Tigers announce bevy of roster moves

The Tigers made a handful of roster moves today to prepare for the offseason. They are:

  • Mike Hollimon was outrighted to Toledo
  • Marcus Thames and Matt Treanor have been removed from the roster and are now free agents
  • Jeff Larish and Joel Zumaya have been reinstated from the disabled list
  • Jay Sborz had his contract purchased from Toledo


The Hollimon move isn’t surprising. He very may well still have a role in the organization. He has a 260/361/478 line in his minor league career which is solid for a middle infielder. He’s also 27 and has been injured much of the last 2 seasons meaning that he wasn’t going to get claimed.

The Matt Treanor announcement isn’t surprising either. Treanor will unfortunately finish his Tigers career without a hit but he does have the distinction of catching Rick Porcello’s debut.

Jay Sborz was eligible to become a minor league free agent and the Tigers evidently think he is close enough to helping to keep him in the fold. The second round pick in the 2003 draft struggled mightily his first 3 years in the organization but has progressed nicely since 2007 and he fanned 10.4 batters per 9 innings working out of the Erie bullpen in 2009.

That brings us to Marcus Thames. As an analyst I have to say letting Thames go is clearly the right move. He is limited defensively and his batting line as a 4th outfielder/DH was acceptable when he was making much less. For the Tigers to bring him back likely would have meant a $3 million investment. With younger players like Casper Wells, Clete Thomas, and Wilkin Ramirez likely to push for back up outfielder roles and Carlos Guillen and Magglio Ordonez sharing time at DH, there wasn’t a place for Thames. I thought the Tigers would hold on to him until closer to the tender deadline and perhaps include him as part of a trade, but there must have been little interest on that front.

That said, the fan in me is very sad to see Thames go. The homers were spectacular and surprisingly clutch. He was always on the outside looking in when it came to playing time but he never publicly complained and he always played his butt off. He’s also one of the few Tigers that I’ve had a chance to talk with on multiple occasions and he struck me as one of the genuinely nicest people you’ll meet. So I wish Thames all the best where ever he ends up.


  1. Kyle J

    November 6, 2009 at 5:51 pm

    Agree with both perspective on Thames. Would have loved to see what he could have done with 500 at bats in a season.

    • Greg

      November 7, 2009 at 5:17 pm

      He would have struck out even more. This argument has been proven not to work in baseball over and over…a pinch hitter/bench player very rarely if ever have stats improve with more ab’s. What usually happens is the weakness that has made them a bench player is over exposed and the stats get worse. Sorry but this Thames needs more time argument doesn’t hold water or he would have played more.

  2. Stormin Norman $

    November 6, 2009 at 5:54 pm

    I agree – Thames seemed like a great teammate, never complained – but unfortunately this is a ‘results oriented’ business and roster spots are investments… though better not subject the likes of Robertson, Willis and Bonderman to that same ‘results oriented’ and bad investment discussion.

    I hope Marcus lands in a spot where he gets some playing time – i still think he capable of hitting 30 – 40 HR’s in the right park.

    The Tigers conscience should be clean with Thames – they gave him his shots – and this year was make or break for him, and Marcus didn’t deliver.

    • TSE

      November 6, 2009 at 5:56 pm

      That’s the whole point, is Marcus has produced RESULTS EVERY YEAR! Big results! Last year was a horrible year for HIM but not relative to the average baseball player! But it still was better results than the vast majority of all of our other hitters.

      Such a sad day to be a Tiger’s fan after hearing about this move. Good luck Marcus, I’m sure you’ll do well!

  3. Sam

    November 6, 2009 at 5:58 pm

    Good Luck Marcus, but as a business decision, I totally agree with the Tiger’s moves. Raburn breakout season and the good play of Ramirez at AAA made him expendable. I do love Marcus’s career with the bases loaded 15-29 with 6 HR’s!

  4. Spike

    November 6, 2009 at 6:10 pm

    The Thames decision is sad but it was inevitable. And it says as much about the sad state of an aging team as it does about Thames personally. He has always been a defensive liability and now they can’t even afford to keep him as a DH because they have to find ABs for Guillen and Ordonez — aging vets with big contracts who are also defensive liabilities. It’s time to let Thames go and see what some of the younger guys — like Wells — can do. Ironically, this brings to mind the terrible decision the Tigers made in spring training a few years back to send Thames down because of their sentimental attachment to an over-the-hill Bobby Higginson.

  5. Kathy

    November 6, 2009 at 8:15 pm

    I’ll miss Marcus, terribly. His soft spoken manners and huge homeruns were just spectacular. A humble man who never made waves or complained, at least to the press. I wish only the best for Marcus Thames!

    • TSE

      November 6, 2009 at 8:21 pm

      Well on the personal side of things, he also has a mother that has been paralyzed since he was 5 years old.

      Here’s a quick link to the background on his mother, makes for an interesting read: (first link I found that had a decent amount of information)

      • Kathy

        November 6, 2009 at 10:44 pm

        TSE, most of us already know about Marcus background. That’s part of the reason why it’s hard to let him go. Most of us cannot even fathom growing up like he did. Even the announcers on ESPN spoke about his mother, Estherine. Marcus has that “southern charm” thing going for him, and I hope another team will appreciate him like we did.

        • TSE

          November 6, 2009 at 11:26 pm

          I’m going to go out on a limb and guess that he is signed by either the Yankees, Red Sox, or White Sox.

          • Kathy

            November 7, 2009 at 12:02 am

            That’s what you want. I’m not so sure about those teams needing his services but, hopefully, some team will. BTW, have you read Joe Posnanski’s column on SI.com? Nobody can say it, quite like him. You wanted the Yankees to win, I’m just sayin.

            • TSE

              November 7, 2009 at 12:42 am

              Well I certainly don’t want Thames to join those teams, that’s just my guess. What I want is for Detroit to sign him, or somebody that isn’t a competitive threat.

              Also, I take no pleasure in the Yankees winning, I hate the Yankees! lol

              Haven’t seen the article but will pull it up right now and take a look…

              Hmm, yeah an interesting article indeed. One thing too that he didn’t mention is that MLB does a GREAT job of facilitating parity in the league, which the NFL does not do. For example, teams like the Lions that have the #1 overall pick have to pay a ridiculous fortune for that pick, whereas that money penalty doesn’t exist in baseball. When you have a salary cap it makes it even worse for the Lions, cause not only do we pay out an unfair amount for a prospect, but a % of the funds left remaining is then unfavorably lower. That’s not an excuse for the Lions and the other terrible teams to be awful year in and year out, but it’s still a different dynamic. If the NFL wanted to have stronger parity, they really should give the worst teams some more help by having a rookie pay scale and thus allowing the salary cap concept and benefits to the worst teams to coincide properly to keep more balance.

              But of course he is right on his perspective about the dominance of the Yankees not being fully appreciated because of the nature of the game and the design of the probabilities of events that are required to win. These are very different sports, in football if you are the better player, you can will yourself to consistently win if you keep your focus and utilize your talents correctly. In baseball you have less control. As good as ARod may be, he can’t automatically make a play at will to the same degree a RB or QB can. He’s stuck at gambling on a low-odds chance of succeeding.

              I would say one way to look at it is to compare it to poker. Take the World Series for example. You have 8,000 players, yet TONS of people who are regarded as the greatest players in the world get knocked off. If you were to rank the top 100 or 500 players in the world on poker skill, well you wouldn’t see them finishing in those respective spots, you see them dropping out all over the place, because they can’t control their own destiny just on skill alone. No matter how ingeniously they decide to invest their chips, they are always facing pretty sizable percentages of having bad luck to destroy their investment. But now if this is the WS of tennis, the top 100 and 500 players in an 8,000 man tournament would make it much farther than the poker players would, because there’s not so much statistical chance outside of your control and you can hone your skill to victory with greater consistency.
              (I was in the WS of poker this year by the way, but left on an early exit because a person called a huge bet I made w/o proper pot odds and lucked out and pulled his straight to win. He actually even admitted that he realized the mistake in his calculation and spoke too quickly when he called the bet, but nevertheless I no longer had the chips and he doubled his chance, that’s just poker for ya)

              Another thing I would like to personally know which I will never truly know, is how smart are the Yankees with tactical decisions? I wonder if they are highly efficient there or not. Cause with the money they spend and the amount of talent they have, they could still produce the win totals that they have even if they used what I consider to be bad tactical decisions. In other words, it is possible that Leyland could manage the Yankees to similar accolades. I watch just about every Tigers game there is, but I’m not watching every Yankees game, so I can’t assess the quality of the tactical decisions of any team as well as I can for the Tigers, thus I don’t know if the Yankees should have won even more games than they did or not. If they were making countless errors, it is conceivable that they could have 5 or so extra wins on top of what they had. I guestimated that the Tigers gaffed about 10 games this year, which is unusually high even for a bad managed team, but since the Yankees have a smaller portion of losses overall, any mismanagement to the same degree would cost them fewer losses as their excessive talent will protect them from a portion of those mistakes.

              I also like how this writer periodically capitalizes certain words for EMPHASIS just like I do. LOL

              • Kathy

                November 7, 2009 at 11:35 pm

                “the dominance of the Yankees not being fully appreciated”? I think he summed it up pretty good by showing that the team that spends ludicrous, and that’s his word, amounts of money, has a higher probability of making the playoffs. The best team money could buy. The other MLB teams just hope for a miracle with their teams and their budgets. I can’t find any correlation to poker.

          • Greg

            November 7, 2009 at 5:20 pm

            Let’s hope so I bet they could all use a player who HR’s once every 15 AB’s and bats 230-250 when he is hot….lots of outs there! Good bye Marcus….Hooray for the Tigers, they finally see the light

  6. Joey in Portland OR

    November 6, 2009 at 10:10 pm

    Good Luck Marcus, stay country strong.

  7. Kathy

    November 6, 2009 at 11:12 pm

    I looked at it and wondered who the he** it was. Scott Sizemore, maybe? I don’t really have a clue.

    • TSE

      November 6, 2009 at 11:29 pm

      I think it’s Matt Treanor, but no promises. 😉

  8. Vince in MN

    November 7, 2009 at 12:52 am

    Matt Treanor being removed from the roster certainly wasn’t surprising. What was surprising was that they signed him in the first place; that never made any sense (to me anyway). No matter what one thinks of Thames, the fact is that Leyland wasn’t going to play him. And to be fair, the Tigers have too many 4th OF/backup DH types anyway and Marcus is the odd man out there. I hope he thrives wherever he goes – there are a couple of teams looking for an everyday RH DH and at 3M or so he could turn out to be a bargain for someone. I am curious to see what happens with Ryan. As weak organizationally at catcher as the Tigers are, Leyland didn’t seem very interested in playing him either, so you have to wonder what his future holds.

    • Mark L

      November 7, 2009 at 9:06 am

      Isn’t it obvious why they signed him? Former Marlin!

  9. Lee Panas

    November 7, 2009 at 2:11 am

    TSE’s poker analogies are the best. 🙂

    • TSE

      November 7, 2009 at 2:36 am

      I’ve probably posted about 50 times with poker analogies in various forums around the net this year. 😉

      • Eric Cioe

        November 7, 2009 at 3:12 am

        Haven’t seen any yet at Motown Sports. Looking forward to them, though.

        • TSE

          November 7, 2009 at 3:36 am

          I don’t post on Motown Sports any longer. I post mainly on RealGM and LionsUnderground as of late.

  10. Coleman

    November 7, 2009 at 3:57 am

    Underground…an awesome locale for the Lions…if only…

  11. cammee

    November 7, 2009 at 4:09 pm

    First, as a Tigers fan living in Utah, I love this blog! It’s the only thing that keeps me in the loop. Thank you for that!

    I, too, am sad to see Marcus go. I’m not saying it’s a move I don’t agree with, but sad none the less. Best of luck to him!

  12. Tigerdog

    November 7, 2009 at 9:26 pm

    These roster moves leave a couple of questions unanswered. As explained in the article ‘ROSTER CUTTING” on this website, the Tigers needed to remove four players to make room for the four coming off the DL, and that did not include Sborz. Thames is gone and Sborz is added. Hollimon and Treanor were activated and taken off the roster. But Larish and Zumaya were added back to the roster without a reciprocal move.
    The Tiger website shows that there are 42 players on the 40 man roster. Unless they can use the spots being vacated by pending free agents, two more players will have to come off the roster. A couple of sources have indicated that those spots can not yet be used. Something has to give.

  13. Coleman

    November 9, 2009 at 7:07 pm

    Well, not exactly a roster move per se, but…

    Tom Brookens is the Tigers’ new first base coach!

    (Is this a step toward a line-of-succession for after Uncle Smokey retires?)