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Tigers Offseason:Pitching Targets

With the decision to pick up the option on Ugueth Urbina’s contract this weekend, the Tigers targeted priority to bolster their pitching staff is becoming a little clearer. Earlier in the offseason, they also resigned Jamie Walker. The bullpen has often been mentioned as the area where the team likely would place most of it’s attention for improvement. It seems likely that Al Levine will not be back and it is questionable that Detroit’s other Stevie Y, Esteban Yan, will be return. Where it becomes muddled is what the designated roles for Nate Robertson, Jason Johnson, and Gary Knotts will be? The Tigers will also have to look at the continuing development of Franklyn German, Roberto Novoa, and Steve Colyer and the potential roles they may have on the club. They will also have to plan for the impending return from arm surgery of Fernando Rodney. I would be quite surprised if John Ennis or Craig Dingman have many more opportunities to pitch in Detroit, unless the team suffers from more injuries among their pitchers.

In my eyes, I would re-sign the relatively cheap Esteban Yan. My next move would be to relegate either Jason Johnson or Nate Robertson to the pen. Robertson’s strike out numbers (7.09 K/9) and make-up seems to translate into him having a better chance of performing well in this role. In regards to Johnson, with his stamina issues and overall poor pitching, he will remain an enigma (and unfortunately in the starting rotation) for the duration of the offseason. Presuming they do not trade Mike Maroth, the team has 4 starters (2 Left-handers and 2 Right-Handers). The bullpen, with Nate Robertson’s inclusion (however ridiculous it may seem) and Esteban Yan’s re-signing have 5 of it’s six spots filled. It would seem likely then, that Dombrowski would be searching for a #1 or #2 starter and a primary set-up man. Here are some potential relievers:

Player/ APP/ IP/ W/L/ SV/ BS/ ERA/
Steve Reed 65/ 66.0/ 3-8/ 0/ 4/ 3.68/
Jim Mecir 65/ 47.2/ 0-5/ 2/ 5/ 3.83/
A. Alfonseca 79/ 73.2/ 6-4/ 0/ 1/ 2.57/
Dan Miceli 74/ 77.2/ 6-6/ 2/ 6/ 3.59/
Todd Jones 78/ 82.1/ 11-5/ 2/ 6/ 4.15/
Antonio Osuna 31/ 36.2/ 2-1/ 0/ 2/ 2.45/
Dave Burba 47/ 77.0/ 6-9/ 2/ 3/ 4.21/
Terry Adams 61/ 70.0/ 6-4/ 3/ 3/ 4.76/

K/9/ BB/9/ H/9/ HR/9/ WHIP/ OppOPS/
Steve Reed 5.18/ 2.32/ 9.82/ 0.95/ 1.35/ .756/
Jim Mecir 9.25/ 3.59/ 8.50/ 0.95/ 1.34/ .678/
Alfonseca 5.50/ 3.42/ 8.67/ 0.61/ 1.34/ .671/
Dan Miceli 9.62/ 3.13/ 8.58/ 1.17/ 1.30/ .706/
Todd Jones 6.45/ 3.61/ 9.18/ 0.77/ 1.42/ .742/
Antonio Osuna8.84/ 2.7/ 7.85/ 0.75/ 1.17/ .653/
Dave Burba 5.84/3.04/ 8.18/ 0.82/ 1.25/ .675/
Terry Adams 7.20/ 3.6/ 10.8/ 1.29/ 1.6/ .821/

Adams 1.91/
Mecir 1.53/
Alfonseca 2.23/

I have included these pitchers because have all served this role in the past and all within the realm of affordability for the Tigers. I selected players who could handle pitching with runners on base (low HR/9 or high number of ground ball to fly ball outs(G/F)) because in a lot of cases they will be coming into situations with runners on base. The Tiger starters have relatively high WHIP’s and none with the possible exception of Bonderman are “power pitchers” who rack up a lot of strikeouts, so relievers inherit a lot of base runners. I wonder if Miceli and Jones’ former Tiger experience would disqualify them from this list? I think the year that Antonio Alfonseca had last season warrants serious consideration as a potential acquisition. He has some closing experience, which would also seem to be a necessary pre-requisite to being signed (in case of injury or poor performance by U.U. Urbina). I also would derive a great deal of enjoyment from the signing of Alfonseca because I would never grow tired of discussions about the extra appendages on his hands!

In regards to starters, I think it would be beneficial for the Tigers to pursue a number one starter. Assuming they would unable to afford Pedro Martinez or an exciting young pitcher like Carl Pavano, and the general lack of quality power pitchers (Dombrowski preferred starters of choice) I think the Tigers would be best served by starters who also get a lot of ground ball outs. I think this is why there has been so much speculation locally and nationally about the return to Michigan of Derek Lowe. It would be appear to be a natural fit, except for the fact that his postseason performance will probably increase his desirability (and price tag $) for teams who believe they will be playoff contenders. Lowe had a relatively poor regular season but I believe his past performance still may drive him out of the Tigers price range.
Here are Lowe’s stats and a few others who I believe warrant consideration:

Player/ W-L/ QS/ QS%/ ERA/ CG/ IP/
Lowe 14-12 12/ 36/ 5.42/ 0/ 182.2/
Radke 11-8/ 24/ 71/ 3.48/ 1/ 219.2/
(Radke could also be out of the team’s price range)
C.Lidle 12-12/ 17/ 50/ 5.37/ 5/ 211.1/
M.Morris 15-10/ 16/ 50/ 4.72/ 3/ 202.0/
J.Lieber 14-8/ 16/ 59/ 4.33/ 0/ 176.2/
P.Byrd 8-7/ 11/ 58/ 3.99/ 0/ 114.1/

K/9/ BB/9/ H/9/ HR/9 WHIP/ oppBA/ oppOPS/
Lowe 5.17/ 3.5/ 11.04/ 0.74/ 1.62/ .299/ .790/
Radke 5.86/ 1.07/ 9.38/ 0.94/ 1.16/ .267/ .684/
Lidle 5.37/ 2.6/ 9.54/ 1.15/ 1.35/ .273/ .777/
Morris 5.84/ 2.5/ 9.13/ 1.56/ 1.29/ .266/ .776/
Lieber 5.2/ 0.92/ 11.00/ 1.02/ 1.32/ .301/ .759/
Byrd 6.22/ 1.5/ 9.68/ 1.42/ 1.24/ .270/ .749/

Lowe 3.25/
Lidle 1.47/
Morris 1.76/
Lieber 1.40/

I would personally prefer Radke, but if it came down to it I think Matt Morris or Jon Lieber would be wise additions to the club. I think Matt Morris’s HR/9 would come down in Comerica. At any rate, between relievers and starters it has become essential that they also add a very good fielding Third basemen (Brandon Inge?) and hope that Carlos Guillen recovers his range and fielding ability at Shortstop.

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