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Tigers' Farm Moves - 6/1/11

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Detroit

5/28

Recalled Andrew Oliver (LHP) to Detroit

5/27

Traded Scott Sizemore (2B) to Oakland for David Purcey (LHP)
Recalled Danny Worth (IF) to Detroit

Oh how I hated and still hate the Scott Sizemore trade. But it sends me over the edge for reasons other than what you might expect. I honestly don't know at this point what to expect from Sizemore as a major leaguer. Dombrowski's record is pretty good when it comes to giving up on young players and not having it come back to bite him. It's certainly not perfect, but it's pretty good. This decision is maddening because of how the Tigers have handled the second base position over the last two seasons. When the Tigers decided to let Polanco walk in favor of Sizemore, I was fine with it. Like Keith Law said in this article, I thought Sizemore at league minimum was a better bargain than the $6-8M I expected Polanco to get in arbitration.

Of course, I formed this opinion assuming that the Tigers were correct in thinking his ankle wouldn't be an issue by Opening Day. The wisdom of that assumption was obviously dubious now that we realize the injury cost him an offseason of workouts that would have let him try to address their major concern about his game - his defense at second base. As you see in the linked article, that was the whole reason he was in the AFL to start with.

Anyway, when the Tigers let a solid starting second baseman like Polanco walk in favor of Sizemore, I assumed they were putting their chips behind the kid. I assumed he would get a legitimate shot to show he could be a solid major league talent. Well, his ankle wasn't fully healed at the start of the 2010 season. His first go around in the majors was a disaster both at the plate and in the field and they pretty quickly decided to let him try to work through things in Toledo. It turned out to look like a good decision because Will Rhymes, his replacement, looked much more comfortable when he got the call. They still booted him from the position in favor of Carlos Guillen when Guillen came off the DL, but it was difficult to blame them for not having Sizemore in the role.

What I don't understand is why Sizemore was never able to regain a shread of the Tigers' trust. After he went back to Toledo and got healthy, he pretty much returned to the level of productivity that had let the Tigers believe he could be their starting second baseman in the first place. When 2011 rolled around, they seemed to now believe Rhymes' defense and performance in the majors gave him an edge over Sizemore and Leyland put his fickle faith behind Rhymes.

When Rhymes tanked in his role as the team's second baseman and Sizemore was smacking the ball around in the IL, the Tigers decided to go with the hot hand in Sizemore. After less than 80 plate apperances, they decided to trade Sizemore for a lefty reliever who is nearly interchangeable with the lefty relievers they already have and very possibly could have been moved off the Athletics roster to make room for Andrew Bailey. Since Purcey was out of options, this would have meant the Tigers would have just had to offer up the weak stuff of a DFA trade. Earlier in the season, that price was Dan Farquhar, a reliever much like Purcey but without the major league credentials. To me, when you trade a player for a player who could be had for almost nothing, you're saying the player you gave up is worth almost nothing. As I said before, I just don't see how Sizemore went from a starting second baseman that made you comfortable letting Polanco go, to essentially the fodder of a DFA move.

He couldn't get over the hump in 237 major league appearances - many of which came when he was injured and pretty much forced to play by the Tigers' roster decisions - so you just give up on him? I'd love to see a list of All Stars who hadn't "gotten over the hump" in their first 237 plate appearances. I'm not saying Sizemore is an All Star or ever will be. I'm just saying you commonly don't know after 237 plate appearances. There's no crime in not having a good option at a position. It's a situation nearly every team finds themselves in for at least one position. It's just a bit mind boggling when a team responds to the situation by removing the player they view as either the first or second best alternative.

Two other things make this decision even more infuriating in my mind. First is Leyland's naming Ryan Raburn the team's "everyday second baseman" on the heels of the move. It was just so transparent as a BS proclamation. Instantly. Nobody, and I mean nobody, believed Raburn would hold that distinction or even be given a reasonable shot at holding it. Since the announcement, he's played there twice in four games. You know what it looks like when players are given a real chance to see if they can hold a job? It looks like the Tigers waiting out Ordonez in right field or Inge at third base. It certainly takes more than a week or even a month. This wishy washy fickle decision-making is ridiculous and I wish the Tigers would just say they're going to piece together the position as best as they can until a better option presents itself.

What else is frustrating about this series of decision related to second base? Their two best options at the position have both been allowed to walk to teams who immediately converted Tiger second baseman to third baseman. So as Tiger fans, we're left with a gaping hole at second base and Brandon Inge at third base. Polanco? Expendable. Sizemore? Rubbish. Inge? Always a Tiger. Perhaps it's not fair to look at the moves in that light, but that doesn't mean seeing them all together isn't doubly painful.

I have no problem nor comment with the Tigers calling up Oliver to fill in for Coke or Worth to fill Sizemore's spot on the roster.

Toledo

5/28

Optioned Adam Wilk (LHP) to Toledo
Optioned Ryan Perry (RHP) to Toledo
Re-assigned Bryan Pounds (1B/3B/DH) from Erie to Toledo

5/27

Re-assigned Jeff Kunkel (C) from Lakeland to Toledo
Placed Omir Santos (C) on 7-day disabled list

5/26

Outrighted Robbie Weinhardt (RHP) to Toledo after he cleared waivers

I reported on Weinhardt being designated for assignment last time, but thought it was notable that he cleared waivers. It was to be expected given his recent struggles.

This blog post by John Wagner talks a bit about Santos going on the disabled list and the MiLB.com listing of the transaction says Santos' reason for hitting the DL was a head injury. His being replaced on the roster by Kunkel is just more shuffling of the Tigers' upper level free agent catchers. As a group, they are surely making many a faithful Tiger fan pray for Avila and Martinez's continued health.

Wilk was bumped back to Toledo to make room for Oliver and Perry was optioned out to make room for the newly acquired Purcey. Perry's demotion was actually refreshing, as it showed the Tigers' faith in him was shaken by his awful performance. In the past, his struggles on the mound seemed to go almost unnoticed in favor of what it was believed he might do. Pounds callup was a response to Worth going to Detroit.

Erie

5/28

Re-assigned Michael Rockett (OF) from Lakeland to Erie
Re-assigned Ramon Garcia (LHP) from Toledo to Erie

Rockett going to Erie in conjunction with Pounds going to Toledo seems a little odd, but not when you realize the Wolves were using Pounds most often as a DH. Erie has plenty of players to cover third base without Pounds and apparently believed what they really needed was an outfielder (Rockett). Garcia going back to Erie was expected, as he was basically an emergency starter in Toledo from the get go.

Lakeland

5/28

Re-assigned Cory Hamilton (RHP) from Erie to Lakeland
Re-assigned James Meador (1B/OF) to Lakeland from extended spring training
Re-assigned Luis Angel Sanz (C) to extended spring training
Activated Drew Smyly (LHP) from 7-day disabled list

5/26

Activated Shawn Teufel (LHP) from 7-day disabled list

Teufel was activated from the disabled list the same day I did my last transaction post. He should be a helpful addition to the bullpen mix for Lakeland. Smyly coming back from the disabled list is the best news of any transaction in this post unless you're a huge David Purcey fan. Now we just have to hope this isn't a situation where an injury isn't thought of as serious until it hangs around and eventually turns serious. The other moves - Hamilton, Meador and Sanz - are pretty much inconsequential and reactive to previously discussed transactions.

West Michigan

No moves