Why is Detroit worse off than the Reds? And for that matter, teams like The Os, Dodgers, and Brewers. I mean the Tigers have a nice little 1-2 in Cabrera and Verlander. I don’t see what the Reds and Brewers have to trump that? I mean I can see the Dodgers with Kemp/Kershaw…but I think the Tigers are a bit underrated here.
Keep in mind that a lot of these teams in the following days are lumped close together. So taking the Tigers over the Reds or O’s is probably something you can argue reasonably well, just as you can reasonably argue that Detroit is a little worse off as well. The teams are all pretty close.
The Brewers have Fielder, Gallardo & Braun for starters. Gallardo may not be as good as Verlander but Fielder is better than Miggy and Braun will make up the difference in value between those two groups.
I love Braun, but Gallardo’s been in the majors for three years and barely has 300 innings pitched. You’re still not counting Porcello who had a very impressive rookie campaign and Scherzer (injury concerns I know, but it’s not like Fielder and Gallardo aren’t with out concerns either) I like what the Brew Crew is doing, and I kinda get them…still not quite seeing the Reds though
Comment by BermudaDelta — March 19, 2010 @ 4:19 pm
I would emphasize that Detroit’s front 3 of Verlander, Porcello and Scherzer is as good as any in the league. Jacob Turner won’t be long for the minors, either. They remind me a lot of the Giants: good at getting young, power arms, one excellent hitter (Sandoval, Cabrera) and a lot of average, expensive veterans.
There’s some other good front threes out there, the AL East has two pretty fantastic ones in Lester/Beckett/Lackey and Sabathia/Burnett/Vazquez but the most other team’s “front three” tends to fall off after two.
Once again Cameron shows he he completely biases against the Tigers…
Where are these 5 holes that must be filled through FA next year????
3S, SS and LF are the only holes.. Avila is a fine catcher to take over the duties next year. 3B will most likely be filled by Inge on a a low cost contract. One of the SP rolls will be filled in house with one of arms in the minors. AND one of Strieby, Wells, Ramirez, Brennan Bosch can fill the hole in LF.
so basically the Tigers have to fill SS and and a rotation spot with $60 MILLION!!!! oh sure maybe they also spend on an OF, but that looks like a team better than the Twins to me, considoring who they can buy with that much money..
So DAVE, while your favorite teams like the Rays and O’s are scrambling to get a decent FA next season like they always are the Tigers will be bidding on Crawford, Dunn or Werth, plus tradeing for a front line SS…
Sorry Dave… Your just a bias, SMUG, snarky writer, unlike the rest of the great staff here at fangraphs.com
This is why your articles are constantly called out on Tiger blogs around the net. Because you know nothing about the Tigers yet constantly undersell everything they do.
You still wont admit the Edwin Jackson for Joyce trade was good, even thought you were completely wrong on that one.
Dave Cameron is completely biased against the Tigers and it shows every time he mentions them.
Dave, your telling me the O’s, D-backs, Brewers, Twins, Seattle, A’s, and about 10 other teams have a brighter future than the Tigers??? ARE YOU A CRAZY PERSON.
The Tigers have an owner who is actually willing to spend, and not just on payroll, in the draft also.
That is why the Tigers have Porcello, while 20 of the teams in front of them in these rankings passed because they are cheap.
If the owner is willing to spend, they have arguably the best hitter and best pitcher in the AL in Cabrera and Verlander, a great supporting cast with Porcello, Avila, Scherzer, A. Jackson, Sizemore, Schlereth, and Perry going forward, AND $60 MILLION TO SPEND NEXT OFFSEASON YET THEY RANK 21ST????
SO YOUR TELLING ME THATBECAUSE THE A’s have a few good prospects that they have a brighter future???? ARE YOU NUTS???
Even if the A’s top 5 prospects all reach full potential they still arent going to equal a core of Cabrera, Verlander, Porcello… And they can’t bring in the big FA like the Tigers can…
Cameron is a moron…
HOW CAN THE REST OF THE WRITERS ON FANGRAPHS BE SOOOO GOOD, YET CAMERON BE SUCH AN IDIOT?????????
What is it with people analyzing the Tigers calling the middle infield a weakness? I know shortstop is but there are plenty of teams with a weakness at short, and Everett’s defense is enough to make him passable enough at the spot. I won’t go into the fact that people keep insisting that the Tigers should have signed a 2nd baseman or call the spot a weakness, when Scott Sizemore is perfectly capable of stepping in and being just as effective as Orlando Hudson would be, for instance.
Comment by Stringer Bell — March 19, 2010 @ 6:06 pm
Yeah, just the fact that the owner is willing to spend money should make the organization fantastic….er….wait. Did you read the first paragraph? The first line? Yeah, the owner spends money, but take Seattle for example. They spent over 100 million in 2008 and it got them 101 losses. Just because the organization is generous doesn’t mean the organization is good.
Maybe Tigers fans are just annoyed at Cameron because he was correct after the Washburn trade last year? Truly a great move by a great organization.
How was he correct in the Washburn trade… Sure Washburn was due for regression but not a compete breakdown… And who did the Tigers give up? Your acting like Luke French is an asset.. that’s a joke..
Cameron acted as if French was a top line prospect, like the Tigers gave up Carlos Santana for a half year of Washburn… come on now… Dave has been wrong on everything he has ever written about the Tigers… EVERYTHING…. Starting with him saying the Tigers moves this offseason were to slash payroll, which is so offbase that it really shows he just does no research on this team…
I love this site, and almost every writer here is a great baseball mind, but Cameron is a biased writer who only says good things about the Red Sox, Rays and Mariners…
I wouldn’t necessarily say they don’t spend their money wisely, it’s just last year and this year where it really bit them. But before then they were getting a bargain on Guillen and Ordonez’s was playing up to his contract too, and look at the season Bonderman was coming off of when they signed him. At the time that contract looked good, I mean he was a 23 year old coming off of a 6.1WAR season, you really couldn’t predict that was going to happen. Even Robertson’s wasn’t terrible at the time, he was a young pitcher who was coming off of 3 seasons where he averaged about 2.5 WAR a year, so that contract didn’t look terrible then. I will say though that the Willis contract wasn’t justified considering he was coming off a terrible year in the NL and was moving to a tougher league. Should’ve atleast seen what he looked like before handing it out. So they may give out a little too long of contract but just because it wasn’t spent wisely the past 2 years doesn’t mean every year they’re not going to.
Yeah exactly. If Washburn was do to regress like Cameron predicted(ERA in the mid 4s) while giving them innings the Tigers would’ve won the division. I think giving up a couple mid level prospects for a division title is worth it. Nobody predicted the complete meltdown he had.
I mean, I agree 21 is too low, they’re at least better than the Reds. The fact that they’ve developed a superstar pitcher and managed to acquire an elite frequent MVP candidate in Miguel Cabrera, and yes…I feel Dave behaves like an asshole at times. However, the two vocal Tigers fans would be better served by illustrating the things that the Tigers have done well…and why they’re in a better position than other teams. I really feel too much of this ranking is due to Dombrowski doing quite a few dumb things this offseason.
Luke French wasn’t the main piece they gave up in the trade. They also gave up Mauricio Robles, a 20-year-old lefty who throws in the high 90s and was excelling at the High-A level. Robles and a cheap Jarrod Washburn clone is quite a bit to give up for a real Jarrod Washburn.
I really do not think Domrowski made any bad moves this offseason. I think he could have got more talent in return for Granderson but besides that it was a good move.
This team is looking toward the future. They now have 2 superstars locked up for the next five seasons, along with cost controlled players at 2B, C, CF, 2SP, 3SP, and a bunch of relievers.
If they kept Granderson and Jackson that would have limited the moves they could make in the 2011 offseason.
As it stands now, they can replace RF or LF from within next season with one out of Thomas, Raburn, Strieby, Wells, or Ramirez.
So basically they will need a 3B, SS, and an SP, and they will have $60 million to spend to fill those. They will most likely fill 3B by resigning Inge to a low salary contract, since Inge is a fan favorite in Detroit.
So next year they would have enough money to sign Werth or Craword, PLUS a pitcher like Lee or Beckett….
Tell me in what way does that not make their future brighter than the A’s, O’s, Reds, Brewers (who will lose Fielder), Twins, Angels, Cubs, Diamondbacks, Dodgers, CLEVELAND, or even Seattle?????
I see the Tigers better than all those 2 teams by the beginning of next year.
Look at this lineup they could have by next year:
3B Inge or FA
SS no idea, this is the big question mark.
CF Austin Jackson
OF Crawford or Werth
OF Strieby, Wells, Raburn, Thomas, or Ramirez
DH Guillen or maybe even Dunn if he hit FA.
4sp Lee or Beckett or whatever top FA is available
5sp Who knows, but they way they promote pitchers it could be Crosby, Turner or Oliver..
Yeah, they have no chance at being good… The A’s, Reds, O’s, Indians and 16 other teams are SOOOO much farther ahead.
While Bill Smith is really really dumb, it’s starting to look like he makes enough of the “no shit” moves…that being said Justin Morneau, Joe Mauer, and Scott Baker are a fantastic start; if they lock up Joe Mauer long term that’ll go a long ways for them as an organization. The As have good management, but right now other than Brett Anderson I don’t see a lot of bright spots in that organization. The D-Backs have Upton and Haren, along with hopes that Webb rebounds. Combined with Mark Reynolds that’s at least a pretty good start, oh and Edwin Jackson. Seattle looks like a great organization. The Brewers I can understand. But, the Os have Adam Jones, Nick Markakis, and Nolan Riemold to start the makings of a very good offense. Furthermore, Chris Tillman and Brian Matusz are two very very promising young arms. I’m not sure if that’s enough to trump Verlander, Cabrera, and Porcello. While the Tigers have a lot of money tied up in mediocre talent (soon to be gone, though granted) the Os don’t have that problem, but they also don’t have the benefit of being able to have money locked up in mediocrity. The Tigers and the Os are pretty close IMO, I think MacPhail pushes them over the edge though.
Let me address your last paragraph first. The Reds I totally get. But, the As and Indians are still darlings of the SABR community, I feel that’s a bit undeserved since both have disappointed in the past few years…at a certain point the process has to produce some results. While they do have money coming off the books, they have yet to demonstrate that they can spend it intelligently, that’s an understandable question mark. As to Dombrowski this offseason, he sold low on Granderson and high on Jackson, maybe that’s a wash…but selling low on a player like Granderson IMO, is a big mistake. He did it in the name of cutting payroll though, understandable…the economy hit Detroit hard. BUT, they also let Mags’ option vest, which should have been avoided at all costs…AND replaced Granderson’s and Jackson’s salaries with the salaries of two worse players in Damon and Valverde. The players they got back have question marks too, there’s plenty of well regarded individuals who feel that Max Scherzer’s elbow is on borrowed time, and Austin Jackson’s numbers were always BABIP inflated and he only hit four HRs in Scranton last year. Yes, he’s having a great spring, but there’s plenty of ghosts of spring training past that haven’t ever replicated their success.
Also, Dave IS NOT saying that they have no chance of being good…in baseball right now there’s four or five god awful organizations (FWIW, I feel the Reds are in that category) that need A LOT to make the playoffs…then there’s four or five extremely good ones who are perennial contenders. Then there remaining teams are more or less in this blob where with a few lucky breaks each may find themselves in the playoffs…yes there’s teams that need fewer breaks (e.g. Seattle and the Rangers), but they’re still by no means perfect. Dave is saying that Detroit is one of those teams, while I strongly disagree with placing them at the back end of this, it seems that Dave has little to no faith in Dombrowski.
On the 4th and 5th starters for 2011, remember Dombrowski is the guy who jumped both Jeremy Bonderman and Rick Porcello straight from A-ball to the Majors. I’m not saying either was a particularly good decision, but given his track record I wouldn’t be overly-surprised if your 2011 #4 and #5 starters were named Jacob Turner and Casey Crosby.
As far as the thumbs down, suppose you felt that Dave unfairly gave your team a lower ranking than what you felt was deserved…you’d be pissed too. While I more than agree that this isn’t the best method to attack their differences, I feel that they have legitimate complaints, and it’s mostly Mariners fanboys or fans of teams that weren’t unfairly rated last year that give these guys all the thumbs down.
Dave, I’m a Tigers fan who doesn’t think he’s crazy and doesn’t even necessarily disagree with the synopsis or ranking, but a few points I’d like to make on the five bad contracts (warning: insanely long post).
First off, only one of those contracts was a true free agent signing (Ordonez), three were extensions to players who helped fuel a surprise World Series trip in 2006 with another extension to Willis. The money is still the money, but just saying.
In defense of three of those deals (Ordonez, Guillen and Bonderman), the Tigers lost 119 games in 2003 and Dombrowski felt a need to get some kind of talent through free agency and overpaid Pudge Rodriguez and Ordonez to bring in some names fans could recognize after the prior debacle. While the contract was humongous, it gave them numerous out clauses if Ordonez had the same out clauses to protect them if his White Sox injuries crept up. Is he a burden now? Sure, but he has to this point provided (per your calculations) $73.5 million in value at approximately $70.4 million in salary. Yes, it’s pretty much from the monster 2007 season, but until last year he was at least not grossly overpaid for his production save for the 2006 season in which he still helped the Tigers to a surprise World Series run. To me, that was worth the 7 million in difference. I also don’t see why there’s such laughter because they allowed his option to vest when they were in the midst of a tight pennant race last year where each marginal win gained is paramount and he actually began hitting after the all-star break (.375/.438/.540). When his bat perked up, I don’t think you can argue for too many other corner outfielders that should have taken those at-bats save for Ryan Raburn (who got his playing time).
Carlos Guillen was extended in March of 2007 (age 31) and could certainly have been reasonably expected for some regression. Still, he had produced 14 WAR in his three seasons at shortstop (a 5.5 in 2004 and a 6.0 in 2006) and his defense had rated (per UZR) a collective +7.1 at the position in three seasons. Overall, he had been worth $47.9 million in that time. Unfortunately, he instantly became a defensive liability at short and has spent time at three other positions and the DL since the 2007 campaign and looks to be the DH in order to squeeze some semblance of health/value. It hurts the Tigers now and next year for sure, but I don’t think you can say it was an awful decision at the time. With normal regression, I think it would have just been a slight overpay.
Jeremy Bonderman’s extension I’ll defend until the day I die, maybe because I have a strange affection towards him. Still, he was extended before the 2007 season and coming off FIPs of 4.27, 3.90 and 3.29 at ages 21, 22 and 23 respectively. His walk and strikeout rates had improved each year and was nearly 9 in 2006 as he fanned over 200 batters. In the first half of 2007 he was pitching just as well as he closed 2006 and it reflected in his surface stats, 9-1 with a 3.48 ERA and 98 strikeouts in 106 innings at the all-star break. He got hurt early and kept pitching too long afterwards, derailing that season and subsequently got the blood clot early in 2008 to wash out the last two seasons. Has it worked out disastrously? Absolutely, but look at what he had been doing up to that point and try saying that was the wrong decision at the time.
All I’ll say about the Robertson and Willis extensions was that he got overzealous in giving out extensions to where he went towards marginal talents (Robertson) or lost causes (Willis). Those were decisions I neither agreed with at the time or obviously now.
Again, not saying I disagree with the state of the Tigers you laid out because the facts are that the contracts as of right now are hurting the team. I just wanted to make some points that three of those decisions to me were not bad decisions at the time (I take the they don’t spend money well to be a Dombrowski doesn’t make good decisions line). Feel free to respond/call me crazy/ignore. I’m just gunning for some calmer dialogue than “Dave obviously hates the Tigers because Dombrowski is more old school than sabermetrically inclined” drivel.
Good stuff, I’m not a Tigers fan but I see your point…given this information I feel it’s more likely that the Tigers spend the money wisely come December. I still feel that this ranking is too harsh considering the teams that I feel are in worse spots than the Tigers.
What are you waiting for? GET ON WITH IT MOTHERFUCKERS.
Comment by Stringer Bell — March 19, 2010 @ 7:28 pm
It would be a huge mistake to assume that the club that just decided it couldn’t afford Curtis Granderson at under $10million/year for the next 4 years will turn around and spend all of the money that comes off the books next winter.
Also, Dave’s favorite team is the Mariners. I’m curious why your mind immediately jumps to conspiracy theories about “bias” rather than a mere difference in opinion/analytical approach. Why on Earth would Dave care enough about the Tigers to be “bias” against them? (Sidenote: bias is a noun. The adjective describing someone who carries a bias is “biased”).
It’s an equally huge mistake to assume that the club decided that it couldn’t afford Curtis Granderson. While I agree that the Tigers are not likely to spend the entirety of what comes off the books, there is absolutely nothing in their behavior to date that indicates a dramatic slashing of payroll is afoot.
But as Matt points out, had Washburn only simply “fallen back to the pack” instead of “completely falling apart”, the Tigers would’ve won the division. It may have been quite a bit to give up — And I would agree with that — But when the payoff is a division title it is worthwhile. Especially when as an organization the Tigers stockpile arms. While I am a firm believer in TINSTAPP, being honest if Robles were in the organization today I wouldn’t even see where he fits into the future of a team that already has Verlander/Porcello/Scherzer for five years at the MLB level, and a guys either knocking on the door already or that are considered higher caliber prospects in the system (Crosby/Turner in particular).
It sucks that it didn’t work out and Washburn completely fell apart, but the Mariners and Tigers were at different spots in terms of their playoff chances and both made the move that was best for their respective teams at the time. It just happened to work out for the Mariners side of the deal only.
I also will vigorously defend the Bonderman signing until the day I die. Felix Hernandez is a better pitcher now than Bonderman was then — But not by all that much. Seattle basically did the same thing this off-season in extending Hernandez that the Tigers did when they extended Bonderman. So if Hernandez gets hurt this year and continues to have injuries that linger throughout the duration of the extension, is Jack Z. a fool who doesn’t know how to spend money wisely? Or was it just the breaks?
Didn’t Dombrowski build two Championship teams in florida? He then took a Tigers team that 119 games in 2003 and three years later won the AL Pennant. Since 2006 there have been some missteps but in my mind his career track record of putting together solid ball clubs overrides some of these bad contracts, the very same very Dontrelle Willis stats over the last two years overshadow his current spring training ERA. I am not sure why there is so little faith in Dombrowski’s ability to fill holes next year.
Clearly the tigers are hamstrung by some bad contracts this year, but the beginning of last year looked no brighter and they managed to play meaningful baseball in October.
This ranking seems about 10 places to low to me but I have to assume its due to legitimate differences of opinion… lets chill out on the bias claims.
p.s. excellent post cmustatboy, the Bonderman contract looked good at the time. If he had continued to mature, avoided injury and developed a changeup the tigers pitching rotation would look very impressive right now.
I think just about every team in MLB needs new #4 and #5 starters. So, I think that is a pretty weak shot at Detroit’s future rotation. You literally could say that about pretty much every team in these organizational rankings.
Dave made his point at the beginning of the series that a lot of teams are bunched together without a great deal of space between them at this point in the list. Quoting him from his White Sox entry “Starting now, however, we enter the big blob of teams that make up the middle ground”.
Detroit probably could certainly contend in the AL Central this year but this list is about overall health of the teams. Omar and others say teams like the Brewers, Reds and O’s aren’t better than Detroit but the difference is a young core of players that provide a chance at contention in the years to come. The Brewers have Braun, Gallardo, Escobar Gamel and Fielder. The Reds have Votto, Cueto, Bailey, Chapman, Bruce, and Alonso. The O’s have Wieters, Markakis, Jones, Matusz, and Tillman. Yes, Detroit has a big payroll but as another poster pointed out that doesn’t mean they’re guaranteed to win. Of course neither does having a bunch of good young players but at least it’s tangible as opposed to the hypothetical players Detroit gets after freeing up payroll space.
Verlander, Porcello, Cabrera and Scherzer are good. But look at Hulet’s top ten prospects for the Tigers. The best is a guy in low A ball. The big contracts and lack of depth in the system is why the Tigers are 21, not some perceived bias on the part of the writers. Detroit will get better when the money comes off the books and will probably contend anyway until then because of their division. But again, as Dave said, the teams ranked ahead of Detroit aren’t necessarily “SOOOO much farther ahead”.
IMO, this isn’t a poor evaluation. Most saber folks will only make safe predictions. They only like players that are white as rain and have good statistical indicators. The Tigers don’t have many of those white as rain type players. The Tigers probably frustrate saber inclined folks more than any other team.
The Tigers have a host of guys who are high on talent, but have been short on luck. The Tigers also have many players who fit the profile of being unpredictable by statistical measures.
I love the Tigers. They are the only team I really care about, but right now I can’t tell you if we’re a 95 win team or a 75 win team because we have so many wild cards. Ordonez and Guillen could boom or bust. Jackson and Sizemore can boom or bust. Bonderman and Willis can boom or bust. Inge can boom or bust. Even Zumaya can boom or bust. This is unpredictability at it’s finest.
Despite this 21st ranking, I’ll still wear my Tiger hat proudly. At least I know the potential for greatness is there. This is not a Cinderella story though. It’s more like Jekyll and Hyde.
“The whole is greater than the sum of its parts.”
Furthermore, how is Detroit worse off than The Mets? Omar Minaya makes Steve Phillips look like Billy Beane, Jose Reyes needs thyroid surgery, Beltran was hurt last year, Santana’s had elbow problems and was worked like a rented mule, their rotation after Santana (who has questions and a huge contract) is shit, followed by unproven shit, and shittier shit, they gave a shittastic defender in his early 30s a massive contract to play left field in a park bigger than most US congressional districts, and oh yeah…Wright’s power seemingly disappeared last season, yes I know flukey low HR/FB ration…but increased GB% and dramatically increased K-rates. I mean, at least the few (okay two) elite assets Detroit has still are, y’know, had a good season last year and are by and large without massive question marks. Furthermore they’re fielding a team that will on opening day start Rod Barajas, Alex Cora (in all likelihood), Jeff Francouer, Luis Castillo, Daniel Murphy, and Gary Matthews Jr. And oh yeah, they spent 150 million dollars on that team. Minaya looks just as inept at spending money as Dombrowski is.
I hope I didn’t do something REALLY embarrassing like missing the Mets having already been ranked.
05 | 121 ip
06 | 155 ip
07 | 188 ip
08 | 039 ip
09 | 185 ip
yes he is a young pitcher. and yes he has been injured. but that does not make him a young pitcher with an injury history. (if it does than there is no such thing as a young pitcher WITHOUT an injury history) if it isn’t for a freak play with reed johnson he probably finishes 08 in the neighborhood of 180 ip as his previous (also non arm related injury) only cost him his first four starts of the year.
then again if not for that same freak play the brewers probably don’t make as strong of a push for CC and miss out on the wildcard or who knows but things, they certainly do happen.
Comment by grandbranyan — March 21, 2010 @ 10:21 am
If Guillen, Ordonez, and Willis boom, I will eat my feet and change my name to Anglebert.
Also, did you see Inge in the HR Derby? hahaha