The 2008 season didn’t go exactly the way the Tigers wanted it to go. They came into the season with expectations of making it to the World Series, and then they fell flat on their face. Suprisingly, they finished dead last in the American League Central. The reason — terrible pitching. Ace Justin Verlander didn’t pitch anything like an ace during the season as he compiled an ERA of 4.84. The #2 Jeremy Bonderman got injured early and was out for the rest of the season. Dontrelle Willis and Nate Robertson were both terrible. Kenny Rogers was pretty bad, too. Ironically, Armando Galarraga was the team’s best pitcher. That’s right, Armando Galarraga! The bullpen was a complete mess as well. The offense was solid, but not as good as the year before thanks to a poor showing by Curtis Granderson, Gary Sheffield, and Edgar Renteria. 2008 obviously didn’t turn out the way the Tigers had hoped.
Detroit had limited resources because of all the payroll added the season before. With only about 15 million to spend, the club was not able to acquire any bullpen help. They made only 3 meaningful acquisitions. Gerald Laird was brought in through a trade with the Rangers. He’ll be the regular catcher. Adam Everett was signed to play shortstop, but honestly, I would rather just give the job to Roman Santiago. The biggest transaction was through a trade with the Rays. The Tigers sent outfielder Matt Joyce to the Rays for starting pitcher Edwin Jackson.
Jackson will bring a nice arm to the rotation, but I still don’t like their chances unless they get a bounce back year from at least 2 or 3 of their starting pitchers. If that happens, they’ll have a solid rotation and could score enough runs to sneak into the playoffs. It all depends on the pitching.
Winning the division sure is possible as this is basically the same team that many predicted would win it all coming into last season. My early prediction: they’ll be much better than last year because of a bounce back season from Verlander, but they’ll finish about 7 games out of first place.
To open up a spot for stud prospect David Price while filling their right field void, the Rays have traded Edwin Jackson for Matt Joyce. I like this trade for both teams.
The Rays did amazing on this. They kill 3 birds with 1 stone by making this deal. Tampa Bay opens up a spot for David Price, fill their right field void, and clear salary for a potential aquisition of a DH through free agency. Milton Bradley and Jason Giambi are some attractive options. Joyce was a surprise last year, but he put up some very nice numbers while showing some impressive power. He is clearly the answer to their right field hole for now and for the future. Plus, Joyce is cheap for 6 years while Jackson was getting more expensive and is only under team control for 3 years. I don’t see how the Rays could’ve done any better on this trade.
Although I like this deal better for the Rays, the Tigers also did very well. They aquire a solid
#4 or #5 starting pitcher to add some much needed depth to their rotation. Matt Joyce is a high price to pay, but the offense was clearly not the problem in Detroit. They have some other options to replace him with, anyway. Marcus Thames and maybe a cheap free agent could make a nice platoon. It looks like the Tigers rotation will be looking like this: Justin Verlander – Jeremy Bonderman – Armando Galarraga – Edwin Jackson – Nate Robertson / Dontrelle Willis. That’s not bad if certain players have some bounce-back years. Plus, top prospect Rick Porcello would be ready sometime during the year. I like this trade a lot for the Tigers.
This is a very solid deal for both of these teams, but I give the edge to the Rays on this one.
The Tigers have aquired Gerald Laird from the Rangers for pitching prospects Guillermo Moscoso and Carlos Melo. Neither prospects are highly touted. Melo is pretty much a throw-in, while Moscoso ranked 10th among the Tigers top 10 prospects. He has the potential to become a #3 or #4, but injuries could stop him.
The Tigers got a steal. Laird is a very good defensive catcher with a decent bat. He hit .272 last year with 6 home runs and 41 RBIs. He’s a league average catcher, but a lot better than what the Tigers would have had behind the dish if they went with internal options. Their definately not done, though. A shortstop, starting pitcher, closer, and middle reliever all still need to be added. About 10 million is left to fill these holes with. This is overall a very nice trade for Detroit.
I don’t like this return at all for the Rangers. With so many teams interested in catchers, and with few options available via free agency, I thought Laird could bring back a pretty solid piece. I guess they just wanted to clear the salary and give the starting catcher’s job to a younger player. Just because Laird is gone, don’t be shocked if the Rangers still move one of their young catchers. Jarrod Saltalamacchia or Taylor Teagarden could still bring back a lot in a trade. Hopefully a lot more than Moscoso and Melo.
Believe it or not, Trevor Hoffman will not be returning to the Padres next season. The Padres offered him a low ball 1 year, 4 million dollar contract with a 4 million club option. The guy’s a Hall-Of-Famer, you’ve got to offer more than that, at least for sentimental reasons. I know they don’t want to raise payroll, but with Jake Peavy likely to be dealt, they would be able to afford him. Anyway, now that Hoffman won’t be a Padre, he’ll hit free agency. All teams in need of a closer seem like fair play. The Indians showed interested back when Trevor last hit free agency. They still need a closer now, and I think they make a lot of sense. It’s possible, but I think the Mets would want a younger closer. The Tigers could check in as well. The Cardinals and Brewers are possibilities. If none if these teams suit him, then Hoffman could decide to retire. It seems like he wants to continue playing even though he won’t be a Padre. I just can’t believe he isn’t going back.
It is known that the Indians could look to trade catcher Kelly Shoppach this offseason. The reasoning is to improve one of their holes while keeping Victor Martinez behind the plate. Then, they could either give Ryan Garko another shot at first base, or they could sign a free agent like Jason Giambi. They’re looking for a veteran starting pitcher, a late inning reliever, and an infield bat. The Reds, Red Sox, Tigers, and Marlins are possibilities for Shoppach. How about Bronson Arroyo and cash from the Reds for Shoppach? I favor the Reds a bit in this trade, but it still makes sense. The Reds would replace Arroyo with Homer Baily. The Red Sox could offer a young pitcher like Michael Bowden, but that’s if the Indians would accpet a young pitcher in return. I have no idea what the Tigers could offer. They don’t have anything the Indians want, and their in the same division. The Marlins make the most sense to me. They could fill two of the Indians holes easily. Kelly Shoppach for Kevin Gregg and Scott Olsen. The Indians bring in a verteran starter to add a bit more depth to their rotation. Gregg is a solid, cheap closer. The costs of all combined would probably only equal about an extra 5 million for the Tribe. So that would leave them with 10 million to sign a big infield bat through free agency. This trade makes sense for the Fish, too. They cut 10 million in salary between this trade and the Mike Jacobs deal, as well as open up a spot for prospects Chris Coghlan and Andrew Miller. Kevin Gregg wasn’t a necessary part of this team because of all the other bullpen talent on their team. The best part about it is that they can fill their weakest link last year: catcher. I like this trade for both teams.
Francisco Rodriguez seems destined to sign a record breaking contract. The only question is who will pay it. Let’s look at some possibilities.
Mets (frontrunners) The loss to Billy Wagner coupled with the awful bullpen leads me to believe that K-Rod will probably be in a Mets uniform next year. I know there have been some reports that the Mets won’t pay his price, but I think he’ll eventually have to settle with a deal in the 5 year, 60 million range. Still a record breaker, just not the insane 15 million per year asking price. I explained why the Mets should pursue him here.
Cardinals (frontrunners) If the Mets get cold feet or decide to go in a different direction, you could see the Cardinals make an agressive offer to K-Rod. They do have 20 million to spend. For only 12 million per year, they could afford K-Rod plus a middle infielder. Look for the Cardinals to be active on the closer front.
Angels (possible) They could easily afford Rodriguez, but it might not be the best idea to spend so much money on him. It would be much smarter to sign Mark Teixera or CC Sabathia instead. If they miss out on both, don’t be surprised to see the Halos attempt to resign Franky Rodriguez, however. This one is possible.
Tigers (not likely) This team has got the money to spend since they won’t be cutting payroll. However, this would be the only signing they would be able to make. I know they would be filling a huge hole with a great pitcher, but this wouldn’t allow them to fill their remaining holes: shortstop, starting pitcher, catcher. It might make more sense for them to fill all positions on the cheap.
Indians (not likely) They have labled closer as their offseason priority. Most expect them to pursue Brian Fuentes instead; he will be cheaper. However, if the Tribe misses out on different starting pitching and infield options, it’s possible they spend big money on K-Rod.
Brewers (not likely) The Brewers showed they were not afraid to pay top dollar for a closer last year when they almost signed Francisco Cordero. They could decide to do the same this year and spend a lot of money on K-Rod. However, it might be a smarter idea to use the Rodriguez money to extend some of their young stars such as Prince Fielder, Corey Hart, JJ Hardy, and Yovani Gallardo. If those players would rather go year to year, Franky could become an option.
Tiger’s GM Dave Dombrowski said that they will be holding the line on payroll. It had been previosly thought that the Tigers would cut payroll. So instead of having 5 million to spend, they will have about 14 million available. That much could buy them a solid starter, shortstop, or closer. You have to think they enter the market for Brian Fuentes now. Edgar Renteria would be easier to resign. If they backload the contract, you might even see them enter the Derek Lowe market. Lowe is from Detriot, so he could take a small discount to go to Mo Town. The Tigers would love to aquire him; he’d make a nice 1-2 punch atop their rotation, pairing with Justin Verlander. If that happens, and then they get a bounce-back year from Jeremy Bonderman, Dontrelle Willis, or Nate Robertson, they might compete. You never know. This is still basicly the same team that many people thought would win the world series last year. We’ll see.