How Much Longer Is Detroit’s Window Open?

The Detroit Tigers were really good in 2011, making it to the ALCS one year after finishing at just .500. Then 2012 went even better, where despite winning fewer regular season games they made it to the World Series, and 2013 was successful as well, going back to the ALCS. That’s a pretty excellent run of success, and they’re likely to be right back in the mix in 2014, since they return the majority of their core. But they still haven’t turned any of those seasons into a champion, and for a city that will next year be three decades past celebrating their last Tigers World Series winner, close isn’t good enough — and you start to wonder when this iteration runs out of chances.

That’s especially true for owner Mike Ilitch, who turned 84 this summer and has made it clear that he wants to see a winner in his hometown, for the first time since he purchased the club in 1992, while he’s still around to enjoy it. As if getting back to the ALCS (or beyond) for a fourth year in a row wasn’t going to be difficult enough, the Tigers find themselves contending with forces that make 2014 possibly their last best chance to get a championship out of this group.

The good news is this: The Tigers return most of their team in 2014. Eight of the nine members of the starting lineup return (this presumes that Jose Iglesias has already claimed shortstop from Jhonny Peralta), with only second baseman Omar Infante a pending free agent. All five members of what was one of the best starting rotations baseball has seen in decades are under team control as well. Manager Jim Leyland won’t be back, but that shouldn’t stand in the way of success; After all, Leyland took the team to the World Series in his first year in Detroit in 2006.

Also working in the favor of the Tigers is that the main trio of Justin Verlander (31 in 2014), Miguel Cabrera (also 31), and Prince Fielder (30) remains in their primes. However, the cracks of age may be beginning to show there. Verlander had his worst season since 2008 before bouncing back in the playoffs, while Fielder and his untradeable contract had arguably his lousiest season since his rookie year of 2006, in addition to completely disappearing in October. Cabrera is the presumptive AL MVP and had what might be considered a career year, but was consistently slowed in the second half by a variety of aches and pains. The three combined for 18.5 WAR in 2011 (when Fielder was still in Milwaukee), 18.6 in 2012, but only 15 in 2013.

None of this is to suggest that these three don’t remain productive, because they do, and no one’s expecting them to fall off a cliff in 2014. With the collection of talent this team still has, it’s very difficult to see this team not being right back in the playoff mix, especially since they look to again be the most talented team in the AL Central. (Chicago is light years away from contention, while at least Minnesota has Byron Buxton to look forward to; Kansas City & Cleveland made noise this year, but have yet to prove they can make the next step.)

But as the Big Three move into their thirties, that’s also what makes next year so important. We don’t yet know if Verlander’s down year was the result of poor mechanics or the inevitable effects of years of heavy use. We don’t yet know if Fielder is starting a Ryan Howard-like decline (wOBA from .410 to .398 to .358 over the last three years), but we do know he doesn’t have the body type that generally ages well, and we don’t know how much longer Cabera will be able to fake his way at third base as he ages. We can say with easy confidence that this trio will remain very good next year, it’s just a lot harder to say that about 2015 and beyond.

It’s also an important year because it’s the final contract years for Max Scherzer, Torii Hunter, and Victor Martinez, who all contributed greatly to the 2013 club. Scherzer is likely to win the AL Cy Young this year, a distinction of which he is deserving even without his 21 wins. Hunter, even at 37 this year with slipping defense, provided a valuable bat and 2.5 WAR. Martinez, after an atrocious start, rebounded with a .391 second-half wOBA that would have been a career-high had it been over a full season.

After next year, those three are either going to be gone or, in Scherzer’s case, back on a much more expensive contract. With those holes to fill in 2015 and another year of age on the back of the main trio, 2014 represents the ultimate win-now opportunity for Detroit.

Unfortunately, there’s not much help coming from the minors, after years of trading prospects like Jacob Turner (to Miami in the Anibal Sanchez deal) and giving up draft picks (to sign Fielder & Martinez). For example, MLB.com had Daniel Fields as the #3 prospect in the system this year, and it took him nearly three full seasons just to get out of A-ball. Keith Law ranked the Detroit farm system #25 entering the year; Nick Castellanos was the sole Tigers prospect on Marc Hulet’s preseason Top 100, and his value might be lower if he’s truly an outfielder rather than a third baseman now.

And of course, while the majority of the team returns, the bullpen — which was a major hole all season long — might lose free agent Joaquin Benoit, who along with Drew Smyly was one of the few worthwhile relievers they could pull together.

So what can the Tigers do to take advantage? They’ll need to be creative, because a team that had a $148 million Opening Day payroll in 2013 already has $120 million committed to Fielder, Cabrera, Verlander, Sanchez, Martinez, & Hunter, a number which also includes a presumed $12m arbitration award for Scherzer if he’s not otherwise extended.

First and foremost, they’re going to need to fix that bullpen. It’s pretty commonly accepted at this point that doling out big dollars to veteran closers is a good way to get burned, but the Tigers may be in the rare situation where that makes sense, with a team that has money to spend, a win-now mentality, and a recent history of getting burned in the ninth. Perhaps that means Brian Wilson, who revived his career late in the season in Los Angeles, or finding a lousy team who really ought to be trading off a closer they don’t currently need, like Miami’s Steve Cishek or Chicago’s Addison Reed. Or maybe even both, plus a useful arm like a J.P. Howell or Francisco Rodriguez, because a bullpen that at various times employed Jose Valverde, Jeremy Bonderman, & Octavio Dotel this year clearly has more than one hole to fill.

If the Tigers do go for such a trade, they may need to include Castellanos, who is probably ready for the bigs in 2014 and could take over in left field, but who is expected to be a good player, not an elite one. Instead, assuming Ilitch is willing to stretch the budget a little further, more expensive outfielders like Jacoby Ellsbury and Shin-Soo Choo would each be excellent fits, because not only do the Tigers have an opening in the outfield, they have one atop the order, where Austin Jackson’s .337 OBP can and should be improved upon. Ellsbury & Choo are each Scott Boras clients, and we’ve seen Boras and Detroit work together well in recent years. Those players are likely to cost another draft pick, assuming they receive qualifying offers, but whether we think it wise or not, that hasn’t stopped Detroit before.

And if they really want to get brave? Scherzer’s situation is going to need to be resolved one way or another, and if trading him at peak value can fill multiple holes, a rotation of Verlander / Sanchez / Fister / Porcello / Smyly (or a league-average veteran) perhaps isn’t the worst thing in the world.

No matter how they do it, the Tigers are likely to be once again one of the American League’s best teams in 2014, even if we don’t yet know who will be leading them from the dugout. But if they want this era of the team to be remembered for more than getting extremely close yet not all the way, 2014 might just be their last best chance to make it happen. Expect an offseason that keeps that goal in mind.




Print This Post



Mike Petriello lives in New York and writes about the Dodgers daily at Dodgers Digest, as well as contributing to ESPN Insider. He wrote two chapters in the 2014 Hardball Times Annual as well as building The Hardball Times site, and is an editorial producer at Sports on Earth. Find him at @mike_petriello.

95 Responses to “How Much Longer Is Detroit’s Window Open?”

You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed.
  1. one thing says:

    Octavio Dotel is a lot better than Bonderman and Valverde, fyi.

    Vote -1 Vote +1

  2. Antonio Bananas says:

    Do they not look an awful lot like the Phillies? Maybe better equipped, but with guys on the fringe of their prime, massive contracts, no farm. I can see something similar happening.

    Vote -1 Vote +1

  3. byron says:

    No, at this point, the window’s pretty much closed, unless Dombrowski can get a major-league-ready superstar prospect for Scherzer this offseason. The only players who could conceivably be better next year are Porcello, Jackson, and Avila, and everyone else is on the wrong side of the aging (Cabrera, Verlander, Fielder, Hunter, Martinez) or regression (Iglesias, Sanchez, Scherzer, Cabrera again) curve. The team’s going to be older, more injured, and slower, and the new manager will be blamed for it. Feels like a coin-flip game waiting to happen, or an 88-win division winner. Tigers won the World Series the year before I was born, and I’ll be telling my grandkids that some day.

    -14 Vote -1 Vote +1

    • Travis L says:

      Illich has shown he’s willing to spend absurd amounts of money in the past. You don’t think it’s possible (even likely) that they sign a 4 WAR OF? That takes them from 88 wins to 92. They’re on the best part of the win curve to buy some Ws.

      Trading Scherzer would only exacerbate their problems. Take away 4-6 WAR from him for increased future wins, and suddenly Cabrera, Fielder, and Verlander are even further from their peak age.

      No, I think the Tigers buy 1-2 players, try to shore up their bullpen, and go for it the next year or two. After that, Illict likely won’t be around, and that’s when I see the Tigers slide into mediocrity.

      I still think Miguel has a number of 5+ WAR years in him. Verlander too, probably.

      Vote -1 Vote +1

      • byron says:

        Illitch isn’t the Dodgers, and we’re not going to keep handing out $20 million per year contracts every offseason. And any 4-win OF we sign this offseason isn’t likely to get better as the years go along.

        The idea was to trade Scherzer for a Taveras type, who can come in and put up 4+ WAR immediately. I don’t in anyway see it happening, so I agree, hang on to him.

        Cabrera’s averaged over 7 WAR the last two years. I agree he can be worth 5, but if you take 2 wins off this year’s team, we’re in the tiebreaker madness for the coinflip game.

        Vote -1 Vote +1

        • the fume says:

          If you look at team WAR tho, you could take 2 WAR from Detroit and they’d have the 2nd most WAR still behind Boston, and still 6 WAR more than anybody in the Central.

          Vote -1 Vote +1

      • NS says:

        “You don’t think it’s possible (even likely) that they sign a 4 WAR OF? That takes them from 88 wins to 92.”

        That’s not how it works.

        Vote -1 Vote +1

    • Colin says:

      Fielder could very easily be better next year. Frankly, Cabrera, who played the last two months with a ton of injuries, could very easily be better despite his already prolific season this year.

      Vote -1 Vote +1

      • byron says:

        You’re right, I was too pessimistic on Fielder, should have included him with the positive regression candidates. If I could lock in Cabrera at this year’s 7.6 WAR, I’d take it in a heartbeat. Hell, I’d take 7 flat.

        Vote -1 Vote +1

    • dave k says:

      Not sure why you expect Iglesias, Sanchez and Scherzer to regress. I don’t think any of them had surprise seasons this year. Iglesias didn’t hit for the Tigers like he did for the Sox and Sanchez and Scherzer were both expected to have great seasons. Even while Verlander regressed this year his performance in the back half leaves the impression he would at least be able to repeat his performance next season.

      Vote -1 Vote +1

    • Timeghoul says:

      Is this a joke? Porcello will improve, Fister will likely improve, Avila and Jackson will improve, Verlander will absolutely improve, ANYTHING will be an improvement on the garbage they had in LF last year (Castellanos this year?), and they also had a pythag record of 99-63 last year. Think before you write comments like this. 88 wins my ass.

      Vote -1 Vote +1

      • Timeghoul says:

        And of course Fielder, and probably Martinez as well, since he was the best hitter in the major leagues in the second half.

        Vote -1 Vote +1

      • byron says:

        I’ll happily meet you back here in a year, hopefully to tell you how right you were.

        Vote -1 Vote +1

      • Josh says:

        Let’s take these players one at a time. First, saying Verlander will “absolutely” improve is quite the statement. There is zero guarantee that any player will improve, especially a pitcher on the wrong side of 30 who has thrown as many innings as Verlander. I think that he probably will be a little better than he was this year, but assuming improvement is folly.

        Porcello is coming off the best season of his career, with a K/9 almost 2 points higher than his previous best. Once again, he might improve, but don’t count on it.

        Fister had the second best season of his career by both FIP and WAR, and both were improvements on 2012. His BABIP should drop a bit, but he otherwise pitched like himself this year. Once again, improvement is far from guaranteed.

        Jackson is an interesting case. His ISO and BB% were in line with his career numbers, but his BABIP was down and his speed all but disappeared. I’m guessing that the reduced speed led to the lower BABIP. If the reduced speed was an aberration, Jackson probably will improve. But if his speed is gone, I don’t see how he could without an unforeseen power surge or big drop in K%.

        Finally, Avila is the most likely of those players to improve. He missed a lot of time to injury, his BB% dropped, his D% spiked, and his BABIP was its lowest since 2010. Assuming he can stay healthy, Avila will almost certainly improve.

        So to summarize: Avila probably will improve, whether Jackson improves depends on his speed, and it’s likely that none of the three pitchers will seek a big improvement, if any. I think the Tigers are about a 90-92 win team next season, but I just don’t see a lot of improvement throughout the lineup and rotation.

        Vote -1 Vote +1

        • Timeghoul says:

          You mentioned FIP and WAR for the starting pitchers and then completely failed to mention that their ERAs were much higher than their peripherals, which is clearly what I was getting at.

          Also, I’d be very willing to bet you that Verlander won’t be godawful for three months next year.

          Vote -1 Vote +1

      • Bad Bill says:

        Wishful thinking: the secret vice of baseball fans since 1879.

        Vote -1 Vote +1

    • Richie says:

      Why in the world did anyone, never mind multiple people, ‘-’ his original comment??

      Vote -1 Vote +1

  4. stan says:

    Like most big money teams, their window will be open for as long as their wallets are. They have built a solid nucleus though, and they play in a weak division, so I’d imagine that they’ll continue to be in the playoff hunt for at least two more years even if they make some mistakes.

    Vote -1 Vote +1

    • 1azsportsfan says:

      That division didn’t seem as weak this year as it was in years previous, and I think teams like the Indians and Royals are trending up while the Tigers are holding fairly steady.

      Vote -1 Vote +1

      • Timeghoul says:

        How are the Indians trending up? They blew all their money on Bourn and Swisher who both had terrible seasons last year and now they’re probably going to lose at least one of Ubaldo and Kazmir, maybe even both. Like Dave Cameron wrote about a couple months ago as well, their success was basically the result of massive overachievements by Raburn and Gomes and the like.

        The Royals are going to lose Ervin Santana to free agency, Shields only has one year left, and now they’re trying to trade Butler because he’s too expensive. I don’t see how they’re trending up either.

        Vote -1 Vote +1

        • Oh, Beepy says:

          I don’t even disagree with a lot of what you’ve said here and they’re not even my team but, to be fair, the Royals have a lot of young players who improved over the course of the year. They are probably a couple well-timed career-years away from upsetting their way to a wildcard or even a division title.

          Vote -1 Vote +1

        • Tom Z says:

          Bourn was fine till a hamstring injury. Swisher played much better was he was fully recovered from the shoulder. Gomes looks like a legit mlb catcher and raburn won’t be as good but he’s still a weapon. Petsano is another guy who was bad because of injury, but will be back next season. Jimenez May try to bolster his value by staying another year and kazmir has already spoken heavily to wanting to stay. Plus you have a guy in Salazar who will have a full season next year. And if Cabrera is still around he will be in a contract year which generally makes guys play well Not to forget kipnis Brantley or santana. And of course terry Franconia who always has a big impact. Who’s your manager again?

          Vote -1 Vote +1

  5. Joe says:

    Wouldn’t worry too much about losing Hunter and V-mart after 14′ as they won’t be getting any better. And what would it take to re-sign Scherzer?

    Vote -1 Vote +1

  6. Gyre says:

    It depends on the new manager, should a miracle occur and a La Russa or Bochi class manager appear, then it will be a longer time. Woe for the days of B Martin winning big and getting fired, someone like that is exactly what the Tigers need. Conservative managing brings conservative results.

    Vote -1 Vote +1

  7. 1azsportsfan says:

    Could they potentially trade V-Mart? I know his salary isn’t palatable to a lot of teams, but if they could open up the DH for Miggy/Prince and pick up a player that’s competent at either corner infield spot, I think they’d be a lot better for it. They would shield one of their offensive specialists from the daily grind and get better on the defensive side of things. The lineup would get weaker, but they weren’t offensively futile without V-Mart in 2012, either.

    Vote -1 Vote +1

    • 1azsportsfan says:

      On second thought, it will probably be easier to pick up a talented 3B who will be ready for the bigs in a year as part of a Scherzer deal than it would be to trade V-Mart and get a third baseman through that trade or FA.

      Vote -1 Vote +1

    • Josh says:

      V-Mart is strictly a DH at this point, he missed all last year with a knee injury, and he hit worse than a defense-first SS in the first half. Given that and his salary, I’d be surprised if the Tigers even got a lottery ticket for him.

      Vote -1 Vote +1

      • Josh says:

        That being said, I think that the Tigers should move him for anything they can get, shift Miggy to DH to protect his health, stick Castellanos at either 3rd or LF, and fill the other position through free agency.

        Vote -1 Vote +1

      • byron says:

        Victor’s been an average 1B over his career (high year-to-year variability), so I doubt he’d be a total liability there. Your point about questions about his offense stands.

        Vote -1 Vote +1

    • Richie says:

      Miggy and Prince were both adamant about not DHing. Forcing either to will tear the clubhouse apart. I’m sure some day each will be more amenable to the idea. Maybe next February given Miggy’s health difficulties this year. But until they’re on board, best appreciate the offense and live with the defense.

      Vote -1 Vote +1

      • B N says:

        Which makes Iglesias all the more valuable, actually. I wouldn’t be surprised to see him put up all-time-great numbers at SS next year, in part due to having to cover for Cabrera while whoever is at 2B needs to play a step closer to 1B to shore up that side. Easy to get a lot more out-of-zone plays when you’re practically playing 2 positions.

        Vote -1 Vote +1

      • WON'T SOMEONE THINK OF THE CHILDREN!!! says:

        “Forcing either to will tear the clubhouse apart.”

        Melodramatic much?

        Vote -1 Vote +1

  8. Colin says:

    Hate to say it or see it happen, but the best move for this team might be to trade Scherzer coming off a Cy year for as much as possible. They could certainly fetch an absolute haul for him and could focus on filling out their lineup in weaker areas such as long term 3b, 2b, c, of. It is clear after the Martinez deal is over Miggy will be moving to 1b if not a bit of DH while Prince will likely DH substantially. They are in a 3b market for sure.

    Vote -1 Vote +1

  9. the fume says:

    If they want to spend money, Ellsbury or Choo and bullpen help solves about everything for 2014. And I agree that 2014 is the last best chance.

    If they’re not spending money, I think they have to hope that Prince bounces back, and even if not his poor seasons aren’t team crippling. I would then do 2 things: re-sign Peralta as a 120 game type utility guy, playing 3rd, SS, and LF. I would also play VMart more at C and 1B. This gives the option of DHing Miggy more if needed. They’d also have to hope Dirks is good enough to platoon in LF with Peralta/Castellanos.

    Vote -1 Vote +1

    • wespom9 says:

      Martinez has caught 29 games in 2 seasons (not counting injury year) and has 17 games played at 1st base in the same time span. I don’t feel Detroit thinks this is an option.

      Vote -1 Vote +1

    • The Facts say says:

      Vmart absolutely cannot play in the field. Even first base is a challenge. He might be worse than Prince and definitely suffers more when playing defense.

      Vote -1 Vote +1

      • the fume says:

        It was a limited sample size but Victor looked way way better than Prince at 1B this year. Of course I think Prince is the worse 1B in the game so, maybe that’s not high praise.

        VMart he had no issues behind the plate either. Obviously, it’s not something that you would want to do for the whole season, but it’s a way to give Miggy a rest and keep the big 3 bats in the lineup. I’m only thinking like 10-20 games here.

        Vote -1 Vote +1

      • Timeghoul says:

        Wrong. Martinez was great at 1B this year and a hell of a lot better than Fielder. Stop making things up.

        Vote -1 Vote +1

        • The Facts say says:

          VMart was not “Great” at 1B. By most accounts I’m aware of, his athleticism is limited, and you absolutely cannot make conclusive statements about based on his UZR/150 or DRS when he only played 149 innings at 1B over the last two years. Since 2009 (an admittedly arbitrary endpoint), Prince has a substantially better UZR/150 – though still really bad.

          Vote -1 Vote +1

        • the fume says:

          Not sure what you’re looking at, The Facts. Prince is pretty solidly in the negative, VMart is in the positive at 1B over the years. And even tho it’s a small sample size, VMart was pretty good at 1B the few times he did play, both by DRS and by the eyeball test.

          Vote -1 Vote +1

        • Richie says:

          What he’s looking at, Fume, is UZR.

          Vote -1 Vote +1

        • the fume says:

          Richie, he’s not looking at it correctly. VMart is +1.3 at 1B in 1300 career innings. Prince is -44.3 in 11,000 innings. Prince is -18 UZR since 2009.

          What am I missing here?

          Vote -1 Vote +1

        • The Facts say says:

          UZR/150 SINCE 2009.

          Vote -1 Vote +1

        • the fume says:

          I thought at first you meant Prince was better than VMart since 2009. Not that he was better than Prince from before 2009.

          At any rate, you are correct that 2009 is arbitrary. The stats say Prince stunk this year and has generally stunk, and Prince really looked like he stunk this year. VMart looked way better than Prince at 1B this year. To say that VMart can’t play in the field anymore is just ignorant. He did it in 2013, he did it adequately. Going from 15 games in the field to 30 or 50 should be no problem.

          Vote -1 Vote +1

  10. wespom9 says:

    Only one person touched on it, but I can’t see this team winning without clearing up the corner INF/DH role. Based on his age, recent injury history and current defensive stats, Miguel Cabrera is going to be hard pressed to play over 140 games at 3rd base. Martinez has not caught in ~2 years (correct me if I’m wrong), Fielder has what I’d call an unmoveable contract. If Cabrera is not playing every day, I can’t see this team being able to get to 90 wins and I’m a firm believer playing 3rd every day is only going to speed up the decline or increase his injury risk.

    Honestly after the 2nd half he had, I’d try to sell V-Mart to get some sort of corner option to either DH Miggy or move him to 1st and DH Fielder (base this on whoever you think has more value as a defensive option, or even alternate them at times). Could he not net something of value at a corner?

    Of course, you could use Scherzer as bait for a corner bat that provides defensive value but this also carries the prerequisite you move Martinez to clear DH for Fielder/Cabrera.

    Will definitely be interesting to see how Dombrowski handles this situation

    Vote -1 Vote +1

    • Spencer D says:

      VMart to Tampa Bay/Texas/Seattle/KC? for a bullpen arm.

      Vote -1 Vote +1

      • wespom9 says:

        above average hitter for a bullpen arm is not an ideal trade for Detroit, regardless of how badly they need a legitimate bullpen.

        Vote -1 Vote +1

        • Josh says:

          The Tigers won’t get anything better than a bullpen arm for V-Mart. Strictly a DH at this point, missed 2012 for a knee injury, was an abysmal hitter for the first half, and is owed $12 million. Even with his great second half, he’s not at all a valuable trade commodity. Why would any team give up a half-decent player for all that?

          Vote -1 Vote +1

        • wespom9 says:

          reasonable to suggest that his first half is not his *true* skill level; after missing a full year I would expect some minor regression after a return from that length. Your other points are definitely valid and it would limit his value to AL teams but I think there is a team that would pay a bit for that bat.

          Now that I think about it though I don’t see a market that would willingly pay for it. Sox have Ortiz, Yanks need the DH to rest their old vets. Angels no. Tampa likely can’t afford unless some of that cash is paid. Texas/Baltimore? I don’t know OAK’s situation but they rotated DH between their 4 OF did they not?

          Vote -1 Vote +1

      • Oh, Beepy says:

        If this were all it would take he’d be a Blue Jay already.

        Vote -1 Vote +1

  11. joshhimself says:

    My plan if I’m Dombrowski:

    1. Re-sign Omar Infante and Joaquin Benoit.
    2. Sign Chin-Soo Choo to play LF, moving to RF in 2015.
    3. Trade Max Scherzer for younger, cheaper pitching.
    4. Drew Smyly either starts or relieves depending on who comes back in the Scherzer deal.
    5. Look at extending Doug Fister.

    I don’t expect them to trade Scherzer, but I think it’s what needs to happen for the long-term health of the franchise. With these moves, I think the Tigers would be the team to beat in 2014.

    Vote -1 Vote +1

  12. Paul says:

    Nobody seems to be too worried about who’s going to prevent other teams from scoring in the late innings. Arguably this what killed them this post season at least.

    Vote -1 Vote +1

  13. Oh, Beepy says:

    Castellanos for a whole bullpen of arms from the Jays.

    Vote -1 Vote +1

  14. Ruki Motomiya says:

    I’d love if Illitch just said “fuck it”, opened up Yankees/Dodgers level money and just resigned everyone and got Cano. And presumably bullpen.

    Is it possible? 99.95% not. Would I love to see it? Hell yeah.

    Vote -1 Vote +1

  15. Rob says:

    Trading Scherzer is smart (bought low sell high) but you would hate to trade a guy like that going into a World Series or bust year. I’d also be hesitant to extend him because having big money pitchers into their mid 30′s (verlander scherzer Sanchez) probably wouldn’t work out well. I think this team is doomed if they add a big bat in LF because Iglesias won’t hit, Infante could depart, and can’t rely on a rookie like castellanos to have a great year. Also they need 2-3 good arms in the pen. I think we the tigers days as big spenders could be closing, because the contracts they have are getting rediculous and mike illitch is in very very bad health. They will probably give miguel another deal, so You have him Prince Verlander Etc into their mid thirties and that will be trouble (not so much Cabrera , but mostly fielder)

    Vote -1 Vote +1

  16. Richie says:

    The Tigers WARed out, what, 96 wins? And you can reasonably figure 90 will take next year’s division. Of course they stay the course for next year, just tinkering here and there. The Tigers should have the most humdrum offseason of any MLB club.

    Then a year from now the question is called. Compete for another year (probably still the right call) and accept that the following rebuild will be gargantuan? Compete for 2 more, understanding that an Astros-level rebuild will then result?

    Vote -1 Vote +1

  17. Anonity says:

    Tigers’ dream off-season:

    1) Trade Fielder & Porcello plus $$ to Texas for Kinsler & Harrison.

    2) Trade Scherzer and Castellanos to St. Louis for Tavares.

    3) Resign Peralta for 1 year to play 3B, with Cabrera moving to 1B.

    4) Use the money saved by moving the Prince and extend Cabrera.

    Do that and your window has just been extended through 2017.

    Vote -1 Vote +1

    • Colin says:

      I hope and pray that if the Tigers trade Scherzer and Castellanos they would get more than just Tavares back.

      Vote -1 Vote +1

      • byron says:

        I agree with Anonity that that’s probably what it would take. I’m sure a Cardinals fan would think “no way we’d give up Tavares for a pitcher about to hit free agency and a non-elite prospect!” I doubt either team would do the deal, though.

        Vote -1 Vote +1

        • Colin says:

          Tavares as a high end prospect is nice, but he’s not THAT much better than Castellanos. Not nearly good enough for a year of a Cy Young winning pitcher plus Castellanos. We’re not talking about Trout here.

          Vote -1 Vote +1

  18. Richie says:

    1. Wave good-bye to Peralta (someone will offer him starting shortstop $$$; Cards certainly should), use the money on a reliever.

    2. Re-sign Infante, or maybe Mark Ellis, or some other 2B I’m forgetting about right now. Whomever.

    3. Ask Mr. Ilitch for another $8 mill just for ’14, sign a decent LF, or a very good RP, or just shore up the bench (you’ll need it).

    4. Kick the tires on the Porcello market. Your corner IF defense kills him, when he’s best in 2-3 years from now you’ll be awful so it won’t do you any good then. Probably keep him as you’ll want to insure against one of your big 4 going down next year. But for an already-decent-with-more-quite-possibly-to-come young cost-controlled starter, maybe somebody will knock your socks off with a good corner outfielder AND a good bullpen arm AND a marginal 5th starter. I’d do it if I was GMing someone like the Cubs or the Royals or the Rockies.

    Tiger offseason completed. Really, simplest one in MLB.

    Vote -1 Vote +1

    • wespom9 says:

      Interesting comment on the Cards needing an SS. By most measures Peralta not that great defensively; With Freese already on the left side with limited defensive ability would Peralta’s bat make up for a left side that is somewhat defensively challenged?

      Vote -1 Vote +1

      • Colin says:

        By most measures, Peralta is actually not bad at all defensively. He’s actually middle tier if not better. Well above average the last three years. But do not let me ruin the narrative.

        Vote -1 Vote +1

  19. james wilson says:

    What would Andrew Friedman do?

    Vote -1 Vote +1

  20. Rob Stolz says:

    When it comes to the DH issue with Cabrera and Fielder, Cabrera should never DH. He was a below average 1B but far from horrible, and he was improving. Fielder is and will always be awful. Cabrera isn’t just a hitter, he has baseball skills. Good hands, good feet, arm, etc. He’s a baseball player. Fielder is the guy who could only swing a bat period. When that day comes, Fielder should DH no doubt about it. I wish we didn’t have to have this debate and Fielder was never here….because Cabrera is a first basemen. Any move that jeopardizes the second half of his career with the Tigers is stupid and that is what Fielder does.

    Vote -1 Vote +1

  21. Fraij says:

    Why not cash in their biggest chip? Miguel Cabrera. Say Cabrera to Seattle for Tijaun Walker, Kyle Seager, Nick Franklin & Danny Farquar. Sign Choo or Ellsbury to leadoff (whoever is cheaper) and that automatically solves every problem. IF defense dramatically improves and the team gets more athletic. Extend Sherzer. I’m willing to bet the AAV for Sherzer + Choo/Ellsbury will be = to that of the next contract Miggy gets. Personally I have seen enough of Miguel Cabrera playing 3b and failing every year in the postseason. I don;t care how well he hits every year from April-September.

    Vote -1 Vote +1

    • Colin says:

      Guy was playing with a torn groin for almost two months. I think you are being a little harsh.

      Vote -1 Vote +1

    • Rob says:

      Cabrera hasn’t been a terrible postseason player. Sure his numbers aren’t as good as the regular season, but it’s sample size and either way he’s had solid numbers. Better than most of the Tigers roster. And I don’t think lead off is a problem, Jackson is good bet to have an OBP around .350 next year. With him it’s about his front foot …he’s inconsistent with that but when he’s right he can produce at a high level (.860 OPS in ’12) which I think he will.

      Vote -1 Vote +1

  22. Camchuck says:

    Tigers fan here. No way Detroit shifts to building for the future this off-season (I.e. trading scherzer). They have been close to the crown 3 years straight and will make one more run in 2014 and then worry about it. This may be Dombrowki’s last year (rumor about replacing Selig) and he’ll leave the shake up to his replacement. If the wheels come off in 2014, they can always deal Max mid-season to a contender and get a nice haul of prospects. Miggy, Prince and V-Mart won’t be shuffled around either. Maybe a few more games at 1B for V-Mart with Prince at DH.
    The only big name trade I could see them make would be Porcello, so that Smyly could slide in to the #5. This shortens their already weak bullpen, though,. As for the bullpen, they hope Rondon can step up to a major role and Al Al can improve. Perhaps one of them could close.
    The author is right, though. 2014 is the last best chance for a ring. It gets very difficult after that. But no way do the Tigers sacrifice their ’14 chances for a long term build. Will be interesting to see if they spend money on LF, 2B, relief or invest in Scherzer.

    Vote -1 Vote +1

  23. ChinaConor says:

    If the Tigers want to go big, why not sign Cano? The money would be crazy, but it would give them the best chance at winning in 2014. When he’s aging and not that productive, Ilitch might already have passed and you’ll probably have signed a new lucrative television contract.

    Vote -1 Vote +1

  24. Nathan says:

    The Fielder contract was one I think most of us nerds questioned. It is in Ryan Howard territory. Even though Prince had a solid season in the first year of the contract, it was pretty clear there was almost no way he could live up to that contract for any more than three or four seasons. His year this year was bad, but even as a Tigers fan, I’m inclined to give him a little slack and expect him to bounce back next year (he had some personal stuff with his divorce that was hush hush until mid-season, and a guy could be forgiven for having that weigh on him). He’ll still be overpaid no matter what he does next year (even if he puts up 4 – 5 WAR).

    That said, Mr. I signed off on that deal. Doesn’t mean he did it with the level of knowledge that you might have wanted him to have, but he signed off nonetheless. The way I look at it, as a selfish fan that wants to see the team win a WS, they might as well pony up some dollars to get an Ellsbury/Choo type outfielder, retain Benoit, and do what they can to get another legitimate reliever (ideally a more-than-one-out lefty, otherwise they’ll need to improve upon Coke in the LOOGY role, IMO). I have to think Infante is re-signable for a reasonable contract.

    If Mr. I is willing to spend the cash, there’s nothing to lose, because the medium-term prognosis for this team is already fucked, to put it bluntly. Piling some more salary on top isn’t going to change much. Looking ahead to the end of 2014 (or possibly even this off-season if they go big), they will either have to pay Scherzer or let him walk. Martinez and Hunter are probably both done at that point (seems more likely Hunter has anything left to give, and that would probably only be on a cheap one year deal as a part-time player). Looking to 2015, they will have to pay Miggy, or let him walk. Not to mention the arbitration years coming up for guys like Fister, AJ, and Avila.

    To sum it up, the medium-term for the Tigers will be defined by either continual and very high over-spending to keep a playoff-capable team on the field, or it will be defined by a mini-fire sale after the 2014 season, accompanied by letting guys walk to get the payroll expenses under control. Under the second scenario, you “risk” being unable to re-ink Cabrera as a result of probably having a pretty mediocre team shaping up for 2016 because of how bare the organizational depth has been for years due to Dombrowski’s crappy draft record and willingness to trade for veterans (understandably). That leaves the Tigers in a position where, in 2016, they will be lucky to have even a 0.500 team, and by that point, there’s no doubt Fielder’s contract will be immovable. Verlander and Sanchez might be movable depending how how their arms hold up, but that’s a big if.

    So yeah… as a Tigers fan that just wants to see a WS win, especially one under Mr. I’s ownership before he passes on. Fuck it. I want to see them stack this team and worry about the fallout of 2015/16/17 later on, because those years are going to be ugly to sort out as it stands today.

    Besides, they can always dump salary on the Dodgers. They’ll take any “name” player, except for Prince, that contract is obviously even non-Dodger-able.

    Vote -1 Vote +1

    • Richie says:

      Come 2016, they might be lucky to have a .400 team.

      Vote -1 Vote +1

    • Camchuck says:

      Bingo. Spend on a corner outfielder (Choo, Ellsbury) and go all-in for 2014. The window could possibly stretch to 2015: Miggy to 1B, Fielder to DH, Castellanos to 3B; would just have find a corner outfielder and pitcher (replacing Hunter, Scherzer).
      2016 gets ugly, as you said.

      Vote -1 Vote +1

    • Jason B says:

      Go ahead and type out Ilitch rather than “Mr. I”. The sentences are a total chore to read otherwise. For instance:

      “Mr. I” signed off on the deal

      reads as

      Mr. “I signed off on the deal”.

      which I had to read about a dozen times before understanding what you meant. Just a tip!

      Vote -1 Vote +1

  25. Eminor3rd says:

    Why not just dump VMart for free, gaining salary relief, sign a decent RP or two, and roll the dice again? You can lose some bat to gain some RP, and moving MCabrera to DH and putting ANYONE at third improves your horrible defense.

    Is that not a playoff team again? They simply got beat in the ALCS, it wasn’t that they couldn’t have won it.

    Vote -1 Vote +1

  26. Lkershw says:

    As long as they have Verlander, their window will be open.

    Vote -1 Vote +1

  27. Matt Bertelli says:

    They should probably shut it. It’s cold in Detroit and the city is bankcrupt so how are they going to afford heat?

    Vote -1 Vote +1

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>

Current day month ye@r *