Friday afternoon, the Tigers traded Scott Sizmore for David Purcey, and announced Ryan Raburn would take over the position on a full-time basis....and the fan base exploded.
But why did the trade of a below average 2nd baseman have fans on the verge of breaking out torches and pitchforks? I'll try to explain my feelings.
First off, I'll say this about giving up on Sizemore. If given the choice between a young slumping position player with league average upside and mediocre at best middle reliever with a career 5+ ERA, I’ll ride it out with the position player…for more than a month, anyway. And if you're going to play someone hitting .200 at 2nd, I would prefer it be the player who could actually field the position. Raburn isn't that player.
But the trade and fallout is not the big issue.
This trade bothered me, but not for the fact the Tigers gave up am everyday position player for a failed starter turned middle reliever. (Though how many left handed relievers does a bullpen need?) I'm not at all enthused by Raburn becoming the everyday 2nd baseman, when defensive stats show he may be the worst glove man in the major leagues at the position...and he's hitting .100 for the month of May.
But that's not why I'm upset either...though it sure doesn't improve my mood.
I think what's bothering myself and the fan base is the trade continues what is appartently a system wide failure to set a plan, and stick with it.
Over the past few seasons, there have been a constant stream of mid-season position changes, young players falling out of favor faster than you can say David Purcey, and a sense of there being no plan at all…or if there is a plan, it is constantly changing from season to season, if not month to month.
Miguel Cabrera will be our 3rd baseman, and we'll move Brandon Inge to catcher. Wait, Cabrera is not physically capable of playing 3rd, and Inge is pouting, so let's move Cabrera to 1st and Inge back to 3rd.
Carlos Guillen is our full-time shortstop...no, left fielder...uh, rather 1st baseman...I mean 3rd baseman...rather, a DH...I mean, he's our 2nd baseman, and he's going to stay there!
If we overload on the offensive side of the ball, we don't have to worry so much about defense! What? That didn't work? No problem, let's overcompensate by improving the defense, but letting the offense wither on the vine! You know, Adam Everett is a great defender! But he can't hit a lick? Let's waive him mid-season.
The payroll is over $120M! We need to go into cost cutting mode! Sorry, we can't afford to sign Placido Polanco at $6M per season. Wait, we need a corner outfielder? OK, lets sign Johnny Damon for $8M, and raise the payroll!
We'll build our bullpen by drafting then developing players in the minor leagues. In fact, let's base the 2008 draft around relief pitchers! But lets fill the most important bullpen roles by signing a closer in Jose Valverde and a setup man in Joaquin Benoit for crazy long-term money, despite the fact relievers are mercurial by nature, and can wildly fluctuate in performance from season to season...and lose a 1st round draft pick in the process.
Guillen is our 2nd baseman...if he's healthy. Oh, he's not? Will Rhymes is our 2nd baseman! No, Scott Sizemore is our 2nd baseman! No, forget that, Ryan Raburn is now our 2nd baseman for the foreseeable future...unless Guillen comes around. Or if we decide we like Danny Worth better. Or if we decide Ramon Santiago finally deserves a long look...but only for so long, just in case Guillen is ready for the 2nd half...
You know, you'd think the Tigers have a GM and manager on the last year of their contracts, and are trying damn near anything, hoping something sticks in order to snag contract extensions....
Some of these moves worked, and worked well. But many of them didn't. Even worse, they left me feeling like the Tigers are bi-polar. I've gotten whiplash from trying to follow all the changes in philosophy.
A plan? We don't need no stinking plan! Why bother when we change course several times a season?
After the Sizemore trade, Dombrowski all but said he's trying to win now, saying the team is not in developmental mode. That's all well and good. But it also begs a question. If you are in win now mode, when are you going to start winning?
Dombrowski has been given, once again, a $100M+ payroll. Even better, the Tigers are in a lousy division being led by an fraudulent Indians team, while the Twins and White Sox are having down seasons…yet, the Tigers still have trouble doing anything more than playing .500 baseball.
That's fine...if playing .500 ball was your plan all along.