Winter meetings end with a bang (my head against the wall)

Things started out so promising with the acquisitions of Gerald Laird and Adam Everett. And they end so disappointingly with the loss of James Skelton and Matt Joyce. To be fair the Skelton thing was set in motion weeks ago when the Tigers chose not to protect a young athletic lefty catcher with a 416 career minor league OBP.

Rule 5

It was little surprise that Skelton was selected. It will also be little surprise if it turns out to be a non-event, but it’s the reasoning behind it that is so troubling. The Tigers chose to protect lesser players like Eddie Bonine, Mike Hessman, Macay McBride, and Alfredo Figaro while leaving Skelton vulnerable. The Diamondbacks took advantage of the Tigers mistake. Arizona does have 2 young catchers though so there is a chance Skelton could get returned. The Tigers ‘sphere tends to hate this too.

The Tigers did get a lefty in the form of Kyle Bloom. He had some decent numbers at AA and a fine Hawaiian league season. Don’t know if he’ll stick as a LOOGY but if he is a John Parrish deterrent that’s fine enough by me.

Edwin Jackson

There’s been a lot of talk that Edwin Jackson was a good pick-up. Beyond the ERA and fast fastball I don’t see it (don’t even bother win 14 wins which is completely meaningless). The Spot Starters further illustrate the point by showing just how bad Jackson was – in what was supposed to be his breakout year. There are too many discouraging numbers to copy and paste, so please check out his research.

82 thoughts on “Winter meetings end with a bang (my head against the wall)”

  1. Well, I was going to give you points for keeping the negatives to a minimum, but that Blake guys might just take the cake.


  2. Kathy –

    You gotta get Jimmy to show that to the club…might help get their “swagger” back.

    Seriously though, we’ll all be pulling once the first pitch is thrown, but it’s been a tough couple days, don’t you think?

    Thanks for the “pick me up”.

  3. We still in the hunt for another SS?

    “We’re very happy. We’ve got a starting catcher. We’ve got one of the guys in the rotation. Hopefully we can do something at shortstop soon. For us, we feel very happy.” — Dombrowski

  4. Billfer, you’ll feel a lot better if you stop assuming Joyce is going to automatically improve while Jackson is as good as he’s going to get. The only way this is a bad trade is if Joyce learns to hit the inside curve while Jackson all of the sudden stops improving his control.

    I am a huge fan of Joyce, but you have to realize that much of his ML production was before pitchers had the scouting report on him, so extrapolating his production for the whole season is not valid (unless you are going to give Jackson the same courtesy). The .750 OPS post-AS break is more current for me. Only if he learns to hit the curve can you start to expect to see .850+ OPS numbers in future seasons. I personally think he will, but I can’t give any objective reasoning for it.

    But it just seems to me the community of Tigers bloggers are either A) assuming Joyce will improve and Jackson won’t because Joyce has only been in the majors for half a season and Jackson has been for 3 years or B) comparing Jackson’s stats to Joyce’s stats without accounting for the reality on the ground (i.e. inside curves/sliders/cutters). Neither of these approaches are valid.

  5. Joyce doesn’t have to improve. He can stay the same and still be a better player than Jackson. And yeah, Jackson’s control has improved to the point that he walked more than all but 6 of the pitchers who qualified for the ERA title. But the biggest concern is why can’t a guy with such a dominating fastball not strike anybody out?

    Then there is the fact that Joyce is left handed and a plus defender at both corner spots. The Tigers don’t have a true right fielder now that Magg’s arm is weakening. Joyce could be that guy, especially after Sheffield is gone and DH is available.

  6. “Joyce doesn’t have to improve. He can stay the same and still be a better player than Jackson.”

    I disagree with this. Joyce has to improve. See point (B) in my post.

    “But the biggest concern is why can’t a guy with such a dominating fastball not strike anybody out?”

    Control. It has improved, and hopefully it will continue to improve.

    “Then there is the fact that Joyce is left handed and a plus defender at both corner spots. The Tigers don’t have a true right fielder now that Magg’s arm is weakening. Joyce could be that guy, especially after Sheffield is gone and DH is available.”

    Agree. Joyce is a good defender, is left handed, he could be that guy. He might not. It’s not like our starting pitching is in any better shape. Jackson could be that guy. He might not. I just don’t see how you can say one guy is going to for sure pan out while the other isn’t. The odds seem pretty similar to me.

  7. fume,

    “Billfer, you’ll feel a lot better if you stop assuming Joyce is going to automatically improve while Jackson is as good as he’s going to get.”

    some of us would feel a lot better had we given up somebody other than Joyce, that’s the whole point. its not that Jackson is worthless or that Joyce is bound for the HoF, but that Joyce could/should have gotten the Tigers something better.

    as far as Joyce improving, its hard to project based off a rookie season, on the other hand Jackson has been in the league since ’03. yes, its nice to see that Jackson has lowered his WHIP from 1.76 down to 1.51, but his k/9 fell by 1.85 too. Jackson might improve under Knapp, but the point is that the Tigers should have traded lesser pieces for what they got.

  8. Ill back you up on that one fume. I don’t see how the there so much love-fest going on with Joyce. Hes not a 5 tool player, and maybe a 4 tool player at best. He can’t run the bases that great, he at best is an average hitter with SOME pop and above average defense. This year now that we more then likely wont be going after a closer, will suck hands down, but I think we are looking at a run in 2010. Jackson will continue to improve, Wilkin Ramirez will be everyday LF, Guillen to DH Maggs in RF/DH with Thames or Clevlen filling in for Maggs when hes DHing or a free agent.

    Anyhow we will all find out what will happen with the trade if it was good or bad by 2010. I still say it will help us in the long run.

  9. Andre, I think Jackson had more value throughout the league than what you think. I don’t know that for a fact, obviously, but a 25 year old kid with ML experience seemingly showing improvement and with excellent stuff should have value. Yes, judging by his statistics, he’s going to be bad, and I understand that’s basically all we as fans can do with other teams players, but this is a case where you have to consider the scouting reports in your evaluations. I wish we could have gotten him for Ramirez, but I don’t think that was in the cards. The Rays needed a ML ready OF, which Joyce is. And I think it’s worth it.

    Steve, I don’t want to bash Joyce at all, which you’re not really, just pointing out he’s not there yet. And I think we’ll be fine this year. Inge and Everett/Santiago will make our pitchers look a lot better, and I think Guillen will be fine in LF until he gets hurt. Hopefully by then Clete will be ready to at least provide the defense that Thames can’t.

    EDIT/Aside: Gary Sheffield had a better post AS-break OPS than Joyce. The kid still has some work to do.

  10. Steve – Ramirez is not a good defender and struggles more with pitch recognition than Joyce does. Joyce has a rocket for an arm. Joyce has power (Wilkin probably has more when he doesn’t swing and miss). And Ramirez has had a Guillen-esque track record of injury. He’s far from a slam dunk. Joyce isn’t either, but performed at the highest level.

    As for Clevlen and Thames in 2010, there’s a good chance at least one isn’t here in 2009. If you want to see someone struggle with contact watch Clevlen. Joyce is better than everyone you mentioned.

    As for Jackson, I can’t get past the fact that his K/BB rate is still awful. Even with his improving control, he can’t fool people which should raise all kinds of red flags for a flyball pitcher.

    And I like the hire of Knapp and I’m eager to see what he can do, but control was an organizational philosophy and impacted player selection. He maximized what he had, but is he a miracle worker? It remains to be seen.

  11. I agree Fume. I loved Joyce when he was here. He was a valuable asset but one that we had abundance of and I think DD sees Ramirez as the future of the Tigers OF following Granderson. Joyce has plenty of upside, 20HR guy, hits left handed and can make a play or two out of thin air. However hes not there yet, and probably make it as a 3rd/4th outfielder at best, (especially on TB).

    I view Ramirez higher then you do I see, but Ramirez has tremendous upside along with speed and a developing bat. In fact it was he who was rated higher then Joyce in 2006-2008 as a developing prospect. So thats probably why he was not traded and also your point is well taken that TB needed MLB ready talent and Joyce also was that.

    Sheff needs a good last year, Maggs hopefully will be able to stay injury free in RF, and Guillen in LF (not likely probably get injured May or June).

  12. Bilfer

    You are correct but that’s why Ramirez is in AA, hes still developing, and by all accounts will(or should) become even better this year. Yes you are right Joyce was the combination of the two Power=Thames, Defense=Clevlen but we gotta be realistic here, we don’t know where Joyce would have been had he stayed, probably in AAA or as a 4th outfielder, true we could use him as a backup but our need is pitching and pitching all over(Bullpen, Depth, and Rotation) We all know its god awful and I think that Jackson will in fact improve however slightly on his K:BB ratio. ERA should also be in effect down this year as well (CoPa as a pitchers park sort of lol). Anyhow I do see your argument but the way that you and the tigers bloggasphere(sp?) are making Joyce out to be the next Granderson or more the next Maybin, hes simply not. And we got someone of equal trade value and upside and that’s how it ends because we know that the trade is done.

    EDIT: sorry for the double post, tried my best to fix my post above and include this in it but I wasnt in time.

  13. I don’t know how someone can continually say that Jackson “is improving” and then completely ignore the fact that his Strikeout rate last year was WORSE THAN JAMIE MOYER’S.

    Edwin Jackson: 781 batters faced. 107 K’s, 76 BB’s.

    Jamie Moyer: 841 batters faced. 123 K’s, 62 BB’s.

    That means that Jackson struck out 13.7% of the batters he faced and walked 9.73% while getting just 39% of batters to hit a ground ball.

    Moyer, on the other hand, struck out 14.63% of batters he faced, walked 7.37% and got 43.1% to hit a ground ball.

    One throws 98 and one struggles to hit 88. One of these things is not like the other.

    We got a big, tall, hard throwing pitcher that put up worse numbers than Jamie Moyer for a plus defender in the corner outfield positions who is cheaper and under club control for a longer time. How in the world anyone can put a positive spin on this deal is beyond me. I just don’t get it.

  14. I wont get into a arguing match against you mike. But you guys defending Joyce so much like hes an all star its amazing to see that many people regard, a righty only batter and a corner outfielder with above average defense, like hes some kind of saint and the next coming of Manny Ramirez or something similar.

    IF you dont want me to put positive spin, fine. We got an average pitcher for an average OF. There you go. We got what we gave…..

  15. I’m not trying to get into an arguing match. I’m certain I’m coming off with an immense condescending tone, but that’s not my intent.

    I’ve said this before, though (and wrote it), and I’ll say it again: for me, this has less to do with Joyce being dealt, and more to do with what is coming back in return. I wouldn’t have even traded him for JJ Putz straight up due to Putz’ loss of velocity and injury woes last year after really only two years of very consistent pitching. JJ Putz, however, blows Edwin Jackson out of the water.

    I’ll change my tune if there’s a convincing argument in Jackson’s favor but I’ve seen the following places talk about this trade: Beyond The Boxscore, DRays Bay, Fangraphs, DTW, Take 75 North, Tigers Thoughts, Tigers Tales, and Spot Starters and every single one have agreed that this is a terrible deal for the Tigers — and not all of those are slanted for either team, as beyond the boxscore and Fangraphs are neutral (and USS Mariner had a glowing review of Matt Joyce when there were Joyce + Larish for Putz rumors going on a couple of days ago).

    The only things that get said in Jackson’s favor are that his BB’s have decreased each year in the league. Which is dandy, and kudos to him on that, really, but there still incredibly mediocre. No one in his defense cares to address his anemic strikeout numbers in 2008 (honestly, how in the world are they worse than Jamie Moyer’s?). From what I gather of Jackson’s talents, the best thing he did in 2008 was pitch for the Rays, and subsequently, that defense while also having fluky numbers (like his Left On Base %). Once you get outside of the “He’s improved his walk rate three years running!” topic, it just turns to “he’s improving” and “he won 14 games.” None of which hold an ounce of merit in my eyes, when the facts are laid out there in an unbiased manner.

    And for the record (again) I don’t even think Joyce will ever be an all-star, rather just an above-average big leaguer if all goes right. If he falls short of his ceiling, he’s an average outfielder. And I still wouldn’t trade a no-name, non-descript, average outfielder for Edwin Jackson.

  16. “Joyce could/should have gotten the Tigers something better.”

    Not agreeing or disagreeing, but that statement is a good point of departure.

    People who felt the Tigers should go get a starter were in the minority, it seems. (My opinon until about a week ago was that they probably couldn’t afford it.) And yet no one was satisfied with the existing choices for the rotation, ????? aplenty. The people who did mention starters were mostly after money guys like Burnett, Sheets, Lowe, et al. Clearly, that wasn’t going to happen. So if we can agree that going after a starter was at least prudent (and it seems like the idea with Jackson is for him to be a starter, at the moment), then if Jackson is a bad catch, which starter should Joyce have fetched instead? I’m curious, because no one had any ideas on what the Tigers could/should do for an under-the-radar type starter. At least as far as I’ve seen. It was all bullpen.

    Joyce was worth keeping for all the reasons billfer points out. But if the rest of the league saw him in the same glowing light we do, then one of these straight-up trades should have happened:

    a) Joyce for Jack Wilson
    b) Joyce for J.J. Putz
    c) Joyce for Huston Street

    Contrary to my naive expectations, the Tigers must have found that no one was interested in anything but Joyce and Larish (not necessarily together). Hey. at least they didn’t pull the trigger on dealing both in a Wilson or Putz deal. We can be grateful for that. Could it be that they see more hitting potential in Larish (as well as his Inge- replacement value), or was it just that Larish (and spare change) wasn’t going to get pitching from anyone who had it?

    It would seem that moving Joyce must hold a clue to their post-2009 plans for the OF and DH. Plans clearly different than ours.

    Anyway, as an alternative to just piling on about how lousy Jackson is, ponder what a worthy return for Joyce might otherwise have been. Maybe they can still get the guy.

  17. Loon,

    a) Tigers would have wanted more from the Pirates: the players are worth roughly the same with the scales tilting towards Joyce because he’s younger and cheaper.
    b) For whatever reason Seattle thought Putz was worth more, again, the Tigers disagreed for reasons that Mike R lists.
    c) Too tired to look that up and analyze.

    Steve, et al

    speaking for myself, i’ll try (again) to point out that i don’t like the trade based on cost. the Tigers do need more pitching depth, but Jackson seems a bit like a project and is going to be fighting with plenty of guys for what likely will be the #5 spot. unless you’re talking about the All-Star Game roster, #5 pitchers are almost by definition “below average”. taking into account the amount of time Jackson has spent at or around this level, his progression is not encouraging. if this guy were a walk on, i would be cautiously semi-optimistic about him earning a spot as a #5 starter. as it stands, they gave up a guy who, in his rookie year, was an average corner-outfielder.

    as Mike points out, Joyce may never make an All-Star Game, but so far, he’s average at the big league level. Jackson wasn’t even great in the minors, let alone average in the mlb (seriously, look at some stats). Jackson’s gonna have a hard time fitting into a rotation if either Robertson or Willis rebounds. meanwhile the Tigers better either knock balls completely out of the park or have some good luck with line drives when they play Tampa.

    this trade isn’t a disaster (at least i don’t think it is), but it seems like a waste.

  18. I’m going to go ahead and play devil’s advocate – I think Jackson will have a fine season. Change of scenery and all. Call it the Gavin Floyd Corollary.

  19. A lot of Tampa fans think the Rays should have gotten more for Jackson. Maybe thats a good sign, assuming Rays fans are as smart as us. Who knows, hopefully it all works out.

  20. Mike R, you be trippin! I haven”t heard you so adamantly argue about a trade since you enthusiastically signed off on the Jurgens/Gorkys for the old fat guy who couldn’t play shortstop deal.

    Joyce hit about .210 in August and September, he showed no power after his first trip around the league. You want to argue Jackson is gonna be a mediocrity that’ s fine, but there’s a equal chance that Joyce is gonna be playing for the Hiroshima Carp in 2010. There’s not a body of evidence to prove your point. You could be right, you could be wrong, but there’s not a stats rationale for Joyce being a bonafide major leaguer.

    And Billfer, any Winter meetings summary that begins with ‘Things started out so promising with the acquisitions of Gerald Laird and Adam Everett’ shows how far this team is from contending. I mean, seriously, we’re excited about a left side of the infield that could hit a combined .215? Really, is that how far our expectations have fallen? And Laird is just an adequate space-filler on a crummy team.

    If Matt Joyce, Adam Everettt, and Laird are the news out of the winter meetings, this team is back to the blah blah franchise of the 90s.

  21. The Tigers probably did overpay for Jackson, but they definitely do need to add pitchers.

    Look hard at the rotation:

    Robertson sucks and will continue to suck.

    Willis no longer has the physical ability to pitch.

    Bonderman has been average and injured.

    Gallaraga is probably going to prove to be merely a replacement-level pitcher.

    Verlander is overhyped and overrated, and will never be a true ace.

    Defense might well have been a concern, but pitching is DEFINITELY a concern. In the fielding-independent pitching stats (K, BB, HR), the Tigers were bad to abysmal.

    In the final equation, I do suspect that this trade will probably bite us. But in an offseason where I was expecting action on Peavy and Burnett but instead received Everett and Laird, it’s at least good to know that Dombrowski isn’t as delusional about their pitching as so many fans are.

  22. DavidB, you made the exact points about the existing rotation situation that I was going to (although I’m a bit higher on JV than you are).

    They needed to shore up their pitching staff in order to stay out of the cellar in ’09 since they’ve got 3 starters who may not provide anything, 1 who will probably be average at best, and 1 who will probably be a little better than average. Zach Miner may turn out to be one of our best starters next year, ugh.

    Does anyone think the Tigers will do anything more than fight KC for last place again next year? Their pitching looks so bad I don’t see how they can compete, especially with a bottom third of the order that will just be terrible at best.

  23. Stephen your back as your negative-nancy self

    Laird and Everett were GREAT signings at a VERY LOW COST

    Runs Against is the much more important side of the equation, both Laird and Everett will help quite a bit

  24. I really think people are overreacting to the Skelton thing. If the Tigers don’t think another team will be able to keep him on their roster then there is absolutely no value in protecting him. It’s not a mistake if the Dbacks don’t keep Skelton on the roster, and almost everyone admits that this is the most likely outcome at this point.

  25. I think there is still more moves to come. When you have a bullpen this bad, they might be going with three lefties in the pen. Everytime a power hitting lefty
    comes to bat in the 6,7,8 and 9th, bring in a lefty to pitch to him. Lefties increase their batting avg against righties not lefties.

  26. Billfer,

    earlier you had mentioned that the Tigers probably have ~$15mil to play with after resignings and the like. then today, i thought i caught a mention of the Tigers maybe not spending that money due to the economy in your webcast. i won’t ask you to forecast what’s going to happen in Detroit’s economy, but if they still had that amount to work with, would you rather see them target another arm for the rotation, or for the pen? who do you like?

  27. Matt Joyce, 2008 OPS+ by month:


    It’s possible last year was as good as he’s gonna be at the dish. I certainly felt last year the league had found a hole in his long swing.

  28. Just a rumor from Jayson Stark, but I want to make my feelings clear.


    He has power, plays a not great but non-Dunnish left, and has decidedly positive trade value. Whether as a player here, or as trade bait, he is well worth the $1.8 M or whatever he costs.

  29. walewander,

    shocking isn’t it that a rookie would show significant promise and also struggle. the same scenario that needs to happen in order for this trade to favor the Tigers (Jackson improving), is the one that you and other seem reluctant to apply to Joyce. how is it more likely that Jackson, after being around the league since ’03, significantly improves while Joyce remains static? is it somehow easier to suddenly show the ability to control your pitches than it is to adjust a swing? how about significantly increasing strikeouts vs. hitting lefties?

    it really does seem like the same standard of evaluation isn’t being applied to both. Joyce probably isn’t a “5-tool” guy, but for a guy who supposedly has the tools as a pitcher, Jackson has consistently not showing anything for it. i think we may have traded for a right handed Robertson.

  30. Edwin Jackson has always been that sleeper guy that everyone wants in the late rounds of a fantasy draft. Draft junkies like myself have been tracking him since his early days with the Dodgers.
    Joyce has never even been drafted before in fantasy leagues, not even as a dark horse sleeper pick. This trade does nothing but put Joyce on the map. He went from being a big nobody, which was a 4th or 5th outfielder, to being the guy who was traded for Edwin Jackson.
    Being that Jackson has held his own in the majors for the last 2 seasons, he’s no longer a huge sleeper pick. Jackson is no great shakes, but he is a commodity that every team seeks. He’s the Jon Garland, Paul Byrd, Jeff Suppan type that gets over looked. in a few years he’ll be free agent commanding a $10 million per year contract.

  31. Mr X,

    the closest (in terms of independent statistics) that Jackson comes to comparing well to any of the guys you mention (let alone Robertson, who he’ll likely be competing with for the #5 spot) is Suppan, and even then Suppan is better. they might all get overlooked in fantasy drafts, but era isn’t as valuable to real teams as it is to your yahoo league. spend some time at, check out the numbers on Jackson, the guys you listed and Robertson. focus on the “advanced” stats, that’s where you’ll find who the pitcher is, independent of his team.

    i pick up Juanne-Pierre every year because i always forget to draft “steals”, that doesn’t mean he has tons of real-world value. you can tell, because he doesn’t.

    edit: “in a few years he’ll be free agent commanding a $10 million per year contract.” – you wouldn’t per chance be his agent, would you?

  32. I just looked at the advanced stats at, but I fail to see how Jon Garland, Suppan, or Byrd were any better than Jackson last season.
    Jackson actually looked like the pick of the litter out of the four, plus he’s younger.

    Please explain it to me how you think those guys are any better.

  33. Do this, look at the game logs for Jackson from April to the end August from last season.

    If he can do that for the Tigers, he’ll be our #1 starter.

  34. Even if Jackson pans out it’s all for nothing if the bullpen doesn’t greatly improve. It will be interesting to see what the Tigers do in that regards.

  35. One of the huge things that Jackson adds is that we don’t have to depend on Kenny Rogers anymore. Rogers was rather insignificant these past 2 seasons and he was getting paid $8 million per season.

  36. Mr X,

    here’s the 2008 numbers from fangraph, i’ve bracketed career numbers when 08 numbers seemed out of character:

    1.40 k/bb
    1.51 whip
    4.88 fip (4.92 career)

    1.53 k/bb
    1.51 whip (1.38 career)
    4.76 fip

    1.34 k/bb (1.68 career)
    1.54 whip (1.43 career)
    5.51 fip (4.79 career)

    2.41 k/bb
    1.32 whip
    5.14 fip (4.72 career)

    1.74 k/bb
    1.66 whip
    4.99 fip (4.75 career)

    as you can see, Jackson has a lower k/bb rate, better than only Nate in whip and has the lowest career fip of the group. it should be noted for this comparison that while Jackson is slowly getting better, several of these guys had bad years by their own standards.

    as for his stretch of starts from april-aug (if my math is right, which can be a big “if”):

    154 ip
    154 h
    69 bb
    90 k

    gives him

    1.30 k/bb
    1.44 whip
    ?.?? fip

    that’s enough number crunching for me, but that doesn’t seem to equal #1 startee.

  37. After reviewing every mind-numbing statistic that you all have referenced (and I applaud you for that) I have to take a step back and take a simpler approach.

    Before the season, what did we need most.

    1. Bullpen pitching
    2. Starting pitching
    3. Shortstop
    4. Catcher
    5. Third Base
    6. Ham Sandwich
    9. Left Fielder

    If you’re in a win now mentality, and arguably that’s the mentality I’m always going to be in, (Why would anyone want to win any later than now?) then we simply traded something we don’t need for something we need. You can worry about the Matt Joyce stock for the future, but we didn’t need him this year. We HAD to have a servicable starter added to the roster to even consider competing this year. What happens if Willis doesn’t improve, Bonderman gets injured, and Robertson continues to nose dive all at the same time? This scenario isn’t all that unlikely. And if it’s not Bonderman getting injured, than it’s probably someone else. Heck, maybe multiple pitchers get injured. Regardless, we would be in dire straights in this scenario if we hadn’t added Jackson. If none of these things occur, then Jackson goes to the bullpen, where maybe he was meant to be in the first place. Does anybody know how his first inning looks historically?

  38. Were Joyce’s statistics in the minors (where they had a scouting report on him) even all that impressive?? Because as soon as they figured him out in the majors he was pretty worthless outside of throwing a nice ball out of left field. We basically have no statistics that show Matt was even remotely dominant when opposing teams had the goods on him. He basically surprised some people for a moment and then faded. So he likes cats. Big deal.

    If we’re going to trade average for average, we might as well have the depth where we need it.

  39. Keep in mind also that EJax has been toiling in the toughest division in the majors for a pitcher. Having to face the Yankees and Red Sox (and to a lesser extent an underrated Baltimore offense) is not going to do you any favors. That also might explain to a certain degree the K/BB ratios he’s been putting up, as both Boston and New York are notoriously patient lineups. I’m not saying EJax (yes, I’m officially calling him that all the time now) is going to come in and be the ace of the staff, but he could potentially slide into the #3 spot with a little luck. If that’s the case, trading a 4th outfielder isn’t the worst thing in the world. Joyce will never be a star if he doesn’t learn to hit lefties.

  40. i’m gonna try and cut down on my posts because 1) my fingers hurt, 2) it makes me look like i think Joyce is HoF bound and Jackson should be in A ball.

    as far as Joyce in the minors, he did ok but its not like he had an OPS of 1.500. on the other hand, given how he performed in at the top, its not as relevant. he had a BAD september, but Thames had the same kind of month in august and Granderson had poor averages in may. it shouldn’t be dismissed that Joyce tailed off, and this could have been because the league “figured him out”, but it could also just be a slump and the timing made it seem like more than it was. even if it was the former, he had the league figured out for a while there too. who’s to say that he doesn’t regain the edge?

    because both players involved are young, there’s going to be potential for growth on both sides. the difference is that Jackson has been around longer, has been below-average in his time, and isn’t dramatically improving.

    Ken, your list of needs may be correct, but how much does trading for a guy that’s going to have to fight to earn the #5 spot with the likes of Robertson and Willis really warrant? a guy who @ 24 is already a borderline plus corner outfielder who’s versatile and cheap? that’s great if they want to trade surplus for need, but Jackson looks like a long shot to fill those needs and i’m left feeling like they could have held on to Joyce and waited for something better.

  41. Sorry for the double post, but we really need to contact the Quiznos or Jimmy John’s people and get them to sponsor billfer’s blog here, what with the umpteen references to ham sandwiches each day.

  42. Jackson has “been around longer” even though he’s still just 25, but he’s also only had 2 full seasons as a starter. Neither were particularly noteworthy, but he did show a marked improvement from ’07 to ’08. If he continues moving in that direction in ’09, I think you guys will de-sour (and sweeten) on this deal.

  43. Chris in D,

    i’m not being original in reiterating that he only (and marginally) improved on the surface. going from a record of 5-15 to 14-11 and having your ERA drop by 1.34 seems like improvement until you look at how different Tampa’s defense was between those two years (better by 12.5 wins according to ). his k/bb got worse and his FIP only improved from 4.90 to 4.88, so if he keeps that up it’ll be a while (if ever) before he projects as a #3 starter. +2 seasons isn’t a ton of data to go on, but he’s had more time to impress than the half-season worth of ABs that Joyce did.

  44. Chris, are you saying that if this trade were a chinese entree, it would be the sweet and sour pork?

  45. I’m really having a hard time understanding why Billfer hates this trade so much. I’m not high-fiving anyone, but last time a checked, average pitchers were much harder to come by than average corner outfielders. Seems to be worth the risk from my point of view.

    Hey Ken – how come “8” doesn’t get a period? And I’ll be back in LV in February, I’m looking forward to another $8.95 all you can eat BBQ plate.

  46. Kevin,

    i guess the part of the differences of opinion stem from what you think is an “average pitcher”. for me, its not a guy who projects to have a 4.88 fip, low k/bb rates and, despite throwing hard, can’t get guys out. his underlying stats belay a distinctly below-average pitcher who isn’t improving quickly.

    as a broader question, i’m curious to know what about Jackson makes people think he’s an average pitcher (or where he has shown the potential to be one)? i understand the question marks surrounding the rotation and bullpen, but is he really better than an in-house solution or a cheap short-term free agent?

  47. “Hey Ken – how come “8″ doesn’t get a period? And I’ll be back in LV in February, I’m looking forward to another $8.95 all you can eat BBQ plate.”

    The 8 doesn’t deserve a period. It’s not because I ride the short bus. Nothing to do with that. Back in February?! Awesome. Hopefully it’s on a weekend so we can get banged up before we devour 12 pigs and some cawn breds.

  48. BTW, this debate has really become nausiating hasn’t it? We’ve gone around in circles so many times, I feel like I just got off the Tilt-A-Whirl and am about to hurl. You know it’s been a bad offseason when you spend 200 posts discussing who is more average or even the meaning of the word average. Last year the debate was how many thousands of runs we thought we could score. What a difference a year makes.

  49. Chuck James. Dave BW may be onto something there. Good call.

    De-sour and sweeten! Excellent, Chris. Ag-ra-ba!

    I see nobody has any ideas on who Joyce should have fetched. Academic, I guess. But that’s never stopped anyone from.. oh well, never mind.

    It appears to me that the “Let’s not freak out about Joyce for EJax” movement is gaining strength.

    Ken, i think it’s been a good offseason, except for the unbearable lull before they finally got Laird and started moving. The Tigers are addressing needs without any splashy moves (well, I guess the latest was kind of splashy ’round these here parts). The strange roster moves, well, I’m wiling to give them the benefit if the doubt there. I’ve still got that good feeling about 2009. I anticipate an interesting season with pleasant surprises. I don’t know what’s come over me. Maybe it’s that Serenity Now tape.

  50. Being a fan of the braves since ’91 when i first got into baseball(was also a Tigers fan as well), i know a lot about their system and their players. Ive seen their high players and their low ones. If that was a sarcastic remark Dave about James Ill laugh along side you. If you were implying that we should have taken James instead of trading for Edwin Jackson you are dead wrong. I’ve seen James, he has fallen so far out from his hype its not even funny, add that to shoulder and elbow surgeries last two seasons and you get a worse lefty then Nate Robertson and thats saying a lot. Jackson isn’t the ace we need, but hes not a slouch like James. But I’m hoping against hope that you were just kidding on Chuck James when you have two lefties who are sucking right now anyhow(Willis and Nate)

  51. Steve in Kzoo, don’t forget to call out Smoking Loon on the Chuck James gaffe. Not only did he acknowledge Dave’s remark, but he also applauded it. Don’t you feel retarded, Loon? That should knock you off of your Serenity Now high horse.

  52. I never would have traded for James, and you would be right to laugh at the assertion — but, honestly, now that he’s been released there wouldn’t really be a downside to giving him a minor league deal right now, or even a small major-league one.

    Also, let’s pick up Tim Redding! And oooh! Charlie Haeger!!! I’m sure Chan Ho Park is around somewhere, too.

  53. This has been a fun debate. But in the end, we’ll just have to wait and see. EJax is not exactly Jake Peavy, but he’s a pitcher. He just has to go out and do what he can do. So far he hasn’t done anything to wow any of us, but then again neither did Gavin Floyd until he got dumped by Philly. I suggest we revisit this talk in June. I mean, really, how much playing time was Joyce going to get with Guillen-Granderson-Maggs with DH Sheffield? Not to mention Thames. Now if Sheffield ends up getting moved, I might sing a different tune…

  54. Dave a minor league contract………maaaaaaaaybeeeee he was really bad last year on the minor league contract how do you think he would do this year. Probably the same. That’s one reason you don’t see the Braves resign him or other teams grabbing him. He used to have a high upend, #4 or 5 ceiling with a nice slider and 89 off speed fastball to trick hitters. He has hardly any of that anymore since his injuries and surgeries. Redding is still a Nat, Haeger i have not a clue and Chan Ho Park is in negiatiations with the Phils.

  55. Redding was non-tendered today, as was Haeger. THOSE were jokes 🙂

    I’m aware James sucked last year and will likely continue to suck. But every once in awhile a formerly high-upside prospect manages to regain their status, and he’s worth a shot if it doesn’t really cost us anything. These are the sorts of low-risk, high-reward moves that GM’s of markets like Detroit need to consider.

  56. Yea i was about to correct my post DAve. And I realize that James may regain his status, but like a lot of former upend prospects, they never do. But IF we are talking about low risk high reward, then a league minimum of 400K for one year of JAmes in AAA Toledo and see how he does.

  57. Andre – What I’m arguing is that I’d rather take a flyer with a #4 pitcher who has thrown 160 and 180 IPs over the last two years, than with a guy who projects to be an avg. corner outfielder. I think you could make a case that EJax is below average, but I’d like to point out that BP had him at a hefty VORP of 26.7, compared with Galarraga at 33.2 and JV at 12.3 (let’s not mention where Bondo falls here). I realize this is not a perfect measure, but it’s a good start. His peripherals seem to be a mix of trending up and down, and he’s 25 years old. Thus, average.

    I liked Joyce, same as everyone else. But we need pitching, lots of it. Who knows what was really available out there, but I’ll take what we can get.

  58. Relievers worth looking at that are still on the market and would probably be cheap:

    Joe Nelson (r)
    Will Ohman (l)
    Juan Rincon (r)
    Kirk Calero (r)
    Luis Ayala (r)
    Ledezma! (l!)

  59. Taikashi Saito was non-tendered, so he is available as well.

    Marcel projects him for a 3.15 FIP in 52 innings with 9.33 K/9. This strikes me as perhaps an acceptable option to close. Lefties hit him a bit better, but it’s not like he’s getting shelled.

    I’m sure there will be lots of interest, assuming he’s healthy, but maybe only the Tigers can offer him a chance to close.

  60. Ken, I do feel retarded, and yet I feel no shame. Serenity Now conquers all.

    I didn’t research James heavily, always a recipe for instant retardation. I saw the numbers, guessed that he was injured in 2008, noted he was a lefty, looked at the numbers again and said “yeah.” Offhand like. Steve in Kzoo then put me on to the fact that Dave BW might have been joking, and I felt stupid.

  61. I haven’t seen any projection data yet, so until we see the Marcels her is last season’s Win Share Data from the Hardball Times

    Edwin Jackson
    Batting Pitching Fielding WSP WSAB Total WS
    -0.1 10.5 0.0 .523 5 10

    Matt Joyce
    5.8 0.0 0.8 .458 2 7

    As it stands, using win share data, it seems a trade for average and average, but from a position of some depth for a position of some weakness.

  62. I was just going to echo the news that Aquilino Lopez was non-tendered over $$…after he made $400k last year and was one of our few bullpen bright spots. Sheesh, if we can give Jose Mesa $2m, we can keep this guy around, can’t we?
    What the heck are they doing?
    I don’t understand or like very many of their moves this off-season.

  63. All due respect to Aquilino, but he’s not a guy who is going to be a key to a contender’s bullpen. That’s if you’re willing to say that the Tigers will be contenders.

  64. I couldn’t care less about ALo being cut — it’s just incredibly asinine that he had to be placed on the 40-man at the expense of Skelton instead of dropped a month ago.

  65. Skelton will surely be back though. He won’t stick on the D’backs 25 MLB roster unless they want to carry 3 catchers. They already have Chris Snyder and Miguel Montero. I’m stunned that anyone would take a AA catcher in the rule 5 draft, let alone a team that already has 2 catchers.

  66. Unless they plan on trading Montero, the lefty (they could), or using Skelton as a 2B. He’ll likely be back but it’s far from certain.

  67. “What the heck are they doing? I don’t understand or like very many of their moves this off-season.”

    Well, there’s got to be a reason. There are people here and elsewhere very hip to the finer points of roster management, and I’m surprised that none of them have put forth any theories to make seemingly incomprehensible moves a little more understandable. But things like the Lopez thing or protecting Hessman, Clevlen, Bonine, et al, at the cost of letting Skelton go, well, they simply cannot be oversights or simply “asinine” (even if the results do turn out to be unfavorable). Baseball wizards like, well, you know who are, because you have your very own Tigers blogs, for goodness sake – YOUSE GUYS should have some ideas. I’m lookin’ right at ya, now. Because if you smart people won’t come up with any theories, it’s left to stupid people like me.

    For instance: Well, I can’t come up with anything original. I’ve encountered the idea that you might put guys on the 40-man roster that you don’t intend to keep as a kind of placeholder for positions you expect or hope to fill with acquisitions, but I can’t explain it and don’t quite understand it.

    And of course the Tigers brain trust itself isn’t about to explain anything about this to anybody, because it would give away strategy and hurt their trade and signing leverage.

  68. “Unless they plan on trading Montero”

    Maybe to the Tigers? I don’t know what the Tigers can offer in return (Edwin Jackson? ha ha), but a cheap (at least I assume he’s still cheap). young, left-handed backup C isn’t such a terrible idea otherwise. Montero/Ryan platoon in 2010? Letting go of Skelton might not seem so bad then.

  69. With regard to Lopez not being tendered and using his spot for Skelton, it’s kind of apples and oranges. The Tigers are looking to upgrade that spot in the bullpen and will need the roster spot to do that. Lopez isn’t who kept Skelton off the roster, it was the Hessman’s and Bonine’s that did.

  70. Could Hessman have been placed on the roster because of the possibility of trading Larish? Clevlen because of the possibility of trading Joyce? Bonine because the acquisition of another starter was uncertain, and he’s a control guy with some Tigers experience (slim pickings on the farm), and Knapp opined that he liked him? Could Skelton have been left off because they think he really is a long shot to both make it and fit the plan (at whatever position), and didn’t exactly count on losing him but instead took a gamble that he would more likely be passed over than Figaro and any other prospects they protected? Or did they maybe intend to make Skelton part of a trade which never materialized? Those are my best guesses, based on what little I know.

    1. Well Hessman and Clevlen were already on the roster and removing them would have meant passing them through waivers – like what happened to Virgil Vasquez. So I don’t think they were kept as contingencies, though I don’t know the reason. Clevlen could be the 5th outfielder this year and would be the Granderson’s back-up in centerfield. Plus he’s out of options making his spring performance critical.

      Bonine has a bum shoulder making his inclusion all the more curious. McBride is coming off an injury so his chances of being claimed were pretty small.

      With Skelton I’ll guess that the org doesn’t think he will stick on another big league roster and that they’d like to retain him.

  71. Loon, you make about as much sense as possible, I guess. But I had always figured rule 5 draftees tended to be guys with high ceilings who just weren’t ready yet for their current club to move to the majors. Thus you draft a player onto your 25 man roster in 2009 with the hopes that the kid will be really good in 2010 or 2011.

    For Skelton’s sake, I hope he turns into a Craig Biggio type player and has a nice long career. But man, that would be tough to watch as a Tiger fan. I don’t expect him to come back, Arizona knows what they’re drafting.

  72. “they simply cannot be oversights or simply “asinine”” – Smoking Loon.

    Or…they’re simply mistakes.
    As Bilfer says, in regards to Skelton, I’m sure their scouts debated his value because of his size versus his performance like everyone else does, so they probably assumed that no one would claim him…in which case, they miscalculated.

    As for his chances of sticking, I’d think AZ knew what they were doing. If they like his potential, they might use a roster spot and make a utility out of him, use him as a PR, PH (he can get on base) or defensive guy for a year, and retain his rights. Heck, the Tigers did the same thing with Shelton in ’04 (well, aside from the PR part, LOL!)

  73. “Or…they’re simply mistakes.”

    Absolutely. Just not mistakes of the type where, say, some factotum is typing up the 40-man list, sees Skelton and thinks it’s Shelton and omits him (“Dude’s not even in the organization anymore! Sheesh!”) and just substitutes the first guy in the alphabetical list of “the other guys”…. Bonine. Ken in Las Vegas, who used to work for the Tigers a long time ago, got fired over a similar incident. But I’ll let him tell the story.

    billfer – If Hessman and Clevlen weren’t being kept as contingencies, what’s the risk of passing them through waivers? Losing guys to stock Toledo with? I’m not being sarcastic, just wondering whether you think the Tigers consider those guys handy to keep in the organization for any other reason. Actually, you already answered the question for Clevlen.

    rings, you bring up an interesting point about Skelton being a PH, PR, defensive substitution. An NL team has more room for a guy like that, I think. Then again, maybe there was a clerical error on the Diamondbacks’ side, and they think they’re getting Shelton. It’s not that far from Las Vegas…

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