With the season winding down, the Tigers front office is most likely hard at work sculpting an off season plan of action as we speak.
I know that the season is not over, I know the playoffs are still a possibility, however, at no point in time should Dave Dombrowski, Alex Avila’s Dad and David Chadd not be focused on making the roster better.
This means at every point of everyday, each of them should be focused on that, including in late September of a playoff push.
So, since they are focused on it, I figured I would be too. I have a few ideas of what I think the Tigers can do this off season that will put them in a position to be a contender next year for the World Series.
This is also only about the actual players, the coaches and managers can be discussed another day or in the comments, but here is a path I think the front office should take:
Let Delmon Young walk away. Let Jose Valverde walk away. Don Kelly? GTFO.
Raburn and Laird can get lost too.
But, exercise the option on Jhonny Peralta for $6MM.
Despite lowered production from 2011 to 2012 and the perceived lack of defensive mobility, Peralta ranks 6th in baseball in WAR for shortshotps and unless the Rangers decide that rookie prospect Jurickson Profar is the future at short and decide to trade Elvis Andrus, there isn’t really an improvement available.
And that statement is so outrageous that I considered not even typing it but it shows the lack of depth at shortstop quite well. Elvis Andrus is only 24 years old and is already a perennial All-Star. Trading players like that away will not make your team better.
Peralta ranks 4th in MLB in UZR and 3rd in UZR/150:
from FanGraphs: Ultimate Zone Rating (UZR) is one of the most widely used, publicly available defensive statistics. The theory behind UZR is tougher to intuitively grasp than Defensive Runs Saved (DRS), but the simplified version is that UZR puts a run value to defense, attempting to quantify how many runs a player saved or gave up through their fielding prowess (or lack thereof)..
His rating puts him in the above average to great range over the last two years with the Tigers. Now I understand that Peralta is not a great defensive shortstop like this rating can insinuate, however the upgrade defensively isn’t as high as most people would think and the loss of offense makes up for it.
This leaves only a starting OF spot available unless the Tigers want to go into next year still trying to utilize Brennan Boesch as the starting Right Fielder and I just don’t believe they want to or that he can provide what they need.
To address this opening the Tigers should sign free agent CF Jacoby Ellsbury and move him to RF. Ellsbury provides true back up to Jackson in CF and true lead off hitter. Moving from CF will take some strain off his body and help prevent against injuries.
This move is designed at a one year run at the World Series. I think after the 2013 and 2014 seasons that Dave Dombrowski has a lot of work to do with this organization but to have some of the players he has right now, in their prime, they need to address a few holes to simply put them over the top and I believe this will do that, provided Ellsbury and the entire roster stays reasonably healthy.
Scott Boras represents Ellsbury and is looking for a stupid contract again and even though I’d like at some point Dombrowski stop being the guy Boras runs to with his clients to get over paid at this point I don’t care.
Mike Illitch not leaving an extra $10 MM to his children when he dies because of another contract like this doesn’t affect my life so I say go for it.
This team is close to being over the top and a few tweaks will help out a great deal. Despite big expectations for this year, they could only fall 5-8 wins lower than most expectations so no overhaul will be needed.
Projected Line Up:
1. Jacoby Ellsbury, RF
2. Andy Dirks, LF
3. Miguel Cabrera, 3B
4. Prince Fielder, 1B
5. Victor Martinez, DH
6. Austin Jackson, CF
7. Johnny Peralta, SS
8. Omar Infante, 2B
9. Alex Avila, C
For the rest of the roster:
Back Up Catcher
Andy Oliver/Daniel Schlereth
So, as you can see, lightning rods Phil Coke, Daniel Schlereth and Joaquin Benoit are still in the pen but that is because their contracts force them there to start the year. All bull pen pitchers are interchangeable so this can easily be very different by June.
The rotation is set for the most part. Smyly is a slight question mark but has earned a longer look next year in the rotation and unless they trade Porcello for a better pitcher he wins that last spot as there aren’t any internal options left.
The return of Victor Martinez acts as another off season acquisition and helps out a lot, ensuring the ability to let players leave via free agency next year and keeping Quintin Berry as the extra outfielder adds speed and defense to the bench. Much more so than Young or Raburn.
The gloves left on the bench are exactly that, gloves. Danny Worth is fine same with Ramon Santiago, guys that can play multiple positions above average offer flexibility in case of emergency.
This is simply one option the Tigers can take during the 2012-13 off season but with a quite weak free agent market and a pretty bad group of prospects, they don’t have a lot of options.
So going this route will address a few of the issues that came up in 2012 and hopefully fix them for a better run in 2013.