Monday, November 15, 2010

Guys I Don't Want + Rookie of the Year

I don’t have a whole lot of new things to discuss, but I do want to keep posting at least once a week so that you don’t think I’ve up and abandoned you. It should go without saying that I still haven’t gained much enthusiasm for the Hot Stove. The GM meetings start tomorrow. If it follows the pattern that it did in years past, there will be a few signings or trades, but mostly it’ll spur a bunch of rumors about who is on the block. This year, all the deadlines (free agency, exclusivity window, arbitration, etc) are all earlier than they had been, so whether this affect what goes on at these meetings remain to be seen (I’m not going to even get into the frightfest that is the Winter Meetings yet). However, the more I read all these rumors about who the Tigers might be interested, the less enamored I am of available candidates (with the obvious exception of Magglio Ordoñez). It’s like getting a bunch of money, then arriving at the store and discovering that there’s really nothing you want to buy. I’ve gotten fairly adept at recognizing the weak points of anyone the Tigers have been rumored to be interested in. The name that’s popped up most often is Victor Martinez. He’s a good hitter, but he’s a terrible catcher. I suppose he’d make for a decent enough DH (And yes, I have heard the argument that he’s more valuable as a catcher than as a DH because his offensive numbers look better when compared to the average catcher than the average DH, but I personally don’t care what position the offense comes from as long as it comes from somewhere, though when it comes to catchers, I place a very heavy emphasis on defense; besides, Victor Martinez would provide more offense at DH than most of the Tigers’ DHs have given in the past several years). Obviously, the Tigers aren’t publicly saying what they would do with him if they do sign him, but the most commonly held belief is that they would have him DH against right-handed starting pitchers (with Alex Avila catching) and catch against left-handed starters. I send condolences to any of the Tigers’ starting pitchers who have to oppose a lefty (especially since at least three members of the starting rotation will be right-handed), but I suppose it’s preferable to the other way around. However, if Alex Avila is destined to be the Tigers’ catcher of the future, he’s got to start against left-handed pitching at some point. As far as the other big bats the Tigers have been linked to (though more from a conjecture standpoint than any actual rumor), Adam Dunn’s defense is worse than Victor Martinez’s and he doesn’t want to DH, Jayson Werth is too streaky, and Carl Crawford is enticing at this moment, but he’s likely going to demand a contract length that takes him past his sell-by date.

The trade market is even less enticing. One of the more puzzling rumors is that the Tigers are interested in Dan Uggla. Uggla’s got some good power, but I don’t really think he’s that good a fit in Detroit at this time. First of all, the Tigers already have Will Rhymes, Scott Sizemore, and possibly Carlos Guillen jockeying for playing time at second base. Granted, Uggla could provide more offense than any of them, but it’d still be better to avoid such a traffic jam (although having a position already occupied has not stopped the Tigers in the past). Second, Uggla is not a good defender. The Tigers have already re-signed Jhonny Peralta to play shortstop, and I’d probably categorize is defense as slightly below average (even though he exceeded my expectations of him this year). Having Brandon Inge at third makes up for this somewhat, but I’d prefer to have a good defender at second to make up for it in the other direction (yes, that means I do prefer Will Rhymes over Scott Sizemore, but spring training should be a factor). Third, Uggla’s a year away from free agency. The Marlins are likely to ask for a lot (supposedly they’re after relief pitching), and the price is probably too high for just a one-year rental, especially since I don’t think the Tigers are going to fill all their holes in one offseason. And I have a feeling that extending him would be unwise.

My final note for today is that Austin Jackson has placed second in the Rookie of the Year voting. The reason that this note is buried is because I had started this post with the intention of previewing the Rookie of the Year race. However, I expected the results to be announced sometime after four o’clock, so I was shocked when the announcement of Neftali Feliz was all over Twitter at about 1:30 (not necessarily shocked that he had won it, just shocked that it got announced so early). And yes, I know that it is now way past four o’clock, but as the results were posted before I finished, I lost the need to hurry this post. Anyways, I’m not sure I can be fair about this, because all I really saw of Feliz this year was when he pitched against the Tigers and then when he pitched in the postseason (which wasn’t much). He wasn’t that great against the Tigers. One of his three blown saves came against the Detroit (he proceeded to get the win in that game because Ryan Perry had a meltdown in the bottom of the inning). He also gave up two home runs later in the same series. Even in the appearances in which he pitched scoreless, it didn’t seem like the Tigers were overmatched against him. In the postseason, he looked scared and he walked quite a few. I guess what I don’t really like is that he pitched 31 innings last year. The cutoff to retain rookie status is 45 innings, so he wasn’t exactly green. Austin Jackson hadn’t so much as seen one pitch in the majors before this year. I’m not as disdainful of saves as those who believe that anyone right down to the guy who plays the trumpet outside Comerica Park all the time should be able to get three outs in the ninth inning, but it just seems like Austin Jackson had more of an impact. And then when the voters talk about Feliz leading his team into the postseason, they’re being hypocritical, because they picked Andrew Bailey last year and he was on a last place team. However, what this does do is make it all but certain that Josh Hamilton will be named MVP. The assumption was that if Austin Jackson was Rookie of the Year, then Miguel Cabrera would have a chance at MVP because it would demonstrate that the voters were at least paying a little bit of attention to Detroit baseball this year. But it’s becoming clear that baseball awards are a lot like the Academy Awards (which I love watching; don’t get me wrong): The winners tend to be those who get the bigger buzz and more screen time, whether they’re the best ones or not.

1 comment:

  1. You make some valid points with the guys you don't want to see on the Tigers but still... each and every one of those guys would make a huge impact on our lineup, especially for protecting Miggy.

    A side note -- just thought I'd drop you a compliment on your writing. I see your posts all the time on BYB but this is the first time I've ever checked out your blog. Keep up the good work.