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What, exactly, is Lynn Henning smoking?

Look, I hate to call out a guy who I respect, and who I actually think does a generally decent job of being the Tigers beat writer. But today’s column, man… Some of this stuff is just head-scratching.

First off, the fascination with trading Pudge Rodriguez… I just don’t know who else will want him, frankly. With the entry of the Japanese catcher, Johjima, signed by the Mariners, that just made the off-season market for catchers that much more of a buyer’s market. Certainly Henning, as the beat writer, is closer to the team than I and has a better feel for how serious the “trade Pudge” movement might be, but I just don’t see it. Not unless we’re willing to take on someone else’s problem contract, and we’ve already got plenty of those, thanks (not to mention we’re probably considering right now one or two more). I won’t even go into the severe hitting problems Brandon Inge has when wearing the tools of ignorance.

Then there’s the matter of Carlos Pena… Here it is, for the last time: Pena is arbitration-eligible this off-season, as he was last off-season. His salary in 2005 was $2.575 million, and the Tigers, by rule of the collective bargaining agreement, cannot offer more than a 20% reduction of that (or $2.06 million) in arbitration. Any team that Pena might be traded to will be under the same restriction. The team does have a way out of this problem, though: They can refuse to offer a contract for him to the arbitrator by a certain deadline (I think this has been Dec. 20 in the past), and the player becomes a free agent, who can sign for any amount with any team. Other teams are fully aware of this situation. Any of the other 29 GM’s would be foolish to trade for Pena under these circumstances. Pena absolutely will not be traded, he will be non-tendered. Write it down. In ink.

As to the outfield situation, my personal feeling is that Curtis Granderson seems to me like the type of player who is athletic enough to handle center field in his youth, but likely will wind up in a corner outfield position. Regular Tigerblog reader Dan has already expressed his disgust for Jim Leyland’s Nook Logan fascination (and while my opinion of Nook is not as strong as Dan’s, I do agree that we shouldn’t be counting on much from him), but if the purpose of the column is to predict what the Tigers’ off-season might look like, we all have to admit to Henning’s correct assessment that the preferred outfield combination will be Granderson-Logan-Magglio.

Henning does do a good job discussing potential starting pitching candidates in case all efforts to sign or trade for starting pitching fall through. People seem to have suddenly forgotten that Wil Ledezma was supposed to have a bright future, and that he obviously hid an injury through last year’s spring training. Then again, watching him struggle through 10 horrific starts will easily obscure that kind of thing in one’s memory.

Then there’s Roman Colon, who had a fantastic 3.27 ERA as a starter in ’05. That’s better than his distant cousin (OK, I don’t believe there is any relation, actually) Bartolo Colon.

And, of course, we are all aware of the very bright future that Justin Verlander represents.

But, still, that Carlos Pena thing just bothered me. There is zero chance of him being traded before the non-tender deadline. Absolute zero.


I had many of the same feelings, in fact you beat me to the punch. My next post was going to be a point by point response to his column.

Posted by billfer on December 2nd, 2005 at 3:55 pm

I agree with you on the assesment of Pudge, with only the reservation that I think he will revert to normal next year. By normal, I mean close to his mean year not 2004 or 2005. 2004 was a career year for even a superstar and last year he suffered through divorce, steroid rumours, and the collapse of the whole team. Next year, with time off and a better team around him (if nothing more than a health Maggs, Dimtri, and Guillen), he should revert to good All-star numbers, around the value he is being paid at.

What I wonder is why Pena is STILL around? Can’t they just take him off the roster and free that space to save someone from the Rule 5 draft?

Posted by Mike on December 2nd, 2005 at 4:17 pm

I don’t think Pena will be nontendered. I think they will re-sign him before the arbitration deadline similar to last year with Sanchez. They will continue to try to trade either him or Young into spring training. If the log jam still exists as spring training goes along, they might cut him and pay 20% of his salary like they did with Sanchez. The Tigers have always liked Pena and I don’t see him being nontendered.

I agree with you on Rodriguez. I don’t think they can get much for him unless they pick up a bad contract in return. I also would not want to see Inge get moved back to catcher. If they are able to pick up a decent pitcher with a bad contract for Rodriguez, then they may do it but they’ll need to find a catcher some place.

Posted by Lee Panas on December 3rd, 2005 at 9:12 am

I guess there might be some sentiment that Carlos Pena will be cheaper for 2006 than Dmitri Young, and that is most definitely true. However, my comment as to the potential of trading Dmitri Young and keeping Carlos Pena for 2006 mirrors my comments above regarding trading Pudge. Not bloody likely.

As to whether the Tigers will non-tender Pena, I might be predicting that more based on what I would do with him, I’ll admit to that. But I’ll stick to this: No way will any trade happen before the non-tender deadline, because other teams will want some kind of assurance as to where Carlos’ salary will fall next year (although arbitration is always iffy, I’d have to guess that it will fall somewhere in the $2-3 million range).

Posted by jeff k on December 5th, 2005 at 10:44 am

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