We are taking a look at the Tigers' recent trade deadline deals. Can we trust Dave Dombrowski to deal prospects, or will he give up the farm?
In July of 2009, the Tigers were in first place by two games. The rotation was anchored by Justin Verlander and Edwin Jackson. Rick Porcello was solid in the third spot. The fourth and fifth spots were a weakness with Armando Galarraga, Zach Miner, Nate Robertson, Eddie Bonine, Dontrelle Willis, Luke French, and Alfredo Figaro all taking turns. This serves as a reminder that 2013 has been unusual with the use of only six starters. Meanwhile in Seattle Jarrod Washburn had an excellent first four months with a WHIP of 1.07 and ERA of 2.64. At the trade deadline the Tigers traded Luke French and Mauricio Robles to the Mariners for Jarrod Washburn.
Washburn's first-half performance was not likely to be sustained, but even league-average pitching would have improved the staff. Instead he turned into a pumpkin, delivering an ERA of 7.33 and a WHIP of 1.56 in eight starts. Washburn vanished after the season, his career over at age 34.
Meanwhile Luke French made 20 starts for Seattle in 2009 and 2010 that were not much better. He was in Minnesota's system by 2012, and even with the Twins' pitching woes he did not return to the major leagues.
Mauricio Robles is only 24 but in his eighth minor league season. He is now in Triple-A for the Phillies, trying to make it as a reliever and lower his walk rate. The Tigers would not have kept him in the system this long regardless of the trade.
By mid-August the Tigers were still 2 ½ games up on the White Sox. A left-handed bat was needed as Ryan Raburn and Marcus Thames were providing the power from the right side. The Orioles cleared Aubrey Huff through waivers and traded him to the Tigers for Brett Jacobson. Huff has a career slash line of .280 / .347 / .481 against right-handed pitching, so it seemed a good fit. Yet in 117 plate appearances he slumped to .189 / .265 / .302. To make it even more painful, Huff signed with the Giants for 2010 where he slashed .290 / .385 / .506, finished seventh in the MVP voting, and won a World Series.
Brett Jacobson has played in the minors for Minnesota and Colorado, besides Australia, since being traded. He finally made it to Triple-A this year but has struggled and at age 26 is not a prospect.
You know the rest of the story. The Tigers lost a seven game lead with four weeks to play, finished tied with Minnesota for first, and lost game 163. One decent outing from Washburn, or one good day at the plate for Huff, would have made the difference and avoided the one game playoff.
There were plenty of issues down the stretch, but that is another story. The Tigers traded prospects who turned out to have no value in exchange for two players with established track records. Do you blame the trades for the collapse of 2009?