Well, that sucked. Here I was hoping I could talk about how with a World Series ring finally in our hands, we can reload the roster with cheaper talent. Unfortunately, we still are in the process of winning a Ring for Mr. Mike Illitch, and all we are left as a means to that end are some arbitration eligible players and a couple of FAs that are going to require more cash to retain their services. Thankfully, most of the roster will be back. Anibal Sanchez is the only player under contract who will see a significant raise. With the Tiger's share in TV revenue likely going up in 2014 along side ticket revenues and the Winter Classic, the Tigers will probably be able to sustain for a year a roster whose payroll is in the range of the $160mil bracket, maintaining it's spot as the league's 4th most expensive roster. So, what do we need to do to get this team back on its feet for 2014?
Overview of Roster Situation
-RHP Jose Veras
Pre-Arbitration Eligibles of Interest
Non-Tendered the heck outa here
What Needs To be Done
Looking over the roster, our main areas of need are an overhaul of the bullpen, which bit us in the behind more times than one would desire... Well, I don't think anyone wants anything to bite us in the behind. That would be both embarrassing and it would hurt... Badly... But I digress, the bullpen stunk. It needs to be fixed. We could also use a competent bat that can man LF (Though, thankfully, not many teams in the league had an adequate hitting LFer either.) A second issue is second base. I expect that problem to be resolved by re-signing Infante. I don't think anyone is keen on Hernan Perez playing Major League baseball as a starter. Another issue that I hope is brought up is Short Stop. I like Iglesias. I really do. I hope his bat develops well. But right now, I want to win a championship. Do you sacrifice offense for defense, especially with a strikeout pitching staff that limits balls put into play? That should be a serious question that needs to be asked.
So what would I want to do address these issues? Well, I think the first thing I need to do is to unload one of either Doug Fister or Rick Porcello. They are both ground ball pitchers. They are both arbitration eligible. They both made similar figures last year. Unloading one for assets and sticking Drew Smyly in the rotation is a proper way to go. Scherzer may be the enticing piece to dangle, but after watching him make a disciplined offense like the Oakland Athletics create winds mightier than a tornado on a blustery Windsday with their bats, I feel a better direction would be to take advantage of his final year of arbitration and hope we win it. Either way, Scherzer will hit paydirt and not be wearing the English D next year, so I pick the option that helps us increase the odds of a Championship. So here is a trade that I propose:
To Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim
-SP Doug Fister/Rick Porcello
-RP Ernesto Frieri
-OF Kole Calhoun
-Insert Minor Leaguer with Major League potential here
-Whatever filler necessary for both teams to balance the trade out
Ok, I lied. With Mr. Dombrowski at the helm, we probably pilfer Anaheim out of something here, so there's probably no need to make a provision for a balanced trade. I digress... Anyways, this is a baseball trade, in my opinion. While the Angels, who are in need of starting pitching, are said to be heavily in love with Japanese starting pitcher Masahiro Tanaka, there's no way they are stupid enough to gamble on winning his posting fee rights. They will definitely look at other options. I think this is perfect. With Aybar and Kendrick in the infield, Doug or Rick will definitely be a force to be reckoned with. It may seem unrealistic that we get Frieri, but with Joe Nathan on the market, I don't think Arte Moreno will hesitate to fork over big dollars for his services if they need a closer. He's that kinda stupid. But nonetheless, we get much needed bullpen help. We get an outfielder who has a very good hitting tool, whose ISO has remained nearly the same throughout the minor and major leagues. He is definitely a better candidate than Andy Dirks, in my honest opinion.
So now we've solved our LF problem and partially fixed our bullpen. There's another part of our bullpen that I would like to fix, as well. That would be the position of LOOGY. In case you haven't glossed over the the absolutely pathetic market of Left Handed relievers this year, you can do so by clicking on that link. The only arm I want on that list is J.P. Howell. The thing is, the Dodgers have no incentive of letting him leave because of their own bullpen issues. J.P. Howell also has no incentive to leave a ball club that should have gone to the World Series, had it not been for the fact every position of significant relevance on the Dodgers roster was injured at some point. Javier Lopez will look for a raise from his $4 million contract, and Yankees will just throw money in Boone Logan's general direction. Everything else sucks. Your best option is signing Eric O'Flaherty and hope he is healthy by May so that you can play him. But that's risky and stupid. So if we want a LOOGY, we either promote Matt Hoffman and pray he can pitch better than Phil Coke, or we explore trade options for a LOOGY. There's one in particular that caught my eye:
Trade Proposal #2:
To Detroit Tigers:
I swear, he could be more expensive just because of that awesome last name alone... In actuality, I don't know how this trade would go down. Ruben Amaro Jr. is a known incompetent doofus who thinks his roster is able to win a championship, adding to the long list of incompetent Philadelphia sports managers that destroyed or neglected their rosters hoping the end product was championship worthy, only to force the coach/manager to fall on the sword for them when the team flopped. It could be that a mere bullpen arm like Bastardo could be considered untouchable by Ruben, who probably sees the Bullpen as an area to address to make their team 'winnable.' I'm hoping Dombrowski can work his magic and sell some spare bullpen arms, with hopes that Amaro sees value in the quantity. Bastardo can strike people out. He is, however, best used as a LOOGY. As long as he doesn't get Phil Coke'd, he would be a valuable arm in the bullpen.
Rounding Out the Bullpen
We've picked up Ernesto Frieri and Antonio Bastardo to bolster the bullpen. Here is how I would round it out:
-Darin Downs, Bruce Rondon, and Al Alburquerque return to the Bullpen for next season.
-Corey Knebel, who absolutely dominated A pitching, is promoted to the big leagues. It's been said that his stuff, especially his curveball, is already major league ready. It's been also noted that Knebel could also likely be the first of his draft class to see Major League action. Being drafted out of College would also reduce the development time Knebel would require in the Minor Leagues. I suppose I would like to hear comments from people who have scouted him, but from what I've read, I don't think there's any need to wait any longer. I think he is ready.
-Re-sign Joaquin Benoit to a one year, $6.5 Million contract. He's getting up there in age, but I want him back serving his old role of setup man. Along with Jeff Jones, having a veteran who can work with the young arms would definitely be useful in the bullpen.
Yes, I let Jose Veras walk and didn't pick up his option. I don't trust Veras. Easy at that. This was easily his best season as a relief pitcher. He's been fairly average to below average his entire career, and he tailed off when he joined the Tigers. Let someone else pay for his services. I don't think it's worth the risk.
This Is pretty easy. I would look to re-sign Omar Infante to a 2-3 year deal dealing out $8million per year.
I've said it many times before, and I'll say it again: I prefer offense over defense. I like Jose Iglesias and look forward to the many years he will man Shortstop for the Tigers. But his era shouldn't begin this year. I want the World Series. I believe in offense over defense. I think Iglesias could use a year in Toledo rounding out his offensive game. Look, Jhonny wants to stay in Detroit. I guarantee you, that's not just because he wants to win a championship. There will be absolutely no one looking for his services this year. On top of being tied to Biogenesis, every team in the league has at least a viable internal option to play shortstop. He will be out of the job if he doesn't return to Detroit. Sign him for a year at $6.5-7 million, and let him rebuild his reputation. His bat will be a valuable part of the offense once again. You won't regret this decision, I promise.
Other Loose Ends
Frankly, I don't see why Brayan Pena isn't re-signed. He had an adequate Catcher's ERA as a backup. He's familiar with the pitching staff after a year of working with them. Danny Worth likely usurps Razor's position as the infield utility man. One guy that I had an eye on that recently added his name to the FA list was Jeff Baker. He was that one guy we got from the Cubs last year that you've probably forgotten about. He absolutely destroys left handed pitching. He would definitely be worth signing to a $2 million deal to play the outfield in order to give Torii Hunter rest against tough left-handed pitchers.
The Arbitration Eligibles
Unfortunately, MLB Trade Rumors has not written a post about the Tigers's arbitration eligible players and their projected awards. So I did the next best thing and researched similar players and what they were awarded in their second year of arbitration. So here are my estimations on the arbitration awards:
Austin Jackson- $5 million
Alex Avila- $4 million
Doug Fister- $7 million
Max Scherzer- $12 million
At this point, I think these are just ballpark guesses. Somewhere in the vicinity of $20-$30 million of cash will be dedicated to arbitration raises. I'm not sure how Don Kelly works. I think he'll just get $900K again.
Your 2014 Detroit Tigers Opening Day Roster, if J_the_Man had his Way
1. Austin Jackson- CF
2. Torii Hunter- RF
3. Miguel Cabrera- 3B
4. Prince Fielder- 1B
5. Victor Martinez- DH
6. Jhonny Peralta- SS
7. Kole Calhoun- LF
8. Alex Avila- C
9. Omar Infante- 2B
Bench: Brayan Pena, Jeff Baker, Danny Worth, Don Kelly
Justin Verlander, Max Scherzer, Anibal Sanchez, Doug Fister/Rick Porcello (whoever not traded), Drew Smyly
Closer: Ernesto Frieri
SU: Joaquin Benoit
SU: Bruce Rondon
Mid: Corey Knebel
Mid: Al Alburquerque
LOOGY: Antonio Bastardo
Long: Darin Downs
Estimated 2014 Payroll: $163.8 Million
And there you have it. This is the course of action I hope Dave Dombrowski takes in putting his team in the best position possible to finally bring the World Series trophy back to Detroit.