Brad Penny fills out the rotation (updated & Raburn news)

ESPN is reporting $3M, up to $6M with incentives.  A little high on the salary in my mind, but if he gets to $6M, it will be well worth it.  I think this is a great pickup, and fills out the rotation nicely.

Penny sports a respectable career ERA of 4.11, and his best year was in 2007 when he went 16-4.  He’s been below average since then, though he has been plagued by injuries.  Further analysis coming tonight.


Penny is a fastball/curveball guy who has pretty good heat, but not a great secondary pitch. Thanks to Dave Duncan, he began refining his splitter last season and seemed to be having good success with it until his injury.  Dave Cameron covered this beautifully last April on Fangraphs. His critics will argue that his velocity has decreased (it hasn’t) and that he gets beat up by AL pitching.  Yes, he had an unusually high BABIP against of .336 with Boston on ’09, where he was released towards the end of the season, but he quickly bounced back with a stellar stretch run for the Giants that year, going 4-1 with a .96 WHIP and 2.59 ERA.  I’m not ready to call his high BABIP and resulting high ERA an AL problem.  2010 started good until he got injured again (while batting this time, I think). If he can keep the ball down, he’ll do just fine in Comerica.

In other news, Raburn signed a two-year deal today worth $3.4M, avoiding salary arbitration.  This is a nice bump from the $440k he made last year, but he’ll still have two more years of arb eligibility after this deal expires.   Looks like a win-win.  But remember that Raburn will be 30 in April…if he’s not effective as a full-time player this year, he likely will never be.

Zumaya and Galarraga are still lingering, though DD has yet to go to arbitration with anyone during his tenure.  I’d expect them to be signed soon, as the arb hearings usually take place in late January or early February.


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  2. Stormin Norman $

    January 11, 2011 at 1:37 pm

    In the light of the pitching contract dollars paid (wasted?) on the likes of Robertson, Bonderman and Willis, even if the Penny signing blows-up, the $3M committed seems like a bargain.

    On the flip side, if Penny qualifies for the add’l $3M in incentives (reported), that should mean the Tigers got a tremendous ROI.

    If all remain healthy (and effective), it looks as if Galarraga and Coke will be battling for the 5th spot… beginning next month.

  3. Vince in MN

    January 11, 2011 at 3:13 pm

    Since we likely are not going to get 30 reliable starts out of any of the three (Penny is injury prone, Galarraga is inconsistent and Coke is transistioning from relief), having the flexibility to get 60 or so between all of them makes me breathe a little bit easier.

    • Kevin in Dallas

      January 11, 2011 at 6:14 pm

      Just about to post the same. This is like a mini-version of the Rangers’ Webb deal.

  4. Angus

    January 11, 2011 at 9:38 pm

    It is worth a shot. We have spent 3 million on a lot worse than this. It will be interesting to see if Bonderman is still another option in a few weeks and what he will get. The Yankees are looking at Bonderman but really need a left hander to combat the Red Sox. We could use a left hander as well for starting. I know DD is sold on Coke, but never hurts to get some added help in case Coke cannot produce and Oliver or one of our other prospects does not pan out. Looking forward to seeing what this team looks like in Spring Training. A lot of options both pitching and lineup that has much more depth than we had last year. Towards the middle to end of the season it looked like the Mud Hens lineup from early in the year.

  5. Coach Jim

    January 12, 2011 at 10:52 am

    These are pretty substantial additions. Now I worry about the 2007 high-expectation burn.

    This also opens up the expectation that someone like Gallaraga might be traded. He’s fairly young, has a major league track record – even if we think it’s spotty. It wouldn’t surprise me if he might be packaged with one of our young guys on the horizon (Wells, Beosch) for someone like Michael Young – Gold Glove winner in 2008 and staring a DH role in the face.

    • Stormin Norman $

      January 12, 2011 at 1:06 pm

      The Rangers would pull that trigger in a heart beat, seeing as they owe another $48M to Young ($16M per 3 more years)… pretty steep for a 34 yr old DH.

      Depending on if Oliver, Turner or Crosby establish themselves as MLB-ready this spring, and Galarraga & Penny are strong and injury free, i’d make Penny and Galarraga the 4th and 5th starters and move Coke back to the pen.

      Speaking of young talent, i sure wish Castellanos was MLB ready – to either displace Inge at 3B or as the everyday 2B… the kid can hit (minor league pitching anyway).

      • Kevin in Dallas

        January 12, 2011 at 5:14 pm

        You guys are on to something. How about NBA style – Guillen and Galarraga for Michael Young? They salary swap would be pretty darn close, the Rangers can get their left-handed DH and a 5th starter with experience (didn’t Battlestar start in the Rangers organization?), and we get a 2B. Problem is that we’re then on the hook for 2012 and ’13 at $16M/year.

        • Kevin in Dallas

          January 12, 2011 at 5:14 pm

          Maybe if we can get the Rangers to take on some salary to ease the blow in ’12 and ’13.

          • Stormin Norman $

            January 12, 2011 at 7:13 pm

            Guillen will be in a ‘contract year’ – and that usually translates to improved numbers/production for most MLB players… and if (and that’s a big “if”) Carlos can stay healthy he’ll likely have a productive year, likely better than Young. Either way, the Tigers won’t be saddled with a $13M committment to him next year (whether he re-signs with the Tigers or not).

            PS: the Tigers just gave Rugburn a raise – 2-yr $3.4M…

            • Kevin in Dallas

              January 12, 2011 at 10:46 pm

              I’m not advocating it, just throwing it out there. But at least with MY we’d know we’re gonna get 150+ games per year.

        • Vince in MN

          January 13, 2011 at 2:36 am

          And we’d still need a 6th starter for 2011.

      • TSE

        January 17, 2011 at 1:35 pm

        How do you know he can hit minor league pitching, he has a grand total of 8 hits (6 singles and 2 doubles), that’s all you need to go on? It’s a small sample size and his batting average is .333, but his slugging percentage is low, and we need him to have an efficient slugging percentage which he currently does not. So at this point he has not sufficiently hit in the minors, he’s coming up way short. Short for not having a minimum qualified statistical outfit, and short again for not having extra statistical output to reflect the drop that would likely come from facing better pitchers in the majors. He’s about 100 slugging points off at this point from generating any buzz that he can hit in the minors.

  6. Angus

    January 14, 2011 at 1:00 pm

    Everything we have right now assumes Coke is a viable starter as a lefty. While a lefty would be nice during the season it is not necessarily a requirement but if we make the post season we would need at least one if not two for Boston. I am not a fan of this putting personnel in places before we even give them a chance. I know Leyland and DD seem to do that every year. I think we need to see what happens in Spring training, keep in the playoff hunt and then let another person make our late season adjustments since DD and Leyland seem to stink at it. Anyone remember Aubrey Huff? I think it is time for Leyland to go if he cannot seem to deliver a full season this year. We should not have 5 or 6 Mud Hens this year in our lineup in July/August, and have a solid team on paper and a young team for the most part.

    • TSE

      January 17, 2011 at 1:41 pm

      I would actually like to see 5 or 6 Mud Hens in August, that would mean we need them to fill positions that have been vacated by the guys that are here now that shouldn’t be here now. Half of our positional players would be best used by trading for anything we can get just about. That’s 10 guys wasting roster spots right now that could be sold off for new assets. By August that will turn into 10 cases of depreciation and lost opportunity and the irony is that the thing you think you are complaining about now will actually manifest itself in a much more ugly way next year or the year after if we don’t make the proper alterations today, or yesterday like we were supposed to, and so on and so forth to every previous day that we’ve continued to bleed inefficiencies from our bad roster design.

  7. Stormin Norman $

    January 14, 2011 at 2:10 pm

    AP reporting the Tigers signed Zumaya to a one-year $1.4M deal (a $485K raise for his thirty-one 2010 appearances). If you’re going to give him a raise on for an abbreviated year, why not instead double-down like they did to Rugburn – and sign him for a two year (for $2.4M) to avoid arbitration next year?… in the event he has a stellar injury-free year (unlikely sure), and hits the FA lottery at the end of the season. just asking…

    PS: like congress, i find it very easy to spend other people’s (Michael Ilievski’s) money. And now that its been confirmed he’s not going to buy the Pistons (wise move Mr. Illich), he’s got some extra cash to commit to the Tigers.

  8. stephen

    January 14, 2011 at 8:14 pm

    Zumaya hasn’t pitched in more than 31 games since 2006. And yet he gets a half-million dollar raise. That, to me, is the definition of insanity.

  9. Angus

    January 14, 2011 at 8:24 pm

    Just goes to show you that if can throw heat you are #1 on DD’s list. Keg standers for everyone tonight at the Zumuya house.

  10. Coleman

    January 15, 2011 at 3:46 am

    Yeah but Zumaya can throw a baseball fast, really fast.

    In other news, Stafford can throw a football far, really far.

  11. Coleman

    January 15, 2011 at 3:50 am

    In other news, looking at the time-stamp of my last post it has become clear that Kevin is running this operation from Barbados.

    (The Barbados K.I.D. is what they call him…)

  12. kathy

    January 18, 2011 at 12:57 am

    Cornflakes filed his retirement papers today:( He said it’s the hardest decision he’s ever had to make.

  13. Justin Wheeler

    February 1, 2011 at 11:39 pm

    I think Penny is a fantastic pickup and a bargain to boot. If healthy, he could easily be our second or third best pitcher. I see the potential in Max Scherzer and Rick Porcello like everyone else does but I’m still a little skeptical because they still don’t boast any long term success. My question is what happens when the Tigers have to call up a starter? Do they grab Andy Oliver from AAA Toledo or dig down deep in the system to see what young Jacob Turner can do? Some recent comments suggest they may be leaning toward Turner…interesting.