Jeremy Bonderman and Dontrelle Willis have secured the final two spots in the Tigers rotation, and Nate Robertson secured a spot with the Marlins. The Tigers today traded Robertson and $9.6 million of his $10 million contract for Marlins left handed prospect Jay Voss. For my thoughts on the trade, well, just look back a couple days.
Robertson outpitched his two competitors not only this spring, but last year as well. The stats say that Robertson should be in the rotation. It has to be a tough pill for Robertson to swallow.*
But, it is important not to make too much of spring stats, or even last year’s stats due to the limited sample sizes in play. Scouting reports should play a role as well and the Tigers are encouraged by the stuff that Willis and Bonderman have shown this spring.
On Willis Dombrowski said:
He’s throwing strikes. His ball has had quality movement. He looks more confident on the mound.
And on Bonderman:
He’s come back. He’s continued to progress. His arm strength is average to a tick above. It looks like he’s sinking the ball well. His slider has been good. He continues to work on his change — he’s thrown some good ones. I don’t want to say he’s got exactly the same stuff, because he used to throw 96-97 m.p.h. But it’s solid, major league stuff. He’s aggressive. You can tell he feels confident.
I’d have more faith in the Willis report if we hadn’t heard this before, like before the extension was signed prior to the 2008 season.
It would be one thing if there was salary relief in play today, but the only difference between cutting Robertson and the trade is Jay Voss (no disrespect intended Mr. Voss). They could have just cut any of the three really.
Eddie Bonine, Alfredo Figaro, Phil Coke, and Zach Miner all just became more important with today’s transaction.
*This isn’t really analysis, but Robertson is one of the Tigers I’ve had a chance to talk with. I’ll gloss over the “he’s a good guy” part because it’s cliche (but it’s also true). But Robertson did appreciate being a Tiger. He identified the Tigers as his team. He knows about the history and the places that legends such as Ernie Harwell and Al Kaline hold in our hearts. In that regard it makes me sad he’s leaving. Yes it is a business and he’s getting paid handsomely, but he’s also a person.