Tigers rumors: Casey Janssen, Jesse Crain could be good targets

Tom Szczerbowski

The Detroit Tigers have a little over a month to make adjustments to their team before the July deadline arrives. Thankfully, the Tigers are in the Central Division. Thankfully, the Tigers, outside several head-scratching statistics, do not require a major blockbuster deal to make their team better. What they could use would be a series of small minor deals to plug the few holes that are hurting this team. Thankfully, as minor deals, all that would end up being traded would be a bunch of minor leaguers we haven't heard of before, or non-impact prospects.

As has been beaten to death over and over again, the Tigers's number one problem area has been its bullpen. While Smyly, Benoit, Downs, and to a lesser extent Putkonen have all provided solid efforts for the ballclub, one bullpen spot remains in limbo with no one to claim it, and the other spot is occupied by a closer who Is showing ominous signs that perhaps the Tigers should no longer risk turning what should be a very low leverage inning into a roller coaster that threatens a lead that statistically should not be threatened in the first place. At catcher, while Brayan Peña is holding out well defensively, having notably caught Anibal Sanchez's 17K effort and wielding competent bat in the process, Alex Avila is struggling mightily. He is lost at the plate, and contact with the ball is down. Not only that, but Fielding Bible's "Stolen Bases runs saved above average" stat has him at a -5 on the year so far. At that pace, it would be his worst defensive year by this stat. Disclaimer, I don't know much about measuring a catcher's defensive play via statistics. A quick look yielded this stat, recommended by Fangraphs. Obviously it shouldn't be treated as a be-all-end-all. It is notable, though. At this point, you would have to think he gets sent down so that he can clear his head and not hurt the Tigers's offense. If that were to happen, another catcher would be needed on the team.

After mulling through many rosters, I have settled on these three players who should stand at the top of the Tigers wish list in July.

Target 1: Closer Casey Janssen, Toronto Blue Jays

Janssen is a shining example that you can take any old relief pitcher, plop him in the closer's role, and have success. With the Blue Jays floundering, having infused parts of two 60 win teams from the previous year to create another very poor Blue Jays team, it is likely they are selling at the deadline. They have plenty of intriguing pieces. Casey Janssen comes with a cheap contract, and a club option for next year. He would likely not cost much in the way of assets considering these circumstances. Suffice it to say, manipulating manager Jim Leyland into throwing Janssen out in the ninth rather than Valverde would put many Tigers fans at ease. One thing to note, though, that could cause problems. Janssen has been struggling with pain in his shoulder. This was a development from last year, and he has had surgery to relieve that pain. It has not been anything serious to put him on the DL. It has kept him from making appearances at certain points this year. It doesn't seem to seriously affect his ability to pitch, however it did hinder him recently in a very rough stretch.

Points of Interest

-Predominantly throws a four-seamer, a Cutter, and a curveball. Also features a slider and changeup thrown rarely

-K/9 of 8.69; BB/9 of 0.92; K/BB of 9.50

-2.10 FIP; 2.52 xFIP; 2.28 SIERA

Target 2: RP Jesse Crain, Chicago White Sox

Jesse Crain will likely end up as the prized relief pitcher on the trade market. Why there would be a prized relief pitcher on the trade market is beyond me... Mr. Crain is having a monster season for the southsiders, who are otherwise having a very forgettable season. Being last place in the Central likely indicates the Sox will shave off some salary wherever they can. Crain, who is a free agent after this year, would be one of those pieces. The tricky thing here is that this would be an inter-divisional trade. Relief Pitchers, outside of bench players, are likely rarest player you would see against a divisional foe. Case in point, Benoit only faced the White Sox 9 times last year for a total of 8 innings. This would likely allow Detroit to take Crain off of the hands of Hawk's fighting solo homers with nary a qualm from the ChiSox. The price might go up because the White Sox hate Detroit. The price, due to Crain being a free agent, shouldn't be much of a concern in spite of this. Crain would fill the final hole in the Tigers's bullpen, and quite splendidly I might add.

Points of Interest

-Crain throws a mid 90s fastball and a plus slider a majority of the time. He also tosses a curveball and changeup.

-K/9 of 12.24; BB/9 of 2.83; K/BB of 4.33; 0.63 ERA; 1.39 FIP; 2.78 xFIP; 2.21 SIERA

-Darn good RP

Target 3: C Yorvit Torrealba, Colorado Rockies

Hopefully the Tigers will not have to search for another catcher at the deadline. If they do, it will be for a platoon partner with Brayan Peña. Torrealba, a native of Venezuela, would provide the perfect partner to Brayan that can mash lefties. This would allow Peña to switch over to his left side, where he is busting up righties to the tune of .361/ .385/ .556 this year in limited ABs. Torrealba has been a journeyman catcher since he left the Giants organization in 2005. He has played for seven different teams. He has both started and served as a backup. Fielding Bible has him as a career -2 Defensive Runs saved on Stolen Bases. In other words, he is an average catcher. The problem is, Colorado has a winning record. If they continue to win, then trying to nab anyone from their roster would likely prove impossible. The one thing working in favor of any team who would like to acquire the services of Mr. Torrealba regardless of where the Rockies are in the standings, though, would be the fact the Rockies are carrying Jordan Pacheco, who can catch and backup Wilin Rosario, and Nolan Arenado, who plays Pacheco's other position of corner infielder (starting mainly at 3rd base). This means that the Rockies have depth and can afford to dump Torrealba for some form of asset in return. Of course, as a FA backup catcher, Torrealba, just like the other targets I suspect, will not cost anyone whose name you would remember.

Notes of Interest

-Career .257/ .330/ .394 hitter vs LHP

-Major Home/Away splits... He does like hitting in Coores Field (Who doesn't?). This would be a major concern... Still, he features a .324 OBP on the road, which is better than what Avila has been producing. His career splits are also tilted towards home, however.

There are other names I left out, but my search was for the best pieces at the best quality price in regards to the Tigers. Perhaps I missed someone. That's what the Comments section is all about, I suppose. As for the outfield? I'm not worried. As long as Jim Leyland begins platooning Matt Tuiasosopo against lefties regularly, the outfield will be fine.

This is a FanPost and does not necessarily reflect the views of the <em>Bless You Boys</em> writing staff.