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 Tigers' shopping complements talent base

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PostSubject: Tigers' shopping complements talent base   Tue Nov 30, 2010 12:53 am

Tigers' shopping complements talent base
Pitching in hand, Dombrowski attacks needs in thin market


By Anthony Castrovince | MLB.com Columnist | Archive
11/29/10 10:00 AM EST

Millions of men and women risked life and limb, navigated their way through turbulent traffic and elbowed their way through contentious crowds, all in precious pursuit of those post-Thanksgiving specials offered at every reputable retail outlet in the country.

Tigers president and general manager Dave Dombrowski didn't have to deal with all those distractions, but he was just as aggressive in the opening days of the free-agent market. Already, he has re-signed Brandon Inge and Jhonny Peralta and brought aboard Victor Martinez and Joaquin Benoit -- and we haven't even gotten to the Winter Meetings yet.

The problem for Dombrowski's Tigers is that they have deep pockets in what is clearly a thin market, which can inevitably lead to some questionable purchases.

That's why, if I'm a Tigers fan, I'd be more enthused about the building blocks already in place than I'd be about the recent (and ongoing) spending spree.

With $50 million in salary commitments off the books at the end of a season in which they finished .500, the Tigers have been among the game's more active bidders and buyers. Give credit to Dombrowski for attacking the Tigers' weaknesses quickly, and give impassioned owner Mike Ilitch credit for continuing to supply him with the appropriate ammo.

Of course, Tigers fans don't have to look back far to remember the last time their team was this opportunistic during this time of year.

Three years ago, Detroit was the undisputed paper champion of the Hot Stove circuit after the high-profile trade with the Marlins that netted Miguel Cabrera and Dontrelle Willis and a separate trade with the Braves that brought in Edgar Renteria. Talk of a lineup that had the potential to generate 1,000 runs warmed Tigers fans all winter, but the season itself was a chilly endeavor, undone primarily by a porous pitching staff.

When the Tigers finished that 2008 season in the basement of a winnable division (the White Sox claimed it with 89 victories), we were all reminded of the valuable lesson to avoid paying much attention to Hot Stove hyperbole. The prognosticators who were ready to hand the Tigers the title pre-Opening Day paid too much attention to the bats brought aboard and not enough to a pitching staff that wound up posting just 67 quality starts.

What could and should separate the 2011 installment of the Tigers from that '08 version is the pitching that was already in place, before the flurry of transactions. Because the transactions themselves are open to some skepticism.

Dombrowski's first order of business was to keep the left side of his infield intact by signing Inge and Peralta to nearly identical two-year deals. Stability is all well and good, but re-upping with Peralta -- a notorious slow starter who has significant range issues at short -- has the danger of proving dubious.

Of course, in this market and all things considered, Peralta was probably the second-best shortstop available, behind the aging (and untouchable) Derek Jeter. I suppose that tells you all you need to know about the market.

It was a market in which Martinez commanded a four-year, $50 million commitment. Sure, he's earned his status as one of the game's great teammates and team leaders, and the monetary commitment the Tigers have made to him is in line with his present-day value. But the majority of Martinez's worth is in his production from the catching spot -- a place where his skills have continued to erode and where he's not expected to play more than two or three times a week.

Put Martinez's bat at DH or first base, where Jim Leyland will place him plenty in '11 and beyond, and his contract loses some of its value -- particularly as Martinez reaches his mid-30s and his power inevitably declines. The spacious dimensions of Comerica Park, where Martinez has a .349 career slugging percentage in 47 games, will surely test that power.

Signing Benoit should help shore up the setup situation for closer Jose Valverde. Between the addition of Benoit and the emergence of youngsters like Daniel Schlereth, Robbie Weinhardt and Ryan Perry, the Tigers have the makings of an impressive bullpen. But the $16.5 million price tag for Benoit and his surgically repaired shoulder was steep. His health will be a major focus.

The Tigers' focus the next few weeks will remain on plugging holes through free agency. With an outfield spot to fill, Jayson Werth will remain a big-ticket target, or perhaps Magglio Ordonez will be brought back. The Tigers seem to possess the dollars to bring in another impact bat.

But you can't simply throw money at your problems and expect to succeed -- not even in the AL Central. The Tigers' recent history (their average Opening Day payroll over the past four years is $120.49 million, with no playoff appearances to show for it) proves that.

Before a team spends or acquires extravagantly, it must first have the proper nucleus in place. This time, the Tigers appear to have it right.

Justin Verlander took a wayward step back in '08 but has since reclaimed his command and re-established himself as one of the game's top arms. He's complemented not by an aging Kenny Rogers and an uneven Nate Robertson, but by the emerging talents of Max Scherzer and Rick Porcello. That's easily the best starting trio in the division, and it's potentially one of the best in the league.

The Tigers have power arms aplenty. If they stay healthy, then this team should have the goods to get back into contention. What the Tigers are doing right now is overpaying for augmentation, because that's what the thin market has dictated.

Anthony Castrovince is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, CastroTurf, and follow him on Twitter at @Castrovince. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.


“It takes pitching, hitting and defense. Any two can win. All three make you unbeatable.”    
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PostSubject: Re: Tigers' shopping complements talent base   Tue Nov 30, 2010 9:09 am

I heard a slight whisper about trading for Adrian Gonzalez? Doubt it, but I heard it.
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PostSubject: Re: Tigers' shopping complements talent base   Tue Nov 30, 2010 4:54 pm

gdennis59 wrote:
I heard a slight whisper about trading for Adrian Gonzalez? Doubt it, but I heard it.

interesting... With the slim market for FA's, DD may come up with a good trade.
_________________

I am beginning to hate reading these articles by Anthony Castrovince (an Indian Writer). He makes me like Jason's (the Tiger Beat writer) more and more.

Anthony Castrovince writes articles so they are both pro and con so no matter what happens, he can say "I told you so."

He is positive about the current infielders:

Quote :
I'd be more enthused about the building blocks already in place than I'd be about the recent (and ongoing) spending spree.

But he hates ex-Indian Peralta, a part of the current building blocks:

Quote :
Peralta -- a notorious slow starter who has significant range issues at short -- has the danger of proving dubious.

But then is pro Peralta again:

Quote :
Peralta was probably the second-best shortstop available, behind the aging (and untouchable) Derek Jeter.

He then likes and hates, ex-Indian, V-Mart. And then goes on to do the same thing to Benoit.

All I say is "Castrovince, worry about your sad Indians and let us worry about our own Tigers."


“It takes pitching, hitting and defense. Any two can win. All three make you unbeatable.”    
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PostSubject: Re: Tigers' shopping complements talent base   Wed Dec 01, 2010 11:45 pm

IMO, the Tigers have made all the right moves this offseason.

Peralta may not be the most amazing shortstop. But, I would rather him than what Renteria gave us while he was here. We've got plenty of options at second, so even if Peralta isn't as good as he needs to be, we could probably get Worth or maybe Rhymes to make the switch.

Inge's glove is motivation enough for me to say we should've kept him, and if he can return his power from 2009, that's nothing but great.

Benoit was a tad of a risk, but it's not like there's anyone who had a better season than him that was available. Maybe should have made his contract more incentive-laden, but he was insane last year.

Victor was a great signing to me. He's willing to only catch a couple times a week and I think he's a great leader to have around Avila, and the clubhouse in general. If Avila struggles, we can always put Victor back there until he fixes whatever problem may arise.

Not to right a book, but, just saying the Tigers are looking to be in great shape next season. Castrovince's Indians? Not so much.
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