Every year I look forward to the Tigers' media guide coming out. It is a treasure trove of encyclopedic information about the organization, and when you are trying to keep track of the minor leagues that is pretty valuable. "Flipping through" the guide - I get it in .pdf format - I usually get inspiration for a post or two, and this year was no different.
Since I had both this year and last year's editions, I was curious about comparing the two. There are currently 263 players listed in the organization and there were 265 listed in the 2010 Media Guide. What kind of turnover can we expect over the course of one calendar year? How many of the players who are gone are still playing? These are the kind of questions you can answer with the guide in front of you.
After I listed the players in the 2011 guide side-by-side with those from last year's, I found that of the 265 listed in the 2010 version, 83 were no longer in the organization. That's nearly a third of the 2010 organization - gone. Does that seem like a fairly high rate of turnover to anybody else? Unfortunately, I don't have the means to compare it to past years and I don't have the time or patience to do the same exercise with other organizations.
What I decided I could do, though, was give a comprehensive count of those 83 players who are no longer considered Tigers. I thought this would be helpful as we head into a new season and people find themselves wondering, "Whatever happened to (player X)? Is he still in the organization?"
What follows is a listing of the players who were in the 2010 Media Guide and are no longer in the organizaton (according to the 2011 version). I'll list them by position and comment on some of the notables. And yes, I realize a vast majority of these are either players you were fully aware were gone or never knew they existed. I'm also aware some of them didn't even break camp with the organization in 2010.
Robinzon Diaz, Gerald Laird, Mike Rabelo, Joe Bowen, Adrian Casanova, Angel Flores, Keith Hernandez, Wilfredo Hoyer, Jordan Newton
Diaz signed with Texas, Laird with the Cardinals. Mike Rabelo is going to be coaching for the GCL Tigers and while Joe Bowen was scooped up by the Blue Jays after the Tigers released him and after playing some independent ball, Newton found a home with the Pirates.
Jeff Larish, Chris Carlson, Ryan Roberson, Elvin Soto, Jason Stokes, Devin Thomas
Larish was claimed by the Athletics when the Tigers released him, but for the coming season, he's going to try to catch on with the Phillies. The rest of the first basemen weren't listed as playing anywhere in 2010 (at least not at baseball-reference.com).
Mike Gosse, Chris Sedon
Gosse was released in May, and Sedon after the season. If either has signed with another team, I didn't find word of it.
Kory Casto, Santo De Leon
Casto was a non-roster invitee in the spring but never played in the organization. He caught on in the Diamondback organization for the 2010 season.
Brent Dlugach, Adam Everett
Dlugach was traded to the Red Sox in November, and while he's been outrighted off their 40-man, he appears to still be in the organization. Everett wasn't able to catch on anywhere else after the Tigers released him, but he's since signed with Cleveland on a minor league deal.
Wilkin Ramirez, Josh Burrus, Jordan Cruz, Alexis Espinoza, Jeff Frazier, Ryan Patterson, Eddie Rush, Luis Salas, Chao-Ting Tang, Londell Taylor, Josh Workman
The Tigers traded Ramirez to the Braves, who have since signed him to a minor league deal after removing him from their 40-man roster. Jeff Frazier was nabbed by the Nationals as a minor league free agent.
Multiple Position Players
Carmelo Jaime, Joe Tucker, Luis Palacios, Mike Hollimon, Nelson Pierre, Oscar Gomez, Raul Leiva, Ronnie Bourquin
Hollimon appears to be the only notable from this group. He played independent ball in 2010 and was apparently able to parlay that into a minor league contract with the Twins.
Bobby Seay, Chad Linder, Dontrelle Willis, Giovanni Soto, Jason Waddell, Jose Siso, Juan Espinoza, Macay McBride, Michael Manus, Nate Robertson, Phil Dumatrait, Robert Diaz, Ryan Ketchner, Sam Narron, Tyler Conn, Victor Dionicio
Seay hasn't caught on anywhere, but that's likely because he's going to miss the 2011 season after having surgery on his shoulder. The Tigers shipped Willis off to Arizona, but he's since been released and will be given another chance with the Reds. Soto was traded to the Indians for Jhonny Peralta, and is still in their minor league system as far as I know.
Nate Robertson has had a most interesting journey since the Tigers traded him last spring. The Marlins released him in July. He signed with the Cardinals about a week later, only to be released again three weeks later. The Phillies signed him the next day, but he was released again - in less than three weeks this time. Now, the Mariners have signed him to a minor league deal in the hopes he can take advantage of their spacious left field.
Phil Dumatrait signed a minor league deal with the Twins heading into this spring. Narron never actually played in the organization, but caught on with the Brewers after the Tigers cut him.
Alfredo Figaro, Andrew Hess, Armando Galarraga, Brett Jensen, Casey Fien, Drew Graham, Eddie Bonine, Erik Crichton, Frank Penalver, Gary Perinar, Gino Aguirre, Jay Sborz, Jeff Gerbe, Jeremy Bonderman, Jonah Nickerson, Jose Diaz, Manuel Morandi, Matt Rusch, Mike Laluna, Nick Cassavechia, Nolan Cain, Nolan Moody, Ruddy Lugo, Sandy De La Cruz, Vladimir Ortiz, Wade Kapteyn, Zach Miner
You probably remember Figaro's contract was fairly recently sold to the Orix Buffaloes of the Japanese Baseball League. You may have heard also that Galarraga was traded to the Diamondbacks. His name came up a lot last year, but I can't seem to remember what it was all about. Fien has signed a minor league deal with the Houston Astros. Bonine has signed a minor league deal with the Phillies and Sborz has done the same with the Braves. As most are well aware, Bonderman is still looking for somewhere to catch on. The Indians deal rumored recently appears to have fallen through. Mike Laluna went back to the independent ball he was playing when the Tigers signed him. Miner signed with the Royals in December after having Tommy John surgery in May.
NOTE: This article - through a cut and paste mistake on my part - originally appeared with the right-handed pitchers listed after Jose Diaz omitted. This is why you will see some comments below asking about Zach Miner. I apologize for the inaccuracy of the original submission, and certainly should have noticed the first names (how the players were arranged) stopped at "J". It's also why the original submission had the number of players gone at 72 rather than 83.
As you can see, the vast majority of the players who were released are pretty much finished as pro baseball players. I listed the guys who either played or have been signed since the Tigers released them and it's less than 25 even if you assume Seay and Bonderman will catch on somewhere eventually. Of the players who are still playing, how many are you really concerned about coming back to haunt the Tigers?
I'm sure some are still holding out hope for Galarraga, but I feel pretty safe in saying the Tigers aren't all that likely to regret any of these roster moves. If I had to guess at the one I'd be most wary of, it would be Giovanni Soto. He's just 19, though, and even if he makes it to the majors he's a longshot to out-produce what the Tigers will get from Peralta over the next two years.
Having completed this exercise, I think we should remember it the next time we groan and bellyache when the Tigers decide to release or designate for assignment one of our favorite minor leaguers. The odds are they are a fringe major leaguer at best and we'll probably never give them much thought again after their trade or release.