Rumors, Rumors everywhere

A lot of talk, A lot of speculation piping out of the GM meetings in California. Right now it seems like most teams are in on most players. But there are some names being rumored to the Tigers. Today’s rumor and moderately relevant news rundown:

  • The Tigers are in on Rafael Furcal, or at least plan to talk to him.  Furcal is of course a stud.  He’s also been a stud who’s had a hard time staying on the field the last 2 seasons. The Tigers won’t get into a bidding war, but I could see them going for a year deal or one and an option year.  That would only prove attractive to Furcal if nobody else is willing to offer him an extended deal and he wants a short contract to prove his worth/health.
  • If the Tigers want to buy low, there is a chance they could pursue Khalil Greene.  Rumor has it they have at least kicked the tires – as have the Orioles and Reds.  Greene is slated to make $6.5 million next year before becoming a free agent.  The length is right, but 20-25% of the team’s budget on a player coming off a 213/260/339 season that saw him 4 plays below average at short.  If the Tigers were to pick up the salary, he should come essentially free in terms of prospects though.  Which is good since he’s a .304 career OBP guy.
  • Scott Boras says that Magglio Ordonez doesn’t expect to be traded.  I don’t actually believe anything that Scott Boras says though so take that for what it’s worth.
  • AJ Burnett opted out of his Blue Jays contract.  I don’t bring this up because the Tigers have been connected to him, but because he’s now another arm in the free agent pond.  And if the Tigers go fishing there, it may help with the team’s chances at Lowe’s or Garland’s or others.
  • Junichi Tazawa, who I thought might be a worthwhile bullpen target for the Tigers, has been offered a major league deal by the Braves.  Too rich for my blood.
  • The Tigers have made Fernando Rodney available. Rodney is frustrating to be sure, but he’s not the worst guy to have in the pen and for the cost it would be hard pressed to increase on his production – when healthy.  That’s a big factor though as Rodney has really only maintained health in 2006.

88 Comments

  1. JAY-RC

    November 5, 2008 at 12:03 am

    Why would Rodney be on the market? Isn’t it obvious that we would get very little in return for him. I am of the smaller percentage that likes Rodney…. Guess I just think we’d be better off hoping he returns to form.

    Sign Burnette or Lowe!!!!!!!
    One of them sure would eat up innings and guarentee some Ws.

    Stay away from Greene!

    Furcal ? Hmmmmmm

    Varitek…..Yes please

  2. Mike R

    November 5, 2008 at 12:38 am

    If this team signs Jason Varitek, I formally give up on this front office. Period.

  3. Vince in MN

    November 5, 2008 at 2:55 am

    Varitek – No
    Greene – No
    Furcal – interesting possibility
    Lowe – No
    Burnette – ain’t happening
    Rodney on the block – could this have something to do with the new pitching coach? And a big yes please from me.

  4. jason

    November 5, 2008 at 9:43 am

    Varitek would be over-priced, is too old, and should be avoided. I really hope this is not a possibility they are looking at.

  5. Smoking Loon

    November 5, 2008 at 11:06 am

    Besides the injury problems, Rafael Furcal has played his entire career in the NL. Yes, so had Miguel Cabrera, but that’s another type of hitter. I’m skeptical of Furcal-types making the transition. .286 career hitter, 96 OPS+ in the National League? Meh. There’s more to him, sure, just not enough for the price and risk, as far as I’m concerned.

    For a lot less than Furcal, and about the same as Khalil Greene, the Tigers could fill SS and C with Adam Everett and Henry Blanco, or even _______ and _______ (insert your own lower cost, 1-2 year solutions).

    There doesn’t seem to be enough money to get either the kind of starter that would redefine the rotation or a closer messiah. So I’d hope they would spend the $18 mil left on all the bullpen help they can afford, including a closer.

    I’ve been looking around for a Sheffield contract swap prospect, so the Tigers could unload him without eating all of that money. It doesn’t help that it would have to be with the few teams Sheffield would agree to go to.

    The 2 most irksome things about the Tigers situation, and the situation of anyone pretending to make moves for them, are the way they’re hamstrung by bad contracts, and that Sheffield essentially forces Guillen into LF. Boy, does that bug me. Well, relatively speaking. It’s not like it’s ruining my life.

    I think it’s a good thing to be shopping Rodney. The complaint for those objecting to such moves seems to be that we wouldn’t get good value, would be selling low, and then in the very next breath the possibility that Rodney (or Guiilen, or Robertson, et al) could bounce back is mentioned. But it’s that same possibility that would interest other teams. A player who has been no-fluke just plain good (or at least solid) in the past doesn’t turn into scrap based on one season, except to disappointed fans. Anyway, I do hope Rodney is traded.

  6. Mark in Chicago

    November 5, 2008 at 12:37 pm

    Next to opening day, this probably my favorite time of the baseball year.

    So far, nothing exciting on the horizon, and if the Tigers sign Varitek, that is not a good sign of things to come. I know they need a catcher, but guys like Paul Bako or Toby Hall (just to pick two) would be cheaper alternatives. You’d get about the same production as Varitek, anyway. Loon, you keep mentioning Blanco, but I think the Cubs really want to keep him and he wants to stay. I might be wrong but I think he’s a long shot. The guy who I kind of like is Gerald Laird in Texas, but they want pitching in return (Robertson?).

    Khalil Greene is nothing special, and Lowe, Furcal and Burnett won’t happen. DD wouldn’t be doing his job if he didn’t at least kick the tires, though, so maybe something can be worked out. I’m skeptical on those guys.

    I have no problem trading Rodney if they can get something useful for him (like Laird). The bullpen is undergoing a makeover, and with his control problems and health issues, Rodney is a tough guy to rely on. He’s struggled in the closer’s role.

    DD likes to go for “name” guys, and while sometimes that works, sometimes it doesn’t. There are good players on other teams or as a FA that DD could pick up for relatively little, so hopefully he can identify a few that will help us.

  7. Smoking Loon

    November 5, 2008 at 12:57 pm

    Thanks for the heads up on Blanco, Mark. As close to Chicago as I am, you’d think I’d pay more attention to the Cubs, if not the Sox. I’m disappointed – Blanco seemed like a real good fit. Not much else out there.

    I wonder if this trade could work: Rodney, Thames, and Raburn to the Mariners for J.J. Putz, Carlos Triunfel, and (for Toledo, if nothing else) Victor Diaz.

  8. Vince in MN

    November 5, 2008 at 1:19 pm

    I agree with Loon on his skepticism of Furcal. Gotta be careful of those imports from the NL not being able to reproduce their numbers in the AL (see Renteria). He might be worth a look if he is cheap, but given what is available (I have to say NO to Everett), I wouldn’t be too disappointed if we started the season with Santiago at $$. Getting a catcher should take priority (I like Laird too), but that is a difficult problem to solve as well. Then there is the pitching staff….

    With a handful of overaged, underperforming, overpaid players with little or no trade value taking up space, a depleted farm system and the disinclination to raise payroll, the Tigers are going to have a hard time making any drastic changes to improve.

  9. Vince in MN

    November 5, 2008 at 1:38 pm

    From a cost standpoint, the Tigers could take a sort of scattergun approach and sign a bunch of reclamation projects (besides our own, I mean – ha ha) to minor league contracts with performance incentives and hope some stick. I can’t think of anybody in particular off hand; just a general idea.

  10. Smoking Loon

    November 5, 2008 at 1:43 pm

    Vince, you might vote no on Everett no matter what, as many would, but I wouldn’t be getting him in order to hand the SS job to him. He might not beat out Santiago, might not even split the job, but he’s the answer that Raburn isn’t to round out the Tigers’ infield bench, and he’s not expensive, even if he’s not the cheapest/best solution (maybe Peter Orr would be?). Unless the Tigers really want to rush Cale Iorg.

    I’m wondering why Bako or Hall would be better than Varitek. The price? Of course, if Varitek is after multiple years, forget it. I’d offer Blanco 3 before I offered Varitek 2.

    Innocent question: What’s so good about Laird? What would it take to get him – Robertson?

    I don’t know if Blanco could be persuaded to join the Tigers, but my main selling point would be: More playing time without having to go from a good club to a crappy, rebuilding, guaranteed non-contender to get it. At least I hope the Tigers haven’t earned that description.

  11. Smoking Loon

    November 5, 2008 at 1:58 pm

    “From a cost standpoint, the Tigers could take a sort of scattergun approach”

    They could, and they might. It would be a nightmare for the likes of me to try to puzzle out scenarios for this, though. Way too much research and savvy required.

  12. Mark in Chicago

    November 5, 2008 at 2:00 pm

    Loon,

    Varitek (well, Boras) is likely after multiple years, and they are expecting something in the range of $5-7 million per, I would speculate. But even if Tek only wanted one year, it’s still a better bet to look elsewhere (Bako and Hall were just random choices).

    Varitek’s numbers have declined precipitously the last 3 seasons, and he’ll be 37 next year. He posted a .359 slugging and a 73 OPS+ last year. This is not something you want to get in front of, even for one year. If the Tigers were a young team, maybe they could benefit from his leadership and intangibles (I am NOT trying to re-start that conversation, either), but that doesn’t apply here.

    Laird is attractive because he’s only 29 next year, very good defensively, and posts reasonable offensive numbers, though with little pop (career 255/306/383 hitter with a 79 OPS+). I think he’s arb-eligible next year, but he should be reasonably inexpensive to retain until full free agency. Given his defensive abilities and that fact that we get enough offense elsewhere, he’s a nice platoon candidate with Dusty Ryan. The downside is that he bats right-handed also. The Rangers indicated they want pitching, and there are a few teams looking for catching (including the Red Sox). It might take a starting pitcher, and I doubt they would want Robertson and his salary.

  13. Smoking Loon

    November 5, 2008 at 2:11 pm

    I’ve changed my mind about Raul Ibanez. If they could get him, hire Kirk Gibson as manager, find some guys named Marshall and Fender, well… that would just rock.

  14. greg

    November 5, 2008 at 2:18 pm

    Mark in Chicago – “maybe they could benefit from his leadership and intangibles”

    I AGREE! It’s time we fired up that topic again!

    ;-)

  15. Smoking Loon

    November 5, 2008 at 2:40 pm

    Mark

    OK, Laird’s on my list, right after the unlikely Blanco.

    “I doubt they would want Robertson and his salary”

    I don’t know. They would appear to be pretty desperate for the kind of solid lefty Robertson may still be. Robertson’s salary is actually the only reason I can think of to offer him straight up for Laird. Well, that and the 6+ ERA last year.

  16. Smoking Loon

    November 5, 2008 at 2:45 pm

    Maybe… the Tiger and Pudge reunion is only a motion away.

  17. David

    November 5, 2008 at 2:45 pm

    Yep, those darn National Leaguers can’t hit AL pitching(as you’ve said Rentaria)

    Silly Silly Silly

    Where did Polanco come from? or Cabrera?

    Granted sometimes there is an adjustment period as we saw last year because you haven’t seen the guys over here as much

    I agree and disagree with a lot of you

    Varitek I see as being a last resort and most likely would say NO

    Furcal yes
    Khalil yes if we don’t have to give up anything besides picking up his contract

    I don’t believe a word Boras has said either, I’ve heard him too many times quoted as saying something and then the opposite happens

    Still I agree with what he’s saying, but you never know..

    AJ hmmm, likely to be overvalued due to his 18 win season, first season over 12…..

    Why don’t we go after these foreign players more? I don’t get it…

    I say give FRod 1 more year to reclaim his great 2005/2006 seasons

  18. Neal

    November 5, 2008 at 3:22 pm

    Looks like SD has burned it’s bridges to Greene, as possibly to Hoffman as well.
    Greene- I’m not too high on Greene, he just completely collapsed last year, and I believe he was always better on the road than at PETCO Park. He’d be worth a flier if he can be had for just the contract cost. I don’t think the Padres want him around, and they definitely hate paying anyone.
    I am suprised that he was below average defensively, and so I would have to leave it to the Tigers scouts to determine if his defense and swing were correctable or a decline that will continue. Based on the Willis fiasco, I would take the opposite approach of whatever the scouts say.

    Hoffman- I know Hoffman was offered a 3 year deal by the Indians 2 years back, and he turned it down for a 2 year reduced rate deal to stay in SD, where he has his family and extended family. Maybe a 1 year deal with an option would work?? He isn’t leaving SD the city, just possibly the Padres.

    Furcal- I can’t see him not being offered at least a 3 year deal by someone, so I don’t see him as a likely option.

    Everret – just say no!! Especially if you have dead wood Inge at third.

    Now that the Rent-a-Rear-A era is over, it seems obvious to everyone that we need a Glove SS to win, and that was my position from the beginning. But, pray tell, how did we win with Guillen at SS in 06 and 07? Isn’t that his best position? at least based on the offense gain vs. defense lost. Has he lost the little ability to play SS that he had?

    Crazy bat shit idea time:
    Put Guillen back at SS. Play Hessman at 3rd! If it doesn’t work, you go with Santiago until Iorg is ready, or get a usable 1 year SS for that time. If Hessman doesn’t work, you have Larrish already grooming for the spot anyway.
    Get a Catcher that will be expected to Catch 100 games a year, and let Inge catch the rest, or better let Ryan do it if and when he’s ready. Inge didn’t fall apart behind the plate until he had to man the position daily.

    Even crazier bat shit idea – Oh, and now that LF is open again, you could sign a guy for the minimum that woud have been just as effective, if not more so than Guillen, Barry Bonds (if he’s not in jail).

    Now you have money to spend on Pitcher, just don’t let it be a groundball guy, or you really do need to spend the money on a superior defensive SS.

  19. Smoking Loon

    November 5, 2008 at 6:13 pm

    If Gerald Laird is attractive, what about Kelly Shoppach?

  20. Smoking Loon

    November 5, 2008 at 6:17 pm

    I don’t know why the Tampa Bay Rays wouldn’t be interested in Gary Sheffield for DH if the Tigers picked up half his salary. I don’t know why objects fall when I drop them, either. It’s a very strange world we live in.

  21. Smoking Loon

    November 5, 2008 at 6:24 pm

    I have come to the conclusion that Freddy Garcia is the only free agent starter I’m going after as Tigers GM.

  22. Chris in Dallas

    November 5, 2008 at 6:39 pm

    Ramon Hernandez could be a 1-year solution to the catching problem, as I hear the Orioles want to move him to make room for uberstud Matt Weiters. What do you think?

  23. Chris in Dallas

    November 5, 2008 at 6:40 pm

    Gerald Laird is the best bunter in the history of catchers. It’s true – Google it.

  24. Mark in Chicago

    November 5, 2008 at 8:21 pm

    Kelly Shoppach and Ramon Hernandez are great ideas, guys, I hadn’t thought of them. I would guess Hernandez to be more likely since DD pretty much refuses to trade within his own division.

    As for contracts:

    Hernandez is owed $8 million in 2009 with an option for $8.5 million in 2010 (and a $1 million buyout). There would almost certainly have to be a “bad contract” swap here. How about Nate Robertson? (I keep doing that. hm…..)

    Shoppach is arb-eleigible through 2011. Can anybody estimate what he might get in that process?

    I don’t know who is the better defensive catcher. Shoppach looks like the better option (assuming the defensive abilities are similar) since he’s only 29 next year, much more cost-effective, and far more potent offensively. I am thinking the price would be very high for him, but at least then he couldn’t go 5-for-5 with 2 HR against us…

  25. David

    November 5, 2008 at 9:09 pm

    Loon – if I were GM or assistant GM of the Rays or heck even a little league team I wouldn’t want Shef

    he’s more trouble than he’s worth (which isn’t much)

  26. billfer

    November 5, 2008 at 9:43 pm

    Absolute no on Varitek. Blanco would be fine, but I don’t know he’d be available. I don’t understand the Laird fascination at all in terms of his qualities as a player. He’s done very little and I’m hoping that the talk around him is his availability due to the Rangers stockpile. I’m partial to Josh Bard. He’s out there, he’s a switch hitter which would be a better compliment to Ryan, and he’s coming off an injury plagued year so he should be cheap.

    Oh, and I’m not that fond of Everett. He’s a win or two better than average defensively, but he’s at least 2 runs worse than average offensively. Plus he’s coming off a year that saw him injured with a shoulder problem which could limit his one skill.

  27. Lee Panas

    November 5, 2008 at 11:32 pm

    The Cubs declined Blanco’s option so he is currently available.

  28. hawk84

    November 6, 2008 at 12:14 am

    Shoppach put together a nice year last year – sometimes catchers are late bloomers. If he can be had cheap – get him!

  29. Vince in MN

    November 6, 2008 at 12:22 am

    I think the possibilities of trades with MN, CWS, CLE and KC are pretty small given that they are all in the Central and unlikely to wish any improvement on the Tigers, especially at the 25-man level. Shoppach would be nice, but my guess is that won’t happen.

  30. Vince in MN

    November 6, 2008 at 12:56 am

    Blanco is 37 and best suited for a backup role. Bard is only 30 and could be worth a shot if he is healthy – he put up decent numbers in ’06 and ’07. Has anybody know what his injury history from laast year was? Could he be counted on for 100 starts. Laird is 29 and healthy (I assume) with fair but inconsistent career numbers. He’d probably be OK for 100 starts. There really doesn’t seem to be much to choose from out there.

  31. Mike R

    November 6, 2008 at 1:21 am

    I was coming back to post everything Billfer posted in his comment, so no need in me re-posting that.

    And Shoppach (1) isn’t available to Detroit and (2) isn’t going to be coming to Detroit even if he was available because other teams with needs at Catcher (Boston) can outbid us in the personnel category.

  32. Pingback: TigerBlog » Blog Archive » Rafael Furcal, Jeff Larish and the Bad Boys

  33. Smoking Loon

    November 6, 2008 at 10:58 am

    Thanks for all the thoughts and info, guys.

    Maybe I do overrate Everett as someone to plug into the middle infield. Any better ideas along the same lines? That is: Inexpensive veteran. Great defense. Can play SS and 2B equally well. No more than 1-2 years expected.

    I like Mark’s bad contract swap idea, Robertson for Hernandez. I’d forgotten about Ramon Hernandez – I think the name came up a long while back.

    Word has it that the Indians are likely to trade Shoppach, so he is at least in theory available to the Tigers. I’ll concede that the Indians wouldn’t want to help the Tigers and that the Tigers can’t afford to offer too much.

    Josh Bard. Interesting.

    Any thoughts on J.J. Putz and whether he’s worth pursuing via trade? What about looking outside for a closer and additional bullpen help? High priority? I’m thinking yes. Not looking beyond 2010, but I don’t think they can afford to go into 2009 expecting someone to “emerge” as closer – I really don’t.

    Thanks for the heads up on Blanco, Lee. I hope there is at least some interest on the part of the Tigers. I can’t think of a better fit (well, it would be nice if he was a LHB) in terms of a veteran to partner with Dusty Ryan. Has anyone taken a look at Blanco’s SB/CS numbers? Holy cow.

    Chris, I googled “Gerald Laird is the best bunter in the history of catchers” and got 2 links to your post. I think you should google “Chris, I googled “Gerald Laird is the best bunter in the history of catchers” and got 2 links to your post.” If we keep doing this, the universe will eventually collapse to a singularity, and that would presumably allow me to take the rest of the day off and go home. I’d like that.

  34. Smoking Loon

    November 6, 2008 at 11:01 am

    “I was coming back to post everything Billfer posted in his comment, so no need in me re-posting that.”

    Yeah, yeah. You really want that gold star, don’t you? Well, you’re going to have be a little less transparent about it, mister.

  35. Smoking Loon

    November 6, 2008 at 11:40 am

    I was thinking about my reasons for going after Everett, and thought, well, why not just let Santiago be your Everett (sort of) and go after Rafael Furcal or Orlando Cabrera. But Furcal would be risky and expensive even for one year, and Cabrera wouldn’t be cheap, either, and might be after a longer contract than 2 years. If they expect Iorg to come along so fast, even 2 years might be too long. So… Furcal if he would accept one year, I guess.

    But, Furcal advocates – is it really worth taking that money away from getting pitching help and a catcher? He could be Renteria/Sheffield revisited.

    I’m still thinking go cheap at SS (preferably SS-2B) and C. I’d start Santiago. Maybe at both, to save even more money.

  36. Chris in Dallas

    November 6, 2008 at 11:52 am

    That’s funny Loon. The 3rd Google link discusses Laird’s bunting prowess, though. He’s probably a better player than he’s given credit for IMO. He’s pretty fast and a tick above average defensively to go along with the fact that he’s not a horrible hitter. As far as catchers go he’s OK. Maybe it’s just my North Texas bias.

  37. Chris in Dallas

    November 6, 2008 at 11:54 am

    Furcal provides a lot of things that the Tigers need. Defensively he’s excellent at a position where the Tigers were weak. He’s wicked fast and the Tigers are a slow team. And he’s also a switch hitter, so he’d add a lefty bat to a righty heavy lineup. The obvious red flag is that he has trouble staying healthy and/or sober. Could be a calculated risk to get him (as opposed to an uncalculated risk).

  38. Smoking Loon

    November 6, 2008 at 12:07 pm

    So, Laird is Pudge Lite, – control of running game and + bunting. Seems like something we could live with, maybe. Would Texas be willing to pay Nate, o ye of North Texas harking-from?

  39. Chris in Dallas

    November 6, 2008 at 12:13 pm

    Well, the Rangers are always in the market for pitching so there might be some sort of match there. And (if you remove the 5 HR stinkbomb from this year) Nate has pitched well at that ballpark. For some reason I think Robertson will have a bounceback year in ’09, if only for the fact that he can’t possibly be any worse. I probably wouldn’t give much of a crap if he got traded though, as much as I like him.

  40. Smoking Loon

    November 6, 2008 at 12:17 pm

    Nice thing about having Furcal is that it would force Leyland to move Granderson to #3 already.

    And about that leadoff spot…

    Without Guillen, it’d be Sheffield for me. Without Sheffield, Guillen. Without Sheffield and Guillen (or pipe-dream Furcal)… Santiago. Madness! But who else is there (I don’t want Granderson there anymore. No!)?

    Just for fun, look at Ramon’s career splits batting leadoff. Too funny. Particularly the HR and RBI numbers. Could surprise. He’s Granderson undiscovered, and a switch-hitter at that!

    No, not Polanco.

  41. Smoking Loon

    November 6, 2008 at 12:21 pm

    “For some reason I think Robertson will have a bounceback year in ‘09″

    Wouldn’t surprise me. I’m not so high on him in the pen anymore after what he showed there. I hope they get something they need for him now, and I’ll wish him the best on another team. Not worried about facing him, because I think the Tigers would rock him.

  42. Smoking Loon

    November 6, 2008 at 12:40 pm

    From the “Oh” Department:

    Unless I misread it, I believe I was (mis)informed by a ranking of 2009 infield defensive projections that Adam Everett projected as a superb 2B. This is odd, since Everett appears to have played 2B exactly 4 times in his entire professional career.

    Adam Everett is out, John McDonald is in.

    I first heard of John McDonald through poster Dave BW. I share his confidence that McDonald can make the transition from pitching, where he clearly did not excel, and bring it on in the middle infield for the Tigers, despite not having played in 101 years. McDonald’s career OPS+ of 229 should more than make up for his suspect defense. He’s worth 2 Guillens at SS, minimum, and I’m hoping the Jays will accept our humble offer of Miguel Cabrera.

  43. Smoking Loon

    November 6, 2008 at 1:17 pm

    Hmmm… what about Craig Counsell? Old, bat in decline, but supposedly still a very good and versatile infield defender, good career OBP, bats left.

    I wouldn’t be wondering about guys like Everett, McDonald, and Counsell if Raburn could play SS at all. Raburn is a LF on a team with 40 left fielders.

  44. Chris in Dallas

    November 6, 2008 at 1:45 pm

    All of those guys are, to put it mildly, not very good. Although the pickings are pretty slim in the SS department, so the Tigers may have to ‘settle’ for a weaker option there.

  45. Smoking Loon

    November 6, 2008 at 1:48 pm

    Chris, I guess my focus has shifted from finding a SS to finding a middle infielder. Like my colleague* DD, I must explore all options.

    * ha ha

  46. Chris in Dallas

    November 6, 2008 at 1:59 pm

    Oh no. Another ex-Marlin is on the market, as the Dodgers have declined their team option on Brad Penny. He may as well start getting fitted for his (rather large) Tigers uniform.

  47. Smoking Loon

    November 6, 2008 at 2:06 pm

    How about Juan Uribe? A bit more expensive, a bit weird that a lesser-paid Santiago could start ahead of him, but hey, there have been higher-paid utility guys (see: Inge, Brandon), and he’s supposedly pretty good at 3 infield positions.

  48. Smoking Loon

    November 6, 2008 at 2:08 pm

    That’s funny-scary, Chris. Say it won’t happen.

  49. Joel in Seattle

    November 6, 2008 at 2:23 pm

    Why doesn’t they just move Inge to SS? He’s got the range, he’s got the arm. He can pick it up in spring and I don’t doubt that he’ll be the best defensive SS the Tigers have had since Santiago was playing every day in 2003.

    You put Guillen back at 3B, let Inge play there and sub in Santiago at SS when Guillen needs a break. You can also give Larish some time at 3B so you get a left-handed bat. We’ve obviously got all kinds of options in LF. Anyone know a reason (other than Leyland’s mental blocks) that this can’t happen?

    Oh, and then you can spend the $ on catching/pitching…

  50. Plain old Andre (in Chicago)

    November 6, 2008 at 2:29 pm

    “All of those guys are, to put it mildly, not very good. Although the pickings are pretty slim in the SS department, so the Tigers may have to ’settle’ for a weaker option there.”

    I agree Chris, although I don’t think there’s anything wrong with DD ‘kicking some tires’, if at the end of the day something doesn’t really stand out…its probably best to go into the season with Santiago @ SS.

    There are more pressing pitching needs to be addressed and I don’t know to what extent that position will improve the ’09 Tigers. Aside from a lack of hitting early in the season, the consistent issue was the pitching.

    It hurts me to say this because I think players produce better if they know what their roles are, but there is some flexibility at SS within the team with Guillen and possibly even Inge (or Rayburn?) able to fill in if necessary. If the Tigers do go out and get a SS, I would (as a fantasy Asst-GM) not want them to spend more than $2mil unless they get somebody I’m not currently thinking of (and I’m only slightly more aware of who I’m thinking of than who I am not thinking of, so don’t ask me for my <$2mil options).

  51. Smoking Loon

    November 6, 2008 at 2:29 pm

    Nick Punto? Don’t laugh.

  52. Smoking Loon

    November 6, 2008 at 2:36 pm

    Well, my Assistant, I would go along with almost anything that would keep Guillen out of LF. He’s only going there because Sheffield won’t go away. So I’d put him back at SS as the starter if only someone could tell me he can possibly play the position full-time anymore, which I doubt, plus it’s not the defensive upgrade DD and many here (like me) are crying for.

    As an emergency fill-in for Santiago to save us from the $2 mil solution, maybe. But couldn’t Inge be made into the emergency guy without too much trouble? I don’t think Raburn is a good infielder, period.

  53. Plain old Andre (in Chicago)

    November 6, 2008 at 3:03 pm

    “I don’t think Raburn is a good infielder, period.”

    I’ll admit I didn’t really look at any numbers in mentioning him, just that he’s played infield. I’m also pretty unfamiliar with how defense is evaluated statistically. What is the significance of things like ‘range factor’ and ‘zone rating’ in layman’s terms? What’s considered good/average/poor in these areas?

  54. Joel in Seattle

    November 6, 2008 at 3:12 pm

    Why is it doubtful (other than the fact that it hasn’t happened) that Inge could play SS every day? Is there a particular skill (besides hitting, wiseguys) that he lacks? Or is it just a “he hasn’t done it since college” thing?

  55. Smoking Loon

    November 6, 2008 at 3:26 pm

    Joel, to my mind, it’s doubtful that Inge ever will play SS – even occasionally – because he still hasn’t even long after you’d think the matter would have been considered, and because it reeks of wishful thinking by fans (I’m one of the wishers). I don’t recall or know of a single word from the Tigers about Inge at SS. Without even that straw to build from, or any record in pro ball, the speculation seems a bit empty.

    There’s no doubt that he could. That guy can do everything. Other than hit.

  56. Smoking Loon

    November 6, 2008 at 3:32 pm

    Also, I’m looking forward to a season without positional weirdness. If I had my way, the 2009 positions would be filled thusly:

    C a catcher
    1B a designated hitter
    2B a second baseman
    SS a second baseman/shortstop
    3B a third baseman
    LF a left fielder
    CF a center fielder
    RF a right fielder
    DH a former shortstop who can still play in the field

    I’ll settle for 8 of 9, considering who the exception is.

  57. Chris in Dallas

    November 6, 2008 at 3:38 pm

    Andre 3000: I don’t know what a ‘good’ range factor or zone rating would be off the top of my head. I just compare the player based on how he stacks up against the rest of the league at his position. Those numbers are supposed to indicate how many plays the guy makes that are in his ‘zone’ but how that ‘zone’ is defined is not in my realm of knowledge. Hey, speaking of defense – can anyone else fathom how Nate McClouth got a Gold Glove? He was -40 (yes, minus) in Dewan’s +/-, which is actually the worst number for any defensive player. I find that fascinating. Maybe it was the Rawlings Bizarro Gold Glove Awards? The Concrete Glove Award? Oh well, at least Jeter didn’t win one again.

  58. Smoking Loon

    November 6, 2008 at 3:42 pm

    Andre, regarding Raburn’s infield defense and defense in general, my policy is to always swear by the last thing I read. I also go on unreliable recent memory. I remember a great catch in LF, a crucial throwing error at 2B, and another costly throwing error in RF. I also note that Raburn was used quite sparingly in the infield in 2008. Things haven’t been the same since I found out about the bulge, anyway. I’ve already traded him to Seattle.

    “What is the significance of things like ‘range factor’ and ‘zone rating’ in layman’s terms? What’s considered good/average/poor in these areas?”

    I’m hoping billfer will step in here. I get it to some degree without being able to explain it well.

  59. Chris in Dallas

    November 6, 2008 at 3:43 pm

    My dream 2009 would be:
    -Justin Verlander pitching like Justin Verlander
    -Jeremy Bonderman staying healthy and pitching like Jeremy Bonderman (sans the 1st inning difficulty)
    -Dontrelle Willis pitching 180-200 innings of serviceable baseball. You know, like a 4.50 ERA or something.
    -Armando Galarraga not regressing too much
    -Fifth starter X not getting massacred every fifth day
    -Joel Zumaya and Fernando Rodney actually being healthy and effective.
    -A reliable closer being identified.
    -Freddy Solid being Solid.

    If 80% of those things work out, I think they’ll be in the mix in the division.

  60. Joel in Seattle

    November 6, 2008 at 3:54 pm

    Oh, I agree that it’s unlikely. But I just don’t understand why it hasn’t been tried yet. Inge wants to play in the field every day, and we need a SS. We’ve got other guys that can at least fill the void at 3B, we appear to have no one at SS.

  61. Smoking Loon

    November 6, 2008 at 3:54 pm

    Chris, guessing about McLouth:

    a) the fielding percentage/only 1 error

    b) he plays for the Pirates

    How thankless to be the Curtis Granderson (sort of) of the Pirates. Not quite All Star numbers unless you were Carlos Guillen or – preferably – played for the Yankees or Red Sox. Gotta hand out something just to acknowledge that the franchise still exists, I guess.

  62. Smoking Loon

    November 6, 2008 at 4:01 pm

    “But I just don’t understand why it hasn’t been tried yet.”

    I’m with you. Figuratively speaking. Don’t get all paranoid. It’s not like I’m standing behind you as you read this or anything. It’s not for me to judge what people are looking at on the web in the middle of the day no less, anyway. Hey, don’t close tha – well, just send me the link, then. That looked pretty wild.

    :)

  63. Smoking Loon

    November 6, 2008 at 4:03 pm

    “we appear to have no one at SS.”

    You’re not that down on Santiago, are you, Joel? At the very least, he does fill the void.

  64. Joel in Seattle

    November 6, 2008 at 4:16 pm

    Santiago’s fine – I like his versatility, and his bat is adequate for spot duty. But I’d just as soon have only one regular infielder hanging around the Mendoza line. Having Inge move to SS would be intended mainly to get Guillen or Larish to 3B.

  65. Smoking Loon

    November 6, 2008 at 4:25 pm

    I’m kind of partial to leaving Inge at 3B. But I’d trade him to Cleveland for Shoppach and give Hessman 3B to start the year, put Guillen back at SS, and make Sheffield play LF until he got injured and then release him.

    OK, maybe not. The Indians do need a 3B. Larish for Shoppach?

  66. Chris in Dallas

    November 6, 2008 at 4:56 pm

    I know you’re not allowed to do this, but Mike Hessman is the same as Marcus Thames. Shouldn’t be getting regular AB’s. Use sparingly.

  67. Plain old Andre (in Chicago)

    November 6, 2008 at 5:03 pm

    “I know you’re not allowed to do this”

    most of my favorite things start off this way…

  68. Smoking Loon

    November 6, 2008 at 5:05 pm

    “Mike Hessman is the same as Marcus Thames”

    I know, and that’s why I’m proposing a Hessman/Thames platoon. Can’t miss that way. Hessman will play a very deep 3B at times, which Thames could follow by playing a very shallow LF.

  69. Chris in Dallas

    November 6, 2008 at 5:13 pm

    Loon: I’m sure you remember my advocacy of the 5 man infield, with Granderson playing CF/LF and Inge playing CF/RF. Unstoppable.

  70. Smoking Loon

    November 6, 2008 at 5:13 pm

    Joel, Santiago has never been a Mendoza Line guy with the Tigers. His offensive numbers are going up up up. He’s no Carlos Guillen and no Vizquel, but the guy’s 29 and apparently hitting his stride, not so unusual. Let’s give him a chance. At least a chance to win the job outright in spring training next year.

  71. Smoking Loon

    November 6, 2008 at 5:15 pm

    Chris, I do remember, and it was brilliant. Ran into a snag with the Rules Committee for reasons I still don’t understand.

  72. Smoking Loon

    November 6, 2008 at 5:18 pm

    Seriously, though, I don’t know if any rules actually prevent you from positioning your defense any way you like. Maybe not in foul territory or in the stands, not sure about that one. Yeah, I know baseball.

  73. Plain old Andre (in Chicago)

    November 6, 2008 at 5:26 pm

    “At least a chance to win the job outright in spring training next year.”

    Loon,

    I think there’s a much better chance of that happening across the board this spring training. The one up side to the length of the contracts some of these guys are signed to is that its easier to ask them to move where they’re needed.

    I think a big reason it took so long to sort Guillen and Cabrera out last year is that they wanted to wait for Cabrera to extend his contract before asking him to move.

    I think this would go for the rotation as well as the fielders. I wouldn’t be totally against them bringing back Rogers to compete for a spot if he’s willing to sign on a low-base ($1-2mil), high-incentive deal.

    The silver lining of this off-season is that, even factoring in age declines, (knock-on-wood) there’s a lot of reason to believe that the remaining members of the ’08 Tigers are going to produce more as a group in ’09.

  74. Smoking Loon

    November 6, 2008 at 5:28 pm

    “Shouldn’t be getting regular AB’s.”

    Worth examining (or revisiting endlessly, take your pick). If the 25 HR were worth the 95 K in 342 PA, why couldn’t the 40 HR be worth the 153 K in 550 PA? I don’t think we have any reason to believe that Thames’s power is going to nosedive with too many PA. Dude won some games! Coulda won more! Thames! Woo! Thames! Woo!

  75. Smoking Loon

    November 6, 2008 at 6:22 pm

    Andre, I never thought of Cabrera’s contract extension as a factor. Maybe someone mentioned that earlier and I forgot. Maybe I was the one who mentioned it.

    Who are you? Where am I?

    Anyway, as I was saying, OK, sure, on Rogers. Let’s have a look, if he still wants to pitch.

  76. Chris in Dallas

    November 6, 2008 at 6:41 pm

    I don’t think Cabrera’s contract extension had anything to do with anything. They paid him like a 3B, which is a more premium defensive position. If he’d have been a 1B, the contract probably wouldn’t have been as rich since it’s a lot easier to find a slugging 1B in the world.

  77. Plain old Andre (in Chicago)

    November 6, 2008 at 7:08 pm

    Chris,

    I’m going to disagree, partly.

    I don’t know to what extent the contract and its timing had on the move from 3rd to 1st…I suspect it had something to do with it, and I do recall reading similar somewhere (I’ll try to dig that up). Now, on that point, don’t believe everything you read…it happened to be something I read, and I thought it made some sense and could have been a factor.

    “They paid him like a 3B, which is a more premium defensive position.”

    Maybe so, but I think his contract had everything to do with his numbers, of both the production and age variety, and little if anything to do with what position he played. They weren’t looking for a 3B, Illich saw a chance to get .300/+30HR/+100RBI and said, “I want that”. That Cabrera happened to play 3B was secondary, as evidence in part to the uncertainty of where he would play once the trade was announced.

    What I’m getting at is that there’s likely, the sweet baby-Jesus willing, going to be less uncertainty of the “where is Tiger X going to play” sort. They seem pretty sure of where they want to put the existing pieces, while still looking to address shortages at SS and C.

  78. Smoking Loon

    November 7, 2008 at 10:16 am

    I think billfer’s onto something with Josh Bard. Ramon Hernandez is too expensive. Henry Blanco would still be my first choice. Gerald Laird, OK.

    How about Gregg Zaun? Switch hitter, consistently good OBP.

    Any hope for the return (resigning) of Vance Wilson?

  79. Smoking Loon

    November 7, 2008 at 11:26 am

    I’m kinda glad Furcal is off the table. Could have been a Renteria-style misadventure. Don’t see the point in going after a stopgap like Greene (whose career hitting looks worse and worse the closer you look) when you already have a less expensive stopgap – Santiago.

    There just isn’t a SS available under favorable terms that can justify relegating Santiago to the bench again. So I see more of a need for infield depth. Nick Punto could provide it. Is there someone else along those lines, only better, that I’m missing? It’s either that or groom Inge to back up SS, and keep Raburn and Larish/Hessman as your infield bench. Which still doesn’t leave room to keep both Joyce and Thames, either of whom have more value to the team than Raburn. With better options at 3B, Raburn’s only infield value is at 2B. If I could trade Raburn for a guy with a similar bat that could play a decent SS-2B, I would. I just haven’t seen that guy out there yet. Any ideas?

  80. Chris in Dallas

    November 7, 2008 at 12:03 pm

    Well, there’s a couple positive things I could add about Khalil Greene if I wanted to. Of course first and foremost he’s an excellent member of Bill Simmons’ Reggie Cleveland All-Stars, so he’s got that going for him. And also, he’s been quite stifled by playing his home games at PETCO Park, which we all know is death for hitters. Career @ home – .225/.289/.369, career on road – .270/.318/.484. Considering that he also plays a pantload of games at Dodger Stadium and Phone Company Park in SF, he’s played a lot of road games in tough hitting environments as well. I haven’t dug into his defensive numbers, but anecdotally I seem to remeber him being described as ‘average’. He also looks a lot like Jeff Spicoli.

  81. Smoking Loon

    November 7, 2008 at 12:35 pm

    Thanks for bringing up the ballpark factor on Khalil Greene, Chris. My latest* source on his defense at SS says “quite good.” $6.5MM, huh? You know, I’m kinda looking forward to Santiago. Don’t ruin it for me.

    Another desperate scheme for moving Sheffield: Bad contract swap with Boston for Julio Lugo. But wait, there are multiple years of Lugo. OK, Sheffield to the Yankees, along with Nate Robertson and Fernando Rodney, for Johnny Damon. The Tigers would then trade Damon for pitching, of course. No, wait – Sheffield to the Yankees for the guys we got him for. No, wait – Sheffield to the Yankees along with Robertson. Take Sheffield and pay him, and we’ll give you Robertson.

    It’s a coping mechanism, that’s all.

    * By definition synonymous with “absolute truth.”

  82. Smoking Loon

    November 7, 2008 at 12:40 pm

    Greene still strikes out a lot, though, Chris. Unimpressive OBP for a guy with moderate pop.

  83. Smoking Loon

    November 7, 2008 at 12:44 pm

    Ha! Bill Simmons’ Reggie Cleveland All-Stars. I knew nothing about this, or the Tyson Zone, or the rest. Pretty funny.

  84. Chris in Dallas

    November 7, 2008 at 1:13 pm

    Well, Greene received precisely 4 votes for the Fielding Bible Awards this year. I guess that means he might be average or a little better. Last season he was +7 in the ol’ plus/minus system, but this year he didn’t rank near the top or bottom. Of course he was injured and missed a chunk of time in 2008. In ’06 he was +12. This is better than Renteria’s combined -1,843 during those seasons. So he’d be an upgrade. Considering the $3MM buyout on Renteria is a done deal and Greene’s $6.5MM contract, you’re paying $9.5MM for a low OBP slightly above average SS. No, wait – I’m still not sure who actually paid that buyout. I think I read that Boston was responsible for it. Anyhoo, Greene might be the best of a bad crop at SS. I’m still not a believer in Ramon the Everyday SS (I think I watched too much election coverage, what with my use of first name + the + occupation).

  85. Smoking Loon

    November 7, 2008 at 6:02 pm

    My confidence in Ramon the Pool Boy is greater. He’ll be making more than in 2008, but he’s still the cheapest/best choice I can see. I think it’s important to go cheap at SS and C, no more combined than (say) that $6.5MM Greene has coming. Bullpen!

    So… Lopez, Dolsi, Seay. Rapada, Rodney, Zumaya, hand the ball to Fien and say, “You’re the closer, kid. Sink or swim.” Is that the plan? Yeah, all those young guys might be ready in 2010. But that’s 2010.

  86. Chris in Dallas

    November 7, 2008 at 6:33 pm

    Loon: I shall reproduce a question I posed to Keith Law at ESPN during a chat yesterday. Actual question, actual answer:

    Chris (Dallas, TX): So the Tigers seem to think Ryan Perry could pitch out of the ‘pen in ’09. What are your thoughts on that? Read he has the great velo, but what about the command/secondary stuff?

    Keith Law: Slider and changeup had good action but he was leaving them belt-high when I saw him in March. If he’s able to change the hitter’s eye levels better, yes, he could pitch in the majors in 2009.

    So anyhoo, there’s a possible option for the bullpen at low cost. He was the #1 pick after all. I think they could build a bullpen on the cheap and use the extra $$ to upgrade C and SS, but that’s just my armchair GM opinion.

  87. billfer

    November 7, 2008 at 10:47 pm

    On Cabrera’s extension and the timing of the position move, I do believe it played a factor. They probably would have liked to have moved him earlier in the spring but they wanted to get him locked up first. And on Cabrera’s part he probably wanted to be paid like a third baseman rather than a first baseman.

  88. Chris in Dallas

    November 8, 2008 at 7:57 pm

    I suppose the Gil extension was mutually beneficial – they wanted to lock him up, he wanted to get paid like a 3B. That makes sense. Either way, he’s the face of the franchise (along with Granderson) for a long long time. Which is good.