The not so hot stove

The Tigers have really tried to be active this offseason. They’ve made competitive offers, if the reports have been true, to a number of guys. But although they’ve competed, they just haven’t come out on top. Sounds a lot like the Lions doesn’t it? However, even with missing on Glaus, Finley, Koskie, and Pavano the team isn’t in a bad position yet. Let’s go player by player and look at what’s been happening.

Carl Pavano
The Tigers really, really wanted Pavano. It sounds like they even offered a 5th year, and comparable money to what Pavano signed for with the Yankees. The thing with Pavano, is that he has been an average pitcher until last year. And his peripheral stats didn’t really improve that much. There is a good chance that last year could have been a fluke. While I would have been excited to see him come to Detroit, it isn’t the end of the world. What becomes more interesting is the fallback plan which brings us to…

Derek Lowe
It sounds like the Tigers are the only team interested in Lowe. What’s troubling is that I can’t figure out why the Tigers are even interested. A two year $10 million dollar contract would be palatable, but he’ll probably get something in the neighborhood of 3/21 that all the other mediocre pitchers are getting. My question is who gets bumped from the rotation and why? Here are the numbers for the Tigers starters (I stuck Ledezma in there because he’s slated to be the 5th guy right now) from last year and Lowe:

Player	        Age	 IP	 ERA	H/9	BB/9	K/9
Maroth 27 217.3 4.31 10.1 2.4 4.5
Bonderman 22 184 4.89 8.2 3.6 8.2
Ledezma 23 41.3 3.92 8.6 2.9 5.0
Johnson 31 196.7 5.13 10.2 2.8 5.7
Robertson 27 190.7 5.05 9.8 2.9 6.9

Lowe 31 182.7 5.42 11.0 3.5 5.2

Maybe you could make a case for taking Johnson out, but you only owe him $3 million for one more year. Lowe would come with more years and twice the dollars. I just don’t get it. Now it’s rumored that the Tigers are also interested in…

Odalis Perez
Now here is somebody I would wholeheartedly support, even at the 3/21 contract. These numbers are much more impressive than what Lowe would bring.

Player	Age	IP	ERA	H/9	BB/9	K/9
Perez 27 196.3 3.25 8.3 2.0 5.9

Now Perez’s K rate dropped from his career average of 6.5 last year. Hopefully it is an anomaly and not the beginning of a trend. That being said, Perez would be moving from one pitchers park to another so the number shouldn’t explode for him. Even taking into account facing a DH instead of a pitcher, an ERA around 4.00 is still plausible and an improvement for the Tigers. The tricky thing becomes how many lefthanders do you want in the rotation? Maroth would probably be traded, or Robertson/Ledezma moved to the pen (which would bolster the pen as well).

Unfortunately with Pedro likely to sign with the Mets, Perez will be a target for Boston as well. Boston is also reported to be interested in Clement. Strangely the Tigers don’t seem to have an interest in Clement, and it sounds like he is going to Anaheim.

So those are the top pitching targets, but what about fixing centerfield with…

J.D. Drew
The Tigers seem to be in serious contention for Drew. Playing his first injury free season, Drew put up big numbers for the Braves last year. He hit .304/.436/.569 with 31 home runs. Drew has the bat and glove to play either in center or at the corner outfield positions. This makes for some nice flexiblity and gives Curtis Granderson one more year to develop. The only knock on Drew is that he’s 29 and has only played 135 games in a season 3 times. Four years and forty would be a risk, but much less of a risk than 7 and 90 or whatever Beltran’s price will be.

Now to fix the infield the Tigers had been looking at…

Corey Koskie and Troy Glaus
With Troy Glaus, there is no way the Tigers should have tried to match/beat the 4/45 that Glaus got from Arizona. On the other hand Koskie would have been a nice addition at $6 million per year. While I initially balked at that cost, it seems affordable given where the market is going.

One third baseman that hasn’t signed yet is…

Adrian Beltre
The Dodgers and Mariners seem to be serious suitors for Beltre, and I hope the Tigers are in there as well. With the Dogers, it sounds like they maybe ready to let him go, as evidenced by LA’s signing of Kent and interest in Koskie. It seems like the M’s, Dodgers, and Tigers are the teams really trying to get a third baseman. I wouldn’t be afraid to offer 5/60 to get Beltre. Any player that can put up the numbers he did at 25, and play good defense is worth the risk.

But if the Tigers can’t get a third baseman they could always move Guillen to third to make room for…

Edgar Renteria
I don’t like this. I like the idea of finding an alternative to finding a free agent 3B, but I don’t like Renteria at his price (4/36). While Renteria has won 2 gold gloves, you should never judge a player based on gold gloves. Guillen was a better fielder at short last year than Renteria. If Renteria can hit like he did in 2002-2003 that would be great. However, his numbers last year weren’t overwhelming (.287/.327/.401) and certainly wouldn’t warrant $9 million a year.

UPDATE: Just to further illustrate, Renteria’s VORP last year was 27.3. Brandon Inge’s was 23.3. That’s quite the marginal upgrade for a $36 million commitment. Now Renteria has had better seasons while that was Inge’s best season. However, given the price disparity I just don’t see how this makes sense.

So while some targets are off the board, the Tigers still have a number of options out there to put together a much improved team.

6 thoughts on “The not so hot stove”

  1. From Insider’s Rumor Central:

    Dec. 13 – Derek Lowe has drawn a lot of interest from the Tigers. The Scott Boras client reportedly is seeking a four-year, $48 million contract, The Hartford Courant reports.

    Although the Red Sox offered Lowe salary arbitration, there have been few indications he is a priority for the team. The right-hander didn’t attend a celebration of their championship on Dec. 6 in Fort Myers, Fla., where he lives and where the team holds spring training.

    “That’s unfortunate,” said GM Theo Epstein, who believes Lowe was invited. “Derek was a huge part of our 2004 year and has been a terrific contributor to the organization for many years and, as of right now, he’s still very much part of the Red Sox.”

    12m is way too much for D-Lowe. I’ve got a real dilemma with him, though. I’ve mentioned before that I also closely follow the Red Sox and he’s had two mediocre seasons in a row. But he’s also a huge gamer who feels like it’s his job to go out there and win the game every time he takes the mound.

    One thing learned from the 2004 Sox – strong infield defense is a must with him. I’m not sure the Tigers can guarantee that.

  2. I think Jeter winning the gold glove pretty much ruined that award, if it wasn’t ruined already.

    If you look at Renteria’s fielding runs above average over at BP, you’ll find them pretty average, even in the seasons he won those gold gloves.

    And if we’re interested in Rentaria, why not Cabrerra? He’s a much better fielder, without the hyped up bat.

  3. The St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports today that Renteria isn’t really interested in signing with the Tigers. I like your thoughts Brian, Cabrera would be a great, more affordable alternative.

    Perez is definitely the choice over Lowe. Moving Nate to the pen wouldn’t be a bad move.

    Also, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution is reporting that something is cooking with the Braves and Urbina????

  4. Re: Billfer’s comments on Perez and his “left-handedness” – how about moving the LF fence back to its original distance and keeping a couple lefties in the rotation? 🙂

  5. I agree with you on the topic of Derek Lowe. I cannot see why anyone would give him the kind of money he is asking for. He’s getting older, and his numbers are starting to decline. A 5.42 ERA in 2004 doesn’t command a $12 million salary in 2005, 2006, 2007, and 2008. It commands a $1 million salary. I think Lowe is worth more than $1 million, certainly not anywhere near $12 million.

    I also didn’t like the Renteria idea. It was expensive, and unnecessary. Seemed like a desperation move at best.

    My pipedream is Beltre, will I get it? Doesn’t seem like it.

  6. Derek Lowe is a better setup man than starter. He doesn’t have the stamina to be a starter and AL hitters figure him out after a few at bats during a game. Also, he is headed to the downside of his career. I would be disappointed if we gave him a lot of money to be another J. Johnson or Gullickson(remember him… one good year).

    Perez is ideal for Comerica and the Tigers. He has been hampered by a poor offense and coaching staff. He is young, throws strikes, and only about 7 mill per.

    It would be nice to get Loaiza. Though only if he is cheap.

    Other picthers I would go after are: Terry Adams, Buddy Groom, Antonio Osuna, Steve Kline, and Mulholland to sure up the bullpen one last time.

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