Winter Meetings – Heading to Day 3

by billfer on December 9, 2008 · 124 comments

in Free Agents,Trade Rumors

I had so much hope after the first day of the winter meetings. The Tigers had two holes filled with plenty of money to fix the bullpen. Things aren’t going according to my plan.

Francisco Rodriguez was never an option for the Tigers, but he’s with the Mets. Kerry Wood was a very attractive, no compensatory draft pick, choice. But Wood chose the Indians.

The Tigers are still interested in J.J. Putz, but so are the Brewers. The Brewers have a better system and I don’t want the Tigers to get into a bidding war. Already Matt Joyce AND Jeff Larish AND Luis Marte have been discussed. That’s way too much for a guy with elbow ligament issues. It would be reminiscent of the Renteria trade in which the team instantly gets older. Joyce can’t be part of that deal.

But it sounds like the Mariners aren’t finding any matches and it’s unclear of the Tigers met with the Mariners today.

Brandon Lyon is a secondary arm I’d like to see the Tigers add. He’s talking to the Red Sox now.

Yes, Brian Fuentes (Rosenthal says the Tigers are interested in Fuentes) and Juan Cruz are still out there. Either would mean parting with the second round pick in next year’s draft.

Meanwhile the Tigers don’t like the Bobby Seay-Clay Rapada-Nate Robertson possibilities as lefties and continue to pursue Joe Beimel. Beimel is suitable as a LOOGY, but he wouldn’t be paid or used that way. The guy has walked more right handed batters in his career than he’s struck out. Don’t be fooled by the low ERA last year. Other than an ability to limit homers he isn’t a good pitcher.

If they can’t get Beimel then John Parrish is the back-up plan. Parrish has walked 6.10 batters per 9 innings over his career. Yippee. The walk numbers have been more mediocre to not good as of late, but the K-rate has gone the same way. He strikes me more as a spring training NRI than someone worthy of a 40 man roster spot.

Here’s hoping tomorrow is a better day.

UDPATE Wednesday 5:58 a.m.:

UPDATE Wednesday 7:43 p.m. Thanks to everyone for participating and keeping the rumors flowing today. Sheffield and Smoltz? Huh.

 
 

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David December 9, 2008 at 11:26 pm

I want to know what’s wrong with our lefties now.

Seay/Rapada is a very good lefthanded combination. We need right-handed setup relief and a closer more than anything else. If you want a lefty, find one in the Rule V draft (another place we should look for relief help).

Mike R December 9, 2008 at 11:39 pm

What’s Bobby Seay got to do to get some job security in Detroit?

Steve in Kzoo December 9, 2008 at 11:39 pm

LOL, David very good analysis.

I still say to save our team we need either, Lyon or Cruz setup, and Fuentes or Putz(as much as I cringe) for Closer.

Good points on the RHP for relief. Forgot about the Rule V draft. DD Look there for your new RHP help.

Chris in Dallas December 10, 2008 at 12:41 am

I don’t think getting Proven Closer Guy is necessarily a huge priority. Closers tend to come from unlikely sources, after all. Look at some of your top guys out there – Rivera was a failed starter, Papelbon was converted (though he was a top prospect), Nathan was a struggling minor league starter before he was traded to Minny, Soria was a Rule V pick, Jenks came to Chicago in an under the radar deal with Anaheim. The list goes on. I’d be inclined to look within to fill the ninth inning. Shoot – give Bonderman a shot at it.

Keith December 10, 2008 at 1:54 am

I know LOOGY is a left hand specialist but what does LOOGY stand for?

Chris in Dallas December 10, 2008 at 1:57 am

Lefty One Out GuY

Steve in Kzoo December 10, 2008 at 2:18 am

Chris,

That is true, but do you really want another year like 2008. We tried that before where did it land us, oh wait cellar basement with a $138MM payroll. We cannot take the chance again and become a bust, especially since we are in a win now mode. Though I do see your point. I really think that Perry given an opportunity to study under a viable closer would be great. Or another one of our RP draft picks. However, for this year, we need a viable closer and he has to be prominent otherwise we will more then likely fail before we even get out of the door this season.

And before you guys nail me lol, Lyon and Cruz would be great signs, but from what trends look like, Lyon might go to the Red Sox and Cruz is laying low. But neither of them I would try for ninth inning duties. Both would be great setup or 7, 8 inning punches (if we got both, fat chance lol).

Again nothing against the Tigers but we need a proven closer not a closer by committee like we had last year. Internal options are not that good or are too young, and Lyon and Cruz aren’t proven in the AL to pitch great in the ninth inning. We need a improved bullpen from the start, not a work in progress.

I know I will get belated by my comments but its how I feel after watching that thing called the Detroit Tigers in 2008.

Kathy December 10, 2008 at 8:04 am

Is it me? I thought today was Wednesday. Anyway, if we have to count on Rodney or Zumaya as our closer,

well………….

ed by billfer: Thanks Kathy. Fixed now. Not much sleep this week.

Smoking Loon December 10, 2008 at 8:18 am

Sub-headline from Detroit News article:

“If inconsistent righty [Rodney] can throw more strikes, Putz or Hoffman would only serve as insurance.”

WHAT?! You might as well say that if Dane Sardinha can get more hits, Gerald Laird will only serve as insurance. Since when do you pay more for the insurance than what’s being insured?

I’m not hating on Rodney here, but I wish they would trade him now while he still has perceived value.

It’s Wednesday here, too, Kathy.

Smoking Loon December 10, 2008 at 8:35 am

Dave from USS Mariner says:

“Honestly, I’d trade Putz for Joyce straight up, one for one.”

I’d make that deal. Without Guillen slated for LF, I wouldn’t.

Chris Y. December 10, 2008 at 8:46 am

I can’t say it enough, we need to forget Putz. That guy is way overblown and was nowhere near healthy last year. This guy has got Troy Percival written all over him, except the cost this time is more than just money.

If you want to empty the cupboard, go after someone who pitches more than one inning per game every few days when he happens to be healthy.

Chris Y. December 10, 2008 at 8:48 am

Anybody know what the position-relative win-share is for a closer?

I bet it’s a really small number.

Andre in Chicago December 10, 2008 at 8:59 am

i checked mlb trade rumors, can’t find anything on Hoffman recently. with Wood going to the Tribe, why are we hearing more about Putz than Hoffman? i’d like to see as few trades as possible, although i know the Hoff might be asking for more years than the Tigers want to give (although i’m iffy on the idea that we have a future in-house closer that has yet to be named). just thought i’d ask.

Smoking Loon December 10, 2008 at 9:00 am

Chris Y. – The number of games blown by the 2008 Tigers pen was not a small number. The lack of a closer anywhere near reliable after Jones went down was part of that. Putz or someone else, I think they need to go into 2009 with an established closer.

greg December 10, 2008 at 9:02 am

I don’t understand the infatuation with Joyce. What am I missing here? He’s ok, and certainly you can’t rule out the POSSIBLITY that he could improve drastically, I just don’t see any compelling reason to think that he will. For most of the season he wasn’t very good. He had an initial hot streak when he was called up, but after scouting reports got out on him he cooled off considerably. After that, he had one good month(July) and then was below average the rest of the season.

Chris Y. December 10, 2008 at 9:14 am

Loon – our bullpen woes (and poor bullpen management) last year extended well beyond the closer position. An established closer may have saved some of those games, but not many. My comment was more about overvaluing the closer relative to their overall contribution (ala Bill Beane and others).

Greg – for a 23 year-old last season who had little seasoning prior to call-up, Joyce’s .492 SLG and .831 OPS is nothing to throw out the door. To the casual observer, his defense (esp. his arm) was pretty decent, too. All young players are due for a slump now and again, and his poor BABIP during his ebb didn’t do him any favors. I, for one, don’t think he needs to improve drastically to be of real value to the Tigers moving forward. Why do you think so many folks ask about his availability?

http://www.hardballtimes.com/thtstats/main/player/index.php?lastName=Joyce

greg December 10, 2008 at 9:45 am

“Why do you think so many folks ask about his availability?”

Good question. I dunno. They must see something in him I don’t. Of course, I’m glad other teams think so highly of him. Maybe we can land someone valuable in a trade because he’s being overvalued(IMHO). To some extent, it seemed like he took advantage of mistake pitches, then pitchers figured him out(oversimplification but will suffice for this discussion)

Post All Star Break – 3 HR’s .243 BA, .351 OBP, .392 SLG, .743 OPS..

Looking at his #’s more closely, his OBP did improve slightly after the ASB, so that’s encouraging, and he’s a little more patient than I thought.

I wouldn’t mind keeping him to see how he does, but I wouldn’t mind trading him for the right piece either. I have mixed feelings about Putz. Take out Putz’s injury risk and I’d trade Joyce for him IF…..IF the Tigers plan on being contenders in 2009.

rings December 10, 2008 at 9:50 am

They’re STUPID to give up much of anything for a “closer,” the most over-rated glamour-position in baseball. Historically, they are notoriously bad acquisitions: Percival, Gagne, Mark Davis. Save leaders can come from nowhere and almost never stay on top very long, with a couple notable exceptions…recent leaders include: Borowski, Jones, Wickman, Isringhousen, Cordero, Urbina, Nen, Benitez, Lowe…none of whom are still “closing.” The 2005 White Sox, 2006 Tigers & 2008 Rays had a ROOKIE as their closer or primary bullpen stopper. The 2007 Red Sox had a third year man closing.
We have a ton of arms, start trying them out.
I’d still contend that Bonderman, with classic closer stuff, would be better as a closer and they should go back to starting Zumaya, who has fallen in love with the radar gun and continually hurts himself trying to hit 104 again.

All that said, the major point is this: they need to start stockpiling and keeping young talent. Our “stars,” with the exception of Miggy, are aging rapidly and our payroll is ballooning with guys on the bench, IR or declining skills. We need young guys, their energy and low payroll costs. It would be a mistake to trade Joyce and Larish. Offer Thames, Hessman, Sheffield, Thomas, Inge, Clevlen, etc., but leave Joyce especially OUT of this thing.

Smoking Loon December 10, 2008 at 9:55 am

I like Joyce, myself. Talk about a guy coming along at just the right time. Until this Guillen in LF nonsense came along, anyway. But Greg’s caution against infatuation with Joyce is well taken. For a serious need, yes, I’ll trade for potential for proven. Corner outfielders like Joyce are rather common, while established closers are not.

“If you want to empty the cupboard, go after someone who pitches more than one inning per game every few days when he happens to be healthy.”

I’m not stuck on Putz (hey, I’ll take Morrow or Capps), but this seems a rather harsh assessment of him. Very few pitchers have zero injury issues. It’s the nature of the position.

Smoking Loon December 10, 2008 at 10:01 am

Andre – I haven’t heard the latest on Hoffman, either. If he’s asking for 2 years, I don’t think he’s going to find any suitors in this market. I would not give him more than one. No way. Not that I would rule out trying to resign him after a good 2009.

Smoking Loon December 10, 2008 at 10:04 am

Speaking of pitcher contracts and this CC Yankee thing… man, 6 years for a starting pitcher. That’s insane, in my opinion.

Smoking Loon December 10, 2008 at 10:15 am

“We have a ton of arms, start trying them out.”

But they have, rings. You’re right, closers can come out of nowhere, but I don’t see one on the current staff. I’m with you on Zumaya as a starter, though I’d just as soon trade him.

I don’t see Bonderman accepting a move to the pen or the Tigers daring this. If they were daring sorts, they could have also moved Inge to SS and kept Guillen at 3B.

I do favor keeping Joyce and Larish. I really don’t know what business the Tigers have dealing with teams that want prospects or promising young guys, anyway. The trade bait I’d be dangling would be Thames, Raburn, Rodney, and Zumaya.

greg December 10, 2008 at 10:23 am

Rings – depends on what you give up I suppose. Giving up Joyce for for 2 years of a cheap stud closer could work out nicely. Putz could be a bust, or he return to elite closer status. That’s nothing to sneeze at. Either way, giving away Joyce isn’t giving up much. Joyce is not a superstar. Right now, he’s just another OF, who, maybe, just maybe, might become something one day….maybe, if you’re lucky, but probably not, so there’s not much risk and high potential reward, albeit somewhat short term unless they end up extending him.

In any event, if the Tigers pen doesn’t improve dramatically, including but not restricted to the closer position, it will be a looooong season for Tigers fans. Just hoping you get lucky by having a closer come out of nowhere is a strategy that can work, it could also be a strategy that would lead the Tigers to another finish towards the bottom of the division if they DON’T get lucky.

Bondo, IMHO, is a low % play to work out well as a closer because he has been astonishingly consistent at being terrible in the first inning. Those kind of command problems and closing don’t mix well. Perhaps it was due to an underlying injury, I dunno. But even if Bondo closes effectively, that creates another hole in the starting rotation that the Tigs most likely won’t be able to fill.

As far as Thames, Hessman, Sheffield, Thomas, Inge, Clevlen, etc., you’d be lucky to get a dozen baseballs and half bottle of a month old, warm bottle of Pabst blue Ribbon Beer with a couple of cig butts at the bottom.

Smoking Loon December 10, 2008 at 10:27 am

From MLBTR:

“Morosi says the Tigers have “mild interest” in Baltimore’s George Sherrill.”

Hmmm. How about it?

Chris Y. December 10, 2008 at 10:31 am

In principle, I am in agreement with rings. The Tigers have quickly become top-heavy in both salary and age and more and more resemble the Yanks of recent past.

Look, I think a lot of comparisons can be made to the Wings of a few years back. They were just too old and really had to purge the system. Because they have some of the best scouts in the NHL, the landing was pretty soft and they came back with a more balanced squad and in time to still make use of some of the veterans.

This needs to happen to the Tigers and this year. Delay just means we keep risking unmet expectations and a further decline in our farm system. We have rightly bought into cheap, short-term stopgaps for two key needs. And a trade may be the way to go to fill other needs. I certainly don’t think Joyce (or anyone, really) is untouchable, but it is simply not a winning strategy to keep stockpiling older talent (or JL’s gold: experience) and persistently thin the farm system. We need to keep that stop-gap philosophy with the most overvalued position in baseball — the closer. I like quite a few of the guys we have left on the farm and bench, and I really like our amateur talent scouts, esp. regarding college players. That much of the proper strategy is in place, if a bit overtaxed. I am much less fond of our analysis of current big-leaguers. We seem to consistently overvalue the guys patrolling the grass on the other diamond. It doesn’t help that Leyland, with the exception of breaking camp in 2006, clearly values experience over talent (no citation needed for this blog). It hasn’t helped with the W-L record or developing our players. The real risk of pursuing the current strategy is ruining the best years of Granderson, Verlander, et al. on a bunch of false hope and mercenary squads. That is, if they first aren’t sold for the next used-up candyman to go on the market.

Andre in Chicago December 10, 2008 at 10:43 am

greg,

Joyce had an abysmal September, to be sure: 49 ab / 8 hits / 0 hr / 0 rbi

i have to admit i wasn’t paying any individual attention to him as i watched games through the opening of my hands-that-covered-face, but i will say that such a decline is more indicative of a young players growing pains than pitchers all “figuring him out” at once…i just doubt he warrants the kind of coordination that takes.

All in all, he was good for a hr / 20 ab and a rbi / 7 ab, which puts him in the same club as the other outfielders. i haven’t seen enough of him to comment on his defense though.

Chris in Dallas December 10, 2008 at 10:45 am

re: Bonderman closing. I don’t buy the “he sucks in the first inning, so he’ll suck in the 9th” argument. It’s a completely different mindset starting v. closing. I think he’s got the head for it. Watching him over the years, he’s a bit “hyper”, which is kind of a trait of those guys. Plus he’d only have to use 2 pitches so he could quit fiddling with a changeup and probably add a couple of mph to his fastball. If you want an out-of-the-box type move, that would be it.

Andre in Chicago December 10, 2008 at 10:47 am

(sorry for the double post)

Chris Y.

you make good points about how the Wings adapted, but the problem with applying that to the Tigers is that, on top of an outstanding scouting staff, the Wings were able to get veterans and free agents to sign below-market contracts (some heavily discounted). as much as i like our boys, i don’t see too many of them taking pay cuts to keep a good core together. the Tigers approach will have to be different in practice, but the principle you lay out is quite valid.

Chris in Dallas December 10, 2008 at 10:56 am

Joyce has some things going for him. First off, he’ll turn 25 during the year, so he’s young (if you haven’t noticed, this team is old). Secondly, and I don’t think you can discount this, he’s a lefty. This team swings right harder than Fox News. He did have a 116 OPS+ in 242 AB so there’s some talent to be mined there. I’d hate to see them ditch another promising young guy to fill a need that can likely be addressed by other means (internally, free agent, Rule V).

Alex in Maryland December 10, 2008 at 11:10 am

http://sports.espn.go.com/espn/blog/index?entryID=3755628&name=law_keith

you guys see this? maybe it was posted before but i found it interesting

greg December 10, 2008 at 11:18 am

quote:

but i will say that such a decline is more indicative of a young players growing pains than pitchers all “figuring him out” at once…i just doubt he warrants the kind of coordination that takes.

unquote

Well, most, and I assume all teams, have advance scouts assigned to upcoming opponents on the schedule and they give that kind of attention/coordination to all starters, not just Joyce. They give the scouting reports to the pitchers, plus some pitchers/catchers will look at film of their upcoming opponents looking for holes.

From MLB.com back on May 23rd:

Leyland said he believes some of Joyce’s success stems from the fact that Major League pitchers know little about him and have never faced him. As long as Joyce keeps producing and stays in the lineup, that will change. Then it’s up to Joyce to adjust.

“People, at some point, will make adjustments,” Leyland said, “and if he also makes adjustments with them, he’ll be fine.”

At Chris – I agree that the mindset is totally different closing than starting, but I am not sure that is the issue here. It’s a matter of execution, even with the proper mindset. He has been unable to execute. If it takes him 1-2 innings to get the feel for how his stuff is working that day, I see no reason to believe it will be any different whether he comes out in the 1st, the 2nd, the 3rd, the 6th, or the 9th. If it takes 20-30 pitches to live hitters before he can locate his pitches, that will be problematic any inning. He has to fix what’s creating that problem, or the results will be the same.

Good point on Joyce being a Lefty.

Smoking Loon December 10, 2008 at 11:19 am

“Ideally,” Dombrowski said, “our (plan) is that it will benefit [Dusty Ryan] to play every day at Triple-A.”

Hmmm. Maybe billfer will get his Bard after all. That’s not so bad, and I don’t deny the wisdom of regular AB for Ryan, but still… I’m a bit crestfallen after seeing that DD comment. It’s like Ryan’s September didn’t matter, and I detect the aroma of Leyland’s “the veteran has earned it by being a veteran” thinking. I don’t see the point of handing a guy like Laird the job in December. Not good.

Eric Cioe December 10, 2008 at 11:37 am

Great idea, guys! Let’s take a guy who throws 200 innings when healthy and make him throw 60 innings instead!

Why is that a good idea at all? A #2 starter is more valuable than a closer. Bigtime. Maybe not in the playoffs, but over the course of a regular season, that’s a fact.

Bonderman hasn’t been healthy this about July of 2007. I think we’re all in for a treat when he comes back – 200 IP, 4.00 ERA, 180 SO, 45 BB. He’s a very good pitcher. His peripheral stats have always been good. In 2006, he was one of the top five pitchers in the AL.

Chris in Dallas December 10, 2008 at 11:37 am

Maybe billfer will get his Bard after all

I don’t remember billfer posting that he wanted them to get Shakespeare. I must’ve missed that entry.

Chris in Dallas December 10, 2008 at 11:43 am

Eric: Obviously, 200 innings are more valuable than 60. Not to mention that the Tigers don’t exactly have a ton of attractive options at starter to replace Bondo. My point was merely to prove the general point that you don’t have to get Proven Closer X – a lot of times you already have that guy and don’t realize it. I think a healthy Jeremy Bonderman in 2009 is due for a big year pitching every fifth day. Of course, if he can’t stay healthy then maybe you consider bullpenning him in 2010 to minimize his innings and maximize his health. We’ve got a long way to go before that.

Smoking Loon December 10, 2008 at 11:45 am

Could the Rockies still be shopping Huston Street? Maybe they’re less delusional than the Mariners about the return.

Andre in Chicago December 10, 2008 at 11:52 am

greg,

i’m sure your right with your scouting assumptions, but i also think that figuring a guy out and the natural progression of a player are separate things. granted they often coincide in the early stages of player’s careers as reflected in the Leyland quotes you provide.

my point was that it seemed that it seemed like you were undervaluing a young guy that has some upside. he posted some pretty good numbers in a fairly limited amount of ab’s and, while he did slump, plenty of young batters are inconsistent without showing the upside Joyce does. i’d just assume hold on to the guy rather than sell-high on youth.

Smoking Loon December 10, 2008 at 12:13 pm

Chris in D – I was hesitant to mention Shakespeare by name, for fear that it would resurrect the endless debate about the Sylvia Plath trade. Dombrowski couldn’t help it – Erica Jong and Maya Angelou were just unproven prospects at the time. But yeah – billfer went on and on a while back about how Shakespeare was a low-risk solution at C, with his established body of work and low cost from being in the public domain, and, you know, being dead and all.

rings December 10, 2008 at 12:16 pm

Eric – Philisophically, a starter is more valuable than a closer…BUT Bonderman has always had trouble getting through a season healthy, finding a third pitch, and “turning the corner” as a quality starter. He’s never won more than 14, his ERA never dipped below 4 and his best WHIP is 1.3 – even on good teams. As for “top five in AL” in ’06…puh-lease. Don’t let his NYY playoff start – after Rogers and Verlander did the dirty work – overshadow blowing a 6-0 lead to the last-place Royals to blow the division on the final day. He was an average starter pitching for a team on a roll. My point on this topic, is that his stuff is ideal for a closer, he doesn’t have to “save” anything for more than one inning, and it may be much better for his health to throw fewer innings given his arm troubles. You, on the other hand, are hopeful for 200 inning IF he’s healthy. “IF” being the key word.
Zumaya was a starter his entire career before 2006 and could potentially make a very nice transition back – which would get him back to “pitching” (he throws three quality pitches) rather than trying to blow heat past everyone and checking his gun reading after each hurling effort.

Instead, we’re going to continue to give away any workable parts from our low-cost farm system for another injury-prone rental who costs MUCH more $$. This strategy is a sure recipe to another decade in the wilderness, with fans complaining about an overpaid Higginson – err…Granderson – by the end of his contract on a bad team. Please note many similarities between ’97 and ’07 in terms of “taking the next step,” signing young core guys to several mistaken long-term deals (Thompson, Easley, Clark, Higginson, Encarnarcion), and acquiring a few rentals (Ausmus, Palmer, Jefferies, Gonzales, Mlicki)…there’s some strong parallels here.
As for emerging options…who knows? Few of you ever paid any attention to Galarraga, Thomas, Joyce, etc. before this year and he turned out to be ok. I would argue there’s plenty of guys in our system, who’ve been winning all along, who could have success, but our manager favors veterans like Jose Mesa, Neifi Perez, and Gary Sheffield and has to be utterly convinced they aren’t the answer before giving up.

As for the Putz trade, if it was JUST Joyce, I’d have less a problem, but the talk is Joyce + other players/prospects, including pitching. I’m saying this is a mistake and a waste of prospects, money and wishful thinking for a position that just isn’t that valuable.

Eric Cioe December 10, 2008 at 12:22 pm

Look at the AL starters’ FIPs in 2006 and you’ll see Bonderman is #2 behind Johan.

Also, he’s got a third pitch. He’s been throwing his changeup 9% or so since 2006. That’s plenty. That’s where Beckett is at, and Ervin Santana, and AJ Burnett. Lots of guys do just fine with basically 2.5 pitches. With command and life on a fastball, plus a good breaker, the third pitch is nice but certainly not necessary.

Smoking Loon December 10, 2008 at 12:25 pm

Still, I think Holden Caulfield would have been an even better choice at C – how many guys can catch even in rye? – but his reclusive agent never even got in touch with the Tigers.

Mark in Chicago December 10, 2008 at 12:49 pm

a better bullpen is a must, obviuosly, and i echo the comments that you have to be careful not to overpay. DD is dealing with very limited resources in terms of dollars and young players. Plus, as many point out, this team is a veteran group that needs an infusion of good young players at some point.

So I am reluctant to give up our best young players like Joyce, Larish, etc. (Porcello is clearly not part of this conversation as he is virtually untouchable) to fill a closer role that DD seems to think will be filled by Perry in 2010. In some respects, you’re looking for a stopgap, albeit an important one, and one that needs to be filled by a competent performer.

Is it worth a 2nd round pick to sign Juan Cruz, who has never closed and tends to walk a fair amount of batters? Is it worth Matt Joyce and a pitching prospect for JJ Putz who may have a growing injury problem? Can Hoffman still pitch, in the AL, at age 40, after a so-so 2007? I don’t know these answers, but my sense on all of them is “no”. The solution is going to have to come from somewhere else.

The Rule V draft might be an option, the Royals found Soria there last year. At any rate, you’re probably putting a young untested guy in the closer’s role under the team mindset of “win now”. That’s a tough learning curve.

I think it’s possible we go to spring training without a closer and look to pick up some body that’s released. I wouldn’t mind trying a former starter in the role either, St. Louis has done that sucessfully in the past.

There’s no easy answer, DD is going to have to be creative. I just hope he doesn’t overpay on this one.

Ken in Las Vegas December 10, 2008 at 1:07 pm

Bilfer, you mentioned that DD said our payroll was going to be above $130 mill and we currently sit at just above $100 mill. Where the heck does DD expect the other 30 to go?? Are we going to sign 5 more guys? Are we going to try and outbid everyone else for a few of the remaining gems. It just doesn’t seem to add up, but it came right out of our GM’s mouth. Maybe he’s going to restructure Sheffield’s contract so he actually makes some money this year. That poor guy needs a pay day after the kind of year he had.

Mark in Chicago December 10, 2008 at 1:09 pm

Ken, you should totally be serving as a local correspondent for everyone. Get over to the Bellagio, man!! Day job be damned!!

Chris in Dallas December 10, 2008 at 1:17 pm

I’d like to put the Hoffman talk to bed. 40′s, very mediocre season at PETCO FREAKING PARK in the weaker NL. No thanks.

Eric Cioe December 10, 2008 at 1:20 pm

Is the NL that much weaker for a closer? It isn’t like he’s facing pitchers. He’s facing inferior hitters, but not much.

As far as having $30 million left to play with, I think they have 11 or 12 players under contract with the $100 million. They’ve got to fill out a roster with the leftovers.

Andre in Chicago December 10, 2008 at 1:21 pm

Ken,

i think it has something to do with the following contracts. some of these guys may not stay past their contracts, but if they do, odds are they’ll get raises of varying amounts.

http://mlbcontracts.blogspot.com/2005/01/detroit-tigers_21.html

Justin Verlander rhp
5 years/$4.45M (2005-09)

Joel Zumaya rhp
1 year/$0.42M (2008)

Zach Miner rhp
1 year/$0.41M (2008)

Ryan Raburn of
1 year/$0.396M (2008)

Armando Galarraga rhp
1 year (2008)

Matt Joyce of
2008

Dusty Ryan c
2008

Fernando Rodney rhp
2 years/$2.7M (2007-08)

Marcus Thames of
1 year/$1.275M (2008)

jud December 10, 2008 at 1:24 pm

one of the biggest problems with a “closer by Committe” is it isn’t exactly one of Leyland’s strong points…he does ok when all roles are pretty much defined 2006 but when he has to make more than on pitcher per inning type moves he isn’t very good at it .. and then again maybe all we needed was a new pitching coach…there should be some improvement in the pitching area since getting rid of “Mr Nibble at the Strike Zone”.

Is Putz that much of a sure thing to give up more young players ??????

Chris in Dallas December 10, 2008 at 1:35 pm

Eric: I should’ve been more specific and said the NL West, which is not a bastion of sluggitude. Either way, Hoffman is useless at this stage of the game.

Back to Bonderman quickly, obviously he should and will start. He’s capable and he’s still only 26. He hasn’t had the breakout season (though ’06 was close), but he’s definitely had some solid stretches in each of his years aside from the ’03 debacle (or as Emmitt Smith would say, he got debacled). Look at some of these splits – 2nd half ’04 (3.70 ERA, 90 IP, 85K/28BB), 1st half ’05 (3.99 ERA, 121 IP, 93K/34BB, 14 HR), 1st half ’06 (3.46 ERA, 120 IP, 111K/30BB, 6 HR[!]), 1st half ’07 (3.48 ERA, 106 IP, 98K/24BB, 10 HR). That’s basically 2 really solid seasons if you combine everything. Note that he seems to pitch much better in the first half of the year than the second half. I’d like to say that means he should pitch less innings (i.e. bullpen), but when you see how good he can be you’ve gotta take the chance that he can put it together for 6 solid months in 2009.

Andre in Chicago December 10, 2008 at 1:37 pm

Chris in Dallas,

“I’d like to put the Hoffman talk to bed.”

fine, but first i’d like to see less talk of trading for what amounts to be a younger more injury prone closer who put up equally mediocre numbers (Putz). Fuentes is great if we can get him, but lots of teams are looking at him now that K-rod and Wood have signed. if they can’t sign Fuentes and we’re just looking for a stop gap, sign Hoffman if he’ll take a 1-2 yr deal (preferably the second year being a team option). i don’t see why you would trade long-term value for a mediocre stop-gap.

Ken in Las Vegas December 10, 2008 at 1:40 pm

“Ken, you should totally be serving as a local correspondent for everyone. Get over to the Bellagio, man!! Day job be damned!!”

Day job be damned?? Hey, semi-pornographic prositute calling cards don’t pass themselves out. But seriously, I wonder if I could pull off the whole beat up a Bellagio catering supervisor behind the counter and have is uniform on two seconds later. Then I could possibly serve up a plate of donuts and coffee to the winter meetings board room. I’ll only have a few seconds to shout out something before security drags me down, so what’s it going to be. I’ll try to incorporate everyone’s thoughts into one sentence: “Dave, Zumaya to starter if Bonderman not healthy, Bonderman to closer unless healthy, don’t trade Joyce, unless 1 for 1 with good closer, need closer but not old injured closer, more bullpen help, not lefty, win now but not at expense of winning later, do everything right in perfect balance, try apple fritter, best donut on tray.”

Andre in Chicago,
Thanks for the contract data, but I’m confused. If Dave says the payroll will be $134 mill this year, then what does that have to do with players who are on their last year. We won’t have to commit money to them until next year right?

Andre in Chicago December 10, 2008 at 1:51 pm

Ken,

i’m not exactly sure when players tend to resign, but maybe they want to avoid the chance that they’ll have a monster contract-year and decide to see what’s out there for them in the market. i can see this being the case especially with Verlander, better to ink him now, after a mediocre year, than risk him living up to his billing and end up paying way more as a result.

Chris, i know you want to put the talk to bed, but i was looking at Hoffman’s splits, and they’re kinda confusing:

Home (~30in) 4.25 era .207 avg 5 bb 27 so
Away (~15in) 2.87 era .254 avg 4 bb 19 so

billfer December 10, 2008 at 1:56 pm

Ken – check out the link at the very top of the page that says Payroll. That $100 million already committed is only going to 13 players. One of them is Porcello who doesn’t really count, and one is Verlander who can and will opt out of his $1 million deal. That means the Tigers have $30 million to sign 14 players.

It will take about $9 million to sign Seay, Rodney, Thames, Santiago, and Laird. Now you’ve got $21 million left to sign 9 guys.

Verlander will likely get $3 million or so. And then another 6 players near the league minimum or a little more so now there is $15 million left to sign 2 players to help the team. That’s where the money.

Ken in Las Vegas December 10, 2008 at 2:07 pm

Andre & Billfer,

Thanks for the clarification. Totally understand now. That still seems like a lot of money for two bullpen arms, so at least we know that price won’t be a problem if we really want to jump hard on someone.

Chris in Dallas December 10, 2008 at 2:14 pm

Dre: Petco didn’t do Hoffman any favors in ’08, but he’s been fine there in previous years. Of course he’s been fine at most any park in previous years. Park/league factors aside, he’s just old and doesn’t really have a whole lot left in the tank IMO. We already lived through 3 years of Todd Jones.

Smoking Loon December 10, 2008 at 2:21 pm

I hold Mr. Chris in D in the highest regard, but I have to disagree on Hoffman. I remember another old and possibly washed up pitcher dude showing up for 2006 and doing pretty well that year.

Hoffman’s 2008 numbers are kind of like Sheffield’s in 2006. Not great by his owm standards, but plenty of other guys would like them. His WHIP and K/BB aren’t due to Petco Park.

I think it’s more likely that Hoffman is not washed up than it is that a reliable closer is going to emerge from an unexpected source. I think the former is better than 50/50 and the latter less than 50/50. Still, I have no idea whether Hoffman even wants to come to Detroit, and there is still a lot more to choose from than him and Putz.

Mark in Chicago December 10, 2008 at 2:30 pm

Ken,

I like the aggressivenes, but I think you’re right – you’ll have trouble getting all that out before security takes you down. My suggestion is to sabotage any of DD’s possible negative moves, that is, yell out “Dave, the doctors heard back on Joyce’s knees and shoulders – doesn’t look good.”

Frankly, none of the closer options excite me because none of them seem worth the price.

Hoffman – old and not very good.
Putz – appears like it will cost us AT LEAST a ML-ready corner outfield prospect and a pitching prospect (if anyone cares, Marcel predicts a 266/347/471 line for Joyce in ’09)
Fuentes – Great if we can do it, but there ain’t no $$ left
Juan Cruz – a second round pick for a guy who’s never closed seems awfully steep

So here are a couple of “out there” suggestions that would be risky, but wouldn’t cost much:

Matt Clement (former starter, always had good stuff, could be open to reinventing himself as a reliever)
Mark Hendrickson (much better career splits as a reliever, 3.39 ERA, 1.15 WHIP, 625 OPS against)
Braden Looper (decent as a reliever)
Juan Rincon (had a bad 2008 but some very good numbers in previous years)

Those are just off the cuff without doing any real research, and there are certainly others. And of course there is no guarantee guys like Clement would even WANT to close. But maybe there’s an alternative there.

One possible in-house solution that was talked about during the season but I haven’t seen much lately is Nate Robertson. Granted, it probably leaves a hole in the rotation, but that’s easier to fill with Zach Miner or some such person.

I dunno, I’m just trying to be creative. Maybe DD comes out and reads this blog every night looking for ideas. Maybe our complaints and Mike R’s analysis was the impetus behind DD giving up on the Jack Wilson trade and signing Everett instead.

Smoking Loon December 10, 2008 at 2:31 pm

“$15 million left to sign 2 players”

Good summary. That clears things up.

Kathy December 10, 2008 at 3:08 pm

Second or third highest payroll in MLB. We gotta have a bonafide closer. This is ridiculous.

Smoking Loon December 10, 2008 at 3:14 pm

Just read about Tigers interest in Smoltz. Interest expressed through asking for medical records, apparently.

Mark in Chicago December 10, 2008 at 3:15 pm

It is ridiculous, Kathy, because so much of that $130 million or so is tied up in non-performing assets (I’m looking at you, Nate Robertson and Dontrelle Willis, et al). But it’s a sunk cost, and it’s perfectly fair to complain that it wasn’t spent smartly or judiciously. But it isn’t changing.

Jones retired, and the bad economy (in Mich in particular) has prompted the organization to freeze payroll. This takes a number of closer options off the table. The final kick in the store is that the farm system is so depleted that trading the only pieces of value would leave the system almost completely barren.

Please see my post above. DD has to be creative, a trait he’s generally known for.

EDIT: I didn’t see the Smoltz thing, Loon, nice work. I would totally be down having him as a closer for a year or two. It’s much easier on his elbow, and he’s proven he’s a top guy for the role. Man, I hope there’s some teeth to that rumor.

Smoking Loon December 10, 2008 at 3:20 pm

From MLive:

HEADLINE: Leyland discusses lack of contract extension

SUBSTANCE: “I’m not going to discuss that,” Leyland said at first. “If we do well, I’ll still be here. If we don’t, I won’t. That’s the end of the conversation for the rest of the year about that.”

Good discussion.

Smoking Loon December 10, 2008 at 3:22 pm

Question: Hoffman vs. Smoltz. Just two old dudes to take a pass on, or is there a good reason one would be better than the other?

Kathy December 10, 2008 at 3:23 pm

Smoltz expressed he wants to be a starter.

greg December 10, 2008 at 3:27 pm

Good discussion.

LOL

Putz update (from Ken Rosenthal on Fox Sports):

the Cardinals have offered center fielder Rick Ankiel and a prospect(for JJ), according to a rival general manager.

He also mentions that Texas wants Sheffield. Haleluia! Take that lazy, too good to hustle, slacker off our hands, please. I think a bag of chips, some pretzels, and a ham sandwich would be adequate compensation.

Smoking Loon December 10, 2008 at 3:29 pm

Kathy: “We gotta have a bonafide closer.”

Mark: “Jones retired, and the bad economy (in Mich in particular) has prompted the organization to freeze payroll. This takes a number of closer options off the table. The final kick in the store is that the farm system is so depleted that trading the only pieces of value would leave the system almost completely barren.”

Can’t deny either. I’m torn. Wonder if DD is, too. Maybe it would be better to keep most of that $15MM, invest in a few Rincon types and Rule Vs and throwaways, and hope for some 2006 magic (aren’t they due?). They could always keep it to cover the cost of eating Sheffield’s contract and letting him go. That would solve so much for me, and hey, it’s not my money.

Smoking Loon December 10, 2008 at 3:32 pm

Are you serious about Texas and Sheffield, Greg? I mean… wow.

Kathy, where (source) does Smoltz say he wants to be a starter?

Kathy December 10, 2008 at 3:36 pm

All I know is how I feel when the White Sox send out Bobby Jenks, the NYY Rivera, and Papelbon come out and I get that sick feeling in my stomach. That’s how I want them to feel when we send our closer out there.

Kathy December 10, 2008 at 3:39 pm
Smoking Loon December 10, 2008 at 3:40 pm

But wait – Sheffield has no-trade, and I kind of doubt that he wants to go Texas. Then again, #500 might come pretty quickly in that park. Hmmm.

How I wish that Sheffield would approve, and that – if necessary (ha ha ha ha – “if”) the Tigers would make it palatable to the Rangers by paying half his salary in exchange for a mere prospect or two or three.

Smoking Loon December 10, 2008 at 3:42 pm

Thanks, Kathy. I read that same article, but so quickly that I obviously missed a few parts.

Smoking Loon December 10, 2008 at 3:45 pm

“That’s how I want them to feel when we send our closer out there.”

I know! But who is that guy for the Tigers?? Is Fuentes really THAT good? I’m not so sure. (Not saying that you, Kathy, mentioned Fuentes in particular.)

Kathy December 10, 2008 at 3:47 pm

Well, there’s not many left, so you go for the best one, whoever that might be, in Dombrowski’s mind.

Smoking Loon December 10, 2008 at 3:58 pm

If there’s interest in Smoltz, I wonder if there’s also interest in Rogers.

rings December 10, 2008 at 4:16 pm

To back up greg…from Rotoworld:

“The Rangers have reportedly asked the Tigers about Gary Sheffield, who is owed $14 million in the final year of his deal.

It’s safe to assume the Rangers would want the Tigers to pick up some salary, perhaps about half of it. However, even saving $7 million would give the team a lot more flexibility in going after Brian Fuentes or maybe a starting pitcher. The Tigers do have plenty of internal DH options in Matt Joyce, Marcus Thames, Jeff Larish and Mike Hessman. Because of the defensive upgrade, they might even be better off with Joyce in right field and Magglio Ordonez at DH than they are with Ordonez and Sheffield in the lineup together. Of course, Sheffield does have a no-trade clause, which could mean nothing at all will come of this.”

PLEASE, PLEASE, PLEASE!!

Chris in Dallas December 10, 2008 at 4:19 pm

I know! But who is that guy for the Tigers??

Well, we all know who that should be. Maybe this is the year…?

Andre in Chicago December 10, 2008 at 4:20 pm

i think we all need to come together and agree not to talk about a possible ****field trade until the ink is dry. for one thing, we could jinx it and for another, i can’t take the tease of it all.

yes we can.

Eric Cioe December 10, 2008 at 4:20 pm

Man, I would be ecstatic if the Tigers could get Smoltz. He could start on Opening Day or close all season long. He’d be a great mentor to a guy like Bonderman, who is a very similar pitcher, and also Verlander. All this, of course, if he isn’t busy ironing his shirt while it is still on.

Mark in Chicago December 10, 2008 at 4:23 pm

I will not talk of any potential trades for fear of jinxing, but I would like to point out that my first choice for our new DH would be Carlos Guillen.

Ken in Las Vegas December 10, 2008 at 4:27 pm

“If there’s interest in Smoltz, I wonder if there’s also interest in Rogers.”

And if there’s interest in Smoltz, then there must be interest in Rogers. And if there’s interest in Rogers, then there must be interest in Sandy Koufax. Is Moses available? I bet he has a nasty splitter.

Smoking Loon December 10, 2008 at 4:33 pm

‘Is Moses available? I bet he has a nasty splitter.’

Which club are you playing, Ken? I might catch a show next time I’m in Vegas.

“He [Smoltz] could start on Opening Day or close all season long.”

Or both, while we’re talking about cost-cutting. He could at least be the closer for his own starts.

Smoking Loon December 10, 2008 at 4:42 pm

“Well, we all know who that should be. Maybe this is the year…?”

I have zero hope that Radar Boy will ever be a good closer, or even a closer, for the Tigers. Besides, I’ll have a different handle by the time he’s able to prove me wrong, so I have plausible deniability. And yeah, I do hope he reads this blog. He only looks tough. Actually, he doesn’t even look tough. I’ll bet Ken in Las Vegas could take him.

Smoking Loon December 10, 2008 at 4:49 pm

Re Sheffield, Lee Panas nails in it in just about as few words as possible in post #15 on the subject at motownsports.com.

jri December 10, 2008 at 4:52 pm

My heart skipped a beat when I read that the Rangers might be interested in Sheffield. The Tigers could pay half his salary and ask for nothing in return and I’d be thrilled. That makes Guillen the DH and allows Joyce and Thames to split LF, while creating a roster spot for Larish to back up 1B and 3B and pinch hit.

Wow, I dislike Gary Sheffield.

Steve in Kzoo December 10, 2008 at 5:20 pm

I know we are hype on Joyce and dont trade him. But did we all forget about Wilkin Ramirez? He is by far better then Joyce minor stat wise. I also think that he is the future Corner Outfielder not Joyce. Joyce is good, and I do like what I saw in him last year but right now Id take a everday Thames, Graderson, and Ordonez next year if it lands us a solid hopefully healthy Putz. Not to mention mid year have Ramirez come up. And then he is our future LF. Not to mention we still have Clete Thomas, who looked pretty good as well. So not everything is riding on Joyce. He in my books is trade bait because Wilkin Ramirez is by my account, much better then Joyce and will be a Tiger for a long time to come.

Parrish is log jammed and should be trade bait. I’m surprised hes ranked as high as he is when while in the majors (September withstanding) it was really bad with a high K rating. If it means letting both Joyce and Parrish go, ill reluctantly say yes. We cannot have a closer by committee like we did last year by any means. No internal option is viable and we cannot cough up the money for Fuentes so the only other alternative is Putz. I think he will rebound and do wonders for us in 09 and 10 and then give the reins over to either Zumaya or Perry.

There’s my two cents.

Smoking Loon December 10, 2008 at 5:28 pm

I notice at least a superficial similarity between Bobby Seay and Joe Beimel in terms of career numbers/career progression. Just saying.

Dave BW December 10, 2008 at 5:38 pm

“Lee Panas nails in it in just about as few words as possible in post #15 on the subject at motownsports.com.”

Post #2 is closer to my thoughts.

Mark in Chicago December 10, 2008 at 5:43 pm

KZoo Steve,

Good comments, but who is Parrish? I’m not following you on that one. Do you mean Larish?

FWIW, I am not a big Clete Thomas fan. I really like the fact he hits everything to left field and doesn’t get pull-happy, but for as fast as he is, he doesn’t run the bases real well (he seems to have a really tough time reading the ball off the bat) and he doesn’t take great angles to the ball in the OF (again, seems to have trouble picking up the ball off the bat). It kind of feels like he just doesn’t have great baseball instincts.

Steve in Kzoo December 10, 2008 at 5:44 pm

God thats embarassing. And I call myself a Tiger fan. What an embarassing moment for me. Sorry guys, yes I did mean Larish.

Chris in Dallas December 10, 2008 at 5:49 pm

I thought you were talking about Lance Parrish.

Chris in Dallas December 10, 2008 at 5:50 pm

Come on people, we can make it to 100 posts in the offseason. That would be quite bitchin’.

Dave BW December 10, 2008 at 5:52 pm

I’d rather not trade Joyce or Larish, seeing as they’re the only positional depth we have.

Let’s just pick up Hoffman and Cruz and hope to god that a miracle happens.

Steve in Kzoo December 10, 2008 at 5:55 pm

Miracles can happen, but for the ’09 Tigers team in Win Now mode we cannot wait for that miracle. Trade log jammed LARISH (LOL) and Joyce for Putz. We need a confident competent Closer that wont mess up like we did with Zumaya and Rodney last year. No more praying for miracles or closer by committee, GET SOMETHING DONE DD! GET PUTZ!!

EDIT: Like I said before Dave. Wilkin Ramirez better the Joyce. Larish well he is log jammed by 1B Miguel Cabrera. We can afford both being traded. We have Ramirez, Thomas, Holliman, and Iorg waiting in the midst.

Dave BW December 10, 2008 at 6:17 pm

I don’t believe Larish will ever be a starter, but he is a good left-handed bench option. Ramirez probably does project better than Joyce, but I’ve been led to believe he’s more of a ’10 option than a ’09. Without Joyce and Larish, of what does our bench consist? Something like Clevlen, Everett/Santiago, Thames, Ryan?

Are the Tigers still in win now mode? Are you guys considering them to be a legitimate playoff contender? I think this is a stop-gap year at most, but I’m genuinely curious as to how everyone else has been thinking about this.

Andre in Chicago December 10, 2008 at 6:24 pm

how would a decent season from Hoffman qualify as a miracle when compared to Putz’s chances? i don’t know how to weigh Hoff’s age vs. Putz health, but it can’t be as clear cut as some people would have it. Hoffman’s contract is likely to be less than his previous $7.5mil right? even if its not, you’re only paying an extra $3mil to avoid having to trade Joyce and/or whatever else Seattle is asking for. and am i missing something, or doesn’t there project to be more than one outfield spot opening up in the near future? unless you think that Putz becomes a long-term acquisition (which i suppose isn’t out of the question), the price is too high. comparing Putz and Hoffman’s numbers last year certainly doesn’t make a case for Putz. even if you take Putz’s career numbers, Hoffman had a better year in terms of WHIP.

i’m not saying that Hoffman is great, but if we’re looking at stop-gap type players, i’d rather not give up the young talent that’s left. how often do we revisit the Renteria trade? that looks golden compared to this proposed Putz deal (imo).

Dave BW December 10, 2008 at 6:27 pm

RE: Hoffman

The miracle I mentioned was regarding the season, not Hoffman specifically, and especially not in comparison to Putz (who is himself is hardly a sure thing right now). I was saying that a Hoffman/Cruz/Rodney/Zumaya bullpen — as I suggested — is probably not going to compensate for the many, many short outings our starters will likely have. But hey — prove me wrong, Tigers! Prove me wrong!

Andre in Chicago December 10, 2008 at 6:29 pm

i know i’m breaking my own requested embargo, but i think that i can justify it…

everyone’s dream trade to Texas seems a little emptier in light of this quote:

one Rangers official said, “Would consider it if they wanted to give him away. Not going to spend money there.”

Chris in Dallas December 10, 2008 at 6:33 pm

I think the Tigers are positioned to win 85-90 games. The Twins and White Sox will likely regress. Cleveland will improve. Kansas City not so much.

My reasoning is simple. Verlander will not repeat his ’08 season. I’m fairly confident on that score. Bonderman will be presumably healthy, and with the surgery he had might actually stay that way. Willis and Robertson can only be better (hard to get worse). Galarraga seems to be a find (though I think he’ll regress) and Miner is underappreciated. All of those guys will benefit from an improved infield defense. That group should be a middle of the pack AL staff. The lineup 1-6 should be able to put enough runs up there to keep them competitive. It’s not a championship caliber club I don’t think, but they should fare better than ’08.

Steve in Kzoo December 10, 2008 at 6:47 pm

Guys off the bench Dave in the AL are supposed to be defensive in nature. Those guys you named, ARE defensive in nature (Except for Thames and Ryan). Dave you make some good points and so does Andre. I just don’t wanna see another ’08 tiger team. As for that miracle Andre of Hoffman, I dont trust him at all. His age really is a concern and could amount to a Percival or Jones incident mid way through the year. Hoffman at best would be to save tigers money and give away a signal they wont be conpetitive.

As for you DAve, if we truly were not in a Win Now mode, more the likely Detroit would go straight to a rebuild mode not a stop gap mode. Stop gap is a cheesy way of saying rebuild but not full rebuild. And if that’s the case we should be trading off Maggs, not gotten Laird, trading Polanco, Thames, Guillen, and Robertson would all be traded off for rebuilding moves.

I think we are still competitive with Guillen, Sheff(if we don’t trade which is a surprise Rangers are interested), Maggs, Cabrera, Grandy, and Polly manning the field and Verlander, Bondo, Willis, and Galarraga all remaining competitive and having rebound years in ’09. This team may not be WS caliber but they are Playoff caliber. And for fans to get back into Tiger Baseball we just need a playoff team right now. Once ’10 comes along we will be younger with Porcello, Perry, other ’08 draftees, Ramirez, and Irog coming up.

Mark in Chicago December 10, 2008 at 7:02 pm

Dave BW3, I think you said it best, this feels like a stopgap year to get them to 2010 when some contracts come off the books (Sheffield, perhaps Polanco) and young players are ready to step in (Iorg, Perry, maybe Porcello). But that doesn’t mean they can’t field a solid team.

On that note, I think the following guys will better than expected seasons:
Sheffield
Willis
Rodney
Joyce (whether it’s for the Tigers or not I can’t say…)

I have no basis in reason for my prediction, especially the first two guys. And while I think the Tigers will win around 85 games, Cleveland wins the division.

Andre in Chicago December 10, 2008 at 7:02 pm

last thing i’ll say on Hoffman for a while (unless provoked!). yes, his age is an issue…but i don’t think its “the” issue. all things considered he seems a much better option for the Tigers than Putz, both in the short and long term. if last season is an indication of his ability, then i think he’s definitely not that risky; in the last three months he allowed only 4 er in 18 in of work, his WHIP was .83, he posted a 5/1 k/bb ratio and he was 14/15 in save opportunities.

in any case, there’s more and better than Hoffman and Putz available, but Putz certainly ranks behind Hoffman in my book.

Steve in Kzoo December 10, 2008 at 7:11 pm

Well if Hoffman is as you say much better then Putz why is he NOT getting the attention that Putz and Fuentes is getting. Because he is considered at BEST a fallback position. Only will be offered a one year deal. But if hes as good as you say, why not throw at him a 2-3 year deal for him so that he can mentor our young pitching staff that will come in next year and in ’10. Why because its absolutely absurd to think that he is going to hold up as much as he did last year. True that hes a great pitcher, probably the best closer in our time or ever. But age is going to catch up to him, and I dont want us to have him when it does creep up on him. Besides to be a effective shut down closer you gotta have some speed, he has hardly none.

One reasons besides costs we stopped the K-Rod pursuit is because of his fastball radar speed was falling and apparently wasn’t getting better. We need a closer with speed. Is putz the best option no I would rather have Fuentes or especially Wood but DD passed on Fuentes and made a mistake not getting in on the Wood offers. But Putz will have a rebound year this year and I’d rather have him then face him and have our own bullpen fall apart, because we don’t have a shut down closer. And when we lose yet another game, it was because we tried to be cheap and get an aged closer that started to fall apart like Jones did in his last season.

Hopefully i didn’t offend you or your ideas at all. Good points but I believe to have a stronger bullpen we must steer away from an agey closers to younger (when healthy) shut down closer.

Kathy December 10, 2008 at 7:36 pm

Steve in Kzoo has a point. Dump Larish and Joyce for a closer. We’ve got young guys coming up who are just as good, although some might not agree. However, I believe the same thing Steve does on this point.

billfer December 10, 2008 at 7:38 pm

@Steve -

I don’t think the Tigers ever pursued K-Rod, so I don’t think there was a pursuit to stop. We also don’t know if the Tigers didn’t get in on the Woods offers. I’d be surprised if the Tigers didn’t make an offer. As for Fuentes, did he sign? I think he’s still available.

As much as the Tigers need to improve the bullpen, it won’t help if the starting pitching isn’t better. If the bullpen were the last hole, then yes, go for it. But it’s a 76 win team that got weaker offensively. I honestly don’t know which way this team will go.

Steve in Kzoo December 10, 2008 at 7:54 pm

Bilfer you definitely have some great points and I agree we have gotten weaker offensively but defensively(as much as I was a pro Renteria and offensively minded guy) we have gotten stronger. The thing is will the rotation like you said get stronger or will stay where it was.

As for K Rod goes you are probably right, but that would be one of the things that would go against me bidding for a closer like that. And Wood, that is true but should we have gone higher then the Indians probably. Also for Fuentes 3 years @ $11MM i dont think hes in our ball park unless we are adding payroll.

Dave BW December 10, 2008 at 8:07 pm

“But that doesn’t mean they can’t field a solid team.”

And I believe they will. In fact, I’m guessing this will be the most fun Tigers team to watch since ’06, despite my opinion that they probably have a ceiling of a few games over .500.

Andre in Chicago December 10, 2008 at 9:03 pm

we can dance around the Putz vs Hoffman thing ad nauseam, in the end though, the seeming asking price for Putz is too high in terms of talent if he’s just to be a stop-gap closer. if Joyce and Larish are that expendable (which i’m not saying), then i would much rather see them traded for players that will be with the Tigers for more than just 1-2 years. if that person had no history of injury, all the better.

Steve in Kzoo December 10, 2008 at 9:03 pm

Got another possibility although very small. Tashihito(sp?) Saito appears to go Free Agent instead of taking Dodger incentive laden one year deal according to MLBTradeRumors.com. That’s interesting, do the Tigers dip in and try a hand at a 2 year deal with Saito, Hoffman. Up the anty on Fuentes. Or still go after Putz. I still think the best thing is Putz. However, Saito is a wild card in this whole thing as well now. Interesting 3rd day.

EDIT: It would seem the Putz deal is in the book almost. But just not the way we have been arguing all day. Putz could be in a three team deal and headed to the MY Mets?? This does not bold well for the Tigers who seem to be sleeping at the wheel in my opinion. If they dont go for Fuentes then I think this year is going to a waste and a late ninth inning Rollar Coaster with a lot of Ls!!

Steve in Kzoo December 10, 2008 at 9:14 pm

Sorry for the double post but was a little late in editing my above post again.

Apparently its a deal that is not so close. They are TRYING to work a deal for Putz. Well there’s always hope that the tigers can get something done but I think we are in for a bad and pathetic season. Like i said above, with lots of late inning debacles and 9th inning pathetic pitching by our incapable Bullpen.

Our #1 issue this offseason, and we have done NOTHING to improve it. I’m starting to wonder if the Tigers FO and DD are just going through the motions.

Joel in Seattle December 10, 2008 at 9:41 pm

If Bavasi was still in Seattle, you trade for Putz. Now that they have a GM with a functioning brain, you don’t trade for Putz. Unless this team can add a legit starter, they’re a fringe contender at best. And trading away pieces of the future for 1-year rentals is a bad, bad policy.

Joel in Seattle December 10, 2008 at 9:44 pm

mlbtraderumors sez the Mets are in on Putz – 3-way deal with the Indians. They’re really trying to foil the Tigers, no?

Dave BW December 10, 2008 at 9:48 pm

Okay, big one just went down: Joyce to the Rays for Edwin Jackson. I’m not sure how I feel about it.

Kathy December 10, 2008 at 9:56 pm

Don’t know much about this guy but at least they still got their heads to the grindstone.

Kathy December 10, 2008 at 9:58 pm
Dave BW December 10, 2008 at 10:00 pm

I’ve been watching the rays for years and am a bit jaded, since Jackson has basically been a perpetual disappointment. But he’s young and throws hard, if you’re into that sort of thing.

Steve in Kzoo December 10, 2008 at 10:15 pm

Well they are saying that his problem is his control with all sorts of pitches. So if this great pitching coach we got is all that and his specialty is control then Jackson was a great trade. Many on MLBTR and Foxsports are calling this thing a steal for both teams(some more for tigers). I think its pretty even. They get the OF cost of nothing, and we get another effective #3 Rotation Pitcher.

The question is now, do we flip him for closer, do we keep him and trade or release nate or dontrelle. Cause right now we are full in the rotation with a 6th man out.

1. Verlander
2. Bonderman
3. Jackson
4. Galarraga
5. Willis/Robertson

Whos the 6th odd man out??

Eric Jackson December 10, 2008 at 10:21 pm

Ugh, I’m not sure who’s the odd man out but without both Willis / Robertson, the rotation has one lefty. Not an awful chip to trade, Joyce for a big league starter especially since he’s currently blocked at both corner outfield spots.

Steve in Kzoo December 10, 2008 at 10:27 pm

I forgot as well not only are Willis and Robertson fighting for that last rotation spot, but we forgot about Minor. interesting now that we have a surplus of starters. We should trade one, and see what happens.

greg December 10, 2008 at 10:34 pm

Willis didn’t even remotely resemble a major league pitcher last year. You have to assume he starts the year in the minors and if/when he has a decent couple of months then you might consider bringing him back up.

Steve in Kzoo December 10, 2008 at 10:36 pm

Does he have options left Greg??? I was under the impression that last year was the last option he had.

jri December 10, 2008 at 10:53 pm

If Joyce is gone for a pitcher, who is the lefty off the bench, and who is the backup CF? Raburn can play center, but he hits right-handed. Clete Thomas can play the whole outfield and hits lefty, but he has no power. Larish can play the corners and is a lefty power bat, but keeping him on the roster would mean Inge plays center once in a while unless Grandy plays every inning. This would probably have to mean there is another move in the works for Thames or Sheffield’s Salary to loosen up a worsening roster crunch.

Not to mention, it is a weird trade for the Rays to give up a 25 year-old SP for a corner OF when corner OFs are a dime a dozen on the market right now.

billfer December 10, 2008 at 10:59 pm

25 year old corner outfielders who are at a minimum average offensively and defensively while making the league minimum for 2 more years are pretty rare. At least harder to find than below average starters with K:BB ratios less than 1.5

jri December 10, 2008 at 11:15 pm

So you think it a good trade for the Rays, Bill? I guess I’m trying to talk myself out of the rumors being accurate. I feel like the Rays are in a position to get more of a guaranteed contributor.

Also, want to let you know that this site has been a daily obsession for me since I found it last March, although I’ve really never commented. You and the regular participants do a great job.

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