As the Trade Winds Blow

With a week before the non-waiver trade deadline, rumors are flying everywhere. A quick round-up of Tigers items of note so far:

It appears that the Tigers had scouts at the Orioles/Blue Jays game when A.J. Burnett started. Whether they were scouting Burnett or lefty reliever George Sherrill is unclear. The Tigers could of course use some starter help, and there is a belief they are looking for a lefty reliever also.

The starter isn’t a surprise, but the Tigers could always turn to Clay Rapada. And while I haven’t been a proponent of Casey Fossum, he has been pretty good in his last 7 outings. He’s stranded 8 of the last 10 runners he’s inherited and fanned 11 in his last 14.1 innings. Plus he’s had 3.1 and 4.1 inning games. I’m not saying there isn’t room to upgrade, but would that be the best use of limited chits?

Jayson Stark notes that the Tigers are offering Gary Sheffield. He could still fetch a player or two if the Tigers pay the bulk of the salary. The mildly surprising part is that Stark lists a young shortstop on the Tigers wish list. Yes Renteria has been awful, but I’d guess the Tigers would look for a stop gap. Mike Hollimon is more of a second baseman, but could fill in at short and some combination of Cale Iorg, Danny Worth, and even longer shot/higher ceiling player Audy Ciriaco could be reading within a year or year and a half. The Renteria 1 year/1 option year contract was attractive for that reason (before the sucking of course).

And then in the old news department the Marlins inquired on Pudge Rodriguez. Pudge is having a very solid year – not a $13 million year – but he does probably represent the best production that could be available at the position. Rodriguez would likely fetch 2 draft picks should the Tigers offer arbitration and he declines. I’d view the declining as likely because he’d probably pursue a multi-year contract.

Of course the intensity of any buying or selling on the Tigers part is likely to pick up following this weekend tilt with the White Sox.

31 thoughts on “As the Trade Winds Blow”

  1. I just hope that DD doesn’t rush into a bad deal in persuit of the shortstop. Last year’s trade for Rentaria was an example of how bad decisions are made when a GM is putting needless pressure on himself to get that position filled. And why not just use Santiago if you don’t get the right deal?

  2. I just watched the movie Semi-Pro with Will Ferrell in which they traded a washing machine for a washed up point guard. I wonder if we could work out a similar deal for Sheffield? I think it’s extremely important to the morale of this team that our Tigers whites remain bleached while retaining the right amount of starch and softness.

  3. because Ramon Santiago is not an everyday short stop in the majors leagues. I don’t care what his numbers are this year in limited playing time. I don’t think he’s the wizard in the field that everyone makes him out to be (solid defender but people rave like he’s ozzie smith) and his bat is non-existent. Could we carry it? Yeah, probably. Does that mean we should carry it? Nope.

  4. Ken-

    Your post might be just what Sheff needed to get riled up and go on a tear! I mean come on, the implications of trading a black player for a washer to improve the teams “whites”…he can’t just let that slide!


  5. It’s irritating, b/c Sheff’s return HAS cost playing time for Marcus Thames. Thames – the league’s most prolific HR hitter – has not played in three of the past five games, while Sheff has started all five (5-20, with HR, which is not “hot”).

  6. Burnett is a former Marlin and (without looking it up) probably a former DD guy. I would think DD is at least asking about him, but I’m not sure if we have the pieces to get a deal like that done.

    Ken in Cincivegas, you are clearly trying to get Sheff riled up, as Andre points out. Nice work, keep it up. Also, let’s get Daniel Cabrera to toss BP for Sheff and have him get one in the ribs. That should do the trick.

  7. Are there really any quality SS on the market? Jack Wilson is about the only name you see, and the Tigers have already been down that road. I agree with billfer’s sentiment that they just need a stopgap while some of the younger kids continue their development. If Renteria started to actually play above replacement-level (big if), he could be that guy. The outcome of this weekend’s series will determine a lot of the buying/selling M.O.

  8. I agree with the “stopgap at SS until prospects ready” sentiment. No trades, please. I see Santiago as the stopgap, superior to riding it out with Renteria. Santiago is not a defensive whiz or a tremendous bat, but I also believe it’s unfair to judge him on very old numbers. He’s a better hitter than he used to be, and he’s also a switch hitter. He’s better for the team for the rest of 2008 at least – that’s my position.

  9. I see Gary Sheffield, playing regularly for the rest of the season, raisng his average to .250-.260 and perhaps equaling his 100 game HR/RBI in the 60 left. That’s nice. However, Thames/Joyce/Guillen/Ordonez/Cabrera could easily put up comparable numbers filling the DH role. And there is no shortage of 2009 DH candidates. So, getting anything for him in trade now would be a plus.

    This isn’t Sheff-hate. I like the guy, attitude and all. Proud, competitive, some anger in him – I can relate to that. I wish things had worked out better, because I was delirious when the Tigers landed him.

  10. Even with as disappointing as Sheffield has been, there are still things he’s done well. Still works the count and gets on base. And he’s been stealing some bases again too. So there’s that. Admittedly it’s a short time period, but over the last week he’s getting on base at a .370 clip while slugging .476 with 3 steals. As we saw last year, he can just ‘click’ and go off for an extended period at any time. Maybe that time is now. Or maybe I’m too optimistic. Who knows. I do know that this coming series has me all jazzed up.

  11. I’m forced to admit that holding on to Pudge looks like the smartest move. It’s hard to let go of the old Pudge expectations – anything short of All Star feels like a disppointment now. Just out of curiosity, how does he rank overall among MLB catchers now? Still pretty high, I’d guess.

  12. I’m excited about the upcoming series with the Sox, too. A chance for the Tigers to take the bad taste out of my mouth from the last Twins series. I’ll be listening to it on the radio for every pitch if I can. It’s huge.

  13. It doesn’t make any sense to me for the Tigers to make any really big moves. They are 15 games over .500 since they bottomed out, and even their “slumps” of late have been stretches of .500 ball. I actually think that standing pat will work out fine for them.

    But I agree with Sean C: Santiago is NOT a bad choice at short for the remainder of 2008. He’s having a very good year, so give him 4 starts a week, and give Renteria the other 2-3. And I don’t think Santiago is just “HOT” right now; I agree that he has actually improved his skills since he was an everyday player for those awful teams early in the decade. And maybe we see Renteria heal up the hammy, figure out his demons and start mashing again. In all seriousness, he’s the best player “available” at short for the Tigers — when he’s right.

    I also think that it’s a mistake to give up on Sheffield. BUT, with Thames and Joyce on board, he might be worth dealing for the right talent, because those guys can bash. I mean, holy cow. Of all the moves contemplated, I think that moving Sheffield is the one that might make sense, if they are able to get a couple arms, or a + shortstop prospect, DD might have to do it.

    As for bullpen arms… Isn’t that where we have a surplus? I mean, who is it that’s been hurting us out there, really? Even The Rollercoaster has only cost us 1 game all season.

  14. scotsw

    “As for bullpen arms… Isn’t that where we have a surplus? I mean, who is it that’s been hurting us out there, really?”

    That’s an interesting question. Very interesting. Yes, there is a surplus. No, there is not a surplus. I think “not helping enough” might amount to hurt. Might.

    I want to look into this rather deeply over the weekend. I think the Tigers bullpen has been a weakness overall in 2008, and it seems that as the team has climbed first to .500 and now perhaps to actual contention, that weakness has revealed itself more and more. But that could be all perception and impression from memory. What do the stats and game logs say? I aim to find out.

    All I know so far is that at the halfway mark or thereabouts, the Tigers bullpen had been atrocious (leaving aside “league norms” – it was obviously bad no matter how much worse other teams might be) at letting inherited runners score and in terms of WHIP after coming in with runners on (2.50 or so!).

  15. I will be very, very interested in what you find, Sean… The bedeviling thing about relievers is that ERA isn’t really the most telling stat (whereas it’s far more useful for starters, I think), and inherited runners is very much an issue. But unless you want to dig up the numbers every week, which is not for me, you won’t know. The broadcasters show you ERA, but we need a more informative common stat for relievers. At least FSN shows you strikeout/walks and hits these days. It wasn’t so long ago, all they told you was W/L, IP and ERA. We were really in the dark as fans then.

  16. Trading for a SS seems foolish to me, as well. The Tigers can’t get out of Edgar’s contract this year, and they can certainly limp through this year with him and Santiago. If the Tigers fall short this year, it’s not going to be because they didn’t have Jack Wilson manning SS.

    None of the trade possibilities are any more enticing than the guys that’ll be free agents in the offseason.

  17. “If the Tigers fall short this year, it’s not going to be because they didn’t have Jack Wilson manning SS.”

    Exactly. And not because Jack has a very average BA, 0 HR and 2 SB in around 200 AB. SS is mostly about minimizing errors, maximizing chances and putouts. The bat comes later.

    Consider SS from some of the best AL teams:

    Erick Aybar
    Jason Bartlett
    Julio Lugo (though Lowrie makes this interesting)
    Brandon Harris
    Orlando Cabrera

    The NL certainly has the AL beat on SS depth, and none of the names above strike fear with the bat. You don’t need a slugging SS to win, but it really helps to have one that fields.

    I say go with Santiago unless Renteria somehow stops falling over the plate every single time he swings through a BP fastball. But Santiago is the better defender, hands down. And, right now, a better batter too.

  18. Chris…I’ll disagree with your sentiments on Sheffield. The fact is he drew walks throughout his career because oppenents had fear of him. That is no longer the case.
    He’s has 9 walks in his last 24 games, since returning from DL, and 3 of those were in one game. On the other hand, during his last 0-5, 2K, game on Tuesday, he struck out in one appearance w/o seeing a single pitch in the strike zone. He hit another fly ball on a ball letter high. He also swung though or fouled off numerous offerings in the middle of the plate. Point is, in my view, he’s really not that particularly selective (I’d be interested if anyone can find his swing % on balls in the zone vs. average), rather his high walk total was a product of opponents formerly-careful approach to him.

    Overall, he’s “washed up,” to use common parlance, and many of us argued that point when we acquired him. Again, a few “hot” months aside, he has not been very productive since ’05, and he’s regularly injured. Worse, he’s taking ABs from more productive players because of his contract and attitude. I’d say we’d be better off without him and if we can acquire any help by dealing him, I’d be for it.

  19. If the Tigers are saying that Pudge is unavailable, its because they view keeping him behind the plate as necessary to a push. If we’re keeping him at C, keeping Guillen at 3rd and looking for a replacement for Renteria at SS…seems odd to me that Inge isn’t mentioned more (assuming that Santiago isn’t the answer and SS not being about hitting).

  20. Roy Halladay allegedly available. He apparently told management in Toronto that he wanted out, and they quietly asked around in St. Louis and the Dodgers. Too bad we don’t have the prospects to get THAT deal done. Yikes.

    I think Sheff is going to have a very good series against the Sox and a great finish overall. No reason, it’s just a crazy prediction.

  21. The Sheffield situation is an enigma.

    The rings argument is sound enough — but at the same time there is no reason to believe Joyce/Thames et. al won’t fall back down to earth a bit in production once they get more at bats, and once the league figures them out. Some pitchers are already making successful adjustments on Thames — whether Thames can make counter-adjustments of his own remains unknown at this point.

    If you can get something the Tigers need in the next 61 games (starting pitching and/or solid relief) for a Sheffield deal, I would say by all means make it happen. (However, how realistic is that?) But I’m not so sure you deal Sheff now for, say, a SS stop gap or for just anybody, unless the strategy of the move is specifically to have some of the younger guys get more ABs. But even if that’s the strategy, you don’t need to trade Sheffield now for that to happen. And if you ride it out with Sheff and he continues to come around, it improves his trade value in the offseason, if that’s what the club is looking to do in 2009.

    I personally think he has a month or two of some hot-streaks left in him. Now would be an auspicious time for the club to cash in on overdue production. Amid an uphill run, It’s certainly a gamble to test that theory, yes. But it’s a gamble I think we can take with the other guys in the wings waiting for a shot at the DH job.

    Hot-streaks aside, whether Sheff is “washed up” or not, is another question. Even so, I don’t think players simply fall off a cliff and become “washed up.” Rather, hot streaks become shorter, fewer, and more far inbetween, whereas slumps become more prolonged. I’m not opposed to risk dealing Sheff in 2009, but I certainly don’t want to see a trade for Sheff now unless it returns something that is going to immediately help this team win the Central in 2008.

  22. Earlier I made a joke about trading Sheffield for a washing machine, but the more I think about it the more I like it. It would be nice to get something out of a Sheffield trade besides the dubious honor of eating part of his contract, but even if we got nothing at all I think it would probably benefit us simply because it would guarantee that our best line-up takes the field each day. Thames and Joyce would play every game. I mean these two guys are hitting more homeruns per AB than anybody else in the league! Isn’t that what dreams are made of? I’m not expecting Joyce to keep up the pace, but he certainly will hit for a better average over the remainder of the season than Sheff if I was a betting man, and I am. (reaches for credit card.) We just don’t have the time for Jimmy to be tucking Gary into bed every night and reading him a bedtime story of how the old veteran turns it around and saves the day. I mean, sure, Jimmy tells the story well (he uses funny voices) but let’s put our best product out there down the stretch and take this division. Cue Al Pacino speach from Every Given Sunday. “That’s the difference between LIVIN and DYIN, between HEAVEN and HELL!!!” Oh boy, now I’m pumped for this series, and luckily for me due to the time zones, I get to watch it 2-3 hours before most of you all. Don’t worry I won’t tell you what happens.

  23. Last year’s trade for Rentaria was an example of how bad decisions are made when a GM is putting needless pressure on himself to get that position filled.

    I couldn’t disagree more. The Tigers had to find a shortstop last year. Dombrowski went out and got what he felt to be the best shortstop available. I wasn’t a fan of the price that had to be paid, but there were very few people who didn’t acknowledge that the team had upgraded a position (actually 2 positions) of need. That Renteria has completely sucked changes everything, but I still don’t question the decision to add Renteria.

  24. I agree with billfer on the Renteria trade. It had to be done, there were no internal solutions available. As a reminder, the White Sox traded an established starting pitcher who is good for 200 or so innings of slightly better than league average performance for Orlando Cabrera.

    To clarify: not a good thing.

  25. The Tigers are fortunate that we really don’t need Renteria or Sheffield. Come World Series, I bet both of these guys will be important to the team though. Our depth, is what makes us a great team. We have back-ups at every position that deserve to play everyday. Now that most of our players are healthy and have heated up, we’re just blowing most teams away.

  26. Trading Sheffield for a token player and eating most of his salary for the next year and a half seems like a good way to (1) free up at bats for Joyce/Thames and (2) save face for all parties involved.

    The tough part is finding a team that wants a DH-only who hasn’t hit a lick for a full season, even for free

  27. I for one questioned the logic of the Renteria move from .003 seconds after it was announced. Simply put, he was a downgrade over Carlos Guillen defensively and obviously a much worse hitter (excluding his aberrant ’07). Of course, Guillen was out as SS at that point. That was another dumb-ish move. They created an unnecessary hole there. It would’ve been easier to grab a productive 1B than SS. Sure Gorilla’s Uncle had a crappy ’07 defensively if you only look at errors, but the bottom line is that he graded better than Renteria in most aspects with the glove.

  28. rings: I know you’re a Sheffield-hater and all, which is fine. There’s been ample reasons for that in all honesty. He’s still as disciplined as always though. He’s got a .110 split between his BA/OBP in ’08, which basically mirrors his .101 career split. That works out to a walk every 7.5 PA in ’08 vs. a walk every 7.2 PA in his career. What’s more troubling is that he’s K’d 49 times vs. 34 BB this year. Career-wise, that’s the opposite of what he normally does. Anyhoo, I’ll take this brief surge in his offense and hope that it leads to better things over the next 61 games.

  29. I’m sorry, I can’t hold out any longer.

    Ken in Vegas – How are the Tigers doing so far? I don’t need the exact score, just a hint. Are they still in the game? I’m not tuning in later if they’re down by 7 already.

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