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.
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.