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Updated x3: Willis and Bonderman win rotation spots, Robertson traded to the Marlins

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3:20 UPDATE:

Tigers paying $9.6 of Robertson's $10 million salary this season, per Ken Rosenthal

[Note by Kurt Mensching, 03/30/10 3:21 PM EDT ]

Earlier:

We've been waiting for the other shoe to drop in regard to the last 2 spots in the rotation.

The shoe landed with a thud.

Via the Tigers' official Twitter feed:

Bonderman and Willis claim last two spots in the rotation.

Also from the Tigers' twitter feed:

Tigers acquire LHP Jay Voss from Marlins for Nate Robertson and cash considerations.

Jay Voss is soon to be 23 year old, 6'4" LHP pitcher who has spent all 3 seasons of his career in the Marlins system. He was converted to relief in 2009 after struggling as a starter his first 2 seasons.

Via the Sun-Sentinel:

(Marlins) Minor league pitching coordinator Wayne Rosenthal performed what amounts to major surgery on his mechanics. His first two pro seasons working mostly as a starter, Voss lost 13 of 16 decisions with a 6.90 ERA, 45 walks and 90 strikeouts in 117 1/3 innings.

Pitching exclusively out of the bullpen for Class A Jupiter (10 games) and Double-A Jacksonville (30 games) in 2009, Voss was a combined 3-1 with a 2.72 ERA.

Honestly, I doubt Voss is anything more than a throw-in, so the Tigers get something other than very little salary relief and a roster spot out of the deal.

There's a ton of questions which need to be asked in regard to the trade of Robertson and the elevation of Willis and Bonderman to the rotation...which I'll ask after the jump.

1. How much of Robertson's $10M contract will the Tigers have to eat? It's not like the Marlins are known to be free spenders.They're run cheaper than Charlie O. Finley's A's.

2. Was Robertson traded only because he was the most tradeable of the 3 pitchers or are the Tigers fully convinced Jeremy Bonderman and, most unbelievably, Dontrelle Willis, are fully recovered from their various ailments? (Bonderman from various odd injuries and medical issues, and Willis from a so-called anxiety disorder and Steve Blass Disease)

3. Seriously, Dontrelle Willis? Yes,the D-Train has pitched well this spring. But after the past 2 seasons of complete and utter ineffectiveness, not knowing where the ball was going once it left his hand, I trust Willis' arm about as much as I trust Jim Leyland to make sensible batting orders.

4. Bonderman hasn't been effective since 2006, do the Tigers actually feel comfortable in trading away proven starting pitching insurance in Robertson? We're still seeing the same "Bonderman needs a 3rd pitch" stories we've been reading since his rookie season.

5. If the Tigers are going by spring training stats in deciding Willis and Bonderman are ready to start the season in the Tigers' rotation, did they notice Robertson had far better spring numbers than Bonderman, and posted less BB than Willis despite more innings pitched?

Dave Dombrowski spoke to the media not long ago.

Via John Lowe at the Free Press:

Tigers general manager Dave Dombrowski said that Willis gained a spot in the rotation "by throwing strikes" in the exhibition season.

If Robertson hadn't been traded, he would have been kept in the bullpen, Dombrowski said.

Robertson is owed $10 million this season on the final year of his contract. The Tigers will pay part of Robertson's salary while he pitches for Florida, but Dombrowski wouldn't say how much.

Leave your thoughts in the comments...

Update: Jason Beck says the opening day pitching staff is now set.

Willis will start the series finale at KC on Thursday, April 8. Bonderman, who can't start that game because of his suspension, will start against the Indians on Saturday, April 10.

Eddie Bonine and Brad Thomas are both on the team along with Jose Valverde, Joel Zumaya, Ryan Perry, Phil Coke and Fu-Te Ni.

Update #2: Willis' stat line in today's exhibition: 4.1 IP, 7 H, 5 R, 4 BB, 3 SO.

Update #3: Via Steve Kornacki at Mlive, we have further comments from Dombrowski:

Dombrowski said a National League baseball man told him Willis looked as he did with the Marlins, when he was an All-Star and won 22 games in 2005.

“Well, he’s throwing strikes,” Dombrowski said. “…He’s got good stuff. We have a lot of confidence in him coming back.”

“Jeremy has come back and continued to show progress,” Dombrowski said. “…He’s been aggressive and throws strikes.”