What to do? What to do?…. I think we’ve all faced a time in our lives when, for whatever reasons, we had a number of options in front of us, and didn’t know which path to choose. I know I have had times when I wished I had fewer options than what I did, simply because it would make the decision easier. You don’t sleep well, every waking moment is spent considering the options and the consequences. And somewhere deep down, you know there are unanticipated consequences, things you just can’t possibly know. Yet, you worry about that, too, trying to anticipate the unthinkable. It’s your life, and you’re trying to make the best decision possible. It can be a lot of pressure.
I wonder how Dave Dombrowski is sleeping these days. Let’s face it, he’s got to be shopping Rondell White. That one is a no-brainer. Rondell’s trade value is never going to be higher than it is right now. And with Magglio Ordonez coming back, moving Craig Monroe over to left field and keeping Nook Logan’s stellar defense (and whatever offense he provides is gravy) in the lineup makes a ton of sense. But there are (likely) offers on the table that are varied. Do you take the offer from a fellow contending team who is trading strength-for-strength (which is what the Polanco-Urbina trade boiled down to), or do you ship him to (let’s say) Atlanta for some of their premium prospects?
In a way, I would bet that Dombrowski is fervently hoping that Curtis Granderson just continues to muddle along down in Toledo with numbers that look good-not-great… Curtis going on a hot streak would just mess everything up. Wait. Then again, maybe we could send him out to a “seller” team if he picks it up… Hell, we’ve got that Monroe-Logan-Ordonez outfield set for a few years. They can hang in there until the next outfield prospect comes along, right? Or will Curtis start tearing it up for some other team starting immediately after we trade him? I still remember that Randy Johnson trade I made in Montreal… People forget, there was little clue that he was going to The Big Unit or even merely above average at the time of the trade. Hell, he struggled mightily in Seattle for a while before he suddenly figured it out. And let’s not forget that Mark Langston pitched well for us… Jeez, a 2.39 ERA and 12 wins in 24 starts… How can you complain about that? Uh, wait, where was I again? Yeah, Granderson… Mark him as potentially a big part of the 2007 Tigers… And also as a guy who can potentially bring us what we need to get over the top right here in 2005.
And that young pitching… Wow, Verlander and Zumaya are just lighting it up down there, aren’t they? Makes you wonder if some “seller” team might be interested in Wil Ledezma, doesn’t it? Or would a “buyer” team be interested in Mike Maroth? What are each of those teams offering? But we should probably wait and see how Sean Douglass will perform as a fill-in, right? Or are we being offered, in return for Ledezma, a guy who can start for us right now?
We’ve already traded away excess from our bullpen, but it makes you wonder if anybody would be interested in Matt Ginter. Or is one of the contending teams fishing around for a LOOGY? Has anyone else noticed that Vic Darensbourg hasn’t allowed a run in Toledo all year?
Then there is the “X” factor… And here is where his experience in the now-infamous Randy Johnson trade might come in handy… On the day of that trade, Dombrowski’s Expos were at dead-on .500, and it was a little early yet… They were 23-23, and the date was just May 23. The Expos finished up dead-on at .500, too, 81-81, 12 games back of the Cubs in the NL East (and, just for fun, they finished 8 games back of the Padres, who would have been the wild card winner that year, had there been one… For that matter, they would have been only 6 back of the Mets, who would have won the fictional NL East title with the Cubs moved to the imaginary NL Central). So the “X” factor is this: How the big club performs between now and… let’s say about 10 games after the all-star break (that’ll be a touch more than a week before the July 31 trade deadline). Is Magglio back and raking? Is any of the starting pitching on the DL? Is Verlander punishing the Eastern League just like he did the FSL? Is Zumaya ready for the call? Just what are the honest chances that we’ll actually be able to make a race of it for the wild card?
Of course, in years past, Verlander would have been up to Erie by mid-May, Zumaya would have been up to Toledo about now, and Tiger fans would be clamoring for them to get a chance in The Show, because, after all, they couldn’t be much worse than the crap we’re running out there now… But that was years past. Let’s face it, come next year’s spring training, if we do nothing… We’re going to have too much starting pitching. Any GM has to smile at the very thought.
In our lives, we sometimes run into situations where the number of options seems overwhelming. Dombrowski might be feeling a little bit of that right now. On the other hand, I don’t think he thinks of this as a bad thing. Indeed, this is not a bad thing at all. Remember back when we were in the 7th year of Randy Smith’s 5-year plan? Dombrowski is now in his 4th year at the helm (and I suppose you could argue that it’s really only his 3rd, as the 2002 season represented something of a necessary purge of the Randy Smith plan), and I see very positive things for Year 5… And that’s even if you discount what’s happening right now, in Year 4.