Organizational Rankings: #22

Today, we keep looking at some teams that have legitimate hope, so it gets harder from here on out. And, for those of you who haven’t seen the previous parts (which are linked below), keep in mind that this is a forward looking exercise – we are evaluating clubs on their overall ability to contend for a World Series title in the future. We are not evaluating how they have performed historically. This is about the health of each organization going forward.

Rankings So Far

#30: Washington Nationals
#29: Florida Marlins
#28: Houston Astros
#27: Kansas City Royals
#26: Pittsburgh Pirates
#25: San Diego Padres
#24: Cincinnati Reds
#23: Colorado Rockies

#22: Detroit Tigers

Ownership: C

Over the years, Mike Ilitch has provided significant capital to provide his team with a big market budget. He has a reputation for being a bit too hands on, but that hasn’t manifest itself in any real ways over the last couple of years. To boot, the Tigers have a new ballpark that generates solid revenues for them. So why the low grade? The economy. Of all the cities in America, Detroit is the one with the most uncertain future, as the fate of the automakers continues to be a day-to-day thing. Michigan has the highest unemployment rate in the country, and they’re feeling the brunt of the recession more so than any other state. Given the way the economy is going, especially in Detroit, it’s hard to see the Tigers being able to sustain the payrolls they’ve been running for the last few years. If they are forced to cut back on salaries, they’d have some tough decisions to make, as a huge part of their payroll is tied up in players with negative trade value. The only way for them to slash payroll quickly would be trade the likes of Magglio Ordonez and Miguel Cabrera, and a Tigers team that is forced to move those two in salary dumps is just not very good.

Front Office: B-

Dave Dombrowski will never be mistaken for one of the new, Ivy league type GMs. He believes in tools, scouting, and gut feelings. But he’s really good at it. He has a terrific eye for talent, and he knows how to put together a roster. However, his old school leanings have led him down some paths of poor decisions – he’s too quick to give long term contracts to aging players and pitchers, and those decisions have put the Tigers in a budgetary bind. Given the necessary resources, he can build a championship team, but some mistakes on his part may be part of the reason that he might not have the necessary resources going forward.

Major League Roster: B-

This is still an impressive core of position player talent that Dombrowski has assembled. Curtis Granderson is a terrific player, Placido Polanco is one of the more underrated players in the game, Ordonez/Cabrera/Guillen is still a fierce middle of the order, and Inge/Laird/Everett should provide enough defensive value to make up for their weak bats. But oh, the pitching. Jeremy Bonderman‘s elbow still hurts. Dontrelle Willis still can’t throw strikes. Nate Robertson is struggling to beat out a 20-year-old for the #5 spot in the rotation after posting an ugly ERA in 2008. Justin Verlander is very good, but it gets pretty ugly pretty fast once his turn in the rotation is done. The combination of a questionable pitching staff and an aging group of position players puts the Tigers in a tough spot – their window to win is still open for 2009, but maybe not for 2010, and they might not have enough arms to get to the playoffs this year. If they have to rebuild, Granderson, Verlander, and Porcello are a good nucleus, but there’s not enough young talent around them to do it quickly.

Minor League Talent: D

Rick Porcello is a terrific arm, but doesn’t come without questions. Even with his sinking fastball and groundball rate, 5.2 K/9 in the Florida State League is a little disconcerting. But once you get past him, it gets ugly in a hurry. Almost all of their premium talent was traded away in the Cabrera deal, and what’s left is lower ceiling role player prospects. They just lack prospects that could legitimately replace some of their aging major league core, and besides Porcello, they don’t have any good arms to bolster the pitching ranks. It’s a farm system in bad shape, and for a team headed towards rebuilding, that’s a rough combination.

Overall: C+

In a better economy, or a different city, they’d be more in the 12-17 range, because the major league roster is still pretty good, and the guys in charge are dedicated to winning and know how to build a roster. But the combination of economic hardships in their home state, some really bad contracts on the books, expected decline from key players, and a lack of depth puts the Tigers in a position where the franchise has a lot of downside. It could get bad in a hurry, and take a long time to fix. Of course, with a few savvy moves and some good fortune, they could also be throwing a parade in November, so it’s not all doom and gloom. But there’s more risk involved with the Tigers future than pretty much any other club, and that possibility weighs down their future chances for success.




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Dave is a co-founder of USSMariner.com and contributes to the Wall Street Journal.


56 Responses to “Organizational Rankings: #22”

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  1. Matt B. says:

    I think the jury is still out on the Miguel Cabrera trade. Cabrera was good with the stick, but killed them with his glove. Dontrelle, well, stunk. The monetary committment is horendous for both of them, and I think Maybin will be a Al Soriano type with a better glove in the near term.

    Losing Jurjjens for Renteria hurt as well.

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    • vivaelpujols says:

      that was a terrible, terrible trade

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    • Randy T. says:

      I think it was an okay trade, and I have to say that Miguel Cabrera stopped hurting the team with his glove once he made the transition to first base. I have hated the fact that they threw in Dontrelle from the beginning, due mainly to the fact that he can’t perform and hes making more than anyone in the rotation.

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  2. Eric Cioe says:

    Regarding Porcello’s low strikeout totals: he was very limited last season, with a 75 pitch limit and was focusing almost exclusively on the sinker and changeup. The slider and curveball useage were limited by the organization.

    Why is the monetary committment to Cabrera horrible?

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  3. Matt B. says:

    Miguel Cabrera will be taking a huge chunk of their payroll when the economy starts to really effect the Tigers budget going forward. Which it will.

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  4. ThundaPC says:

    What definitely has to suck is that the clear intent of the Cabrera/Willis trade was to win now while they still can and then rebuild when the time comes. Year #1 couldn’t have gone any worse than it did. Their time to strike is running out.

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  5. Teej says:

    And any premium young talent that they didn’t give away in the Cabrera trade, they gave up in the Renteria trade. I liked the trade at the time because I thought they were contenders making a push (and I didn’t think Jair Jurrjens would be as good as he’s been), so I can’t criticize the move, but I bet they wish they still had Jurrjens and Gorkys Hernandez right about now.

    I’m quite surprised to see the Tigers this low, but Dave’s reasoning makes sense.

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  6. Lee Panas says:

    Good summary of the Tigers situation. The Renteria deal was awful but I still like the Cabrera trade. While the economy will likely prevent them from making upgrades until after the 2010 season (when many of the bad contracts come off the books) I don’t think they’ll be forced to trade Cabrera. Illitch is getting old and wants to win so I don’t foresee a fire sale.

    This year is probably their best opportunity to win. They’ll need to some breaks – like Bonderman and Zumaya being healthy – but they have a chance in a mediocre division. With an aging line-up, their window of opportunity might not be big though.

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  7. Jeff says:

    I think the author is taking the economic factor way to far. Mike Illitch came out and said just last month that he WILL NOT be lowering the payroll in the future even with our bad economy. He publicly said that when Sheff’s contract comes off the books after the 2009 season he is going to spend that money on free agency. That means the Tigers will have 18 million to spend on pitching next offseason. It should also be pointed out that after 2010 contracts for Wills (12 mil), Robertson (10 mil), and Inge (6.6 mil) will all be coming off books. So that is 28.6 million to spend in the 2010 offseason.

    Mr. Illitch is a man of his word. If he says he is not going to lower payroll, he is not going to lower payroll. He also owns the Red Wings of the NHL and with the salary cap in that league, Illitch is making a HUGE profit. He also owns other business’s that are still making large profits inspite of our economy in the region.(Little Ceasers Pizza, and a casino)

    While the bad economy may keep some fans from going to the park, and with the Tigers huge payroll they may might not even turn a profit, Illitch said he is commited to not lowering the payroll in spite of the fact he may take a loss. He wants to win a World Series, and he is commited to doing so. He can afford to take a loss on the Tigers since his other business will make up the difference. Yes, I understand that most owners would never take a profit loss to win, but Illitch isnt most owners. I truley believe him when he said he will not cut payroll no matter the situation.

    The farm system is barren, that is true. But the Tigers have a bunch of good relief pitchers that are not highly thought of only because they are relief pitchers. (Ryan Perry, Casey Fien, Ruddy Darrow) All of them should be ready to contribute by 2010.

    With a offensive core of Cabrera, and Granderson going forward, and a staff made up of Verlander and Porcello, I think the author is totally underestimating the health of this organization. Our bullpen will be shored up with the young guys on the farm. AND WE WILL HAVE 44.5 MILLION IN PAYROLL SPACE to pick pick up younger free agents to fill out the roster over the nextt 2 years.

    One other thing I disagree with though is the grade for Dombrowksi. I think it should be LOWER. I like the Cabrera trade regardless of the fact that Willis might never even pitch in the majors effectivley again. What I dont like is the fact that D.D. signed him to a long term deal. The same with Inge’s and Robertson’s deals. Those 3 contracts are what handcuffed the team for this year and the next 2. I didnt like the Jurrjens for Renteria trade the minute it was announced, since I thought that Jurrjens looked excellent late in the 2007 season. But everyone usually sites the Cabrera deal as a bad move also. Like I said, I still like that move. The Tigers have a young player that is one of the top 5 hitters in the game. I know his value took a dip because he had to move to 1st base, but I think the move down the defensive spectum is overrated. In fact, I think Cabrera will turn out to be an excellent defensice 1st baseman. He feilded it poorly last year, but that was the first time in his life he ever played on the right side of the diamond.

    Anyway, I think the Tigers are ranked far to low on this list. We have an owner who is commited to winning even if it means he is going to lose some money. I dont think any other organization can make that claim. We also have an underrated farm system, yes it may lack big name hitters and SP’s but the reasons for that are 1. We used some of the talent to aquire a top 5 hitter in all of baseball and will have him for the next 7 season. 2. The last 2 years they have aquired relief pitching, and minor league releivers are never highly thought of.

    With a slew of young relief arms waiting in the wings to shore up the bullpen, 2 decent starting pitchers here for the next few years, a great lineup anchored by Granderson and Cabrera, and OVER $46 MILLION to spend on free agents in the next 2 years the Tigers are looking at a very bright future. Deffenitly better than some of the teams ranked ahead of them, with much smaller budget.

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    • JH says:

      2 position players and two pitchers isn’t much of a “core” to build around. The problem is that there’s very little depth behind those two.

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      • Jeff says:

        $46 million can buy enough talent to add to that core. I really don’t know who is available next offseason pitching wise, but I know Lackey is. They have $18 million to spend next year after Sheff is gone. so say they get Lackey or someone similar for around $10 million a year for however many year. Then add a second free agent with the remaing $8 million.

        They would then have Granderson, Cabrera, Verlander, Lackey, Porcello, Maggs, Guillen and whoever they get with the $8mil to build around.

        Yes I know Maggs only has a few years left in him, but they also have $26 million to spend coming up in 2010′s offseason. D.D. and Illitch might also decide to spend some of the in 2009 or save some of the $18 mil untill the next year, but either way, they can sign some big name free agents in the next 2 years, just like the Yankees did this year.

        One other thing to add is that D.D. and Illitch both like the big name player. It wouldnt suprise me to see the Tigers make a run at Holliday next offseason or someone else big the following year. Some of those other guys available in the next 2 years would be Mauer, Cliff Lee, Beckett, Carl Crawford, Beltre, Bedard and a bunch more.

        The Tigers deffenitly have enough money coming off the books to add one big name guy next season and another the following year.

        With 2 more big name players to add to Granderson, Cabrera, Porcello and Verlander, yes I think that is a core.

        Also, there is no way the Tigers trade Cabrera. They didnt even have any intentions of trying to aquire him last year. Illitch personally called D.D. and asked him if they thought they could get him. Illitch has been wanting a YOUNG big name guy to be a franchise type player ever since he bought the Tigers. They tried to get Juan Gonzalez when Juan was in his prime but it didnt work out.(Thank God). They got Pudge, but he was already past his prime.

        Illitch personally wanted to get Cabrera, then made sure he was locked up for 8 years. He is not going to turn around and dump him to save a few bucks!

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      • Wally says:

        Lackey for 10 million? I don’t think so. I think he’s over-rated, but he’s still worth more than that.

        And many teams are going to be able to throw around some money, you can’t just sit back and basically say “We’ll sign X, Y, and Z free agents and compete.”

        “With 2 more big name players to add to Granderson, Cabrera, Porcello and Verlander, yes I think that is a core.”

        And who do you add to that core now that you’ve just spent all your team’s available money and don’t have anything in the farm system?

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      • JH says:

        Teams that consistently build through free agency are almost always very bad if they’re not named the Yankees, Red Sox, or Mets.

        There are some exceptions, and the mid ’00s Tigers are one of them, but it’s not a good model. Those free agent signings will take away 1st round draft picks if the team’s mediocre this year, so if they don’t work out, the team’s hamstrung further.

        It’s just not a good model, and when that’s your team’s hope of competitiveness in the near-term and they don’t have unlimited cash flow, it’s not a good position to be in.

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      • mattymatty says:

        Don’t know if you’ve checked but the Red Sox starting lineup features two free agents, and thats assuming Julio Lugo wins the starting job.

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      • Russell says:

        I think you’re forgetting that Papi was a free agent when the Sox signed him, so with Drew and Lugo that’s three. Plus with Wakefield, Daisuke, and either Smoltz or Penny more then half of the rotation will be free agent signing. The Mets have only one free agent slotted as a starter (Beltran, I’m not counting Tatis) and only the 5th starter will have come for the open market (unless you count resigning Ollie — and unless Niese wins the job.)

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    • Wally says:

      And every farm system should be able to pump out some pretty good relief arms… And the payroll/economy situation can’t be ignored by Illitch just saying he won’t lower payroll. What happens if/when his loses in 2009 are bigger than what he was expecting? Its that uncertainty coupled with the recent expensive contracts to poor players that brings the grading down.

      This team has a chance, but I think it will become pretty clear how much farther ahead the rest of the field is in the coming days.

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      • Jeff says:

        This is supposed to be for the long term future I thought. All those bad contracts are gone within the next 2 years.

        Also, every farm system doesnt pump out good releif arms. If they did Kerry Wood, K-Rod and Fuentes wouldnt have gotten $10 million plus contracts this offseason. Most teams reileivers that come from the farm are guys that couldnt cut it or didnt have the pitch selection to be starters. The Tigers specifically targeted college releivers that would be read to contibute in the near future.

        Alot of the teams listed ahead of the Tigers have payrolls less than half of what they have, and have to spend large percentages of it on relief pitching. (Cleveland) Yet the Tigers will be able to have a bullpen full of cheap young arms and a ton of money to spend on other areas.

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      • The Typical Idiot Fan says:

        Jeff,

        “Good relief arms” is not the same thing as “perceived premiere closers”. As important as having a bullpen ace is, you have to have 5 other dudes who can pitch as well.

        The closer is the most overappreciated role player in the game. Just because some teams overspent to get one doesn’t make them more valuable.

        Not to toot my team’s horn or anything, but the Mariners have been particularly good these last few seasons of just finding arms off the scrap heap and turning them into a bullpen. If you like, go hire Bill Bavasi. It was the one thing he was good at.

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  8. YC says:

    I’m not too sure why the Tigers would not be able to keep Miguel Cabrera. Of course, Cabrera had a down year at the plate in 2008, but we know from 5 full seasons from Cabrera that he can flat out hit the baseball. He posted Win Values of 5.7, 6.8, 5.8 in 2005-07 despite his notoriously bad defense. Cabrera’s rather uncharacteristic wOBA of .376 was caused by a low BABIP of .316. And this was coming from a guy that had a career BABIP of .350 playing 5 seasons in Dolphin Stadium. Cabrera’s projections for next year expects him to rebound to a wOBA of somewhere around .400, and this will make him closer to a 5 win player.

    Of course, he has 7 years / $141 Million left on his contract, so he will be compensated very handsomely in the coming years. He has a skillset that doesn’t age too well along with weight issues. Despite all that, Cabrera is only 25 years old (turning 26 in a month) enabling the Tigers to control his prime years. Barring any significant decline, paying $21 Million to a 4-5 Win Player in 5 years time could easily turn out to be a bargain.

    Miguel Cabrera has his risks, but I think he has a greater chance of being a positive asset than a liability in the long run. Then again, the economy is so screwed right now, who knows whats gonna happen in the future.

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    • Teej says:

      The last 2 years they have aquired relief pitching, and minor league releivers are never highly thought of.

      There are good reasons for that, though. If relief pitching is one of the highlights of your farm system, you have a bad farm system.

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    • Bill says:

      You hope he’s only 25. It’s hard to be sure. I’m sure it doesn’t only happen in the Dominican.

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  9. Matt B. says:

    I think the Tigers would’ve ranked considerably higher had it not been for the city itself.

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  10. Jeff says:

    I would also like to add that while I think Domrowski uses very poor judgment when handing out contracts to players on his team such as Inge, Roberston, Willis, he is VERY good at free agent signings. I cannont even think of one free agent signing that hasnt worked out for him. Gullien, Maggs, Pudge, and Kenny Rogers were the big free agents he brought in, and all of them worked out.

    His judgment on trades can also be iffy sometimes. Some of his trades work out (Polanco) but a few more turned out poorly (Renteria, Sheff). It has always been his extending of his teams own players that is his downfall.

    But like i pointed out, D.D. has been almost unmatched in his judgment of what big name free agents he signs. so with $46 million to spend during the next 2 offseason, I think the Tigers are going to be much better in the future than anyone realizes.

    Sure the teams ranked ahead have much better prospects ready to help out thier teams, but there is NO way that a prospect, no matter how highly thought of, is more of a sure thing than the free agents that D.D. will be able to bring into town over the next 2 offseason.

    Just in 2009′s offseason D.D. will be able to spend $18 million. Illitch’s exact words a few months back were that the Tigers werent going to make any big moves this year, but that next year he will be spending. That $18 million can buy 2 very good starting pitchers to add to a rotation that should be featuring Porcello and Verlander next season. The Tigers wont need to spend ANY of that money on hitting next year. Iorg should be able to come in and replace Everett at SS, and even if his hitting isnt great, he is already a plus fielder and having to hit at Everetts level shouldnt be a problem. Maggs will take over DH duties for Sheffield, and the Tigers have a bunch of young outfielders who can take over in RF such as Clevelan, Wilkin Ramirez, Casper Wells, Ryan Strieby, and others. Most shouldnt be that much of a dropoff from Sheffield in the lineup.

    So the lineup will be set and maybe actually imporved. They will be able to get some good starting pitching and will also have a bunch of young releivers ready to help. Then in 2010′s offseason they will be able to replace Inge’s horrible bat through free agency.

    I think the fact that they have $46 million to spend in free agency over the next 2 season, puts the Tigers ahead of teams with payrolls barely bigger than $46 million no matter how good thier farm systems are.

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    • Ddavid says:

      Guillen a free agent? Kenny Rogers worked out? It’s kinda hard to take you seriously when you say things like that.

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      • MPC says:

        Rogers wasn’t bad in ’06. He was the product of a pretty low BABIP, but yeah the other 2 years he was pretty bad.

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      • Jeff says:

        Your right, I forgot we did trade for Guillen.

        But Rogers did work out for what we signed him for originally. He was excellent in 2006, and was good in 2007 untill he got hurt. And you cant fault D.D. for Kenny getting hurt. From 1993 untill 2007 Rogers pitched over 165 innings every year but 2, and in those 2 he pitched 145 and 120. So its not like he was an injury prone pitcher.

        But once again, Dombrowski didnt know when to let a guy walk and resigned him for 2008. Same thing with Inge and Roberston, and even Willis who he extended even before he threw a pitch for them.

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      • Ddavid says:

        Kenny Rogers was far from excellent in 2006. He was, however, a pitch-to-contact groundball machine who reaped the benefits of having a world class infield defense behind him.

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      • Wally says:

        Yeah its really hard to fault d.d. when a 42 year old pitcher you are counting on for 200 IP gets hurt? Uh…. Injury prone or not he was OLD

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    • Ray says:

      5 Flyball pitchers + the league’s worst fielding outfield = a .500 season (at best)

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  11. Jim says:

    The tigers do have some interesting looking bats down on the farm that didn’t get mentioned. There’s Cale Iorg, Casper Wells, and a few others I can’t think of.

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  12. Jeff says:

    Basically, my whole point is:

    How can you say a team with a large payroll, lots of money coming of the books, and a G.M. whos only talent is making good free agent signings, is worse off than 21 other orangizations based only on the assumption that they MIGHT have to get rid of Cabrera or Maggs. The ecomony is bad in Detroit, this is true. While he might not average 35,000 at the park everynight, I am pretty sure we will still have 25-30 thousand.

    The factor that has them ranked so low is that they will have to lower payroll, but yet the owner just recently said his team will be big spenders in the next offseason.

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    • Matt B. says:

      I don’t think attendance has anything to do with the future prospects of the team. The grim economic outlook will impact there budget, this supposed 18-20 million they have to spend will not be there IMO.

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      • Jeff says:

        How does the ecomomy impact them then if not because of of gate reciepts? Maybe they lose some advertising money, but the only way I see it impacting them is at the gate. I know alot of revenue is from T.V., but the Tigers games have been the highest rated show in primetime for the last 2 years in Detroit. I am seriously, look it up. And Im not just talking cable TV, since the Tigers are on Fox Sports Detroit, Im taking all TV!!!! More people in Detroit watch the Tigers on a weeknight then watch American Idol or anyother show. No other team has as high of T.V. ratings as the Tigers. Teams in bigger markets may have more veiwers, but not a bigger percent of the population watching the games. That is why the Tigers were able to raise the payroll so dramaticlly in the first place. When they finally became competitive in 2006,this city fell in love with baseball all over again.

        Other teams such as the Yankees and Red Sox are also able to make alot more money since they own the station that thier games are on. Now if Illitch could only start his own station, even those teams wouldnt be able to compete in TV since Illitch would have TWO professional sports teams to broadcast on his station. While YES and NESN have to hunt for programing to supplement thier stations, Illitch could have 2 major sports franchise’s games to broadcast.

        I DONT KNOW WHAT HE IS WAITING FOR!

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      • Matt B. says:

        The city definitely fell in love again. I am a season ticket holder (though I am a Jays fan) for the Tigers, and 2 years ago, it was a magical experience each game! Walk-offs, big comebacks, Verlander NO-NO vs Mil (I attended). Last year, that wasn’t the case, the place was dead (atmosphere wise) and the team was out of it by May.

        We’ll see if the fans come back this year in the herds they have. Since about the AS Break of 2005 it has been a HOT ticket for sure. But they are gonna have a pretty big hit on the season ticket sales for this year. Before the AS break in 2005, the place was a ghost town and the park was empty (when Billy McMillon was considered a “prospect”)!

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  13. Jeff says:

    “Lackey for 10 million? I don’t think so. I think he’s over-rated, but he’s still worth more than that.”

    Maybe you werent paying attention to this offseasons contrats… If Lackey was a free agent this year, he would have been lucky wo get $10 million unless he was signed by the Yankees..

    Also, I meant $10 million per year, not a $10 million dollar contract.

    And to JH:

    “Teams that consistently build through free agency are almost always very bad if they’re not named the Yankees, Red Sox, or Mets.”

    Thats true that teams besides those 3 that try and build through free agency dont usually have success. Thats because they dont have enough money. The reason it does work for those 3 is that they do have the money to spend. Well the Tigers are going to spend. I dont think just beacuse they are the Tigers and not the Yankees thier spending wont work.

    Now personally I’d rather watch a team built through the farm like Tampa than a team of vets like the Tigers and Yankees, but if it works it works, and a winning team is a winning team.

    Do I think the Tigers are one of the top 10 teams going forward at this time? No, I do not. But do I think they have the resources to be better than alot of the teams listed ahead of them such as the A’s, Giants, Orioles, Twins, White Sox, Cleveland, Diamondbacks, and Cardinals? Yes

    True, all those teams have much better farm systems than the Tigers at this point, but they all have ownership who isnt going to spend the necessary money to win season in and season out. Thier farm systems are in much better shape, but it isnt like the Tigers do not know how to draft. The Tigers just happened to recently trade away most of the top talent. But D.D. has shown a great eye for talent (Porcello, Adam Miller, Granderson, Zumya, Cameron Maybin, Jurrjens, and Verlander) AND the willingness to spend on signing bonuses. We have Porcello only because ALL those teams listed decided they werent going to spend the money necessary to sign him.

    With the Tigers willingness to spend money on the draft, and to not miss with thier early draft picks, the farm system can make a nice rebound in the next 2 drafts. By the 2011 season, the Tigers will be able to somewhat rebuild thier system, AND rebuild their major league roster, while having the newly drafted players waiting in the wings.

    My whole point in all my posts is that a team that has ownership willing to spend whatever it takes to win, shouldnt be ranked lower than teams operating on a shoesttring budget.

    Florida is ranked at the bottom because thier ownership wont spend money, in spite of the fact that they have a good farm system, and a decent core of major leaguers. I cant understand why they would be ranked low because they wont spend when there are a bunch of teams like the Twins that also wont spend. If the Marlins are ranked that low because they wont spend money, all the other teams that refuse to spend should also be lower. Then you have the Tigers, who do spend and can rebuild thier farm very quickly while also rebuilding thier major league roster at the same time, ranked low justt because they MIGHT not be able to keep spending. i just think it is inconsistent.

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    • Wally says:

      “Maybe you werent paying attention to this offseasons contrats… If Lackey was a free agent this year, he would have been lucky wo get $10 million unless he was signed by the Yankees..”

      Lackey would have been the 2nd best pitcher in market this year. Three out of the last four years this site gives him a value of 20+ million, and the 4th year he was hurt and still got up to 8 million. His projected FIP and Innings put him comfortably in 15-18 range this year. Even in this reduced market, Lackey should easily command a 3+ year deal at 15 mil/year. The best comp might be the Lowe deal of 60 mil/4 years. But Lackey is even better than him….This leaves me to ask, who wasn’t paying attention again?

      And I know you meant 10 mil/year, but that idea is still stupid.

      “Thats true that teams besides those 3 that try and build through free agency dont usually have success. Thats because they dont have enough money. The reason it does work for those 3 is that they do have the money to spend. ”

      No, the yankees just have that much money, and the Red Sox and Mets have money AND a farm system that turns out some pretty good players (Wright, Reyes, Pedrioa, Lester…). Also, if the money just guarantees success at the level the Tigers spend, why did they do so poorly last year?

      “But do I think they have the resources to be better than alot of the teams listed ahead of them such as the A’s, Giants, Orioles, Twins, White Sox, Cleveland, Diamondbacks, and Cardinals? Yes”

      That’s just laughable. In the order above I’ll list where Keith Law ranked those team’s farm systems: 3rd, 9th, 10th, 21st, 23rd, 5th, 24th, 6th. I could maybe agree with you on the white sox. They have low farm system 23rd, not much on the big league roster, a questionable GM… and MAYBE the twins, if we assume they don’t have much of a chance this year with their big league club, but the GM brings them up a lot. But the rest is just comedy. The Giants have some upside on the farm in the next few years, an owner that invests, a great park, with lots of support, and a few good pieces on the big club. The D-backs don’t have much of a farm system because its all up at the big league level. They could make huge strides and expect to compete this year and for the next few years. The cards are sorta ham-strung by their manager, but have a lot of talent coming up to complement the big league team. The indians are the favorites in the division, have a good farm system, and a great GM. The O’s are in a tough division but have some young studs in the minors and on the MLB team. And the A’s are LOADED with prospects, have one of the best GMs in the game, a owner that lets him work and is willing to spend and is trying to get the team a new ballpark in SF territory. You’re comedy man.

      “True, all those teams have much better farm systems than the Tigers at this point, but they all have ownership who isnt going to spend the necessary money to win season in and season out.”

      What? Money isn’t everything. The A’s reached the playoffs 5 out of 7 years w/out big money. The Twins 4 out of 5. The D-ray’s last year. Cleveland has pretty much always been competitive lately on an average-below average budget.

      “Florida is ranked at the bottom because thier ownership wont spend money, in spite of the fact that they have a good farm system, and a decent core of major leaguers.”

      Because owner ship has the track record off selling off that talent before they have a chance to build a competitive team. Other teams don’t do that. They lock up young players through the arb years and let the team compete for 3-4 years before trading them or letting them walk (think what the A’s and Twins have done recently???).

      Lets just both agree that you don’t get it, shall we?

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      • Jeff says:

        Your kind of missing th point that is long term success we are talking about. Sure the Tigers farm system is in shambles right now, but your talking like the front office has a history of not being able to build a farm. The reason it is in shambles is because they just last year used most of the good talent to aquire major leauge talent. Its not like they didnt have the talent to begin with.

        The Tigers farm system was also in shambles when Dombrowksi took over, but he built it into a top 10 system going into 2006. He has shown a track record of getting good prospects and the ownership gives him the money to sign them. Porcello is the best example.

        Also, when I listed those teams, right after I said that ALL of them had a better farm than the Tigers. I said they didnt have the finacial resources that the Tigers have.

        Yes the Mets and Red Sox have money and good farms, while the Tigers right now only have money. BUT the Tigers can rebuild thier farm and have a track record of doing so.

        And with your pointing out of the different prospects on teams like the Orioles and A’s… Yes they have some good prospects rigth now. BUT THIS IS SUPPOSED TO BE LONG TERM HEALTH OF A TEAM, NOT WHAT A TEAM IS GOING TO DO IN THE NEXT 2 YEARS.

        Sure the orioles have some good pitchers coming up, but are they going to sign those guys when they hit free agency??

        And with the A’s , they are the exception because of thier GM. They can somehow susstain success even though they dont have a big budget.

        But like I keep saying, yes every year one or 2 small budget teams make the playoffs. But there are 20 small budget teams and only 1 or 2 are making it. There are about 10 big budget teams and some years HALF of them make the playoffs.

        I think the fact that you think that a team having 4 or 5 good prospects coming up in the next few year but no money to sign free agents and no money to resign thier own guys when they hit free agency puts them ahead of a team with a big budget is COMEDY.

        The Tigers can rebuild thier farm in 2 or 3 seasons. D.D. did it in 3 years from 2003 untill 2006. But a team with an owner that doesnt spend isnt going to change unless he sells the team or dies.

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      • Jeff says:

        Also, you basically take the fact that the A’s and Twins made the playoffs with a small budget and act like its that way throughout the league. What about the other 18 or 19 small budget teams that make the playoffs one time ever 10 years???

        The A’s are an exception. Plain and simple. They have the best GM in the game. The Twins had some good players under team control during those playoff years, but that doent mean its going to happen again.

        I was just stating my opinions, along with som fact about the Tigers that others that dont follow them so closely might not know about.

        You act like your opinions ARE facts. You think having some good prospects makes a team better than one with a large payroll and reasources. I disagree. I think having the ABILITY to rebuild a farm, and the ABILITY to sign big money free agents is more important than having a few good player in the minors at the present time.

        We can disagree, thats fine. But you had to get RUDE about it.

        D.D. runs teams differently than otherr GMs. A majority of GM’s build through the farm, and use statistical analysis more. But those GM’s have to build through the farm because they dont have the money to build through free argency.

        It kind of ticks me off that the alot of the statisitcal crowd looks down on GM’s who trade off prospects for PROVEN players, just because they cost more. If you have the money to spend, spend it!

        Anyway, you are rude, let both agree on that ok?

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      • Wally says:

        “Your kind of missing th point that is long term success we are talking about. Sure the Tigers farm system is in shambles right now, but your talking like the front office has a history of not being able to build a farm.”

        By long term (or exactly “we are evaluating clubs on their overall ability to contend for a World Series title in the future”), I’m thinking we mean like 1-4 years. A respectable farm system takes years to build when you don’t have valuable major league contracts to trade, which the Tigers don’t. If the Tigers don’t win this year, which doesn’t look very promising, its going to be a l–o–n–g rebuilding process.

        “Porcello is the best example.”

        And sadly the only example at this point.

        “Also, when I listed those teams, right after I said that ALL of them had a better farm than the Tigers. I said they didnt have the finacial resources that the Tigers have.”

        Right, but when you have so much young talent, you don’t need the financial resources of the Tigers to compete because young players are cost controlled.

        “BUT the Tigers can rebuild thier farm and have a track record of doing so.”

        Yes, but to do that they will need at least 2-3 drafts plus development time, and trading away most of their valuable MLB talent. That will take minimum 4 years, probably more like 6.

        “BUT THIS IS SUPPOSED TO BE LONG TERM HEALTH OF A TEAM, NOT WHAT A TEAM IS GOING TO DO IN THE NEXT 2 YEARS.”

        Young talent isn’t just 2 years, its more like 6. And by future, I do think the next season are two are included….

        “But there are 20 small budget teams and only 1 or 2 are making it. There are about 10 big budget teams and some years HALF of them make the playoffs.”

        Yeah, right, we know, money helps. And of course teams with lower payrolls tend to be in rebuilding modes, and thus have lower payrolls while not trying to compete. Further more some of those big market, big spending teams fail to compete year in, year out, and some of those small market teams do compete year in, year out. Long term success has more factors that just money. Yes money is one, but there are at least 4-5 other major factors involved. GMs, scouting departments, farm systems, owner meddling, coachs/managers, current big league talent, future prospects of the team’s market… Dave’s analysis here hits on most of the big ones, and money is just part of one of those things (in the owner category here).

        “The Tigers can rebuild thier farm in 2 or 3 seasons. D.D. did it in 3 years from 2003 untill 2006.”

        And look what happened sense. He built the farm system to respectability (it wasn’t great), had basically one year of success thanks to some unsustainable performances, traded his farm away and now the system needs to repeat? That’s what we have confidence in? No thanks. Dombrowski has been around a GM a long time (past 2 decades now) and has very little to show for it, with the Tigers or anyone else. He’s made 2 playoff appearances, and won a single WS. YAY, you have a guy that can take you to the playoffs about 10% of the time…

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      • Wally says:

        “What about the other 18 or 19 small budget teams that make the playoffs one time ever 10 years??? ”

        How are all but the top 10 teams “small budget?” Their are 12 teams with an average payroll over 100 million over the last 3 years. I would not say a team over 100 mil is “small budget.” I would say “small” would mean at least just the bottom 10. Which would put the line at about 70 million. Six of the bottom 10 teams in average payroll from 2006-2008 made the playoffs in that span. For the top ten that number is nine. Look I know payroll helps, but the whole point of this is that it isn’t everything, nor weighted as heavily as you seem to think. You can’t just buy a few free agents and compete, nor can you fully restock a farm system and get it producing above average MLB talent regularly in just a few years. Money doesn’t solve the farm system.

        “You think having some good prospects makes a team better than one with a large payroll and reasources. I disagree. ”

        No I think having a good GM (the Tigers don’t have that, he’s ok, but he’s below average), having MLB talent, and good prospects, an owner that invests and trusts his GM on an adequate payroll, can over come just having a big payroll, which your argument seems limited too.

        “It kind of ticks me off that the alot of the statisitcal crowd looks down on GM’s who trade off prospects for PROVEN players, just because they cost more. If you have the money to spend, spend it!”

        That’s all well and good, if you spend it on the right players, but often “proven players” are guys that will never be as good as they were the year you traded for them. So you end up buying high on them and selling low on your prospects. Not always, but it sure appears “DD” did that with Renteria. WTF he was thinking with Willis is basically beyond anyone with a functional frontal lobe. And the Cabrera signing was questionable in length and in per year value. Not to mention the prospects he gave up for these players…..

        You’re whole line of thinking on this is just terribly flawed. So they have Granderson, Cabrera, Verlander and a single good pitching prospect, great. Now you say they have 44 million to spend, that gets them 2 more top level FAs and maybe one or two B level FAs. But then the farm is depleted, so you can’t supplement that talent with anything worth while. You don’t have anything at the MLB level worth trading other than the guys above, who you’d need to compete, and by signing those FAs you’ve just lost your first 1-2 picks in each of the next two years, further pushing back the time until your farm system can help the big league team…. You just can’t follow your thoughts to a logical conclusion.

        PS, I don’t really care about being rude, I was nice, you didn’t get it. I progressively lost patience…… oh well, you still don’t get and you probably never will, so what’s the point in pleasantries?

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  14. Snapper says:

    “Maybe you werent paying attention to this offseasons contrats… If Lackey was a free agent this year, he would have been lucky wo get $10 million unless he was signed by the Yankees..”

    Jeff, if Lackey is available for $10M the Yankees will bid $11M. You think they’re out of the market after this year?

    SP got their money this year. Not just Sabbathia and Burnett, but Lowe, and even Oliver Perez.

    Lackey gets $65M/4 in a heartbeat.

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  15. Jeff says:

    One last thing… I know I hijacked the thread and have been very long winded, but i just feel very strongly on this.

    Anyways:

    The Rays this year have shown once again that teams built through the farm can be very good and compete for the World Series. Every year the las decade there has been one or teams in the playoffs with small budgets. EVERY analyst is always pointing this out.

    What they DONT point out is that out of the 8 teams who make the playoffs, half are usually always big market/big spenders.

    Sure there is going to be a Rays, or A’s, or Indians in the playoffs every year. BUT there is ALWAYS atleast 3 or 4 Yankees, Red Sox, Dodgers, Cubs, and Angels. It is a FACT that the big spenders consistently make the playoffs more often than the small market/non spenders.

    And the Tigers, with the renewed interest in this city, and inspite of the bad ecomomy, have joined the ranks of the big spenders. Alot of teams are owned by people who have to make money from the team. It is thier owners only business or their main source of income. Illitch’s 2 teams are basically his toys. His real estate company in Detroit, Little Ceasers Pizza, and most of all his Casino are hi real business. The Tigers will continue to spend

    This next thing is just my opinion and I cant really back it up, but it something I beleive.

    I think the ecomomy will not hurt the Tigers as bad as people think either. Baseball was HUGE during the great depression, and saw some of its bigges growth during that time period. When times are bad people turn to something to take thier mind off of thier troubles. It is the reason that during bad economic times gambleing and alcohol sales actually go UP! (another reason why Illitch will continue to spend, he owns a casino!) The people of Detroit need something to take thier mind off the bad economy, and I think this summer the Tigers will be that thing. Maybe they lose 5,000 fans a night form last year, but I think attednece will be as good as in 2007, and the Tigers spent all this money BEFORE last years record attendence. But if they arent at the park, they will be at home watching on TV. The Pistons are horrible this year compared to last season, thier tickets are much more expensive, but yet attendence isnt that far off from last year. People still want to be entertianed, and this city fell in love with the Tigers in 2006.

    The Love is still thier. And illitch still doenst have his ring.

    Vote -1 Vote +1

    • Wally says:

      “What they DONT point out is that out of the 8 teams who make the playoffs, half are usually always big market/big spenders.”

      WOW, half? That only leaves the other half….

      “BUT there is ALWAYS atleast 3 or 4 Yankees, Red Sox, Dodgers, Cubs, and Angels.”

      What ever you say man. No one questions that money helps, but if it meant as much as you seem to think it does, why did the team with the second highest payroll in baseball last year win 74 games last year? And the two teams in the WS had a combined payroll equal to that of that 74 win team? Money helps, ok, we know that, but there is more to it than that.

      Vote -1 Vote +1

      • Jeff says:

        Well the reason the team with the second highest payroll only won 74 games is 1. INJURIES! 2. alot of that payroll is in bad contracts, which come off the books in the next 2 years. Also, i just read an article quoting D.D. saying that he has learned from his mistakes of signing people to long term extenstions so quickly. If he eliminates that flaw, he would be one of the best in the game. He can draft, sign good free agents, he just cant let a guy leave the team without signing him to a bad contract. But he says that will change.

        And sure only 4 of the 8 playoff teams might be big budget teams, but there are only 8 or 9 big budget teams in baseball, while there are 20 or so small budget teams.

        So if 5 out of 8 big budget teams make it, while 3 or 4 out of 20 small budget teams make it, doesnt that show that big budget teams have a better chance????

        And yes there is more that matter than money… The prospects you have matter alot. first they are cheap and allow you to spend more money on other players, and they give a team balance between young and old, which i do think makes a big difference.

        But you act like the Tigers have had the worst farm in baseball history. The ONLY reason the farm is down right now, was D.D. used it to make a run at the W.S. by getting Renteria, AND he used it to aquire one of the 5 best hitters in the game who is also only 25 years old.

        Before Verlander, Granderson and Zumya came up, the Tigers had a top 10 system. They also drafted Andrew Miller, Maybin, Jurrjen, and Porcello. D.D. can draft, and has the money to sign prospects. I wouldnt be suprised if the farm is back in the top 10 in 3 years.

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      • Wally says:

        “Well the reason the team with the second highest payroll only won 74 games is 1. INJURIES!”

        Hmm, having an old line up doesn’t have anything to do with that? You relied on a 36 year old catcher, full productive seasons from 32 year old SS, 2nd baseman, and 3rd baseman, a 43 year old starter and 40 year old closer, a 34 year old outfielder after a career year?

        “2. alot of that payroll is in bad contracts, which come off the books in the next 2 years.”

        And in the mean time you still have the same GM that gave out those bad contracts signing new players….

        “Also, i just read an article quoting D.D. saying that he has learned from his mistakes of signing people to long term extenstions so quickly. If he eliminates that flaw, he would be one of the best in the game.”

        I’m gonna wait tell we actually see some evidence that he actually can do that before passing judgment.

        “And sure only 4 of the 8 playoff teams might be big budget teams, but there are only 8 or 9 big budget teams in baseball, while there are 20 or so small budget teams.”

        You are nuts, if you persist in thinking there are 20 small budget teams in baseball. The 12 largest budget over the last 3 years was over 100 million. You have to get down to ~18th to go below 80 million. And the word “small” is a relative term to begin with. If we compare to the Yankees, 29 teams are “small budget,” but when we compare to the average, its more like 10…. I can’t believe how many times I’ve said this… this will be the last time.

        “So if 5 out of 8 big budget teams make it, while 3 or 4 out of 20 small budget teams make it, doesnt that show that big budget teams have a better chance????”

        Yeah better chance, no chit. Did anyone ever say money doesn’t help? I don’t think so. But your whole point now revolves around the Tiger’s money. There is more too it. And the Tigers don’t have much of the rest of it. Their GM is below average, and their current talent in MLB and on the farm is lacking.

        “The prospects you have matter alot. first they are cheap and allow you to spend more money on other players, and they give a team balance between young and old, which i do think makes a big difference.”

        Yes, keep going…follow that line of….oh no….

        “But you act like the Tigers have had the worst farm in baseball history.”

        No, there are arguably worse systems in MLB right now, but the Tigers are right down there….sigh…

        “The ONLY reason the farm is down right now, was D.D. used it to make a run at the W.S. by getting Renteria, AND he used it to aquire one of the 5 best hitters in the game who is also only 25 years old.”

        And he totally miscalculated his chances…. we’re back on this “not a good GM” part again? Or is this the “MLB roster doesn’t have a lot of talent” part? I can’t tell.

        “I wouldnt be suprised if the farm is back in the top 10 in 3 years.”

        Only to see him totally screw the pooch once again? Are we going to watch him over pay (in prospects and dollars) for broken veterans (Willis, Renteria) to supplement a team that over achieved and made the playoffs in spite of “DD” again?

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  16. bikozu says:

    I don’t know how you can give a FO that signed D-Train long-term above a C, but other than that, good article.

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  17. Jeff says:

    Wally,

    You keep bringing up the fact that D.D. is a bad GM… I understand this. I only mentioned it about 20 times in my posts. His only good quality is drafting, and good free agent signings. I’ll take a Billy Beane, Epstien, or Byrnes anyday. But for not using statistical analysis, i dont think anyone has a better “eye” for talent or ability to build a roster than D.D. He just cant help extending the contract of anyplayer that plays for him.

    Anyway, it is very easy to take something another states and present a counter argument. It doesnt mean you are right. For every point you bring up, I can bring up a counter point. It seams to me though, that you think every single thing I have posted is wrong. Maybe you just dont like the Tigers, Im not sure, but I know that every single thing I said isnt as far off as you are making out.

    Also, with the small budget, big budget thing. you keep stateing that there arent as many small budget teams as I am saying. I think you are wrong. I think $20 million more in payroll is a HUGE difference. Thats 2 very good players. There are only 9 guys on a field at one time. Bring that up to a $40 million difference in payroll and thats 3 or 4 superstars that the other team doesnt have. One team with a payroll of $130 million and one with $80 million is a bigger difference than you are letting on. Thats 2 number 2 starting pitchers and 2 allstar hitters for the one team over 4 replacement level players.

    And the money is a big issue in the draft also. You took my Porcello example and turned it around into the fact that he is thier only good prospect. The fact is he was the 2nd best pitcher in that draft behind Price and should have gone in the top 5 or 6 picks. Yet 26 teams, most ranked better than the Tigers HAD to pass on him because they couldnt or werent allowed to pay his signing bonus. That is how the Tigers will be able to rebuild thier farm system.

    Vote -1 Vote +1

    • manifestus says:

      The whole point is that it comes down to talent evaluation combined with money. Jeff seems to continue to miss the blatantly obvious point that throwing chunks of money out there doesn’t solve anything when the (as he stated) not-so-stellar GM is still at the helm making those decisions. Yes, once in awhile even the dumbest GM can make an awesome signing by dumb luck. The extra 20 million you focus on is useless when you throw it at garbage. Given that based on past performance we shouldn’t expect said money to be used optimally, it’s a better bet that it’ll likely be a close-to-moot point. And what the heck is a number 2 starting pitcher? Someone quantify said fiscal value of this mystical concept …

      Back to the GM point. You first mention that D.D. has an eye for talent, then note that he also extend stupid contracts … the contracts are stupid only if it doesn’t fit the talent level. Which indicates a not-so-great-eye-for-talent. That is, extending a Sizemore or Pujols to uber-contracts is a smart move. Extending Bloomquist on a monster contract is retarded. Approaching this like a gambler with deep pockets and an inability to differentiate Pujols from Bloomquist makes your “eye” for talent a bit humorous.

      Money in the draft … well yes and no. They will be able to (or unable to) rebuild their farm system based on proper evaluation of talent and ability to sign and … a myriad of factors. And dumb luck as well. This isn’t exactly the NFL where every prospect jumps into the fray like Olerud. This can lead to spectacular flame-outs and so forth. Not to mention good teams will sign those players regardless. You mentioned Price; Tampa didn’t pass on Price for good reason, and they aren’t on your list of uber-money teams. If there is a legit surefire talent, you’d better bet on well-run teams signing those players.

      I’d go on but my fingers are getting tired from typing the same obvious crap that everyone before me has seemingly already attempted to drill into your head.

      PS. I apologize for coming off as a dick, but it’s unavoidable after having read the piles of nutty text.

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  18. mjb says:

    Nice analysis. I always have to laugh because it seems like each one of these has 1 fan that takes exception and spends a ridiculous amount of effort fighting an up-hill battle. The Lackey $10M is golden and personally I don’t see how 18M will go a long way in free agency to getting players to Detroit. IF spent intelligently (no track record of this) it can certainly help but not having significant contributions from arbitration/$330k young players.

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    • George says:

      I think Dombrowski has a GREAT track record of picking what free agents to sign. It’s when he extends or resigns his own players that he makes mistakes. As Jeff pointed out, Dombrowski’s big name signings were Pudge Rodriguez, Kenny Rogers, and Magglio Ordonez, which I think were all good signings. Maggs and Pudge worked out better than anyone could have hoped. Rogers was good in ’06 and was good before he got hurt in ’07. He was horrbile in ’08, but once again, he was resigned for 2008.

      Dombrowksi = good free agents signings + horrible resignings and extentions + mixed trade results.

      Some trades he made were great. Getting Polanco for a guy who is in a South American Prison! Others not so great. Giving up Jurrjens, a solid number 3 starting pitcher for Renteria in the year he decided to lose half his range and forget how to hit.

      I personally think that this Jeff guy was right on some his points. The Lackey for $10,000,000 thing isn’t as laughable as some of you are letting on. What did Dunn sign for this year? Like 5 million per year? And he has hit 40 homers for like 5 years straight!!!!!!

      Vote -1 Vote +1

      • Chip says:

        I don’t understand the thinking that a GM can be great in the FA market, but terrible in re-signing his own players. Isn’t it basically the same concept, evaluating MLB veterans? I’m just wondering how much of the fact that DD has done noticeably better in the FA market than in re-signing his own players is just coin-flipping?

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      • Rob in CT says:

        Was DD responsible for the offer the Tigers made to Juan Gonzalez? That would’ve been awful, but Juan Gone saved them by rejecting it.

        Vote -1 Vote +1

  19. Jeff says:

    I was bored..lol

    anyway, maybe I was off on the Lackey for $10 million… But guys like Abreu and Dunn got WAY less than people would have thought back in November… So Lackey for $10 million isnt a big of joke as you guys think IMO.

    And everything I have been saying is just my view… Maybe Im wrong in alot of it… But maybe not… I guess we will just have to look back in 5 years to know for sure… I hope Im right… maybe its just wishful thinking. And I never said that the Tigers are one of the 10 best franchises… I just dont think with the amount of money the ownership is willing to spend that they are in the bottom 10!

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  20. Wally says:

    And I spent far too much riding Jeff’s ars. (yes that one’s for you Ddave) Now I’m working over the weekend….

    Vote -1 Vote +1

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