Fanning the Inge/Thames trade fires

While the players had a day off today, I’m sure that the front office was continuing to work the phones. News of another injury in Dodgertown may be a catalyst for a Brandon Inge trade while more Marcus Thames rumors swirl.

I saw it first on Spot Starters that the Dodgers back up plan for Andy LaRoche at third base, Nomar Garciaparra, fractured his left hand. Inge could be a target for the Dodgers to play third base. Still, neither of the injured players are supposed to miss the entire season so why would the Dodgers take on 3 seasons when they could get a one season player like Joe Crede?

Meanwhile, via MetsBlog Jayson Stark reports that the Mets covet Thames. In exchange the Tigers are angling for Aaron Heilman. Heilman fanned three times as many as he walked last year. The 29 year old right hander is certainly a more attractive arm than others who had been linked to the Tigers but Stark doesn’t see the Mets moving him.

In the same piece Stark has this:

But an official of one club says the Tigers are “talking to every club out there just about every day.”

With Fernando Rodney out of action, Francisco Cruceta out of the country, Yorman Bazardo dealing with neck stiffness, and Todd Jones battling arm strength issues, what was a suspect bullpen is now bordering on terrifying.


  1. Kathy

    March 20, 2008 at 8:10 am

    Cry me a river over you, Marcus Thames.

  2. Stephen

    March 20, 2008 at 9:00 am

    Well, we still have Grilli! God, how is he still on the roster? Heilman is more than decent, but I can’t see the Mets letting him go just for Thames.

  3. Andrew Stein

    March 20, 2008 at 9:37 am

    The pen really isn’t a big deal. We’re basically facing the same problem that the Yankees have faced the last four seasons. Great lineup, good pitching, scary pen. It helps that they have a HoF closer who can pitch 70+ innings a year, but everyone else is fairly crappy. Cleveland had to have an excellent pen last year because their offense wasn’t that great and that rotation even got a little troublesome after Sabathia and Carmona. We do not have a similar problem unless of course one of the starters get hurt. The possible loss of Jones isn’t even a big deal. Statistically it’s more important to have a good 7th and 8th inning guy than a 9th inning guy. The ’06 Tigers and ’07 Indians are testaments to that. The problem would be finding someone who is mentally able to take on that role if Jones goes down. There is no question in my mind (barring injuries) that the Tigers can overtake Cleveland. The Indians made no improvements to an average offense and one has to wonder how good that rotation will be after Sabathia. The big question will be what to do in the playoffs. If Zumaya and Rodney aren’t back in the pen and throwing well by October I have concerns about how far that pen will take us.

  4. Chris in Nashville

    March 20, 2008 at 9:38 am

    Yeah, we might have to package something to get Heilman, which I’m not sure we can do at this point…I would really hate to see Thames go, but we have enough offense…though it would be nice to have him as insurance on the bench, other needs are prevailing at this point….like the fact that we have a potential to have the worst bullpen in the bigs…everyone knew the bullpen was going to be a concern, but not like this. It’s getting scary and we haven’t played a game that counts yet.

  5. don

    March 20, 2008 at 9:39 am

    More grilli-hate. Why? He’s a league average reliever and he makes less than $500k. No, you’re right, let’s cut him!

  6. don

    March 20, 2008 at 9:46 am

    The bullpen will be no worse than last year. Grilli, Seay, Byrdak, Miner are all solid. Jones is jones. The fact that cruceta and rodney are questions doesn’t “border on terrifying.” Billfer’s being very un-dude. Even if we had those guys, the pen would be only average. Heilman would be an excellent addition, though. Let’s not get too down about the pen, it’ll be fine even if it’s not 2005-lights-out-excellent.

  7. rings

    March 20, 2008 at 10:01 am

    I’d hate to see Thames go, as I’ve always liked him, but Heilman would be a better option than some of the rumors.
    And yes, Stephen, for the the right team who would play him, Thames would be worth it…the guy would hit 40+ over a full season – and that has value to anyone, particularly versus a RH reliever.

  8. Chris in Dallas

    March 20, 2008 at 10:02 am

    Don’t forget that Bautista has had a nice Spring.

    Neyer is reporting that Chien-Lung Hu or whatever the heck his name is for the Dodgers might end up playing 3B until LaRoche is ready and/or Nomah is healthy. They seem to be going out of their way to *not* trade for Inge.

  9. Lee Panas

    March 20, 2008 at 10:10 am

    I think the Tigers bullpen is a big deal. They may have enough hitting and starting pitching to overcome it but they also may not. It’s a bad bullpen and it will make winning more difficult. They will need to get more innings out of a starting pitching staff which I think can be quite good but is loaded with question marks and little depth should injuries occur.

  10. Walt at CMU

    March 20, 2008 at 10:43 am

    I like Thames, but I think he is easily replaced by Raburn or Hessman.

    Hopefully someone that has been horrible this spring will be called up and prove to be decent ala Byrdak last year.

    Bull pens are always unpredictible. I will wait until the all star break to be seriously worried about ours. I just want the season to start.

  11. Lee Panas

    March 20, 2008 at 11:21 am

    It’s true that bullpens are unpredictable in good ways and bad ways. On one hand, a guy like Bautista could come out of nowhere and have a solid season. On the other hand, someone like Byrdak might have been a fluke last year. Most good teams have a couple of guys they can depend on to have good seasons though. The Tigers don’t really have anybody I consider anywhere near a sure thing going into the season.

    I’m still picking them to win the division but the bullpen is not going to make it easy.

  12. Eric Cioe

    March 20, 2008 at 11:44 am

    We don’t have what it takes to get Heilman. This is like trading Joel Zumaya for a bench player.

    The bullpen might be a weakness for a while, but if Bautista turns out any good, then I could see us having one of the best pens by the break:


  13. Chris in Nashville

    March 20, 2008 at 11:51 am

    I agree with you Eric…if all those guys are healthy, that isn’t a bad bullpen at all…but who knows what Zumaya will be when he comes back, Bautista has a history of walking guys, Rodney seems to be fairly injury prone and Jonesey has the tendency to implode (though I’m personally not as worried about him). Byrdak and Seay were great last year, but who knows if they can repeat that, they haven’t really showed they can do that consistently yet.

    It’s early, but from the day we dealt our future away for the present, I’ve been wanting us to go out and get another arm in the bullpen. My thought process is, why go out and put this unreal offense and strong rotation together (with it’s own question marks) and have a bullpen that has as many question marks as it does? Which is why if you have to trade Thames/Inge and whoever else to make the deal work, (within reason) you make it happen.

  14. Stephen

    March 20, 2008 at 6:57 pm

    Chris, I agree. Let’s hope we’re not seven games out by the break! Seriously, we have a 40-year-old closer who is on borrowed time. The healthy guys are your #9 and #10 guys on other staff. Let’s remember last year when we kept saying ‘just wait until Zumaya and Rodney get back.’ By the time the bullpen was somewhat stabilized, the race was over.
    Starting lineup: A
    Starting pitching: A
    Bullpen: D

  15. T Smith

    March 20, 2008 at 7:34 pm

    I wouldn’t say trading Heilman for Thames is like trading Joel Zumaya for a bench player. Thames is highly underrated, in my estimation. Yes, he’s a bench player in Detroit, but on the right club he could well be the prominant slugger. I think Dombrowski is right holding out to get something of value for Thames.

    Mark my words, if we trade Thames, three or four years from now a lot of people will second guess the trade if we don’t get someone of high value in return.

  16. billfer

    March 20, 2008 at 7:55 pm

    Well yes, if Rodney and Zumaya are healthy and Jones doesn’t have any more arm strength issues (and he did look pretty good tonight in a 1-2-3 inning) then the bullpen should be fine. But none of those things exist right now! Hence the apprehension.

    I’m not worried about Miner and Seay right now and that’s it. Bautista is certainly encouraging and Grilli should be adequate.

    But Bazardo’s soreness bothers me (he only faced one batter tonight, don’t know if that was be design or not) as does the absence of Cruceta.

    A healthy Rodney and Jones and a bunch of extra guys and I’m okay with the pen. But that’s not the current situation.

  17. Kathy

    March 20, 2008 at 9:39 pm

    Miner always worries me.

  18. Chris in Dallas

    March 21, 2008 at 10:29 am

    Ugh. I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again. The ’07 bullpen wasn’t entirely terrible if you take Mesa and Capellan’s numbers out of the mix. The problem with that team was having to use 473 different starting pitchers. It’s too much to ask to have the same 5 guys make every start, but if this year’s club can use only 7 or fewer starters everything should be fine. Bonderman, Willis and Rogers are the key. 2 of those 3 need to go 200 innings.