Rumors Rumors Everywhere

With an off day today, Tiger rumors are rampant with most centering on Alfonso Soriano and Bobby Abreu. While I’ve touched on both of these players in the past, given the recent fervor and the Tigers continued stature as the best record in baseball it is probably worth exploring.

Bobby Abreu

For a long time Bobby Abreu was damn near close to the perfect player. His career line coming into this year is 303/411/512 and he routinely steals 30 bases a year at a 75% success rate. The only knock was that he was a slightly below average right fielder (despite winning a gold glove in 2005).

This year his line is 286/442/455. His OBP is still outstanding despite a slight dip in his batting average. At their current rates Abreu would make 16 fewer outs per 100 plate appearances than Craig Monroe is. He hits just as well on the road as he does at home and isn’t fazed by southpaws (310/437/490 this year).

The only disturbing thing about Abreu is the dip in slugging percentage. Of course we remember him obliterating the right field fence during the 2005 Home Run Derby, but he only stands at 8 homers this year. That so much isn’t the problem (at least in my mind). What concerns me is the trend in his slugging percentage.

Mon     Slugging
APR     .550
MAY     .471
JUN     .404
JUL     .342

What is reassuring is that the types of balls he’s hitting are in line with his career numbers. Looking at the graphs at Fangraphs, his line drive percentage is inline with this career numbers, if not a little higher. The difference is he is hitting fewer flyballs, and thus fewer homers.

The other concern with Abreu, and really it may be part of what makes him available to the Tigers, is the contract. In addition to the $15 million he’s owed next year, he has a $16 million dollar option. According to his agent that would need to be picked up, or and extension worked out, for Abreu to waive his no trade clause.

Alfonso Soriano

This is the one that has the national folks buzzing. Ken Rosenthal has been touting this trade for 2 weeks. Soriano brings considerable power and considerable speed to the lineup. He also seems to be a better version of many of the types of hitters the Tigers currently have. In fact over their careers Soriano and Monroe have posted similar OBP rates (at least at ages 27 and 28) and similar walk to strikeout ratios. Of course Soriano has done it with much more power.

Where Abreu would become a fixture for the next 3 years, Soriano would most likely be a 2 month rental. One isn’t necessarily better than the other. With Abreu you get a player for several years, and a hefty price tag. With Soriano you get help in the short term, with nothing beyond this year, but no contract beyond this year either. The Tigers would also receive 2 compensatory draft picks if Soriano were to leave as well. Both cases should help to keep the trade demands reasonable…or so you’d hope.

The Cost

In addition to the contract costs, the Tigers of course will need to give something up. Humberto Sanchez will more than likely be part of either deal. He represents the team’s top pitching prospect and is coming off an impressive performance at the Future’s game.

The Free Press reports today that the cost would be Jair Jurrjens, Humberto Sanchez, and Brent Clevlen. That is too much, especially in the case of a rent a player. Jurrjens is 20 years old and having success at AA. Sanchez is enjoying a breakout that started late last year and continued in the Arizona Fall League and many think he is big league ready now. There is no way I’d part with both guys. The Tigers system isn’t that deep that they could stand to lose their top 2 pitching prospects.

If it came down to Abreu, that price seems steep if the Tigers were to assume Abreu’s full contract.

So do you guys want one of these 2, or should the Tigers hope with Dmitri Young, or pursue a David Dellucci type player, or should they stand pat?

28 Comments

  1. Taylor

    July 17, 2006 at 10:27 pm

    If it ain’t broke, it don’t need fixin’.

    That’s just my .02

  2. Chris Y.

    July 17, 2006 at 10:33 pm

    Stand pat. Delucci-type would be OK at the right price. SOriano and Abreu are not worth the cost.

  3. Matt

    July 17, 2006 at 10:53 pm

    I agree, don’t mortgage the future for a temporary fix to a problem that really isn’t there.

  4. Lageman78

    July 17, 2006 at 10:58 pm

    This is way to much!!! If this is what the Tigers would have to give up than I say “STAND PAT”!!! There has to be a left handed bat that we can get for a good price!

  5. Nate

    July 17, 2006 at 11:11 pm

    I like Abreu and I think he’d make a great fit, but not for $15 million. Soriano is another good player, but wouldn’t be worth the trade of a top prospect for 2 months. His $10mil price isn’t much better than Abreu’s and you know he really wants a middle infield spot.

    I’d much rather see a trade for someone under $5mil. An established player like Dave Roberts, Corey Patterson, or Juan Pierre(tho overpaid) would be accepteable. A rising young OF like NYM Endy Chavez or PIT Nate McLouth would be nice too. Deals where we dont have to sell the farm to aquire a player.

    Carl Crawford would also be a very acceptable trade, even for a good prospect or two. I just dont see it happening. Grady Sizemore would be another nice impossible aquisition.

    But as Taylor says, we’re doin fine as is. If the right deal isnt available, oh well. Don’t push it.

  6. Jeff M

    July 17, 2006 at 11:15 pm

    Too many options for my poor brain to compute. I just trust that DD knows the value (present and future) of each player. Whatever he decides will probably be right, even if it doesn’t work out in the end.

  7. PHT

    July 17, 2006 at 11:15 pm

    Just remember Doyle Alexander for John Smoltz . . .

  8. Neel

    July 18, 2006 at 12:12 am

    Stand pat. No need to mortgage the future for a shot at winning this year. I am drooling at a 2008 rotation of Bonderman, Verlander, Miller, Sanchez, and Robertson…

  9. Nick G

    July 18, 2006 at 12:15 am

    Speaking of Smoltz, I love the idea of him putting a nice ribbon and bow on his career and finishing with his childhood team in Michigan (see Minnesotans Winfield, Molitor and Jack Morris who all came home to the Twins toward the end). But, at what cost? Let’s not give up too much for a great story. I do salivate every time I think of Smoltzy saving games instead of Jones, though.

  10. Kurt

    July 18, 2006 at 12:55 am

    The future is now. You hope to have a season like this in the future, but you have one right in front of you now. Do you know how unlikely it is the Tigers are 62-30 again this decade, even with those prospects in the lineup/rotation? You play the game for a World Series. The Tigers can’t let the opportunity slip through.

    They’re not mortgaging the future either. Prospects are prospects. You can project out from their minor league numbers, but there’s no guarantee anyone is going to be a star. Now I’m not sure I want to see three prospects given up. But that was a starting offer. I am not afraid of giving up Sanchez, this very well might be a “sell high” moment. Jurrjens is 20, but Andrew Miller and possibly Jonah Nickerson are going to come in ahead of him. Meanwhile Detroit has three starting pitchers under 24 on the major league club who all look pretty good. The future is bright regardless.

    To me, the only guy who could be considered mortgaging the future is Maybin. By all means, I do not want to see him traded. Any other combination of two, I am fine with.

    Meanwhile, the other teams in the AL are not going to stand pat. They are going to get better. The Tigers have to get better, too, and make that extra push. They have to plug the hole of not scoring eonugh runs. This year might very well erase the reputation the Tigers had in the past, but adding that last piece to the puzzle and making a strong run in October could be just what the organization needs to really turn the corner: keep the fans excited, get off all those dang no-trade clauses and increase revenue. It could be a watershed moment. A couple of prospects is worth that price.

  11. Kurt

    July 18, 2006 at 12:57 am

    For the record, I prefer Abreu, better numbers against lefties and righties and I like his OBP, but Soriano is also pretty good no matter what side of the rubber the pitcher is coming from. Crawford would be fun, but that’ll never happen.

  12. Nick G

    July 18, 2006 at 1:05 am

    I was thinking stay pat regarding Soriano and Abreu, then Kurt wrote:

    “Do you know how unlikely it is the Tigers are 62-30 again this decade, even with those prospects in the lineup/rotation? You play the game for a World Series. The Tigers can’t let the opportunity slip through.”

    Man…it’s fun to be in this situation for once (again). Go Tigs!

  13. Chris J

    July 18, 2006 at 2:32 am

    Kurt is right on. I’d much rather have Abreu, because he’s fourth in the majors in on base percentage while the Tigers are 21st in the majors in team on base percentage. On the other hand Soriano is a complainer who hit around 640 OPS away from Arlington last season in the AL. The book is out on him in the AL.

  14. billfer

    July 18, 2006 at 7:04 am

    I’m on board with Kurt for the most part. Things won’t always go this well and it probably is a good time to sell high on Sanchez. That said I still wouldn’t move both Jurrjens and Sanchez. If and when Miller signs (I don’t consider him ours until he’s under contract – see Luke Hochevar) he’d move ahead of Jurrjens. Keep in mind that Jurrjens in only 20 years old. Sanchez is closer to big league ready, but from everything I’ve heard the two aren’t that far apart.

  15. Nick

    July 18, 2006 at 7:17 am

    Abreu’s dip in SLG (along with his increase in walk rate) are indicators of fading bat speed and could indicate a significant drop off in the next one to two years.

    Soriano tends to be overrated (though he’s underrated by some sabr types) and he’s having the best year of his career at the moment, which would mean we are probably “buying high” on him.

    I don’t either is a great fit when you consider what it would take to get them and what it would cost to keep them. I also don’t think either appreciably increases our chances at making the playoffs though they might make us a tougher team during the playoffs.

  16. Jeff M

    July 18, 2006 at 7:29 am

    From Freep: “Their first request was 2005 first-round pick Cameron Maybin, but the Tigers will not trade him.”

    I’m glad to hear that.

  17. FancyPants

    July 18, 2006 at 8:09 am

    Where would Soriano play?

    I live in DC and see Soriano play left field on a regular basis. It’s really ugly. I can already vision him out there in the 9th inning of a post-season game flubbing a catch and costing the Tigers a win.

  18. Jason

    July 18, 2006 at 8:45 am

    Some thoughts:

    1) It’s “sell high” time on Humberto Sanchez. Jordan Tata is our best pitching prospect going forward.

    2) Monroe is a decent, albeit not great, leftfielder. It’s no use trading for a player who’s not significantly better than he is.

    3) Smoltz’s years as a closer slipped my mind. Say we trade Sanchez and Miner (a fair price) for him. Then we have a lot of flexibility – Smoltz is our fifth starter until Maroth returns, but our postseason 9th-inning man.

  19. Kyle J

    July 18, 2006 at 8:50 am

    I’m with Kurt, too. The future is now. It’d be one thing if we were just in the thick of the wild card hunt and hoping to make a run at the playoffs. But we’re 92 games into the season and the best team in baseball; winning the World Series should be the goal. Time to shed the rebuiding mindset–we’re contenders, baby!

    I’m also with Jeff: in DD we trust.

  20. Steve

    July 18, 2006 at 9:05 am

    I am in as well, We are trading for a bat, not a fielder. Thames is Ok, but scary at times. Lets not trade Maybin, but Sanchez and Monroe for Abreu is fine with me.

  21. Koli

    July 18, 2006 at 2:09 pm

    you guys, the tigers need a nother bat to contend with the likes of the WSox or the RSox or Yankee’s these are the teams they will be facing in the ALCS, They do have good pitching, which thier ERA has gone down dramaticly after the Alstar break. Either player would good for this team. Young’s numbers that he’s put on in the past just havn’t been enough to contend with the likes of Soriano or Abreu. TRADE TRADE TRADE, and do it soon so Jim can get a hold of these guys and put them to work.

  22. Chris M

    July 18, 2006 at 4:10 pm

    The biggest obstacle with the Abreu trade seems to be the money. The Tigers are already paying Ordonez, who’s slightly older, about the same amount of money. And Abreu is probably a better player. I don’t see what the problem is since Abreu fits the Tigers two biggest needs: a left handed and patient hitter.

  23. Chris J

    July 19, 2006 at 2:00 am

    The point about Abreu’s declining SLG is well taken. I’m not as opposed to a Soriano deal as before due to the realization that we should let him walk and get the one or two sandwich picks at the end of the first round in next year’s draft. That would be a great way to (try to) replenish whatever prospects we lost in the deal.

    I can see Soriano and Abreu helping out in different ways and hurting in different ways, and I’d be happy to have either. The future is now and with Rogers and Robertson starting to regress, we need extra run support (starting pitching for trade isn’t out there).

  24. matt

    July 19, 2006 at 8:19 am

    lets get both. could you imagine? soriono at third (though i’d feel bad for inge). abreu in left. anything for a championship. heck with this lineup we’re talking denisty.

  25. Kyle J

    July 19, 2006 at 10:14 am

    The thing about whoever loses Soriano at the end of the year getting a compensatory draft pick is interesting. Theoretically, this should (1) make Washington less likely to make a deal and (2) make Detroit be willing to give up a bit more to get him.

  26. Nick

    July 19, 2006 at 12:15 pm

    I think it makes more sense (assuming they can draft effectively with sandwich picks) to trade for Soriano than Abreu. While I like Abreu I don’t really think this team needs another veteran. We have a chance to win now, but we also need to position ourselves for the long term as Cleveland will improve (and have younger core players), the Twins probably won’t go away, and the White Sox have a strong core of younger position players too.

    Then you’ve got a rented player who presumably improves your offense and you can immediately work on replacing the prospects with new draftees.

    However, I think the critical thing to remember here is that stat-head columnists (versus uneducated announcers) who have far more time than you and I generally determine that the result of late season acquisitions is almost always less than expected. There are the high profile cases of success (they’re high profile because teams succeeding get a lot of profiling) but for the most part the moves fail to pan out.

    It would be foolish to just assume that it’ll be different for the Tigers. With that in mind, I’d rather see us go after a couple of less expensive, lower risk veteran niche players (speed, defensive replacements, pinch hitters) who would add depth to the team. I believe that’s what could really push a team over the top.

  27. Walt

    July 20, 2006 at 9:43 am

    I can’t remember where I read it, but I like Trot Nixon for Chris Spurling. We wouldn’t have to give up anything that we are using, and get a good lefty OF. I am not sure if it is realistic, but it sounds good.

    Walt

  28. Dave Hamby

    July 20, 2006 at 11:06 am

    Smoltz is killer in the postseason. But here in atlanta, the braves will want a lot.