The Trade Front Rundown

This time of year always makes me a little crazy. Rumors are all over the place, they are often contradictory and 96% of it is noise. Bits and pieces of information flow freely, some of it is legitimate, some of it is probably intentionally false (on the part of the source, not the reporter), and some of it is completely made up (see the Milton Bradley to the Tigers rumors). But it is always intriguing.

On the Tigers there haven’t been many new revelations. Dave Dombrowski said that the return of Carlos Guillen wouldn’t prevent the Tigers from still going after a bat. That type of acquisition would likely mean bad things for Marcus Thames and/or Ryan Raburn as Guillen is locked into DH at least for the time being. One target, Josh Willingham, made news by hitting grand slams in 2 consecutive at-bats last night. The Giants were also believed to be interested in Willingham, but they just acquired Ryan Garko.

The other Tigers need that is floating about is for a back-up catcher. Leyland doesn’t seem to have any faith in Dusty Ryan as Laird has played every game but 2 (and one of those was the back end of a double header) since the All Star break. I don’t think that Laird can handle the workload he’s under right now (his numbers are quite similar to the only other time he was a full time catcher 224/278/349 in 2007 and 235/315/353 this year), but I don’t know that the Tigers will be able to improve on what they have. Perhaps Baltimore would part with Gregg Zaun who has a 815 OPS when hitting from the left side this year.

Bless You Boys has pretty thoroughly covered the Pirates trade possibilities. For a team that struggles so much, they always seem to have worthwhile players to spin off at the trade deadline. The Tigers could be looking at Zach Duke or a middle infielder.

Finally, one of the areas of trade rumor mongering that I find to be most interesting is the after-the-fact stuff that comes out. Like the back story surrounding the Indians and the Mariners/Mets three way trade that spurred the Edwin Jackson/Matt Joyce deal. In this case, BYB points us to a column by Gordon Edes about the Tigers involvement in the Matt Holliday sweepstakes.

The Detroit Tigers were in hard on Matt Holliday(notes) before he went to the Cardinals, but Oakland turned down a package that included the Tigers’ top shortstop prospect, Cale Iorg. Right-handed pitcher Freddy Dolsi(notes), currently on the DL, would have gone to the Athletics as a player to be named later.

Presumably it should be Alfredo Figaro and not Freddy Dolsi. That was a fair offer, but given the A’s preference for performance and Iorg’s struggles with the bat this year, it’s not surprising they balked.

Twins stuff

The Twins are having some issues of their own with Kevin Slowey now out for the season due to a wrist injury. This comes on the heels of Justin Morneau and Joe Mauer begging the front office to make a move. A move or non-move could have longer term implications when it comes to Mauer’s willingness to resign in Minnesota.

One potential target is A’s shortstop Orlando Cabrera who has caught fire in July. But Billy Beane’s asking price is apparently too high. The Twins also asked the Blue Jays about Roy Halladay but the Twins aren’t one of the Doc approved teams.


  1. The Nicker

    July 28, 2009 at 10:47 am

    Here we again as another member of the Tigers blogosphere worries about acquiring a back-up catcher. This would be a foolish use of prospects for three reasons:

    1) Dusty Ryan isn’t that bad. Even though he is yet to hit, it’s fairly apparent Dusty Ryan is an able back-up. His sample size this year is too small to determine anything. His career numbers with last year included are barely enough, but that career line of .270/.347/.413 is probably closer to his mean than the few at bats he’s had so far this year. The fact that Laird is getting overworked is due to Leyland and not some sort of incompetence on Ryan’s part.

    2. The schedule. It hasn’t helped that our schedule has fallen in such a way that we have had almost no day games followed by night games since the all-star break. This is when Leyland generally would play the back-up, so as the season progresses and our schedule falls into more day games following night games (like this coming Sunday in Cleveland), expect to see Ryan 1-2 a week.

    3. It doesn’t matter. Back-up catcher is truly an area of little concern, consdiering their value on the team’s fortunes. Looking at WPA shows that catchers as a whole are fairly interchagable unless you have a really good one (Joe Mauer: 2.76) or one having a really bad year (Dioner Navarro: -2.19). No true back up catcher has a WPA with a number over 1 or under -1. Dane Sardinha had a -.59, Dusty Ryan has a -.13. Gregg Zaun has a -.89, for the record.

    The point being, it’s not worth going to get a back-up catcher, and certainly not to trade for one when you could pick up a free agent that will essentially do as good a job as Gregg Zaun.

    • billfer

      July 28, 2009 at 10:59 am

      I wouldn’t say I’m worried about it. It’s being reported that the Tigers are looking for a backup catcher. I have no problems with Ryan and I’d like to see him play more, but Leyland’s opinion kind of trumps mine. It’s my preference that if they are going to get somebody, it would be someone who could contribute a little bit at the plate and preferably from the left side. Zaun is old, on a one year deal, can get on base at a decent clip, is a switch hitter, is on a team that is going nowhere, and has a franchise catcher in the making. I don’t think it would take much to get him, and I wouldn’t include a top 15 prospect in the deal. That’s why I threw his name out there.

  2. J Ellet Lambie

    July 28, 2009 at 12:40 pm

    The other day I wrote about the erosion of Gerald Laird, including an out loud “Why was Dusty Ryan brought up?”, I just don’t get it. If Ryan isn’t the answer then DD needs to find the answer, quickly. It’s not reasonable or wise to push Laird this hard. If the team expects him to have anything left in the final month of the season they need to find a reliable, average backup behind the plate.

    If Ryan isn’t going to play then send him back to Toledo and let him hone his skills there. It’s not as if Dane Sardinha and Max St. Pierre have been so good at AAA that there isn’t a place for him on the Hens roster.

    Nice piece Bill.

  3. D Raz

    July 29, 2009 at 3:08 pm

    Based on what is available and what we have to give up the best way to improve the team is a new SS.

    Our SS has an OBP under 300 and hits for no power. Our lineup stinks, we need more guys to get on base and work pitchers, obviously extra base hits would be great but that is hard to acquire. Getting Scutaro for example with OBP of 380 would make a huge difference. His defense is equal to Everett , who is a good SS but not great by any means (except compared to Renteria) Orlando Cabera would be 2nd , neither would cost much and be a huge improvement. Also they could lead off and granderson could go down in the lineup so the pitchers wouldn’t laugh to themselves when they see Clete, Mags, Rayburn + Guillen in the heart of the lineup.

    I would put backup catcher second. Zaun would make a lot of sense. A starting catcher than can hit would be great but there aren’t any around and Laird’s D can’t be replaced as easily as Everett.

    LF would be #1 if we get a legit lefty but there isn’t one out there unless we overpay, I would rather see Larish come up and play DH + 3rd and give somebody else in the minors a chance. We have a few canditates.

    • Andre in Chi

      July 29, 2009 at 4:42 pm

      Scutaro is having a career year with an OPS a full hundred points over his career average, which makes it unlikely that he’ll continue at that pace (although he’s having another great month in July), and is a slightly worse defender than Everett. I don’t think you would be getting much of an upgrade by swapping Everett for either Scutaro or Cabrera (the O), at least not enough to justify giving up prospects for. I mean, if you can trade Everett straight up for Scutaro, that’s fine.

      • Coleman

        July 29, 2009 at 5:01 pm

        Word is that the SF Giants are willing to entertain offers for a Ham Sandwich…

      • D Raz

        July 30, 2009 at 12:40 am

        Scutaro is a career 335 OBP but that is including his first 2 1/2 years which he was horrible – Adam Everett like, he has been pretty good the last 4 years. He has made a concerted effort to take pitches and it obviously has been successful.

        According to every fielding metric Scutaro is better than Everett, he also looks better when I have seen him myself, he has better range, arm + is sure handed. Everett’s rep is good but he has been mediocre lately. In 50% more chances Scutaro has 3 errors, Everett has 10. He is much better base runner, a threat to steal which puts pressure on the defense, compared to Everett clogging the bases, would bat leadoff and work the pitcher + has way more pop. I think if you look at all 5 baseball tools Scutaro is significantly better than Everett in all 5, there really isn’t anything you can even make an argument for Everett unless you just haven’t seen Scutaro play. That is why it is such an upgrade and I don’t think he would cost much, one of our minor league relievers and a 1st baseman or outfielder should do the trick.

        Everett career OBP is under 300 so don’t expect that to get any better.

        • D Raz

          July 30, 2009 at 1:23 am

          Wow, I just looked this up. My eyes did not decieve me , Adam Everett is one of the worst players in the majors, actually he is the worse starter.

          In Wins Above Replacement player at Baseball Prospectus.

          Scutaro- #8 in all of baseball (including pitchers)- 5.2 wins

          Everett – is tied for #1132 out 1170 , #41 out of 41 on the Tigers- lower than Mags, D-train, somehow Nate Robertson. In other words by getting the average minor league shortstop the Tigers would be better than with Everett.

        • Andre in Chi

          July 30, 2009 at 3:49 pm

          D Raz,

          Yeah, you’re pretty much spot on re: Scutaro / Everett. I couldn’t access FanGraphs the other day, so I had to go off the baseball-reference metrics, which somehow have Everett as a slight defensive upgrade. Looking at FanGraphs though paints a much different picture.

          I guess my point would still deal with the cost of acquiring Scutaro. If they could get him on the cheap, that’s fine, but he’s playing himself into a higher bracket this year.

          • D Raz

            July 30, 2009 at 10:12 pm

            Adam Kennedy is another player that can be had on the cheap that would be a good upgrade, can backup at third, play 2nd, even some OF. I would be tempted to play him in the outfield, he isn’t really an outfielder but it isn’t like Mags and Rayburn are that good on D anyway.

  4. Skip

    July 29, 2009 at 4:26 pm

    All quiet on the Tigers’ Trade Front.

  5. Keith (Mr. X)

    July 29, 2009 at 6:00 pm

    Cleveland just dumped Lee and Francisco for some minor leaguers. They are even shopping V-Mart too. Man, they’ve given up CC Sabathia and Lee in the past year. What a sorry franchise they have become. Anyway, that should help us get some wins this weekend. Not having to face Lee again is real nice.

    Philly is looking really good now in making it back to the world series again.

    • Coleman

      July 29, 2009 at 7:27 pm

      The schedule has not been kind to us this season. The scheduling of a series with Cleveland at trade deadline time, however, very nice. No Garko or Lee, and if all goes well, no V. Martinez, makes for a relaxing weekend.

      And if we lose the series I’ll stop laughing at the idea we’re in some kind of collapse.

      • Keith (Mr. X)

        July 29, 2009 at 7:42 pm

        Yeah, me too. I’ll start getting worried if we can’t crush Cleveland. I under-estimated the Rangers. Last week I though we could take 2 games @ Texas, but they are more desperate to win games than we are.

        • Coleman

          July 29, 2009 at 7:49 pm

          The Rangers are like the Tigers in some ways. They might be on the list if they did a Baseball Reference type thing with Most Similar Teams. The SF Giants are probably most similar (pair of stud starters, similar W-L record, don’t score many runs but win more games than they should considering how many runs they score, enjoy ham sandwiches…)

          • Coleman

            July 29, 2009 at 8:14 pm

            “Winn single in 10th lifts Giants over Pirates 1-0”

            OK that’s even impressive by Tiger standards; no runs in 9 innings vs Pirates…and they win.

  6. Andre in Chi

    July 29, 2009 at 6:11 pm

    Looking at the Seattle / Pittsburgh deal just furthers the idea that this is a sellers market. Seattle had to give up Jeff Clement, Ronny Cedeno, Brett Lorin, Aaron Pribanic, and Nathan Adcock to Pittsburgh for Snell and Jack Wilson. They might be looking to extract revenge on whatever team wants Washburn. Lets hope the Tigers don’t deplete their minors just to refill Seattle’s.

    • Coleman

      July 29, 2009 at 7:33 pm

      I like that trade a lot. Because I got a headache every time I would see something about Detroit may be talking to Pittsburgh about Jack Wilson (if he had stayed I think there’s a 50-50 chance a Jack Wilson rumor would pop up a year after he retired).

      On the other hand, we still could be subject to Seattle-Detroit-Jack Wilson rumors. Maybe we could trade Guillen to Seattle for Jack Wilson, and then trade Jack Wilson and Ramon Santiago to Seattle for Washburn and a player to be named later, and the player to be named later could be Santiago, and…

      • Anson

        July 29, 2009 at 7:45 pm

        I like your logic.

  7. Coleman

    July 29, 2009 at 7:44 pm

    On a random and only tangentially related note, I thought it was nice to see the Mets signed Adam Pettyjohn–He pitched with the Tigers in 2001, and then 4 innings with Cinci last season (a 7 year gap-how often does THAT happen). Talk about persistence; 19 games in 11 years in pro ball, and he’s not done yet…

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