Tigers sign Jose Mesa

Jerry Crasnick is reporting the Tigers have signed Jose Mesa to a 1 year $2.5 million deal. I for the life of me can’t figure out why. Not why Crasnick is reporting it, but why the Tigers would do it.

Mesa is 40 years old, and for the last 3 years he allows more than a hit an inning. He walks a batter every other inning, and he only strikes out a few more than he walks. He’s basically a 40 year old version of Jason Grilli at 6 times the cost.

One of my arguments for not keeping Jamie Walker was that he didn’t see enough high leverage situations for the Tigers to justify $4 million a year. I only hope that Mesa doesn’t see enough high leverage situations to justify his money. My fear is that like the Tigers other aging, $2.5 million bundle of joy, he will see significant time.

This one I just don’t get.


  1. Craig

    December 11, 2006 at 12:01 am

    Could they be possibly be moving someone in a trade that would create a need for Mesa? It is the only thing I can come up with. I know it isn’t very good, but it’s something. I agree, this one confuses me.

  2. Brian A.

    December 11, 2006 at 12:08 am

    this, in my opinion, should lead us to believe that zumaya is going to be looked at as a starter. i do think this is a good idea, but i’d hope that there is something in the works to move someone like maroth or robertson and make room for joel in the rotation.

  3. Kurt

    December 11, 2006 at 12:28 am

    Don’t really buy it — or see the reason behind it — myself, I must say.

  4. Tim D

    December 11, 2006 at 12:32 am

    “Veteran Presence”

    Who comes off the 40 man to make room?

  5. Mike R

    December 11, 2006 at 1:24 am

    I hope Joel doesn’t get moved to the rotation because I question whether or not he could sustain a successful career as a starter. I’d much prefer him in the bullpen.

    And I’m just as confused as everyone else about this signing.

  6. boombotti

    December 11, 2006 at 1:53 am

    I bet Miner, Ledezma and/or Thames will be offered in some trades.

  7. Joey the K

    December 11, 2006 at 2:48 am

    Hmm that is an odd signing, but Zumaya is not going to the rotation.

  8. Mike R

    December 11, 2006 at 3:27 am

    More I think about this, the more I think it lends us to trading someone that was going to be in the bullpen in a package deal, like Monroe and Ledezma for an OFer or something along those lines.

  9. Kurt

    December 11, 2006 at 3:42 am

    right now, I think Mike R is probably right.

  10. Jim Gooding

    December 11, 2006 at 9:14 am

    or it could simply be an insurance move: TJones is old and very breakdownable; use Mesa in long relief, slide him into Jones slot if an injury occurs, continue to use JZoom in the highest leverage late-inning situations that is the best use of your best pitcher

  11. Rings

    December 11, 2006 at 10:11 am

    Boston Globe is reporting that the Tigers may look to move Todd Jones, which would further cloud the meaning of this move. I would hope that Mesa would be used as nothing more than a stopgap and that one of the kids would close if that were the case.
    Regardless, I’d rather have a young, cheap guy with potential rather than an old guy making $2.5m who can’t throw strikes. This one’s a mystery….just like the fact that we still have Neifi.

  12. Don

    December 11, 2006 at 10:31 am

    quite befuddled. billfer’s right about mesa being no better than grilli; and if they’re going to plug him into the bullben, the roster doesn’t have room for Grilli, Zach Miner, Jordan Tata, Chad Durbin, Roman Colon or new guy Campsuano. Or the ‘other lefty’ they’re supposedly still looking for.

    There has to be a deal brewing, i don’t buy the zumaya-to-the-rotation theory one bit.

  13. Joshua M.

    December 11, 2006 at 11:50 am

    Ledezma isnt going anywhere unless its in a trade for another LHP because besides the Rule 5 guy he is the only lefty we have and I dont think we want to get rid of our only lefty just to have a veteran presence like Mesa. And if we trade Todd Jones shame on us. That guy loves Detroit and I think we owe it to him after last year to let him stay for his full contract. Just my opinion of course

  14. Joey C

    December 11, 2006 at 12:07 pm

    Just saw this, yelled “why?” and immediately dialed up the weblog. Glad to see that I’m not the only one who has zero freaking idea why we did this.

    Opening up a trade seems the most likely scenario, and the most likely candidate, in my oppinion, is Rodney.

    Anyway you slice it–either we trade for someone or we just add another righty to the pen–I don’t like it. And it just leaves me feeling that wrong moves have been made this offseason. I don’t feel like the front office is moving to address the most pressing needs. Lefty bat, improved corner infield, a little OBP, lefty reliever.

  15. Deryl G

    December 11, 2006 at 12:11 pm

    I’m not anti-Jones, but I think he makes too much money for the role he should have (which is not necessarily the role he will have). I think he is our third best reliever and he’ll be making 5.5 million this year. If we can get someone else to take that contract, and even get someone in return, then I’m all for it.

    However I don’t see how trading Jones, or anyone for that matter, would justify signing Joe Table.

  16. J Paul Muxworthy

    December 11, 2006 at 12:16 pm

    There has got to be something else happening here. I seem to remember that the Tigers tried to get Mesa in a deal with Colorado for Colon. Somebody likes Mesa.

    Paul M.

  17. Nate

    December 11, 2006 at 1:42 pm

    I think Dombrowski and Leyland are trying to reward Mesa for blowing the save for the Indians in Game 7 of the 1997 world series, and handing their Marlins the championship.

    Seriously, that’s the only way this makes sense.

  18. Chris Y.

    December 11, 2006 at 1:44 pm

    I agree, a deal is in the wings. Mesa and Jones are basically the same pitcher. For all the arm talent we have, something just doesn’t smell right without the wafting scent of a trade.

    Anyone up for Rod Beck? Heck, he saved like 50 games in ’93….

  19. Chris in Nashville

    December 11, 2006 at 3:48 pm

    Guess this adds some depth and experience to the bullpen…but this is quite shocking…especially for the money. This has NOTHING to do with Zumaya going to start, because there is no way that is happening. And who would want Todd Jones in a deal? I’d be suprised if this is nothing than adding depth. He DID have a sub 3.50 ERA in Colorado last year..so that should count for something.

  20. Deryl G

    December 11, 2006 at 4:08 pm

    I’d be suprised if this is ONLY adding depth. They have to make room for him on the 40 somehow. I guess we’ll find out in the next ten days.

    Trading one of our relievers is the only way this makes any kind of sense to me. Although, even then it doesn’t.

  21. Sam

    December 11, 2006 at 4:29 pm

    Maybe he is really good friends with Neifi?


  22. Joey C.

    December 11, 2006 at 5:23 pm

    Yeah, Perez and Mesa are on the ticket for ’08–running as the Stupid Signings Party candidates.

  23. Dave

    December 11, 2006 at 8:08 pm

    Not convinced another deal is pending. Jason Beck reports that Tigers have been after Mesa since before last year’s trade deadline. DD expects that he will reduce or eliminate multiple inning appearances by Rodney and Zumaya. Seems like Grilli could do that at one-fifth the cost.

  24. Mike

    December 11, 2006 at 8:20 pm

    This sure does look like a step backward for the Tigers. Could Grilli have sealed his fate with his postseason wildness?

  25. Greg O

    December 11, 2006 at 9:30 pm

    Maybe Jones is calling it quits or has been injured. The Tigers might have waited to release information about it until after they got someone to replace Jones (or Zoom-Zoom if he moves up to closer). That is far-fetched, but at least makes some sense.

  26. Lee Panas

    December 11, 2006 at 11:19 pm

    This is definitely an odd move. I was expecting them to sign a left-hander and if they signed a right-hander I was expecting someone younger. He doesn’t appear to be much of an upgrade.


  27. Andy in WB

    December 12, 2006 at 12:02 am

    I think this sets up a Todd Jones trade. Last week the Marlins were said to be interested in trading for Jones, (they were also interested in Mesa). The Marlins have a dearth of young pitching, Scott Olsen(sp) looks good as does Taylor Tankersley(rp), both are 22yr old lefties and would be cheap.
    The Tigers could trade Jones & Ledezma for these two and move Maroth to the pen, they would cut payroll and strengthen the pen as well. This would give the team the left handed long reliever/situational starter (Maroth) as well as a late inning lefty out of the pen, Tankersley was 8th in the NL in holds with 22.
    Or I could just be reaching.

  28. Andy in WB

    December 12, 2006 at 12:18 am

    Another reason that I think that this is a prelude to a trade is that Dombrowski and Leyland are selling this as an insurance move. “Mesa will spot relieve Zumaya and Rodney when they need a day off”…….2.5 million for a guy that might be needed once a week for one inning??? With that thinking theyd’ve kept Walker.

  29. Sam

    December 12, 2006 at 12:25 am

    Top 25 leaders in Saves all time:

    3rd worst ERA – Rick Aguilera (#14 in saves – 318) – 3.57 era

    2nd worst ERA – Todd Jones (#23 in saves – 263) – 3.91 era

    WORST – Jose Mesa (#13 in saves – 320) – 4.27 era


  30. Mike R

    December 12, 2006 at 1:13 am

    I like the deal Andy laid out but I think the Marlins would be ridiculously stupid for pulling the trigger on something like that.

    And I didn’t mean that I thought Ledezma was getting dealt, he was just the first non SP that popped into my head. I agree that Rodney would be more likely to go, in my opinion, than anyone out of the ‘pen.

    But if we can get someone to take Todd Jones and give us something in return, that should get green-lighted instantly.

  31. Joey C.

    December 12, 2006 at 1:18 am

    I have to tell you that I’m loving the speculation and head scratching that this signing has instigated. Fun stuff.

  32. Pingback: Mack Avenue Tigers: A Detroit Tigers Blog » Tigers ink Mesa. Tigers nation goes: ?!?

  33. Andy in WB

    December 12, 2006 at 1:29 am

    Fair enough Mike, switch Maroth and Ledezma and Marlins give us a player to be named.
    I like Ledezma in the pen as a 1-2 inning reliever. When Ledezma was a starter it was a running joke on when he will give up the one big inning. I know Billfer will rip me on this, but Ledezma is just as good at 1-2 innings as Walker was.

    Now the trade would be Jones and Moroth for Olsen, Tankersley and a player to be named (hopefully a young catcher).
    We still lose payroll and, imho, add strength to the pen.

  34. TC Chris

    December 12, 2006 at 1:52 am

    I don’t understand why the Marlins would make this deal. I don’t think it makes any sense for them. Olsen is cheaper than Maroth, Tankersley is cheaper than Jones, and you really can’t expect a significant difference in production.

    If Dombrowski can pull that off he’s a genius and probably sold his soul to the devil. Olsen and Tankersly plus another pitcher – that’s probably a better package than what the tigers gave up for Sheffield.

  35. Mike R

    December 12, 2006 at 4:17 am

    Andy, I agree with TC Chris. To me, that’s a bad, bad deal for the Marlins. I’d love to see it get done, but I think the Marlins Front Office is smarter (and cheaper) than that.

  36. Cameron in Singapore

    December 12, 2006 at 4:48 am

    Wow, this just doesn’t make sense at all. Mesa? Oh well. Hopefully he’ll pitch himself out of a job in spring training and the only harm that will come from this is the loss of 2.5 million.

  37. Phil

    December 12, 2006 at 8:35 am

    Perhaps he can field a bunt and make a good throw. Did I think or say that?!? Oops, sorry, still to early???

  38. Andy in NY

    December 12, 2006 at 10:31 am

    Well, Lynn Henning loves the move in the News. Mesa’s going to teach our guys how to throw 200-ft. long tosses…


    While I don’t quite share Lynn’s optimism, I don’t think this is a terrible move. The financial difference between re-siging Walker and landing Mesa is greater than everyone here is making it out to be, at $9.5 million (Walker got $12 mil over 3 years; Mesa gets $2.5 mil for this one). Spending 3% of your payroll on a guy who is going to pitch to some important batters throughout the year, and do a passable job of it (even if it is close to replacement level), is fine in my book. It’s just a rounding-out-the-roster kind of move and it really doesn’t hurt the team in either the short run or the long run.

  39. Dave T.

    December 12, 2006 at 1:37 pm

    I like this move a lot. Its only for one year, and it gives the Tigers tons of flexibility. I personally would rather see Miner, Tata, Colon, etc. in Toledo/Erie eating up innings and working on their pitches than mopping up in blowouts.

  40. Lou

    December 12, 2006 at 3:37 pm

    I’d normally be really worried, but at this point, I’ve just decided to trust DD. If Mesa goes on to have a great season, well, it’s just further proof that DD knows something the rest of us don’t.

  41. Mike R

    December 12, 2006 at 7:38 pm

    Andy, why sign Mesa to pitch some “some important batters” and post basically the same numbers as a younger, much much cheaper, Jason Grilli?

  42. Mike R

    December 12, 2006 at 7:45 pm

    Other Tigers News: Tigers non-tendered outfielder Alexis Gomez.
    The Tigers needed to free up a spot on the 40-man roster after signing Jose Mesa, and non-tendering Gomez was just as easy as designating him for assignment. Now there’s no chance of him being claimed off waivers, and the Tigers might have a better chance of keeping him on a minor league contract.

    Omar Infante will keep his roster spot after the Tigers decided to non-tender only Alexis Gomez on Tuesday.
    Infante is being shopped around with both Neifi Perez and Ramon Santiago signed for next year, but it might not be a bad idea for the Tigers to hang on to their one backup capable of putting together more than one good at-bat per month. It would have made sense to jettison Santiago, who is basically the same player as Perez.

    Both of these I read on http://www.rotoworld.com

    I disagree with the last part about “It would have made sense to jettison Santiago who is the same player as Perez.” since I’d prefer Santiago over Perez because both are bad at the plate but I’ll take Romone’s glove over Neifi’s everyday. And it seems that Gomez probably will stay within the organization, so that’s no big deal.

  43. Tim D

    December 12, 2006 at 10:02 pm

    I don’t know how significant this is but Mesa’s career ERA is 4.27. In:

    Comerica 1.80 (only 5 IP)
    Jacobs 2.98
    Kaufman 2.49
    M-Dome 2.31
    US Cell 3.46

    Not bad. Upwards of 120 games will be in those parks.

  44. Tommy

    December 12, 2006 at 11:24 pm

    This gives the Tig’s a pitcher to deal at the deadline to someone desparate for a closer or setup guy. Two years ago they signed Urbina and dealt him at the deadline for Polanco. Dealing Mesa at the deadline for some young pitcher (or catcher) means you’re only out about $1.5 Million. If Jones or Zummy get hurt, we keep him. And Zummy did have arm trouble in September. Mesa’s past legal problems could be a problem for some teams but I think Leyland can handle it. That’s his strength. Mesa doesn’t want to end up like DY. BTW, is anybody gonna sign DY?

  45. Mike R

    December 13, 2006 at 4:02 am

    2 years ago, Urbina wasn’t a 40 year old putting up numbers comparable to anyone on our staff that was a 6th of the cost.

  46. Coach Jim

    December 13, 2006 at 12:57 pm

    “…to trade at the deadline” is my favorite guess. I can think of no other reason to sign him except as an investment.

  47. DCD

    December 19, 2006 at 7:48 pm

    Here’s my opinion:
    I don’t understand this move either.
    But hey, you got to put trust in DD.
    He took the tigers from a 119 loss season to American League Champions in 3 years. That’s something to brag about. Dombrowski knows what he’s doing and it is not our place to question him. If the tigers start losing again, that is when you can question what Dombrowski does.

  48. Alex

    April 25, 2007 at 7:06 am

    Thank You