All the smoke that's been swirling around the Detroit Tigers and Matt Treanor might finally be resulting in some fire. (Hot stove!) Dave Dombrowski has apparently had his eye on Treanor for quite a while, since rumors had him being acquired by the Pittsburgh Pirates just so he could be included in a package with Jack Wilson to Detroit. And now, it looks like the Tigers have their back-up catcher.
The Orioles were also interested in Treanor, but their GM, Andy MacPhail, told the Baltimore Sun that the catcher intended to sign with Detroit. And an anonymous major league source told MLive.com's Steve Kornacki that "Jim Leyland and Gene Lamont are going to love Matt Treanor." So if it hasn't already been done, somebody's probably sewing a "Treanor" nameplate onto a Tigers jersey.
What kind of player will Detroit be getting for the reported cost of $750,000? Treanor averaged 67 starts a season with the Florida Marlins, has batted .237/.322/.317 over five seasons, with career totals of eight home runs and 70 RBIs. Not great numbers if the Tigers were looking at Treanor as a starting catcher, but just fine for a reserve behind Gerald Laird.
But this offseason has been all about improving the defense, and Treanor not only throws out baserunners well (21.4% this season), but is very good at blocking balls. Here's what a major league scout also had to say:
"Matt handles young pitchers like a pro and really works at his trade," said a major league scout. "He's like a coach on the field. And while he is not a big offensive threat, he is a gamer at bat. He knows his role and is a good chemistry, good team guy."
Could it be a problem that Treanor seemed to be critical of Miguel Cabrera after he was traded to the Tigers, implying that he may not have set the best example for the Marlins' younger players? If Dombrowski thought so, would he be making this transaction? Besides, even if Treanor was criticizing Cabrera's leadership in Florida, that scenario doesn't apply in Detroit. The Tigers have plenty of other veterans to set the tone.
And if Treanor is a guy who will call teammates out when needed - something Todd Jones gave Vance Wilson much credit for doing - that's not a bad thing. In fact, it seems like something sorely needed on this team.
Oh, have I mentioned that Treanor is married to Olympic gold medal volleyball player Misty May-Treanor? I'll have to consult with Craig from our SB Nation Marlins blog, Fish Stripes, to see how best to utilize this for boosting web traffic.
UPDATE: Speaking of Fish Stripes, Craig posted something about Treanor that's worth mentioning here. He was Dontrelle Willis's personal catcher in Florida.
He understands that unique pitching motion Willis uses and he isn't shy about calling a timeout to correct any flaws he sees. If the Tigers are planning on holding onto Willis, having Treanor work with him should pay dividends. It doesn't guarantee that Dontrelle will return to his 2005 form, but there is a chance. Treanor caught Willis for most of that year.
The other thing that Tiger fans need to know is that Treanor is part of the pitching staff. Hitting is something he does once every now and then. But working with the pitchers is something he does every inning and he takes it seriously.
It's probably not the reason Dombrowski went after Treanor, but his previous working relationship with Willis is surely a factor. Is it wishful thinking to imply that he could play any sort of roll in getting the D-Train back on track?