Benyo's Basement To make sure I ask all the missing questions
I sit here in Southern California and get my Detroit Tiger info second hand from MLB.com or ESPN. Like my most fans of the Tigers I am wondering why did we stop making moves. The whole idea of trading Granderson in the first place was to signal to everyone that we are some major players. So far we have only subtracted some good (Granderson and Jackson) and bad(Washburn, Huff and Lyon) players to what amounts to fairly decent moves. The kid Auston Jackson is a major league player and Max Scherzer and Daniel Schlereth or "how ever you spell their last name" brothers are already big league ready pitchers.
The biggest questions here is if the Tigers are trying to dump a little bit of salary and bring back some depth to the end of the rotation or bullpen, than why spend 8 million dollars a year to bring on another problem in Jose Valverde from Houston? Please do not make that move. That will join a long list of bad contracts the Dombrowski has us stuck in.
I say it is time we consider what we have and implement the talent to the roster.
I lived in Arizona the last year Valverde pitched for the Diamonbacks and he was okay. Okay. Not great. Not exceptional. Okay.
He was so Okay that he was not even offered a contract by the Diamonbacks after he spent a full season as thier closer. He is so Okay that the Astros would rather offer money to the man he replaced in Arizona (Lyon) than bring him back to the Astros.
The Tigers biggest problem as they transistion from 2009 to 2010 is that they remain inconsistant in staying with a game plan. Pitching and fielding win games( or better yet help you not lose games), but I say hitting seems to win the World Series. Ask the Yankees or Phillies that.
Dontrelle Willis, Jeremy Bonderman, Nate Robertson, and Zach Minor. All could and should be candidates to work out of the pen next year. Here is the breakdown.
Willis-- still has an above average fastball and a decent change up. Yes physically he is fine. Mentally has been another story. If you did not trade him for a change in scenery than why not let him work on becoming a late innnings man for us in Spring Training. Personally I think he is the best suited for the job. Do not lampoon him in Toledo for another year with spot starts for the Tigers. If someone is listening and this works remember you read it here first. Probability of this happening -- 4 out of 10.
Bonderman-- a guy whom seems to break down during the course of the year. He has that lanky build that generates a lot of his velocity from his motion and push off from the mound. He had a dynamic change up and curve when he is confident and could very well be the Tigers version of Papelbon from Boston. He has to be a leading candidate for the job internally and even Bondo would have to admit it is his best shot at staying healthy enough to play a whole season. Probability of this happening 7 out of 10.
Robertson-- enough with the 5th starter talk for probably the worst contract on the staff. He also happens to be the best teammate one could want on thier team as well. Even back in 2005 or 2006 that was a bad deal Dombrowski gave the likeable Roberston. However a lefty who can pinpoint strikes has a lot of value in the 6th, 7th and 8th inning as a set up man. Robertson is that guy and needs to be used every other day to stay sharp. Another guy who can spot close and be a solid middle reliever if the Tigers stay committed to working with what they got. Probability of this happening 8 out of 10.
Minor-- Good ole reliable Zach Minor. He will actually still get about 10-12 starts this season as a #5 starter but should be considered as a closer like Willis and Bonderman. He can be very deceptive with his pitch selection and has a tendency to keep hitters off balance as opposed to blowing the ball by them. He is a bit of a soft toser but I was surprised at his velocity hitting 92-94 during our one game playoff with the Twins last year. Probability of happening 5 out of 10.
I did not forgot about Joel Zumaya but realistically we should. Even if he makes it back Zumaya needs to be nursed through the first half of the season just to be ready for the playoffs. I would imagine he will become a compliment to the bullpen at the end of the season.
If the Tigers were going to mix things up some they should have considered trading the above mentioned if they are not in the plans to be used out of the bullpen. A Bonderman or Willis/Robertson combo should have been considered when other teams are thinking about dumping thier own bad contracts like the Cubs with Milton Bradley. At the very least he could have filled a void for a DH and spot outfielder with some bat control who draws lots of walks. I do not like Milton much as a player but it would appear to be more proactive than not using any of your overpaid pitching staff out of the pen and not having a bat like Milton's to lean on.
This is still the same team that felt a solid lefthanded started like Washburn and a lefty swinger with some power like Huff was all that was missing. Now we need to add a corner outfielder, centerfielder, and DH to the mix as well.
The pickup of Max Scherzer from Arizona will make us forget some about Granderson. He more than likely will be the #2 on the staff and push Rick Porcello into the number 3 or 4 slot. A guy like Barry Zito would have made some sense as well if we could have moved Bonderman, Willis or Robertson to trade contracts. I gurantee a package of Carlos Guillen with one of the pitchers above would have gotten us Zito, saved us a couple million and give us that lefty we thought Washburn was. If anyone really looked at Zito's stats he has worked his way back to becoming a formidable pitcher in 2009 and even his bad years was more productive than what we got out of Bonderman and Willis.
Another possibility we should have considered and actually could still pursue is signing a vet whom swings from the left side like Jim Thome for at least 1 yr, deal. He more than likely will be what we wanted out of Huff when we signed him last year.
Realistically I just want to give Leyland the tools he wants to be able to turn things around some. Minus--Guillen, or a combination or Willis/Bonderman/Robertson and to have brought in Bradley, Zito and Thome at a reduced payroll was likely and very well could have been with low risk due to it being a one year experiment with expiring contracts.
Some say the best trades you make are the ones that never get made. Well at least for the start of 2010 I am going to drink that kool aid some because the Tigers right now seem to be out of sorts.