As the baseball season begins its final weeks of its season, I thought it might be fun to look at a few players’ statistics, and see if it’s possible to match them up with their MLB salary for the 2015 season and beyond. For this exercise, I’ve decided to go the multiple choice route. All statistics are accurate entering yesterday’s games.
Matthew Kline’s analysis of the David Price trade was spot on and it got me thinking about my perspective on the issue. The deal was an utter failure for the Tampa Bay Rays, their fans and the general state of baseball in Florida (do they even deserve two teams down there?).
I’ll admit I was convinced the Rays were keeping Price to make a run at this year’s pennant in an up-for-grabs AL East. Apparently the surging Baltimore Orioles convinced them it would be better to deal away the best thing (maybe the only thing) they had going for them.
Drew Smyly and Nick Franklin are serviceable Major League talents and will positively impact the team in the years to come but c’mon. The Rays should have needed a barge to haul all the prospects they got in return for the most sought-after player at the deadline. Instead, they needed only a makeshift raft. I’m left wondering how the team with seemingly all the power in these negotiations ended up getting the shortest of all possible straws.
The Seattle Mariners got an absolute bargain here! All they had to do was go along for the ride and hang on tight. They picked up a reliable everyday centerfielder in Austin Jackson just by sending Franklin to Tampa. It seems like the Rays got cheated.
If that’s what you believe then direct your anger toward the Rays’ front office. Sending away your best player while in the middle of a division race means you cannot play that “small market” public relations card that has allowed you to hide the fact you aren’t truly committed to winning championships. Having little spending money is one thing, indifference is quite another. Notice how Oakland all of a sudden doesn’t care much about payroll.
The only logical explanation I can offer is this: Dave Dombrowski, the Detroit Tigers General Manager/ President/ CEO. He is the very best in the business at what he does. At least it appears that way with all the tremendous transactions he has made in his tenure. (I also believe all but a handful of GMs aren’t given enough authority to effectively alter their teams’ rosters, thus making it hard to compete with Dombrowski who clearly does.)
The acquisition of David Price is one of the many blockbuster moves Dombrowski has pulled off for the benefit of the Tigers and their fans. The complete list is long. Most of these moves go under the radar or are forgotten about in due time, but the highlights are evident when watching the team. Take a look:
- Seems like ancient history by now but Polanco was invaluable during the resurrection of baseball in Detroit along with Ivan Rodriguez and Magglio Ordonez.
- Willis was fun to watch for maybe three starts but who cares about him. This deal landed the game’s best hitter in Detroit. Maybin and Miller have had marginal success in the Bigs but again, who cares.
- Boy oh boy did I have a hard time talking to Tigers fans about this trade. Granderson was loved in Detroit and it seemed everyone refused to acknowledge this as a good trade simply because he was shipped out. He never would’ve become the player he is today had he not gone to the Yankees back then. Edwin Jackson continues his grand tour around baseball playing for the Cubs these days (his ninth team in his twelve seasons). Austin Jackson stepped seamlessly into the void left by Granderson and remained the starting centerfielder until recently being dealt in the Price trade. Coke struggles a lot but who in the Tigers ‘pen doesn’t nowadays. Scherzer took some time to pan out but I’d say winning last year’s Cy Young more than makes up for his late bloom. And I will continue to ask Detroiters if they still miss the Grandy man.
- Not Soto the catcher, some lefty who I haven’t heard anything from since. Peralta literally made history immediately dropping bombs over the Green Monster in his first two at-bats with the Tigers (the only player ever to do so). He was suspended 50 games last year and was forced to move to left field when he got back because Jose Iglesias was manning shortstop by then. Peralta still hit better than everyone not named Victor Martinez during the postseason. It would have been nice to have him at short this season too with Iglesias on the shelf.
- Turner is still trying to lockdown a permanent spot in the Miami rotation while Sanchez has soared. The American League ERA leader from last year has electric stuff even though he goes mostly unnoticed considering the arms that surround him. Infante was a Tiger earlier in his career. It was nice to see him back at second base since everyone and their mother in the Tigers’ system was trotted out at the position after he left the first time. He’s moved on again, to Kansas City this time but I wouldn’t be shocked to see him come back once more to finish his career in Detroit.
July 2013: Avisail Garcia, Brayan Villareal for Jose Iglesias.
- This was part of the trade that sent Jake Peavy to Boston. Garcia has been hurt ever since getting to Chicago which really is too bad because he and Jose Abreu would have made for an incredible 3-4 punch. Iglesias wowed everyone who watched him in the field down the stretch last year. He too has been hurt for the entirety of this season. If he can’t come back healthy and stay that way, I’ll have to say I don’t like this deal because I hated seeing Garcia go, especially to a division rival.
- As a Tigers fan, the only thing better than signing Fielder was trading him away. Kinsler is the straw that stirs the Tigers’ drink. I was ecstatic when I heard this news and have not at all been disappointed by the results thus far. Rangers fans would have to disagree I’m sure since Fielder didn’t play more than a couple months this season before being diagnosed with a season-ending neck injury.
- This one’s still up in the air a bit. Ray has become the Tigers’ top pitching prospect. Krol has looked too much like Coke when he’s been healthy. Lombardozzi was soon dealt to Baltimore for Alex Gonzalez (ugh). Put it this way though, without having dealt Fister the Tigers wouldn’t have had the opportunity to get Price.
So now I’m thinking maybe it wasn’t the fault of Tampa Bay’s front office. Maybe Dave Dombrowski is just that damn good at what he does.
Major League Baseball’s trade deadline is a prime example of why the sport is so unique. Trades simply don’t happen as frequently or with nearly as much magnitude in other sports as in baseball.
Four O’clock PM Eastern Standard Time on July 31st is the annual deadline to finalize any non-waiver trades. (To be clear, players can still be swapped if they are passed on by all MLB teams, hence clearing ‘waivers’.) Ultimately the decisions to pull the trigger on deals are telling enough that by the next day fans have a good understanding whether their squad is chasing this year’s pennant or gearing up to make a run next season.
The final hours leading up to the deadline were the most active of any in recent memory with twelve deals being made on Thursday. Each general manager has a plan, some more thorough than others. Those intentions I cannot quite speak to because of extremely limited access. I can, however, speculate as to why certain moves were made while defending those I like and ripping the boneheaded ones.
Let’s start with the Twins stealing away a potential top of the rotation guy in Tommy Milone from the Athletics, giving up only Sam Fuld. Milone is a huge addition for Minnesota. Fuld can play a part in the Oakland outfield equation going forward but Milone might already be the best Twins starter.
There were a few deals made with the present in mind more than the future. Although it may appear one team got the better of a deal, that could very well change as prospects further develop. The Brewers and Mariners also added pieces to their outfields. Milwaukee acquired Gerardo Parra who won’t set the world on fire but is another solid option for the Brew Crew. Seattle upgraded in the form of Chris Denorfia and Austin Jackson via the 3-way David Price deal which they simply piggy-backed on, completely lucking out.
Left-handed Red Sox reliever Andrew Miller was dealt to Baltimore. The O’s would have done well to grab a starter but Miller is money out of the ‘pen. The Yankees acquired a good hitter and utility man in Martin Prado from the Diamondbacks who didn’t need him the way they’re playing this summer.
There were plenty of puzzling deals too. As good as the Prado addition was, the Yanks had me seriously scratching my head with the Stephen Drew for Kelly Johnson transaction. This one might be a case of both players needing a fresh start. It’s still odd to see Boston and New York trading with one another just before facing off in a weekend series in Fenway.
I was under the impression that Asdrubal Cabrera would be a building block in the current Cleveland configuration. Apparently I was wrong as he was sent to Washington for Zach Walters. His sudden departure might be the result of wearing out his welcome as I know was the case with the seemingly-indifferent Justin Masterson. The Tribes sent their former Opening Day starter to St. Louis for James Ramsey. That brings us to the Cardinals.
I cannot believe what the Cardinals did on Thursday. Allen Craig and Joe Kelly are heading to Boston in exchange for John Lackey and a prospect. Trading these two guys away shows you how deep the cardinals are at all positions. Craig is a victim of the Oscar Taveras craze and Kelly was just a number in the shuffle of fantastic young pitchers that St. Louis is hoarding.
Lackey has a pretty good track record in the postseason going back to his rookie season in 2002 with the Angels. He pitched and won Game 7 in that Series against San Francisco. Last autumn, after losing Game 3 to the Cardinals, he won Game 6 to again clinch the Series. The dude literally WINS the World Series. The Cards have seen it themselves and apparently decided he’s a guy they want on the mound for their side. He is owed a fair amount of praise, but all those games were in American League parks. Now we’ll see if he can do it in the Senior Circuit.
The BoSox dealing away ace Jon Lester and Jonny Gomes to the A’s for Yoenis Cespedes was a blockbuster Thursday morning splash and early sign how exciting deadline day would be. Red Sox GM Ben Cherington is going to look like a genius when he re-signs Lester to a new multi-year deal in the offseaon.
The 3-way cannonball deal that sent David Price to Detroit; Jackson to Seattle; Drew Smyly, Nick Franklin and Willy Adames to Tampa Bay was undoubtedly a direct answer to the Athletics landing Lester. And although the originally reported text from Tigers GM Dave Dombrowski to A’s GM Billy Beane about the deal was false it’s still a nice little storyline. Either way, I think it’s cool to see competitors acknowledge each other instead of ‘coach speak’ oozing from everyone who steps in front of a microphone.
Certainly the Tigers strengthened their starting rotation for this postseason but I think the deal was truly made as an insurance policy. Max Scherzer’s contract expires at the end of the season, he’s playing at an incredible level and he is a Scott Boras client. I can easily see him wearing Yankee pinstripes next year. Now that scenario wouldn’t hurt the Tigers nearly as much. The price Detroit had to pay was an everyday centerfielder. Jackson was pulled off the field minutes before the deadline. Sitting in my seat at Comerica Park I couldn’t quite believe what I was seeing. Never have I been to a game where the starting pitcher and centerfielder don’t finish the game on the same team.
After letting all the ideas marinate in my head I think it’s clear the deadline day winners were the Red Sox and the Braves. Boston made moves for their future, Atlanta acquired for an immediate impact. They picked up the antithesis of every player they have in Emilio Bonifacio. His style of play can really help them going forward. Boston fans should be thrilled though. They’ve now got their corner outfield spots set up for years and a solid middle of the rotation pitcher with a high ceiling.
Boston’s 2014 is looking a lot like their 2012. Of course they won the World Series last year. That’s just something for your baseball brain to snack on going into next season.
For a more in depth look into the Boston Red Sox trade deadline activity check out Matthew Kline’s column.
The Detroit Tigers were two wins from playing in two consecutive World Series. If the Tigers fill some key needs they’ll be right back into the mix. Dave Dombrowski is a mastermind; we all know that, so Tigers’ Cult rest assured these needs will be filled.
Tigers GM Dave Dombrowski is a mastermind; we all know that, so Tigers’ Cult rest assured these needs will be filled.
A Healthy Miguel Cabrera:
A mid-season back issue began a seemingly never-ending spiral of Miguel Cabrera injuries that included hip, abdominal wall, and groin injuries. Cabrera underwent offseason surgery and is projected to be ready by spring training, and the Tigers definitely need him. Above all, including the bullpen’s shortcomings, Miguel Cabrera’s lack of production due to injury held the Tigers back. With a healthy Miguel Cabrera and a couple new pieces the Tigers are right back into the World Series discussion.
Coming into the offseason it was clear relievers, most importantly a closer, were some of the Tigers biggest offseason needs. Although Dombrowski has solidified the closer spot with the former Minnesota Twin, 39 year old Joe Nathan, you have to believe the trade that sent Doug Fister to the Washington Nationals means solid bullpen arm Drew Smyly will be moved into the starting rotation. The 8th and 9th inning guys are solidified with the 22 year old Bruce Rondon and the aforementioned Nathan in the ninth. Add Al Alburqurque and you’ve got three solid relievers, but the rest of the pen is a bit of a tossup.
The Tigers need a better bat in the outfield. Everyone thought this would be Nick Castellanos, but trading Prince Fielder to the Texas Rangers will mean shifting Cabrera back to first base, which means Castellanos will be back at his natural third base spot.
As of now Dombrowski says not to expect any big names being signed, but we have all heard this before. Remember the lead up to the Prince Fielder signing?
Austin Jackson’s bat back:
Getting Austin Jackson’s batting stride and front foot settled are key to the Detroit Tigers offseason.
After hitting .300 with 16 HR 66 RBI and having a OBP of .377 in 2012, Austin Jackson’s 2013 numbers fell to .272, 12 HR 49 RBI and an OBP of .337.
Jackson’s WAR fell to 3.4 in 2013 after he amassed his highest WAR of his career at 5.5 in 2012. On the bright side Jackson hit .318 and had a OBP of .423 in the Boston series, so hopefully that little sliver of success can carry over to the 2014 season.
A Change behind the Plate:
I often notice Alex Avila’s name being drug through the dirt on twitter, I spot people calling for him to be replaced and some tweeters even like to say he is only on the Tigers because of his father, Assistant GM Al Avila. Sure you can criticize Alex for his bat at times but if you dive into what matters most with a catcher, what he is doing behind the plate, you’ll see why Avila is so valuable.
The relationship between a pitcher and catcher is often overlooked, I get it there is no chemistry stat but it’s there and when it is good you can tell:
Alex Avila caught 21 games for Anibal Sanchez. In those games Sanchez had an ERA of 2.42, with other catchers that rose to 2.94.
When Avila was behind the plate catching 18 games for Justin Verlander, Verlander had an ERA of 3.11. With Bryan Holaday and Brayan Pena, now with the Cincinnati Reds, catching Verlander in the other 16 games his ERA rose to 3.85.
In the 18 games Avila caught, Cy Young award winning pitcher, Max Scherzer, Scherzer had an ERA of 2.49 in the other 15 games with Pena behind the plate that number rose to 3.41. When you look at the improvement Avila brings behind the plate and realize that a catcher’s first job is just that, to catch, you see Avila’s true value.
Tigers Offseason Final Thought:
All Detroit needs is a healthy Miguel Cabrera, a couple of bullpen arms, and a couple of tweaks along the way. If those issues are fixed the Tigers will solidify themselves as World Series contenders – maybe even favorites – once again.
Yesterday, I saw multiple reports that shook my inner Indians fan to its core.
First Buster Olney said this…
Some rival evaluators believe that Shin-Soo Choo will now land in Detroit, to play LF. We’ll see.
— Buster Olney (@Buster_ESPN) November 21, 2013
Then reports surfaced that Robinson Cano was on his way to Kansas City to sign with the Royals.
If you’re an Indians fan, this all hurts tremendously.
First of all, the Tigers, should they sign Shin-Soo Choo, might just be the best team in baseball. Take a gander at this lineup, should Shin Soo make his way to the Motor City.
That lineup at its face value could easily take on any in the league. Meanwhile, Detroit houses baseball’s best pitching staff.
The worst part of it all is that Dave Dombrowski seems to be on a World Series mission and will use all of the cash in the world to get there.
In other words, they’re not done yet. Not even close.
While the Tigers will certainly have the upper hand on the Indians seemingly regardless of the situation, the Tribe could at least compete with a Choo-less Tigers lineup. Once you put the former Indians star at the top of that order, who knows just how far the talent gap will grow.
All the while, Omar Vizquel has taken the job of first base coach in Detroit.
First Victor. Then Omar. Now Choo?
Detroit is slowly but surely destroying the Indians and their fan-base former player by former player.
Meanwhile, another AL Central team seems be on a mission and ready to spend some cash.
Rumors yesterday are showing that Robinson Cano may just be the newest member of the Kanas City Royals, in what would be an earth shattering development. Should that splash happen, the Royals could easily move into the second rung of the AL Central ladder and could become a legitimate World Series contender.
Add in the top end of their pitching staff and they might be one of the most under-the-radar teams in all of baseball.
First, the Tigers go out and get much better by moving Miguel Cabrera to first base, adding Ian Kinsler to the mix and potentially adding Shin-Soo Choo. Then, the Royals get the most highly sought after free agent in all of baseball.
Of course these are both hypothetical, but reported, circumstances, but in any case, can the Indians catch a break?
Sure, the Indians did get better on Wednesday by signing David Murphy to take over the everyday right field duties, but the Indians can’t compete with the suddenly big market teams in Detroit and Kansas City, should these deals go down.
The worst part is, there’s really nothing they can do about it. The Indians don’t have the money to put a bid in on Robinson Cano. They can’t make a deal to bring back Choo. They just simply can’t make these splashes as, apparently, Detroit and Kansas City can.
This is all to say, Indians fans, that maybe last year, despite its heartbreak towards the end, was as good as its going to get. Maybe the magic that Jason Giambi, Nick Swisher and Ubaldo Jimenez brought to the corner of Carnegie and Ontario last season was as good as its going to get for a while.
The Tigers and Royals may be on the verge of taking over the American League and leaving the lowly Indians, White Sox and Twins in the dust.
Despite all of the good that Terry Francona, Chris Antonetti and Mark Shapiro have done for the Indians and for the city of Cleveland, it may all be for naught. The Indians, for the forseeable future, may be trapped in the dark, vast dungeon of the American League Central Division.
Is there anything they can do to get out, should Choo and Cano sign within this division?
Yes, but it would be very, very unlikely.
First of all could get out of the dungeon by getting lucky again and again as they did last season with Scott Kazmir, Ryan Raburn, Yan Gomes and Mike Aviles. If Antonetti continues to pull off moves such as those, the Indians can compete.
Even then, however, things will still be difficult.
They would still have to spend money to solidify their rotation, which is decent but needs a little help. They would also need prospects like Francisco Lindor, Jose Ramirez and Jesus Aguilar to be all that we expected and more.
Again, its not impossible, just very, very unlikely.
Other than that, just hope that these two rumors were nothing but. Hope that Choo and Cano sign with the Yankees, as that organization is a continual mess.
If you’re an Indians fan, however, just accept that should Cano and Choo sign in the Central, the new era of Indians excellence may come to a tragic and screeching halt.
All of the hope and optimism could be over with a few simple swoops of a fateful pen. Enjoy it, Tribe fans, because very soon, the fun could be over.
It’s been over for nearly two weeks.
The Detroit Tigers’ latest assault on that elusive fifth World Series title fell short last Sunday, as Shane Victorino’s Game 6 grand slam (which is still airborne) catapulted the Boston Red Sox into the World Series (which they are expected to win within the next two days). The Tigers became the first team to reach the ALCS in three consecutive seasons since the New York Yankees made four in a row between 1998 and 2001. The Yankees won the World Series in 1998, 1999, and 2000, and were one win from another championship in 2001. The Tigers have won the pennant once out of these three appearances and won exactly zero games in the ensuing World Series. Pretty stark contrast.
Going so far as to call the 2013 season a “failure” appears at first glance to be a bit harsh, but consider that the organization’s brain trust has stated time and time again (especially over the past two seasons) that the goal of the Detroit Tigers is to win the World Series. They were very active at the trade deadline this season and last. They spent MORE THAN $500 MILLION DOLLARS to tie up three players: Miguel Cabrera, Prince Fielder, and Justin Verlander. The Tigers have had three good teams over the past three seasons, but they all had the same fatal flaw: a failure to score in the postseason. The Tigers averaged only 3.2 runs per game in the 2013 postseason, and have averaged 3.4 runs per game over the past three Octobers. The 2013 edition was extra-special because of their abysmal bullpen; the bullpen that cost Max Scherzer two wins in the ALCS and blew three wins for Detroit overall. The team appeared to be constructed well enough, yet there’s no championship. And when the franchise credo is “World Series or bust” and the franchise doesn’t win the World Series, then yeah, there’s a mildly compelling argument that 2013 was a failure, despite the third consecutive division title, despite the likely Cy Young Award for Scherzer, and despite the very strong possibility of another MVP award for Cabrera.
The Tigers’ latest postseason power outage cost them their manager, as Jim Leyland elected to step down after eight seasons on the job. As much vitriolic crap as Leyland frequently got from scores of angry Detroit fans, there’s no denying the impact he had on the club. When he arrived in 2006, the Tigers were irrelevant. They lost 119 games in 2003, their last winning season was 1993, and their last playoff appearance was in 1987. Since 2006, the Tigers have recorded the following: six winning seasons, four playoff appearances (three times as division champion), and two pennants. What that means: Jim Leyland is the second-best manager in Tigers history, right behind Sparky Anderson.
Now, regarding this team’s future. The way this writer sees it, there are two feasible routes the Tigers can go (no, neither of them involve hiring Dusty Baker and spending $250 million on Robinson Cano):
1) hire a younger manager from outside the organization (Brad Ausmus, Torey Lovullo, Tim Wallach), trade potential 2014 free agent Scherzer, and begin to utilize younger/unproven players on the major league roster (whether it be from the Scherzer trade or to fill voids left by the departures of free agents Joaquin Benoit, Omar Infante, and Jhonny Peralta). At the end of 2014, let Torii Hunter and Victor Martinez walk as free agents, and *consider* moving 2015 free agent Cabrera (unless he takes a discount), In other words, lay the foundation for a rebuild.
2) hire from within (Tommy Brookens, Jeff Jones, Lloyd McClendon), keep the band together (perhaps add an impact free agent because #MikeIlitchPizzaMoney), and give it another go in 2014. Extend Cabrera and/or Scherzer to keep a semblance of a championship window open for the next few years.
The rumors of the Tigers shopping Scherzer won’t go away, and with three guys making $20 million per year already on the payroll, general manager Dave Dombrowski may have to consider how to cut costs and get maximum value back for some of his assets. The Tigers’ farm system is one of the worst in baseball now, and it must be replenished eventually. Going route #1 would be disappointing to many fans, but no one really knows how much more 84 year-old owner Mike Ilitch can or will spend to rope in a title. And the current “win now” approach hasn’t paid all the dividends it was expected to.
Route #2 would appease hungry fans and likely keep the Tigers in that upper echelon in MLB. However, the farm system would still be in tatters and the Tigers would be paying at least $20 million per season to FOUR players for the next several years. Close to half the payroll would be tied up in two pitchers and two hitters, and at least three will be getting paid well into their late-30’s, unless a Marlins-esque salary dump occurs. This payroll constriction will be a problem in the years to come if the Tigers develop any top-flight prospects in the next year or so, or if secondary guys on the roster need a raise.
The Tigers are definitely a team to watch this offseason because of all the questions they have to answer. They’ve blown two golden opportunities to win a World Series for Mr. Ilitch and a rabid fanbase over the last two Octobers, and 2013 could very well prove to be the swan song for this era of Tigers baseball. Only time will tell.