With pitchers and catchers reporting in close to a week, I have a few more optimistic pieces planned but I wanted to write one more downer article. Back in 2006, Tigers fans were sky high. While the Tigers fell short of winning the World Series, they put themselves back on the map. Now with that season three seasons removed, I wonder if overachieving (which is safe to say based on what’s happened since) in 2006 actually hurt the Tigers (or rather, forced the front office to go in a direction they shouldn’t have) in the long run.
While the offseason between the 2007 and 2008 seasons pretty much defined this team for years to come, a lot of what happened then was with 2006 as a back drop. The Tigers fell just short in 2007, they signed a big television contract and went out and spent money on the likes of Miguel Cabrera (good), Dontrelle Willis (bad), Brandon Inge (okay), Nate Robertson (bad) and Jeremy Bonderman (good at the time but it’s turned out bad). Those deals have defined the Tigers and it eventually meant the Tigers had to unload Curtis Granderson, Placido Polanco, Edwin Jackson and the front end of their bullpen just to sign Justin Verlander and to keep the rest of the team intact.
The good news is, a lot of the prospects the Tigers gave up over the past few years haven’t worked out for the other team. Andrew Miller has had a rough time and Cameron Maybin hasn’t lived up to his potential. Jair Jurrjens is the one guy who the Tigers probably wish they could have back. The deal that got everything going after 2006 which brought Gary Sheffield to town hasn’t lost the Tigers much either. Humberto Sanchez has been injured most of the time and unproductive the rest of the time, while Anthony Claggett hasn’t done much. Kevin Whelan looks like he has some potential but he still hasn’t pitched a major league inning and he just turned 26.
I’m bouncing around here, but it’s tough to tell. The Tigers should have made the playoffs since 2006 but they haven’t. The guys they’ve brought in haven’t gotten it done but the prospects they’ve given up along the way haven’t lit the world on fire either (at least not yet). And the Tigers set a couple of attendance records along the way. The big negative is that the Tigers have spent a ton of cash, have little to show for it, and now the Tigers put themselves into a situation where they had to do a little dismantling just to keep their franchise player. It’s easy when you have hindsight though.