Kenny Rogers the Signer

I wish I could have posted this earlier (darn day job), but as everybody has heard Kenny Rogers is a Detroit Tiger pending a physical. The deal is for $16 million over two year, which is line with other contracts. That said, I’m not thrilled.

Rogers has been fairly durable throwing over 190 innings each of the last 4 years. Last year he did a remarkable job preventing homers (only 15) despite pitching in the launching pad that is Texas. However, he also saw his strikeout rate drop to 4.02/9IP. While I expect the Tigers infield defense to be solid next year, that still amounts to a ton of outs left up to fielders. While his 3.46 ERA last year was impressive, his 4.30 DIPS ERA is rather average. I guess the good news is that the Tigers have two of the best pickoff pitchers (Maroth also) in the majors now.

My other issue with this signing and the to a lesser extent the Todd Jones signing, is the age. Rogers is 41 and Jones will be 38. For a team that was severely hampered by injuries last year, Detroit has increased that the chances of that happening again. Luckily the contracts are short term.

In terms of payroll, the Tigers had approximately $18 million come off the books with the departures of Fernando Vina, Bobby Higginson, Rondell White, and Jason Johnson. With these signings the Tigers are $3-$4 million below last year’s payroll. However, Magglio Ordonez goes to $15 million, and the Tigers contingent of arbitration eligible players are inline for big raises (especially Jeremy Bonderman given the starting pitching contracts). I won’t worry about this too much because so far the Tigers heavy investments the last few years haven’t precluded them for investing in scouting and development, or in purusing additional players.

No Offer for Johnson
In what may be the most disappointing move of the last two days, the Tigers decided not to offer arbitration to Jason Johnson. Johnson was very unlikely to have accepted, and even if he had accepted he would have provided similar production at a simliar price as Kenny Rogers. By failing to offer arbitration the Tigers gave up a shot at an additional first or second round draft pick.

Tiger Town
There’s another new Tiger blog – Tiger Town.

26 Comments

  1. Jeff M

    December 9, 2005 at 9:04 am

    Luckily the contracts are short term.

    I’ll give DD the benefit of the doubt and assume he didn’t need “luck” to decide to keep these contracts short.

    It looks like I’m in the minority, but I kinda like these signings. I like that we’ve shored up the pitching staff for ’06-07 with proven, albeit unspectacular talent. It should help us post respectable records until ’08 when B-V-Z reach their primes.

    There will be a lot of money coming off the books in ’08 and ’09 and the team will hopefully have a better reputation by then, so we should be able to pick up some first tier talent at that point and then make an actual run.

    And remember, it’s the Christmas season, so please don’t ruin my optimism :)

  2. Walt

    December 9, 2005 at 9:27 am

    I think both of these guys will help the younger pitchers. If both of these guys come in and are only as good as the guys they are replacing, I think that the team will still be ahead because there is much that pitchers will learn from them. Plus with Jones, they acquired a good clubhouse guy.

    Walt

  3. Brian A.

    December 9, 2005 at 10:36 am

    I don’t like bringing Rogers in at all. Saying Johnson and Rogers are similar is an understatement; they’re essentially the same! Look at them over the last few years in terms of K9/BB9/HR9

    Johnson

    2003 5.5/3.7/0.9

    2004 5.5/2.3/0.8

    2005 4.2/1.9/0.9

    Rogers

    2003 5.2/2.1/0.9

    2005 5.1/2.4/0.8

    2005 4.2/2.3/0.6

    Unless there’s something we don’t know that johnson wanted out of Detroit or wanted a long-term deal I can’t see how this team is any better off with Rogers than they would have been with Johnson, who of course is 9 years younger.

    And don’t even get me started on Todd Jones. gah.

  4. Jeff M

    December 9, 2005 at 11:03 am

    Brian,

    I think Walt’s point answers your question. Adding some experience to the clubhouse could make a huge difference in the development of the kids, which makes this move an improvement, even if the skill of the rotation hasn’t improved.

    The same may be true (to a lesser extent) in the bullpen.

  5. James

    December 9, 2005 at 11:40 am

    “I don’t like bringing Rogers in at all. Saying Johnson and Rogers are similar is an understatement; they’re essentially the same! Look at them over the last few years in terms of K9/BB9/HR9…I can’t see how this team is any better off with Rogers than they would have been with Johnson”

    I’ll tell you how. Wins and losses. While JJ was with us he didn’t have a winning season. The most wins he had was 8. As long as his record is 14-8, the stats don’t matter. He finds a way to get it done.

    “And don’t even get me started on Todd Jones. gah.”

    What’s wrong with Jones? 40 saves not good enough for ya. So he had a couple of bad years between stints with Detroit. He’s back on track and he’s a better closer than what we got right now.

  6. Mark P

    December 9, 2005 at 11:46 am

    Ya Ha!…the Lions of MLB!

    I can’t believe they signed Kenny Rogers Roasted Chicken, especially for 8 mil per. What a joke! Why would you pay this guy 5.5 mil more than he made last year?! He is an redneck ass. There is no way he will help in the clubhouse. I hope the Tigers have a clause to opt out when he attacks another camera man. As Leyland says in the latest Freep interview, “I’m supposed to be the leader,” he said. The coaches need to be the main leader. If you want a true pitching leader the Tigers should have gone after Orel Hershiser.

    Now to get the stats. Like Brian has pointed out, Rogers is as average as Johnson. If we were going to throw 8.0 per at a pitcher we should have gone after Byrd, who got 7.0 per from the Indians. His is only 35, not 41! Rogers throws the same style as Maroth. What is the point of this; it only helps the opposing team to see the same pitcher twice in a series. How will this help Maroth when he gets shelled? Rogers traditionally blows up after the all star break (career: 2.54 pre, 4.72 post). The theory Comerica will help does not stand up either…his away era last three years is worst than home era., 4.54 and 3.99.

    What is the direction of this organization? Why are we stocking up on overpayed injury prone FAs? Doesn’t DD realize they are not tradable, ie Young, Ordonez, Pudge)? Didn’t we learn from Percival and Vina. We don’t need stop gaps!!!! WE need young development like the A’s, Indians, and White Sox. Until the young talent we do have develops we need to get inexpensive semi-productive talent. Why didn’t we just draft Etherton in the Rule V draft? He did ok last season for the A’s. He can hold the fort until Zumaya comes up around the All star break. I don’t care what old men we sign we will not compete until we can throws strikes and consistenly get on base!!!

    I will rant about Jones later…damn day job is getting in the way.

  7. Brian A.

    December 9, 2005 at 11:57 am

    Jeff – I’ve always felt that the idea of someone being a “clubhouse guy” is rather overrated. Furthermore, I think it’s a pretty big if to expect a 41 year old Rogers to put up numbers right in line with Johnson’s over the next few years.

    James – I quoted K9, BB9, and HR9 because they are the stats that best predict a pitcher’s future performance. As a reference to this, check out the following article http://www.hardballtimes.com/m.....-at-dips1/)

    Wins and losses are a poor guide because there is a lot that goes into them which the pitcher has no control over. Oh, and while we’re on the subject of spurious statistics, in my opinion the save is rather overrated and useless. Again, I’m far more interested in how many people Jones struck out, how many he walked, and other things like this. Besides, didn’t we learn anything last year when we signed a rather old closer who was one good season removed from a substantial amount of time lost to injury?

  8. Brian A.

    December 9, 2005 at 11:59 am

    oops. the link above doesn’t work. try this instead. http://www.hardballtimes.com/m.....-at-dips1/

  9. Jeff M

    December 9, 2005 at 12:35 pm

    Brian – The “clubhouse guy” thing is usually overrated, but in a case like this, there would have to be tremendously horrible chemistry for a couple rookie pitchers to not gain from having a 17 year vet around for a couple years.

    Mark – Yeah, stopgaps are needed. How many 2003s do you want to go through? How many legitimate FAs do you think would come here if we don’t atleast put up mediocre seasons? The farm has improved greatly in the past 5 years, but let’s be honest here: There are only a handful of kids with legitimate major league talent and most of them aren’t ready yet.

    Billfer, can you get us an update on the payroll situation? It seems to me like we’ll have some $30m come off the books at the end of ’09, which should be the year B-V-Z will truly anchor the rotation. How can you not salivate at the idea of having $30m available to compliment them??

  10. Brian A.

    December 9, 2005 at 12:54 pm

    At the risk of being overly negative about a new player, I don’t think Kenny Rogers has too many personality traits that I’d like for B-V-Z to mimic.

  11. billfer

    December 9, 2005 at 1:01 pm

    Love the discussion guys. Jeff, I’ll try and work on the payroll information tonight – no promises though.

  12. Jeff M

    December 9, 2005 at 1:23 pm

    No hurry Billfer… we have 4 months to kill.

  13. Jeff M

    December 9, 2005 at 1:26 pm

    I don’t think Kenny Rogers has too many personality traits that I’d like for B-V-Z to mimic.

    Personally, I think the his incident last year was an abberation. He was generally considered a good guy. Time will tell, though.

    More importantly, when “B-V-Z” starts getting tossed around on Sports Center, I want you all to remember where you heard it first… :)

  14. Chris Y.

    December 9, 2005 at 2:05 pm

    OK, I am not thrilled, but I’m not not thrilled either (preface this with my being an eternal Tiger optimist this time of year).

    A Tale of Two Markets

    1. I think much of this has to do with the FA market. Everybody is exceptionally overpriced unless you want to play in NY, and we can’t afford to bet the house on the guys that are available. I, for one, surely would have been more upset if we gave out a contracts to guys like Wagner, Ryan, or AJ. And if what we are really after for this team is wins (and it is), I’m not sure a guy like Burnett or Millwood (who’ll command over 10 mil per) or Farnsworth would have given us much more than Rogers and Jones are capable of giving over the next two years.

    2. It is pretty clear from the rumors floating around that we would have to give up way to much to accomplish the same through a trade. I think we’d all agree Vasquez is not worth two of our top five prospects. Everyone wants Granderson and he’s our best up and coming position player (reminds me alot of Jacque Jones) – this is a guy you only sell if you get back higher value (i.e a package for Blalock) and nothing else. We should be happy the brass has been committed to restocking the farm and now is not the time to recommit the sins of the R. Smith era.

    As for the Rule 5 draft, we don’t need another Ledezma – we need contributors, which we got.

    Just my thoughts. Also, an optimist would think that Rogers is happy to get some distance from Tejas and finish his career on a high note, determined not to be remembered by his actions (OFF the field) last year.

    I am that optimist.

  15. Tim D

    December 9, 2005 at 2:07 pm

    In general I hate giving money to old guys who aren’t stars. That said, Jones and Rogers will both be an upgrade. You can look at Roger’s ratios and say he’s not all that great, (or better than Johnson) but he’s basically David Wells pitching for a worse team and in the worst park in the league. While I tend to look more at numbers, intangibles are worth something. Johnson did not impress the Tigers, and they seem glad he’s gone. I have to think they know something. I have thought over the Jones transaction as well. My initial take was yeccchh. But Bilfer made a great point: his numbers were so good across the board that the improvement is likely real and not a fluke. Whatever he figured out, it’s working, and changing leagues will keep him one step ahead of the hitters.

    These aren’t great signings but given the market they aren’t bad either. Jones and Rogers are here for two years and they aren’t really blocking anyone’s development. I hope they pick up another veteran, say a Rudy Seanez.

  16. Mark P

    December 9, 2005 at 3:15 pm

    If this was 1997 I would be elated with these signings. I am trying to be optimistic that they will continue their stellar years from last year. Though the Tigers are screwing themselves if either performs below expectations because their large contracts prevent them from being dumped. Jones makes more sense than Rogers from a pitching and personality stand point. I just see other prospects on the FA market that are just as good, not as expensive and provide more flexibility. Mesa just signed for only 2.5 million. He has had five consecutive 24+ save seasons. He is also willing to be setup if Rodney turns it on. This would also continue our Latin influence, which is better than old white dudes (with good staches). I agree Jones is a good option for a stop gap, but not at the cost. Same goes for Rogers. The salaries don’t make sense. We gave Jones a 500% increase in salary (1.1 Million in 2004) and Rogers a 240% increase.

    Rogers is bound to hit a wall soon, just as Moyer has and Randy Johnson (to an extent). Both are of similiar age. He is also too similiar to our other pitchers.

    At least, the contracts are only two seasons.

    The FA market is crazy this year…way overpaying for pitchers. Why not explore a mid-level trade? Such as with Infante and Monroe. It seems all the rumors focus around our top prospects, which I agree is a ridiculous option. I am not asking for the status quo or paying 10+ million for players, but the Tigers need more direction and more flexiblity. DD needs to get more creative than going for huge trades (Vasquez) or old men in FA.

  17. Jeff M

    December 9, 2005 at 3:49 pm

    Mark – I’m sure we overpaid, but like you said, it’s only for 2 years. If Illitch is ok with throwing away a few mill, more power to him. It only becomes a problem when throws away a few mill per year on a 7 year contract.

    As for the trades, I don’t think we had many options there. We know for a fact that DD was shopping some of the older players, but there just wasn’t any interest. Infante and Monroe are younger, but I gotta believe that DD would have moved them if he could have gotten a pitcher for them. I think it’s just comes down to the fact that they don’t have much upside left.

    I’m not ecstatic about the moves, but I think they were appropriate.

    No long-term risks.

    No prospects lost.

    Slightly lower payroll.

    They basically broke even skill-wise.

    I’ll take it.

  18. Ghost of Tigers Past

    December 9, 2005 at 4:07 pm

    Maybe a change of scenery is what Rogers needs.Yes,A little too much payroll wise,But time will tell.I’m glad to see Todd Jones back.Maybe with him coming back he can look like Larry the cable guy instead of Col.Sanders & Get er Done!

  19. Joey

    December 9, 2005 at 4:56 pm

    Here’s my question:

    Are either of these moves going to improve this ballclub? I don’t think so.

    The difference between Kenny and JJ are negligible. I’m not the type to totally discount wins as a telling statistic, and I do believe JJ doesn’t have that something extra that gets winners over the hump, but is that little something extra worth 8 mil a year? The reality is that Rogers will probably end up losing as many games as he wins and I don’t think JJ would be much worse than that. I would have much preferred to see the Tigers make a move on either Byrd or Matt Morris, who are signing for similar dough, but are younger and lower injury risks. However, I agree with Chris that we were smart to excercise restraint and not get involved in the Milwood/Burnett bidding. Those contracts look terrible to me.

    On the bright side of things, I don’t think Rogers is going to hurt this team with his performance. Todd Jones on the otherhand…

    This is a guy who will be 38 this season and is a proven risk. He had a good year last year, but saves are not good indication of performance. His ERA was nice as was his K to BB ratio. However, this is one good year following a series of years in which he struggled. As we all know, he’s flashed some brilliance in the past only to regress the following year–regressed to the point of being a major liability late in games. He has a tendency to fall behind hitters, which is the A No. 1 sin for a late inning guy. Especially for someone who is 38 and doesn’t have much of a fastball anymore. He’s basically become a location pitcher who has had problems in the past locating the ball. That’s kinda a problem. I think that within a month of his performing in the closers role, we’re going to see a lot of people on this blog screaming for his head.

    As for the money we’re paying him–it’s outrageous. According to ESPN the Os had offered Jones a 1 year deal worth three million. He made 1.1 mil last year. We’re paying him 5.5 million a year. He’s 38 years old. This is classic Tigers. Paying an aging player nearly twice as much as any other team is willing to pay him. We saw where this got us last year with Percival…but at least Percival USE TO be legitimately and consistently dominant. Todd Jones has never been that kind of pitcher. In his best years he’s been effective and tallied nice save totals, but for the most part he has proved himself a middling reliever who’s often a liability in late inning work.

    A best case scenario still involves one of our young pitchers stepping into the closer roll and performing consistently–exactly as was the case following July 31st of last season.

    A 27 million dollar, two-year investment in old men that doesn’t upgrade the team. Doesn’t seem sound to me.

  20. Joey

    December 9, 2005 at 5:27 pm

    O’s offered Jones 1 year for 3 million. He made 1.1 mil last year. Once again the Tigers are paying an aging player twice as much as any other team is willing to pay him. We saw where this got us last year with Percival–but at least Troy USED TO BE a consistently dominant closer. Todd Jones has never been that type of pitcher. In his best years he’s been an effective closer who put up great save totals. But for the most part he’s proven himself a middling reliever who has been inconsistent in late game situations.

    In my oppinion, the best case scenario is that one of our younger guys steps into the closer roll and performs consistently. How is that any different from where we stood following July 31st of last season?

  21. Patrick

    July 8, 2006 at 3:46 pm

    Interesting reading the comments now 8 months later.

  22. Kathy

    August 12, 2007 at 10:43 pm

    Even more interesting reading them today.

  23. Dave Wagner

    August 12, 2007 at 10:58 pm

    This is my favorite one:

    “I just see other prospects on the FA market that are just as good, not as expensive and provide more flexibility. Mesa just signed for only 2.5 million. He has had five consecutive 24+ save seasons. He is also willing to be setup if Rodney turns it on. This would also continue our Latin influence, which is better than old white dudes (with good staches).”

  24. Stephen

    August 12, 2007 at 11:36 pm

    I think if anyone said Rogers would win 24 games–let’s give him four more for this year–in two years for his $16 million we’d claim ‘rip off.’ But the way he won the first 17 made it all worthwhile. I think most baseball people thought we’d get hosed in the second year of the Rogers’ contract because of his age and they were right.

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