Unless I've missed them, we haven't yet seen any reports from the local media regarding the Detroit Tigers' pursuit of a pitcher who can be their closer next season. (Though in Sunday's Freep, Jon Paul Morosi did take a look at several of the promising arms in the minors, including relievers Ryan Perry and Cody Satterwhite.) But we do know that Dave Dombrowski plans on looking outside the organization for a closer, having said so in his end-of-the-season remarks to reporters.
Thus, we revive "The Quest For Relief" here at BYB. (Sadly, there were no new additions to this series during the 2008 season.)
Since we haven't caught any smoke signals on the Tigers' pursuit of a closer, let's see how another team might be doing it. The New York Mets are in need of a ninth-inning stud, having lost Billy Wagner for next season after elbow surgery. Will Omar Minaya check out Francisco Rodriguez or Brian Fuentes, the top closers on the free agent market, or will he pass on giving big money to another reliever after eating the last year on Wagner's contract?
The NY Post's Joel Sherman writes that Minaya thinks highly of his scouting department, and thus might try to find someone in need of the proverbial change of scenery, but still has the stuff to be a top-shelf closer. Look how that approach worked out for the Phillies with Brad Lidge this season.
Lidge, for example, had a 2007 season in which he was bounced from closing to not closing back to closing - one of the issues cited by Phillie scouts for the uneven final season in Houston. Florida's Kevin Gregg and Colorado's Manny Corpas experienced the same yo-yoing in 2008. Gregg has been usurped by former Met farmhand Matt Lindstrom (boy they would love to have him back now) and could be a non-tender candidate this offseason. Thus, it might not take much for the Mets to obtain him to, at the least, be part of their late-inning picture. With Fuentes likely to leave as a free agent, Corpas probably is in line to step back in as Colorado's closer, though the Rockies could try to deal Corpas and use Taylor Buchholz in the role.
(via MLB Trade Rumors)
Taking a chance on a National League pitcher who had a bad season and hoping for a turnaround against tougher American League hitters didn't really work out so well for the Tigers this year, however. Dontrelle Willis, anyone?
But might the Tigers follow a similar path in looking for bullpen help? Is there a failed closer out there who lost his job that might do better with a second chance on another team? Or a prospect that a team has given up on, as the Rangers did with Armando Galarraga? Is Dombrowski better off acquiring someone who threw well in middle relief and looks ready to take a step up to pitching in the ninth inning? Or will Detroit not be able to avoid getting involved in the free agent auction for K-Rod or Fuentes?