Wrapping up the week

It’s Sunday evening and this concludes my foray into full time blogging. I took this week off to delve into the winter meetings and cover them to the best of my ability. It proved to be an especially eventful week for Tigers fans and this blog. With that we’ll do one last set of hot stove rumors and news nuggets and a couple other thoughts as well.

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Tigers relief notes

With the deals for LaTroy Hawkins and Brandon Lyon it appears that the market for “back end of the bullpen pitchers who could potentially set-up or close” may be getting steep for the Tigers. And with that the club may turn to in house options.

Jason Beck spoke with Dave Dombrowski who said that a return of Fernando Rodney is unlikely calling it a “long shot.” More frightening though is that the team is viewing Joel Zumaya as a legitimate option for the closer role.

I’m on board with not sinking a lot of money into a bullpen. I think the Tigers have done a good job the last few years of mixing young guys, minor league free agents, and fringy closer material guys together the last few years. It’s a quantity over quality approach where you hope enough guys make it work each year.

But going into a season with Zumaya competing for the role of closer is a ridiculous gamble and yet another reason to question the clubs intention to compete in 2010. In 2006 Zumaya was incredible. He hasn’t been healthy or effective since then. The velocity is certainly still there, but the results haven’t been for too long to “count on him.”

Ryan Perry and the newly acquired Daniel Schlereth would like be competing for such a role as well so all the eggs aren’t in Zumaya’s incredibly fragile basket. Still, those other options are particularly assuring at this point in their career either.

Scott Podsednik rumors

Dave Dombrowski spoke yesterday of how the team in planning on Austin Jackson manning centerfield next season. But that’s a lot to put on someone who hasn’t seen a pitch at the big league level. Especially when the guy playing second base is in the same boat. So it’s probably natural that the Tigers would get linked to free agent Scott Podsednik.

Lynn Henning (who saw the Granderson trade coming before anyone and was also a member of the Brennan Boesch fan club a couple months prior to his inclusion on the 40 man roster) planted this seed earlier in the week. The seed appears to have a shot at growing as the Tigers were listed as one of five teams interested in the left handed hitting outfielder.

Podsednik hadn’t cracked the .700 OPS barrier since 2006 before having a bit of a late career renaissance when he mustered a 764 OPS for the White Sox in 2009. This would be kind of a buy-high move. For all Podsednik’s speed, he’s not a spectacular fielder and has been pretty average to below average the last couple years according to UZR.

It makes sense to have a left handed option that could play centerfield. Of course for a cash-strapped team it probably makes more sense to just let Clete Thomas get some at-bats in that role. Then again lots of things aren’t making sense with the Tigers lately so I’d say there is a good chance that the deal gets done. As an aside, Podsednik is married to Lisa Dergan (google away).

Image credit: Matt Stratton on flickr

Winter Meetings Day 4

The last day of a very active winter meetings for Tigers fans is upon us. A look at what took place yesterday and what may take place today follows.

This should be old hat by now, but here are all the ways to keep up with the Winter Meetings at DTW.

Brandon Lyon signs with Houston

There goes one potential closer option for the Tigers with Brandon Lyon inking a 3 year, $15 milion deal with the Houston Astros pending a physical. It’s a great deal for Lyon, but probably a year longer than the Tigers would have preferred to go.

Earlier in the evening Ken Rosenthal reported that with the context of LaTroy Hawkins deal with the Brewers Lyon was looking for 2 years and $9 million. Maybe Ed Wade should have been on Twitter.

Lyon was signed just before the start of spring training last year on a one year deal and given a shot to be the Tigers closer. He struggled in spring training and those struggles extended through April. Then something clicked and Lyon was lights out. From May 19th until the end of the season he threw 63 innings with a 1.86 ERA.

The Tigers other free agent reliever, Fernando Rodney, is attracting attention from the Phillies. If it was going to take a multi-year deal to get either I would have preferred Lyon from a durability perspective. The Tigers are also reportedly still interested in Kevin Gregg.

Lyon will net the Tigers a sandwich pick. But for a team that can’t afford Curtis Granderson you have to wonder if they’ll be able to sign him.

Image credit – RadioFish on Flickr

The Tigers catching situation

In the midst of a big unannounced move yesterday, the Tigers did make a small official moves. The Tigers signed catcher Robinzon Diaz to a minor league contract. It is mostly just a depth move, but it does give the Tigers a few options behind (or next to) Gerald Laird in 2010.

In 2009 the Tigers worked with a rotation of Dane Sardhina, Dusty Ryan, and Alex Avila as Laird’s caddy. Sardhina is just an abysmal hitter. Ryan has good pop and a cannon for an arm but seemingly couldn’t win over Jim Leyland. Avila burst on to the scene with the bat and probably raised expectations beyond a reasonable level with his August performance but he’s still quite new to catching.

So the Tigers inked Diaz to become an insurance policy. Avila needs to catch on a regular basis and initially it may be better if he does so in the minors. He went to winter ball but struggled. His struggles probably weren’t a large factor in the decision to get Diaz. But the Tigers expect for Diaz to compete for the back-up role regardless.

Some feel he can compete for a job as backup catcher in spring training
Dombrowski on Diaz

As for Diaz’s game, he has a decent defensive reputation and offensively he seems Randall Simon-esque in his refusal to not put the ball in play. He won’t be a game changer but he is another option.

Image credit Pshanks on flickr

Winter Meetings Day 2

The first day of the Winter Meetings has come to an end and the sun is coming up on a snowy second day. For Tigers fans there was no shortage of news and drama. To recap:

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Lyon, Rodney reject arbitration

The Tigers bullpen has a few vacancies for the time being with both Brandon Lyon and Fernando Rodney turning down their arbitration offers. Both are looking for multi-year deals and both will likely get them and I’d guess one of them comes back to Detroit. If they don’t the Tigers will get a compensatory “sandwich” pick between the 1st and 2nd rounds for each player.

Only three players accepted arbitration offers. Rafael Soriano is returning to what is now a crowded pen in Atlanta. Rafael Betancourt is staying in Colorado. And most unfortunate for Tigers fans was Carl Pavano’s decision to accept the Twins offer.

Adam Everett returns

The Tigers have inked Adam Everett to a one year deal to man shortstop in 2010. Everett doesn’t bring much to the plate with his bat, except for an ability to lay down sacrifice bunts. But he makes his money as a premium defender at a premium defensive position.

The Tigers had reportedly shown some interest in Bobby Crosby and I’m happy the team didn’t go that route. Earlier today the Pirates and the Tigers were both in the hunt for Everett who was reportedly asking for a $3 million deal. Because of Jackson’s +8.9 UZR last year he was valued at $4.3 million.

Ken Rosenthal says the deal was $1.55 million. A good value for the Tigers. The payroll spreadsheet has been updated accordingly.

Brandon Lyon updates

The Tigers presumably want to bring Brandon Lyon back. Brandon Lyon would like a multi-year deal. I don’t think these things are mutually exclusive, but Lyon has to make a decision tonight on whether or not to accept arbitration.

Lyon will likely receive more than a one year contract from somewhere so it’s little surprise that Lyon is expected to turn down the arbitration offer. Of course one his early suitors, the Philadelphia Phillies are now believed to be out of the running because they deem him too expensive.

Tigers interested in Kevin Gregg

Tim Brown from Yahoo Sports tweets that the Tigers are one of 4 teams interested in former demoted Cubs closer Kevin Gregg. Via @mlbtraderumors it appears a fifth team, the Orioles, are in the mix as well.

Gregg saw improvements in his strikeout rates and walk rates but was undone by the 13 homers he allowed. Opposing hitters took him deep on 15.7% of the fly balls he allowed so there is some reason to believe he’d bounce back from that rate. With 5 teams interested though it doesn’t sound like it would net anyone much of a discount.

Gregg has pitched for the Cubs, Marlins, and Angels and he made $4.2 million in 2009.

A lot of the reliever speculation for the Tigers will probably become clearer after tonight when Fernando Rodney and Brandon Lyon have to make their decisions about accepting arbitration.

Image credit: ohad* on flickr

The week that was

Things have been very quiet here at DTW lately. While it wasn’t my intention for things to go dark here, when it’s a one person gig sometimes life gets in the way. Fortunately life will be out of the way this coming week so my winter meetings coverage should be pretty robust and very timely. In the mean time I’ll use this post as a way of catching up on everything that got neglected.

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