What the Tigers got

As unpleasant as giving up Curtis Granderson and Edwin Jackson is, the Tigers did manage to net themselves a handful of players who will be able to help in 2010. For the most part these aren’t prospects where fans need to hope that they pan out. The Tigers added a starting pitcher, 2 bullpen arms, and hopefully a centerfielder for the near future.

Max Scherzer

Max Scherzer is headliner of the group and he will take over Edwin Jackson’s spot in the rotation. Scherzer is a year younger than Jackson, but with only a year and a half of service time he won’t reach free agency until the 2015 season. The righty was Arizona’s top pick in the 2006 draft.

In 2009 Scherzer fanned better than a batter an inning and his 3.87 FIP was impressive. He’s a fastball (94ish), slider (84ish), change-up pitcher (85ish). Even if ‘09 was a breakout year for Jackson, Scherzer’s year was better.

Plus Scherzer is sabermetrically inclined so that should be fun.

Scherzer image credit: tunnelarmr on Flickr

Austin Jackson

If Scherzer was the centerpiece in exchange for Edwin Jackson, then Austin Jackson was the key piece coming over for Granderson. The Tigers new centerfielder hit 300/354/404 as a 22 year old at AAA. Jackson rates very well amongst many prospect watchers:

  • MLB.com ranked him as the 27th best prospect in baseball going into 2009.
  • Baseball America ranked him as the Yankees best prospect, best athlete, and best defensive outfielder going into 2009.
  • Kevin Goldstein ranked him a 5 star prospect and second in the Yankees system heading into 2009

In terms of development it sounds like Jackson has room to add power, which he’ll need to do as he isn’t a pure burner. He’d probably rank in the top 3 now in terms of Tigers prospects.

Daniel Schlereth

In addition to grabbing the Diamondbacks 2006 top draft pick, they also got their 1st rounder from 2008 in Daniel Schlereth. Schlereth has a 93-94mph fastball and a 79mph curveball and the lefty will be pitching exclusively out of the pen. He’ll strike out a lot of guys, but he’ll also walk way too many. He appeared in 21 games and pitched 18.1 innings in 2009.

Kevin Goldstein rated him as a 4 star prospect after the 2008 season. Baseball America releases their Diamondback’s Top 10 on Wednesday, but Schlereth rated as the 3rd best prospect in their system last year.

Phil Coke

Phil Coke is another lefty bullpen arm (that’s 3 that the Tigers have picked up in 2 days). To clarify though, Coke pitched out of the Yankees bullpen last year but has been primarily a starter in the minors. With the deal not done in the most official of senses Dombrowski hasn’t commented on what role he sees for for Coke in 2010.

Baseball America rated Coke as the Yankees 8th best prospect heading into 2009, but at 27 there probably isn’t much room for him to improve at this point.

31 thoughts on “What the Tigers got”

  1. I’m not an Austin Jackson fan. That SLG would have to drastically improve, or he better be one hell of a defender. His .404 SLG% came with a .392 BABIP last year. Since he’s not a burner, that’s not going to sustain itself. When that comes down, his average drops and that brings down his OBP and his SLG. His Iso has hovered around the .115 mark save for a big year in 2007 at High-A Tampa where he Iso’d .221.

    Just don’t like him as a prospect and never have.

    1. Anybody have Austin Jackson’s high school stats? I’m trying to find something to get excited about with this kid other than he is ranked high on prospect lists by people that don’t know how to properly rank prospects.

      Also, take a look at this interesting scouting report and note the funky “power” scores. I’m not sure you can put much stock into this report, just be wary of information you get from this place:

      1. What would HS stats tell you? You don’t even know his level of competition and he’s surely matured since then. What makes you think nobody knows how to properly rank prospects?

        1. His HS stats could tell a lot of different things, or it could tell nothing of interest. There’s no possible way to know if there’s interesting and useful information within his HS stats until you get to see them. Some sets of stats are going to be useful for drawing relevant conclusions that pertain to the subject being discussed while others won’t.

          For your second question, I’m not sure what you mean or are trying to get at with that question. I never said that nobody knows how to rank prospects.

    2. I’m encouraged that scouts are still high on him but I’m skeptical. I need to see results soon. He may have an upside but I see him as a huge question mark at this point.


    3. Maybe I’m Austin Jackson’s #1 fan here. I wasn’t an Austin Jackson fan before, but now that he’s a Tiger, he’s one of my favorite players.

  2. Sherzer could be a stud to put in behind Verlander and Porcello for years to come, but I still don’t think we should have made this deal.

    Interesting side note thru my tears, Daniel Schlereth is the son of former Super Bowl Offensive Lineman and current ESPN talking head Mark Schlereth.

  3. Jackson sounds promising but probably won’t be a star ( though I’d have said the same about Grandy 5 years ago). Coke is uninspiring. The arms from the D-Backs are exciting though.

    With Verlander, Porcello, Scherzer we have a potentially excellent top 3 for several years. In the short term theres also Bonderman, Gallaraga and the other big money guys. In the long run, there’s a variety of power arms in the system.

    It looks like the team is building around pitching and I think thats an excellent idea.

  4. Jackson doesn’t wow me either but I am short on solid analysis … I am hoping for Coco Crisp ala 04,05 or maybe Denard Span minus the 390 OBP at some point … hoping for too much? Like Shcerzer though and that the Tigers didnt wait to see if E-Jax’s ’09 was a fluke.

  5. Schlereth has some K/9 rates in the minors that put Joel Zumaya to shame (something like 13.5). Anybody seen this kid pitch? He’s wild but it looks like his stuff is almost unhittable.

    Maybe a candidate for closer down the road if he can straighten out the control?

  6. Is it possible, is it maybe just a little bit possible, that the Tigers are building up their inventory of cost-controlled players to make a run at Mauer next offseason? By the end of next year, they have near league minimum guys at C (Avila), 2B (Sizemore), CF (Jackson) and LF (Raburn/Thomas), in two to three starting spots (Porcello, Scherzer, Crosby/Turner/Galarraga/Miner), and four to five bullpen spots (Perry, Schlereth, Coke, Fien, any of like five guys from the minors). Cabrera, JV, and Guillen take up three spots at high salary (god I hope JV is taking up a spot at high salary). That’s still only like $55 mill. If they can fill SS, RF, one rotation spot, and two bullpen spots reasonably, they have a team at about $65 mill. With that floor, they could conceivably be in on any FA they want, right?

    I can at least dream, can’t I?

    1. If and that’s a big “if” Mauer goes anywhere (other than the Twinkies), its where the big dollars are – you know, as in the Yankees, Red Sox or possibly the Dodgers.

  7. This trade does not make me feel good. It just makes me look back at all of the stupid contracts that were given to the likes of Willis, Robertson, Inge, etc. That is why we had to make room in salary. Jon Paul Morosi has an excellent article stating just that, it was a necessary trade that was forced because of poor decisions in the past…

    1. I think this was as much a salary trade as a baseball trade. It could very well work out for them but I doubt they would nave made this trade if they had managed their payroll better the past few years.


    2. I think his point was actually a convoluted argument that they traded Granderson now rather than running the risk of holding on to him overly long, since apparently management has been psychologically damaged by the poor contracts they handed out in the past. Seriously, that’s what he’s actually saying. His argument had nothing to do with payroll restrictions.

  8. I really don’t know how to figure this out. I like the trade but also think it was a terrible PR and financial loss for the tigers. Sure we get rid of Granderson’s contract, but still saving $5 million for this year for a salary dump only to have fans NOT renew their season tickets, or package tickets, or even single ticket games. Fans are going to upset and the financial gains by dumping Granderson will not balance the books for the loss in ticket sales.

    For my part, the trade is high risk high reward if things pane out. Max Scherzer, is a high draft pick that I think will be great if he can control his pitching AND remain healthy. Bouncing from AAA, the Bullpen, to the rotation, and back again, is not very high on my list of a great return. And then there is Daniel Schlereth, a great reliever, could pane out next year as our closer. However, why are we trading for a reliever when the Tigers the past two seasons have drafted NOTHING but relievers???? Are they all busts? Are we in trouble with none of them panning out as 4 or 5 star relief pitchers?? This is dumb and though he is a great return i would have loved to see a position player, a 3B, SS, or OF prospect given to us by ARZ.

    The return for the Yanks is also of mixed review. A-Jax, though a probably a 5 tool stud outfielder, could or could not pane out. Not to many Yankee prospects pane out. With Jeter and Rivera the only ones that have really made it. We sacrifice a great CF in defense and power, for someone who may or may not be a great player. He is above avg right now defensively, and average in power, we fans will not be so kind if this is our return. And then the throw in Coke. Coke is not that great just getting to the majors when he is 27, with a semi good outing in the majors this yr in the bullpen when he was a starter in the minors. I just dont really see it.

    I just don’t know!?! Salary dump or not its just dumb. DD is going to lose a lot more cause of this then he would have in not trading Granderson…..If they want the fans to come out this year, they need to make some moves in the bullpen, and add a outfielder( Guillen is only a DH now, and its time they accept this with or without Guillens approval)! If not then their will be less fans in the stands, less revenue, and it wont matter how much comes off the books in 2011, the fan base will already be broken and I dont see it coming back, unless they make serious of team that needs improvements now.

    1. I’ve already forfeited my ticket options for next year. I will not go to a game and support this team with what I consider to be reprehensible mismanagement that’s gone on just far too long.

  9. Quote: Even if ‘09 was a breakout year for Jackson, Scherzer’s year was better.
    Scherzer 9
    Jackson 11
    Scherzer 4.12
    Jackson 3.62 (In the AL!)
    Scherzer 111
    Jackson 127
    Innings Pitched
    Scherzer 170
    Jackson 214

    1. Jackson gets the edge in IP for sure. Wins aren’t worth talking about.

      Scherzer: 9.2 K/9 3.3 BB/9 3.87 FIP
      Jackson: 6.7 K/9 2.9 BB/9 4.28 FIP

    2. K/BB
      Jackson 2.3
      Scherzer 2.8

      Jackson 4.39
      Scherzer 3.88

      Jackson 0.92
      Scherzer 1.05


  10. Hey I like Curtis Granderson as much as anyone and will miss him. I think as mentioned several times this is a pretty big PR bust. This is the fall out of the other bummer deals where the cash did not work into a fieldable player, but all that said, Since DD has had the keys we have had some good summers and as much as this hurts to say, I dont go to see Curtis or Edwin I go to see the Tigers and who they are this year and watch baseball. Lets see how this all pans out, for my money I still think we need an other bat. With Everett at short and Inge at third and a new second baseman, the loss of CG…. I see us real short in the batting dept but top 8 in pitching (unscientific method).


  11. Preface: I am as big of a Granderson fan as anybody here, love the guy to death. That being said…(if you get upset by the below paragraph, read the last one before you respond)

    I think everyone here is overlooking the fact that his numbers have declined two straight years from his magical 07 campaign. Areas that have declined: Hits, doubles, AVE, OBP (almost), SLG and OPS. HR have increased a bit, as have his walks, but he still strikes out way to much, despite apparent strides away from that trend in 2008. Also, he has never hit lefties well, and with a .183/.245/.239 line against lefties in 2009 at the age of 29 next year, it isn’t like he hasn’t had time to work on it. How much longer would he be a valid option in center? And at what price? Personally, I think about 3-4 years, but with a much increased contract. And he would continue to throw away 200 at bats per season against lefties.

    Why this trade is good for Grandy:
    I think this trade can (and will) help his career immensely if he can handle playing in New York. I expect him to hit 30 HR and drive in 100 Runs in that matchbox of a stadium, especially with the short porch in right. Sitting a little lower in the order, around 5,6,7 slot should allow him to not need much better than a .260 AVE if he can continue to mash righties. The Yanks have that luxury that they can pay him good money to play mostly against righties and be productive. Plus, now that he has more spotlight hopefully he can win that Gold Glove he so deserves.

  12. Let the hand-wringing begin… and the comparisons to all the other lousy contracts the Tigers signed over the past few years – all irrelevant comparisons.

    If the Tigers could have traded Robertson, Willis, Bonderman, Ordonez, Inge , etc they would have – but no other team is looking add overpaid underachievers – so the Tigers had to give up talent to get talent.

    Now if last year Granderson had batted .349 instead of .249 and struck out only 40 times instead of 145 times last year – and batted .280 against left handed pitching, instead of the .180 he did, i could understand the outrage, but he didn’t.

    For once the Tigers made a trade for their future and sold high, rather than waiting until there’s little or no value left in the player.

    Hold off with all the b*tching until we see how this year plays out – and how the 6 players (the 4 new tigers and the two ex-tigers) produce in 2010 and 2011.

  13. In my opinion, this whole thing hinges on Austin Jackson. I think we’re all comfortable here with dealing Edwin Jackson for Scherzer and Schlereth, and I’m fairly comfident we’ll come out ahead in that part of the deal if everyone stays healthy (that’s a question mark for Scherzer in particular). But getting marginal return for Granderson is what can ruin this trade. If AJax can become a similar player to Granderson (not necessarily BETTER, just significantly better than replacement level), then this trade is palatable. If not, I’d have to say we gave away a core up-the-middle player with little to show for it.

    I used fangraph’s WAR numbers and projections to try and estimate some sort of balance among the players. Based on their projections, Granderson is worth about 5.1 wins next year, and EJax 2.3 for a total of 7.4 wins we’re giving up. Coming back we get Scherzer at 3.2 wins (there’s no projection for him so I conservatively guessed he will repeat his value of 2009. I think this is fair since he will improve some but is moving to a tougher league), but not much value for Coke and Schlereth since they are relievers. I pegged them at 0.2 and 0.5, respectively which might be aggressive. That gives a total of 3.9 wins coming back, leaving a deficit of 3.5 wins. This is the amount AJax would have to produce at in order to balance the trade in year one.

    The only 3.5 WAR players last year were Nick Swisher and Jason Bay. Some 3.6 guys were Todd Helton, Nate McLouth and Nelson Cruz. Some 3.4 WAR players were Shane Victorino, David Wright, Juan Rivera, Brian Roberts, and….. Curtis Granderson (cosmic coincidence, no?).

    Most of those guys have at least a decent amount of power, something that Jackson has not yet developed, so I would guess that for 2010, we probably come up a bit on the short end. Longer term, Jackson apparently has the potential to eclipse those guys in terms of production, and if he does, we might look back and call this a favorable trade for the Tigers.

    I’m sure there’s a better way to do this, so I’d really like to see somebody else take a stab at it using whatever metric works best.

  14. OK… here are my thoughts.

    Incoming players:

    Max Scherzer: 25 yr-old right handed pitcher; 1.5 seasons in the majors. Strong fastball/strikeout pitcher. Weak point is control. I like his potential. A year younger than Edwin Jackson; hopefully he can step into his role.

    Phil Coke: So-so left handed reliever. Not sure what to think. Fu Te-Ni and Bobby Seay are lefties. Perry, Zumaya, Dolsi are righties (assuming Zumaya is back).

    Austin Jackson: 22 yr-old who batted .300 at AAA. His minor league stats are somewhat similar to Granderson although he’s moved up faster. More on Granderson later

    Dan Schlereth: No clue. First round draft pick in 2008. Pushed to the majors in 2009 and did poorly – but jumped from AA where he had a 1.01 ERA in 20 games. Too early to say. Another lefty.

    Outgoing players:

    Curtis Granderson: Coming off his worst season – batting .249 (although with 30 homers). I’m actually not a huge Granderson fan. He’s struck out over 140 times 3 of the last 4 seasons with a peak of 170ish. He’s got a lot of speed – but trading in his BA for 30 HRs doesn’t help, IMO. In reality, Granderson is an average player who had one good season (2007) where he batted .300. I know he’s a fan favorite; but I think Jackson will be better in the long run.

    Edwin Jackson: Coming off his best season (by far, IMO). Jackson had 3 full seasons in the majors with ERAs of 5.76, 4.42, and 3.62. This is a risk, if the 3.62 is for real. Scherzer has more power and pitched better at age 24 than Jackson did (that was Jackson’s 4.42 ERA year). Scherzer was, I think, 4.02 last year. My gut tells me that Scherzer’s fastball will make him a better risk in the long run.

    So… on balance – I like the trade (sorry, Tigers fans). The Tigers get 4 players in exchange for 2. Scherzer has a slightly better chance of success than E. Jackson, IMO. A. Jackson has upside; Granderson doesn’t. And the Tigers get two lefties for the bullpen that may or may not help.

  15. Ideas that are bugging me:

    1. The trade was caused by overpaying Ordonez, Willis, Robertson, etc.

    John Paul Morosi wrote an article on this and many people seem to agree, but the argument is extremely weak on many levels. The presumption seems to be the Tigers are under an NFL-style salary cap. What would 10 or 20M less in salary really change? Maybe you could add talent through payroll instead of through trade, but maybe thats not enough. Instead of crticizing DD for overpaying, lets give some credit to Illitch for being willing to overspend and attract marquee players to Detroit. We had a winner in ’06 and a contender last season….Back to my original point. The trade makes sense on many fronts. If you’re going to “blame” something, you can blame the teams failures last seasons, Granderson’s inability to hit lefties, EJax 2nd half fade, Granderson’s marketability making him more valuable as a team member than a baseball player, the mediocre farm system and talent development, etc. Writers and fans looking for a simple and easy answer (its money!) to explain this need to dig and think a little deeper. The Tigers had to get better for a lot of reasons and couldn’t keep pulling out the Illitch’s wallet to do it. Yes, some investments made painted the team into a corner with limited flexibility, but thats just one of many reasons why this trade went down.

    2. Austin Jackson swings this deal.

    Reallly? If Scherzer becomes a second ace to pair with JV, this isn’t a homerun trade for the Tigers? If Granderson becomes a mediocre hitting platoon player and EJax fades into NL mediocrity is this not a good trade? If Schlereth and Coke join Zumaya and Perry to form a dominant bullpen for years, this isn’t a good trade? The Tigers got 4 quality prospects. Deciding the trade hinges on one of them is preposterous.

    3. Curtis Granderson will always be a Tiger.

    I’ve said as much myself. Its natural to form attachment to players you spend a lot of time cheering for, especially over a long period of time. But as a few people have touched on, its completely irrational. Curtis is probably extremely happy about this opportunity. He’s getting promoted to the highest stage in baseball. It may not be great for you and me as Tiger fans, but our adoration doesn’t go both ways. This is worth remembering. Don’t shed tears for Curtis, because he isn’t shedding them for you. Nor should he.

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