Loving the English D

Could it be that Detroit isn’t such a bad place to play?

It wasn’t so long ago that the Tigers were begging players to come here. They were being rebuffed by marquee free agents such as Miguel Tejada, and having to settle for Fernando Vinas and Jason Johnsons. When they did attract the big names, it was more of as a last resort. But it wasn’t just desperation, it was because the Tigers were offering substantially more money and substantially more years. Pudge Rodriguez and Magglio Ordonez came here because the Tigers were the only club willing to commit to long term deals.

Yet today the Tigers have managed to lock up a player ahead of free agency. Add Jeremy Bonderman to the ever growing list of Tigers who decided to sign at-or-below-market deals to stay in Detroit. Brandon Inge re-upped for 4 more years a couple weeks ago, just one year shy of free agency.

Placido Polanco spent less than 2 months in Detroit before deciding to stick around for 4 more years without even waiting for the end of the season – and this in the middle of a career year.

Polanco’s move wasn’t unprecedented because Carlos Guillen did the same thing in 2004 agreeing to a 3 year deal when he could have made much more on the open market after a career year.

Gary Sheffield agreed to be traded here…and with a reasonable contract extension.

Even Vance Wilson probably could have done better this offseason given the dearth of catching talent, but he signed an extension midseason as well.

Players, good players, players with options, are eschewing the monster payday for a fair wage in a place that they like. I don’t know if it is the team’s performance, or if Dave Dombrowski is just a good guy to work for, or if it is that the AL Central has 4 good teams who each have a shot at the playoffs, but players are liking it in Detroit.

Jason Beck quoted Bonderman saying:

“There’s always the idea of free agency,” he admitted, “but I love the guys here. I love the team. I love everything about playing for the Tigers right now. They’re a great organization.”

It echoes Inge’s comments

“Never,” he said. “It never (entered) my mind that I’d want to be anywhere other than Detroit. It’s all I’ve known. It’s all I really want to know.”

If this means the end of the Detroit Tax in which the Tigers are extorted for boatloads of money, or simply used as leverage on the way to bigger deals (ie Pavano), then this is probably the best news of the offseason for Detroit fans.

17 thoughts on “Loving the English D”

  1. Bill, Great post. I was just thinking that earlier when I read about the Bondo signing. This is a great position to be in, a solid team with plenty to play for and a great set of Owner, President and MGR to be thankful for. With the possible exception of the 2 or 3 obvious other teams WHO would not want to be in our shoes.

    I cant wait until next season. I am a little bummed that we as a family can not make spring training as we had so much fun last year, but thats why MLB extra innings is around.

    For you guys that like the road games, the Tigers are in Cleveland June 1,2,3 for a weekend series.
    The Bluejays host the Tigers in a April 13,14,15 weekend series in the Dome. An absolulty great place to watch a spring time game and be warm. Toronto is a great city to visit and get around in. The Hockey hall of fame is right around the corner from the ball park. A visit to the HHF and then a Tigers – Bluejays game is an excellent outing.

    Lastly Sept 19th is a noon game in Cleveland, this could be a great afternoon game to swing into.

    For Christmas I want a dark blue stocking, white cuff with the Old English D and 2 Zumaya jerseys in there, one for me and one for my son.

    When do Pitchers and Catchers report (jk).

    Matt Millan looks like he will be available soon for a stand in batter until the guys show up.

    Have a great night.

  2. Thanks for the road trip info., Steve. I’m thinking about a trip to Cleveland or Toronto with the family myself. It sure is fun to be thinking about baseball road trips to see a contending Tigers team in the middle of December.

  3. I was thinking the same thing. I knew it was going to be a good offseason when Dave Dombrowski signed his extention. To me that was the final piece of evidence that the Tigers are on the verge of being perennial contenders now.

    61 days til pitchers and catchers report Steve, if my counting is right. And it can’t come soon enough

  4. what a great offseason…so much to look forward to. too bad i live in western canada but i think i’ll make one of the west coast trips this year and settle for the few bones we get on tv here. perhaps i’ll have to start watching the games on the internet.

    cheers everyone

  5. Totally agree with the post. Obviously, DD sees the next 3-4 years as the tigers’ world series window, which is the way you have to build a team in today’s game. Think about the arms we control for the next few years, bondo, JV, zumaya, robertson. think about the how much of the lineup is intact for the next few years: granderson, sheffield, polanco, maggs, pudge, inge. Think about our young studs who’ll be contributing in a year or two: maybin, miller, etc. I’m a happy tiger fan, finally. After all the justin thompsons, brian mohlers, gabe kaplers and brian hunters, finally a solid core, actual gifted ballplayers who are more than the sum of their parts.

  6. Excellent point about the “Tiger Tax”. I don’t know if anybody else saw that angle.

    All the experts derided the Tigers for overpaying Pudge and Mags. At the time, none of them seemed to realize that the Tigers (then) had to overpay for top talent.

    Kudos to DD for biting the bullet three years ago. Was it his long term strategy? If so, it’s paying off now.

  7. It shouldn’t be a surprise that players want to stay with Detroit. The ’68 Tigers are in the front office. The ’84 Tigers were coaches or (in the case of Jack Morris tried to be). I’d even bet money that if offered the job when Leyland retires, Tram would come back.

    Like Phil Garner always said, “Detroit is a baseball town.” I think the honest displays of pride by the fans this last season have inspired the players of the ’06 Tigers. Don’t be surprised to see Bondo in the booth, Guillen on the bench, and Inge in the front office twenty years from now.

  8. “Don’t be surprised to see Bondo in the booth, Guillen on the bench, and Inge in the front office twenty years from now.”

    That made me smile!

    Although, have you ever seen Bondo interviewed? He’s too much of a mumbler for the booth. lol.

  9. Well, Mike F, i only disagree in that Bondo won’t be in the booth. He’s not exactly charasmatic. And I disagree with Guillen being on the bench, that’ll probably be Polanco since he should get a coaching job for someone soon after his retirement. But I like the way that you think. I could see Granderson in a broadcast booth after his playing days are done.

    And I’m only 20 ½ years old, and it’s great to be able to finally watch games in August that matter to the Tigers other than just trying to rally to 70 wins. I finally got to see a season of success instead of hearing the stories of the 68 and 84 teams. The future looks bright, finally.

  10. With the stress of the holidays, I’m really glad I stopped to read this post. It gave me a really warm feeling. I spend so much of the year watching, listening and reading about these players, I sometimes feel like they’re part of my family. Knowing that Inge and Bonderman are going to be around for the next 4 seasons gives me great joy!

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