The Detroit Tigers lost another baseball game last night. This is not new. This team is losing games at a pace not seen in Detroit since the Alan Trammel years.
Hope is on the horizon, however, as the trade deadline looms on July 31st and the Tigers still have (for the time being) Trader Dave at the helm and there is no way he stands pat with this current roster.
There have been discussions regarding which direction the Tigers will go, if they will sell off the few prospects they have in the pipeline for help in another run at the playoffs this year or if they will sell of the pending free agents they have to re-stock the barren cupboards they have in the minors.
I’m of the mindset that they must sell and here is why:
1.) Miguel Cabrera is hurt.
For the first time in his career, Miguel Cabrera went on the DL & missed significant time. This team was a borderline playoff team with the best hitter on the planet, for 6 to 8 weeks with out him, they can’t win a game.
With out Miggy in the heart of the order, things are going to get worse, even if he returns on August 15th, the playoffs will be so far gone that coming back to qualify is out of the question.
2.) Its a great opportunity to punt
In years past, even in 2008, 09, 10, the Tigers didn’t have much to sell and wouldn’t receive much in return. This year is different, David Price, who the Tigers just acquired at last year’s trade deadline, could bring back 3+ pitching prospects along the lines of what the Cincinnati Reds just received for Johnny Cueto.
Yoenis Cespedes, could return some above average prospects as well, same for Joakim Soria. None of these prospects would be considered top level, future All Stars, but in the Tigers system, they would definitely bring some added depth that they’ve lost after years of selling off any prospect of value.
3.) The core is coming back
In a win now mode for years and hopefully in the foreseeable future as well, if they react the right way, right now. Giving up on one season does not mean you can’t compete the following year, look at the 2012 then 2013 Boston Red Sox. Last place finish to winning the World Series (and beating the Tigers in the ALCS).
The Tigers have Jose Iglesias, Anthony Gose & James McCann up the middle playing great defense & contributing offensively and are cheap. J.D. Martinez has been fantastic at the plate and in Right Field, Nick Castellanos is coming alive at the plate & at just 23 years old, showing why the Tigers wouldn’t trade him at previous deadlines.
Ian Kinsler has had his ups and downs, but he’s locked up through 2017, Miguel Cabrera is here for the long haul, so is Victor Martinez and that is a good place to start for a contending team.
The Rotation needs work, so does the bullpen, but at least half the team is set for 2016 and with the right additions, the Tigers can make another run at the division next year.
4.) Deep Free Agent Market
David Price, Johnny Cueto, Zach Greinke, Jeff Smardijza, Mike Leake, Jordan Zimmerman, Doug Fister…
Those are some examples of the free agent pitchers available in the coming year. This is a year that a team can turn its fortunes around quickly by grabbing the right guy or two to add to a current rotation.
If Mike Illitch is serious about winning now and mortgaging the future, this December is the time to do it, not July, 2015.
5.) Selling will cause more losing
If the Tigers sell and re-stock the farm (to an extent) they would also, lose more. Which in this case is a good thing. If the Tigers can fall to the bottom 10 records in baseball, they can protect their top draft pick if they sign one of the above mentioned free agents.
In today’s game, when signing marquee free agents, a team forfeits its top pick, if they sign 2, they forfeit their top 2 picks, unless they are picking in the top 10, in which case, they would lose their 2nd round pick, then 3rd round and so on.
This would mean that the club could sign multiple top end free agents (if they wanted to, please be Greinke) and still have a premium draft pick, to also help boost the farm system.
Bonus reason: The current rumor is that the Tigers are looking to add starting pitching, which they need, but that pitcher is Mike Leake.
Mike Leake is a fine pitcher, if the Tigers signed him as a free agent I would be fine with that, but anyone that has been watching this team knows they are a lot further away from making the playoffs than just Mike Leake.
Look at this team and tell me they are just one or two pieces away and I will tell you that you are very wrong. They are so far from contending that they need a drastic overhaul in the next two days to compete or it won’t make a difference.