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.