Should the Tigers want Koskie?

With the Toronto Blue Jays acquiring Troy Glaus and Lyle Overbay, they now have enough corner infielders to defense a pentagon. Corey Koskie is one of the most likely corner infielders to be traded. It’s been thought that the Tigers need to improve third base and get a left handed bat. Koskie would serve both of those roles, but is it a good idea?

To illustrate, let’s go to the good old fashioned Player A versus Player B

             Player A                       Player B

Age        AVG   OBP    SLG          AVG   OBP    SLG

30         300    377    538          292    393    452
31         277    367    445          251    342    495
32         282    345    417          249    337    398

Player B is Corey Koskie and Player A is Detroit Tiger legend and scapegoat, Bobby Higginson. While the numbers don’t match up exactly, both players appear to suffer a decline in average at age 32/33. While Higginson’s numbers declined more rapidly, the pattern appears to be farily similar. I chose Higginson because he was familiar to Tiger fans, but there are other more telling cases.

Using Baseball Reference, here are the 10 most similar players to Koskie

958  Chris Sabo
949  Melvin Mora
947  Whitey Kurowski
937  Aaron Boone
934  Torii Hunter 
934  Hank Thompson
932  Dave Hollins
932  Jeffrey Hammonds
927  Ellis Valentine
926  Mike Lowell

While Melvin Mora was definitely a late bloomer who has continued to perform well, the rest of the list isn’t too promising. The combined statistics from Age 33 on for that group are 259/321/417. That isn’t too bad, until you realize that over half of the at-bats accumulated by the group were from Melvin Mora last year. Very few of the group played at all, yet alone significantly after they turned 33. Granted, Torii Hunter, Aaron Boone, and Mike Lowell haven’t reached age 33 yet, but Lowell and Boone have already experienced serious decline.Now none of this means that Koskie won’t be a productive player in the future. He would still provide solid defense, and can still work the count. It’s also likely his thumb injury from last year hampered his offensive performance. If he comes back healthy he could regain his old form. But then again, aren’t Tiger fans already saying that about a couple key contributors?

(Special Thanks to Chris who wrote and raised the question).

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Tigers get Todd Jones

The Detroit News is reporting that the Detroit Tigers have reached an agreement with Todd Jones. It is reportedly a two year deal (Tim points out in the comments it is rumored to be $8-10 million which seems like a lot to me). Jones was quite good last year as he halved his walk rate (1.7) and struck out 7.8/9IP. Most impressive may have been that he allowed only 2 home runs in 73 innings pitched. Granted he was in a park that limits homers, but he’ll be moving to a park that limits homers as well.

While his numbers were better across the board last year, the strength in his strikeouts, walks, and homers, indicates that it probably wasn’t all luck.

Jones is a likable guy who may be a good influence in the bullpen. Matt Anderson’s best season came when he took over closer duties from Jones in 2001. Maybe he can have a similar effect on Fernando Rodney.

The timing is a little curious in that Florida probably wasn’t going to offer arbitration to Jones by midnight tonight. If the deal is closed before midnight, or if the Marlins in fact do offer arbitration, the Tigers will lose a 2nd round draft pick.

Granderson in demand
First there were the rumors about Curtis Granderson to Florida for Josh Beckett. Then it was Granderson in the Javier Vazquez deal. Now it appears that the Red Sox are interested in Curtis as well. At least it further validates Tiger fans’ hope that Granderson is the real deal.

Winter Meeting Roundup

The Tigers have yet to make a move at the winter meetings, but according to various reports, that hasn’t been their choice.

In what was probably the biggest news (ESPN insider) Javier Vasquez invoked his no-trade clause to block a trade between the Diamondbacks and Tigers. According to Peter Gammons the Tigers were prepared to send Joel Zumaya and Curtis Granderson to Arizona. My first reaction was thank you Javy. I’m a big fan of Granderson, and Zumaya’s future certainly looks bright. Upon a little bit of reflection though, I think that most Tiger fans would be very satisfied if Joel Zumaya ended up being the pitcher that Vazquez is today, yet there is no guarantee. To give up a pitcher of Vazquez’s ability the Diamondbacks would probably demand a player who could contribute today (Granderson) as well as a prospect. The price tag isn’t ridiculous. A lot of fans have called for a top of the rotation starter – and those have a high price.

However, I’m still glad that the trade didn’t happen. First, both Granderson and Zumaya are years away from arbitration, yet alone free agency. Vazquez is signed for the next two seasons for $23 million, which isn’t cheap even in today’s climate. Second, as a long suffering fan I’ve been waiting for the farm system to produce something. I want to see these guys succeed and for them to do it in a Detroit uniform. Third, while the price may have been fair, I still think it would have been a better deal for the Diamondbacks.

The other thing to remember is that just because this trade didn’t happen, it wouldn’t surprise me if Dave Dombrowski has received calls from other GM’s willing to part with pitchers for a Granderson/Zumaya package (ie Billy Beane offering up Zito).

(UPDATE: Dave Dombrowski and Josh Byrnes have denied all reports, acknowledging there was trade talk but that it never got to the point of Vazquez. Dombrowski said, “And I don’t mean to downplay [Vazquez] at all, but that is not an appealing situation for us.”

I don’t think it was an appealing situation for any of us. Phew.)

In addition to the Vazquez news, there was a report that the Tigers and Mets had discussions regarding Pudge Rodriguez. Talks broke down when the Tigers demanded too much. I consider this to be good news. I don’t think the Tigers should trade Rodriguez, because I don’t think they would get fair value with him coming off of a rough season. And while his contract has been mentioned as prohibitive, there are only two years left on it, making it much more manageable.

Rule 5 Primer
With the Tigers dropping Ryan Raburn, they are now able to participate in the Rule 5 draft. If you want to read up on who the Tigers might select, head over to Baseball Analysts where they break down some likely selections (incidentally no current Tiger minor leaguers are listed).

Arbitration Deadline
December 7th is also the deadline for teams to offer arbitration to potential free agents. In the Tigers case this may mean offers to Rondell White and Jason Johnson. Given the way the offseason is going, I’d be surprised if the Tigers don’t offer Johnson arbitration. If he accepts the Tigers have a league average inning eater for one season, and at a somewhat reasonable price. If he declines they get a draft pick. I’d imagine that Johnson is likely to decline arbitration given the fact the can get a multi-year deal. White may be more likely to accept because a one year deal will give him a chance to prove his shoulder is healed. The trouble is the Tigers don’t really have room for him.

Erie’s Coaching Staff
The Tigers announced that the coaching staff at AA Erie will return next year.