they end up doing and who they pick up.
Not to get too personal, but I went through a divorce late 2010/early 2011 (this is a segue so bear with me). In the divorce, I got to keep the house. While there were some personal reasons I wanted to keep it (I like it and it’s the only house my son has ever lived in and he went through enough stuff), there was also one selfish reason. Namely, the thought of packing up and moving seemed like such an utter pain that it influenced my decision. In a lot of ways, I liken this to the Tigers picking up Jose Valverde. While I haven’t gone out and checked which closers are going to be on the market, I’m pretty sure the Tigers could have gotten someone better for $9 million. It’s just they’d have to take their chances that Valverde wouldn’t take arbitration and then go out and spend their energy on picking up a new guy. Instead, they took the easy (and popular) choice and just overpaid for Valverde.
I like Jose Valverde. He’s entertaining and he does his job. He’s also a solid pitcher who had a decent, if fluky season. The fact that he might get Cy Young votes though is laughable. Strip away the saves (I’ll get to that in a minute) and Valverde’s numbers are good but definitely not elite. If you look at the closers behind him in saves, you could argue that Mariano Rivera was way better then Valverde this year and you could also argue that Valverde wasn’t even the best reliever on his team. Joaquin Benoit and for a while Al Alburquerque were both more effective.
While there’s a lot of stats out there that are deceiving (and I’ve made this rant before), the save has to be the least useful. I mean, Todd Jones has led the league in saves before. And while it still irks me that managers work their bullpen around this stupid statistic, the fact that many base the effectiveness of a closer on it is equally annoying.
So in short, I think the Tigers could have saved some money (or gotten a better pitcher for their money) by going to the market but I’m also not going to get all worked up about it because it’s probably not that big of a difference if they had and I can sympathize with why they did what they did.