At this time a year ago, Brennan Boesch's future looked bright. After an injury shortened 2011, Boesch was believed to be on the verge of a breakout season, locked into the lineup at the starting right fielder. By the end of September, the left-hand hitting outfielder was little more than a spectator, left off the playoff roster due to a brutal season at plate.
Today, the Brennan Boesch era in Detroit came to an end.
The Detroit Tigers gave the 27 year old (28 in April) Boesch his unconditional release this morning. The Tigers would have owed Boesch 25% of his $2.3 million salary if he was released between Thursday and Opening Day. By making the move today, the team will only owe Boesch one-sixth of his contract, a mere $383,000.
GM Dave Dombrowski stated the move was forced by two factors. The inability to trade Boesch and Andy Dirks winning the starting job in left field. Dombrowski admitted he had talked to several teams over the past several months about Boesch. Apparently there's no market for outfielders coming off a season with a .286 OBP.
Dombrowski said all the right things about Boesch this morning:
"If I’m somewhere else, in the sense that you were looking for a guy to play some outfield and hit DH, and you knew you could give him some at-bats, he’s still got a lot of upside. But you just run out of the time to give him here. We’re at a different point. We’re not in a development stage, in that regard. We’re in a point of trying to win right now."
Boesch ends his Tigers career with a .259 batting average, 42 home runs and 175 RBI in 380 games.
As badly as Boesch's Tigers' career ended, it started off absolutely gangbusters. He was called up as an injury replacement in April 2010 and proceeded to play like a budding All-Star, hitting .342/.397/593 in first half. Even though those numbers were unsustainable, Boesch's numbers dropped off a cliff, hitting only .162 in the second half of 2010.
That would be Boesch's M.O. for the remainder of his Tigers career. His bat would be either fully on or completely off, no in-between.
2011 was more of the same, stretches of extreme productivity bookended by excruciatingly long slumps. His 2011 OPS by month says it all:
Boesch's up and down 2011 season ended prematurely in early September, suffering a thumb injury which would ultimately require surgery.
His thumb healed entering the 2012 season, it was hoped Boesch would solidify Tigers' lineup as the starting right fielder. Instead, he became the main reason why the Tigers had the worst offensive production from the right field position in all of baseball. Boesch hit just .240/.286/.372 with 12 home runs, 54 RBI and 104 strike outs in 123 games.
When Boesch lost his spot on the playoff roster to career minor leaguer Quintin Berry, the writing was on the wall. When the Tigers signed outfielder Torii Hunter in free agency, it was obvious Boesch was living on borrowed time.
With Boesch left without a position, there being better defensive options available as backups (Don Kelly and Berry), the Tigers unwilling to send him to Triple A Toledo and finding the trade market for his services was non-existent, time finally ran out.