Not so tender moment for Durbin, but Byrdak has that loving feeling

Chad Durbin’s stint as a Detroit Tiger came to an end today when the club made the decision to not tender him a contract. Durbin, who entered 2007 out of options made the team as a bullpen arm as the team broke spring training. But an injury to Kenny Rogers thrust Durbin into the starting rotation.

Durbin made 19 starts and appeared in 36 games in total. He did a decent job as a swing man, and when he was returned to the bullpen he even was given some critical innings.

But I think Durbin’s fate was sealed on September 11th. The Tigers were coming off their dramatic come from behind victory against the Blue Jays and had a double header against the Rangers as they tried to hang in the playoff race. Durbin started the first game and was rocked for 2 homers, a double, and 3 singles before being lifted in the 3rd inning.

Durbin didn’t make it into another game until September 25th when he pitched the 9th inning of an 8-0 game. That would be his last appearance of the season. It was clear that Durbin lost his manager’s trust during that September 11th game.

When you factor in the bullpen crunch the Tigers have with a number of players out of options (Cruceta, Bazardo) and another pitcher who can fill the same role (Zach Miner), it just didn’t add up for Durbin staying with the team.

The move also means the Tigers have a free spot on their roster.

All those other guys

Tim Byrdak on the other hand was inked to a one year deal. He’ll make $700,000 in 2008 which isn’t a bad price for a decent LOOGY. The question is whether Byrdak will be a decent LOOGY. His career was nondescript until last season and there aren’t a lot of guys who blossom at age 33. But Byrdak did add a new split finger pitch and did fan more than a batter per inning so I think he has a decent chance to be productive.

As for the other guys, they were all tendered contracts which wasn’t a big surprise. Miguel Cabrera, Dontrelle Willis, Bobby Seay, and Nate Robertson weren’t going anywhere. Marcus Thames has been the subject of trade talks, but the Tigers weren’t going to let him go for nothing. By tendering contracts it insures that the Tigers will be paying each of these players in 2008 and Cabrera and Robertson are particularly likely to get long term contracts. I’d suspect that they’d like to lock up Willis, who is fond of the idea, but want to see if he bounces back from a rough 2007 first.

If you’re wondering about the process, the players and teams can continue to negotiate. On January 18th the two sides will exchange figures. Then starting February 1st arbitration hearings will be held. The players and agents talk about how great they are, while the teams talk about all the flaws of the players and why they don’t deserve more money. An awkward situation to be sure, and one that Dombrowski has avoided historically. I’d be stunned if any of these cases made it to the hearing and expect contracts to be hammered out in January.

16 thoughts on “Not so tender moment for Durbin, but Byrdak has that loving feeling”

  1. Yeah, I’d guess they’ll just hand Durbin’s role on over to Bazardo at a fraction of the cost. Plus, this gives Chad a chance to start for someone. Gotta believe he signs a deal and gets to start for someone like the Pirates. Glad we’re keeping Byrdak, the guy was clutch last year.

  2. Speaking of non-tendering. Dallas McPherson was nontendered by the Angels. Lefty masher who can play 1B-3B with monster power. Hit 46 HR’s in 2004 between AA-AAA-MLB, led the Minors in SLG% that year. Used to take walks, but that was a while ago, now has become impatient at the plate and strikes out a TON. Don’t know how good/bad he is defensively. Was the can’t miss prospect/3B of the future for the Angels a couple of years ago(2005) and projected to produce along the lines Troy Glaus, but has been beset with injuries and passed up by Wood.

    I know there’s not a great fit here for the Tigers with the Tigers infield loaded with solid starters, but the guy has upside. And could be a cheap gamble as a Left Handed power bat the Tigers have coveted. Perhaps a LH bat off the bench? Or someone to sign, see if he puts up#’s in the Minors, and use him as a commodity, or ‘insurance’ in case there’s in injury?

  3. Greg,

    Interesting idea, so I started to poke around for info. I found this on McPherson’s wikipedia site:

    McPherson spent the entirety of the 2007 season on the disabled list after choosing to have back surgery to fuse two vertebrate in his back.

    Ouch. I have no idea how effective he could possibly be, but at a minimum there’s a year’s worth of rust. I like your thinking, though, I see no reason not to look and see who’s on the scrap heap and see if they can’t contribute in some way.

  4. Otsuka was also non tendered. Iseem to recall the tigers wanted him at the deadline last year, but Texas wanted too much.

  5. Otsuka would be a great choice to add our decent bullpen. But why did Texas non tender him? My theory has got to be that perhaps maybe Otsuka does need Tommy John Surgery after all? But if not Dombrowski should at the very least take a look at him. I mean we do have the room on the 40 man roster. Otsuka could be worth probably $3-4mm per year. Not to bad if hes healthy then a 1 year deal would be worth it.

  6. Kiko Calero at 2m, and Roberto Novoa at .500.000 could be helpful cheaper Cruceta/Bautista like options too.

  7. I’m with macbengal, I’ve always liked Calero, and he was REAL bad last season (but historically is pretty solid), so we might get him on the cheap. Wise is also a good option — either way, I’d like to see us look for a cheapish, hard-throwing righty to replace Zoom for as long as needed.

  8. I don’t really get all the hand-wringing about our bullpen. Todd jones is what he is. Rodney is a good-enough setup man. Seay, byrdak and miner combined for an ERA under 3.00. Grilli had a few bad games in May (9.90 era in may), but was otherwise solid and dependable (3.57 2nd half ERA). That’s 6 solid relievers. So we have some competition for our 7th reliever between live-arm youngsters like bazardo and cruceta and whoever else; the 7th reliever spot doesn’t really seem like something DD needs to go out and spend money on. Of course, non-tenders are cheap, but it’s kind of like shopping at garage sales: the stuff is cheap, but it’s out on someone’s lawn for a reason.

  9. As a seasoned veteran of hosting and shopping yard sales I can tell you the main reason people have them:

    need money, too much stuff, like to socialize with people.

  10. Don — I agree for the most part. I like what we have. But here’s my feeling about middle relief: often the same guys aren’t good/bad consistently year to year. Look back at guys (MLB-wide) that’ve been “dominant” MR/setup guys for several seasons. How many are there that’re not named Scot Shields? Usually a guy that holds an era under 2.50 or 3.00 for more than one season ends up getting a shot as a closer (Lidge, Dotel, Latroy, Otsuka, Flash Gordon, etc etc) and either they succeed, and never go back to MR (like Joe Nathan) or they struggle and end up as (at best) a moderately reliable setup guy (think Derrick Turnbow…or maybe even Rodney).

    There just are very few year-to-year solid MRs…that’s why they’re MRs. So to say that because Byrdak, Seay, etc were good last year, they’ll be the same this year worries me a bit. If you told me we could have Scot Shields at $3.4mil (what he made last year), I’d pay him immediately, as there are very few guys like him. Zumaya, I think, can be one of those guys (assuming he gets back to his ’06 form) but not having a guy to pitch the 7th or 8th inning in tight games is a hole I’d like to fill. Especially with a staff that had *1* complete game last year, and may need a bridge guy to get us to Todd pretty regularly.

    Here’s a link to the relievers ranked by WHIP, min 40 innings pitched last year. Most are either closers or totally unavailable, but look at CLE having 2 in the top 8 and MIN having 3 in the top 22, while we don’t have anyone in the top 40 (Seay at 42). In 2006 we had Walker, Rodney, and Zumaya all in the top 40. I just think it’d be nice to have “that guy”, like Okajima was for BOS this season. I guess one *totally* crazy idea would be that it could be someone in the system already — Cruceta maybe?



  11. Could it mean that Pudge may be available to cut payroll?

    Another interesting tidbit, I just saw on Sportscenter that Haren was traded to the Diamondbacks. The DB’s also traded Valverde to Houston.

    I am glad that he is going to the NL. I know that Cleveland has been trying to get Haren or Bedard. Now that Haren is gone, hopefully the O’s will ask for too much for Bedard. I know C. C. may leave after next year, but that rotation would be scary with another ace added to Carmona and Sabathia.

  12. Rumor has the Reds as the favorite to land Bedard, but these things change day to day. Cardinals are also interested.

  13. Hooray! Haren to the NL! Anything that doesn’t help CLE (or BOS, or NY, or MIN, or anyone else in the AL) is good for us. I’ve heard the Bedard-to-the-reds rumor too, that’d make me doubly happy.

    Like I said the day of the Miggy/Dontrelle trade — can spring training start today?

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