Friday, December 30, 2011

Tiger "Letdowns" of the Past Decade

Someone forwarded me a link to an article at Bleacher Report on the ten biggest Tiger letdowns of the past decade. Normally, I avoid BR like Don Kelly avoids productive offense, since it tends to make my head hurt and the voices inside start telling me to burn things. I’m sure many of you have had similar experiences there. But it’s a decent enough topic, even though I disagree with the majority of the author, Sean Rinehart’s choices.

For those of you expecting me to do my usual poor-man’s Ken Tremendous FJM hack job on it, I’m sorry. There’s no need. It’s written decently enough, in my opinion, but I just think there were better choices to be made. We all have our different versions of what a letdown is, I guess.

If you aren’t in the mood to sort through the annoying slideshow that they like to do there for some reason, here’s the author’s list of letdowns.

10. Neifi Perez
9. Alex Sanchez
8. 2006 Detroit Tigers
7. Fernando Vina
6. Joel Zumaya
5. 2008 Detroit Tigers
4. Edgar Renteria
3. Jarrod Washburn
2. 2009 Detroit Tigers
1. 2003 Detroit Tigers

Personally, I find the majority of these to not be considered “letdowns”. After the jump, I’ll get into why and what I would have chosen in their places.

Okay, here’s what I’d take out.

He lists Neifi as a letdown due to his salary and his drug problems. I don’t consider $2.5 million for a guy with an okay track record as too ridiculous and I never had any real expectations for Perez in the first place.

Sanchez made his list due to fizzling out after his strong showing in in 2004. Again, I don’t consider him a letdown, either, because I never thought he’d amount to much anyway. He was just another in the Brian Hunter/Nook Logan/Roger Cedeno mold that the team kept trying to put out there in center.

He calls the ’06 team a letdown due to the team fizzling down the stretch and only winning one game against St. Louis in the World Series. Personally, I think anyone calling the ’06 bunch a letdown is fucking insane. No one expected them to come close to what they did that year and it’s criminal to consider that season a letdown in any way.

Vina, like Perez, isn’t a letdown to me because I didn’t expect much out of a broken down player cashing in on one last payday. It was a bad signing…not a letdown. Vina was no star.

Zumaya hasn’t been a letdown. He’s been a sad story of really bad luck.

He calls Renteria a letdown for his poor numbers and being traded for “potential star Jair Jurrjens”. Look. No one thought Jurrjens was going to develop into the solid player he’s been for the Braves. And through Edgar was coming off a season where he somehow hit .332 with Atlanta, his .270, 10, 55 numbers weren’t that far off his “prime” years in St. Louis. I get his inclusion on the author's list, but I just think there were better choices.

I don’t like calling the entire 2009 season a letdown. I’d prefer to call the final four games a letdown, when they became the first team in history to blow a three game lead in its last four contests. Don’t bury the whole season over it. And I’m not going to talk about Game 163 since I don’t feel like being talked off a ledge again.

Finally, the ’03 bunch, no matter how awful, were not a letdown. They were a group of overwhelmed talent put out there by a terribly run franchise. A bunch of AA and AAA players losing 119 games to Major League teams isn’t a letdown. It was just an abortion of a team that never should have happened in the first place.

That leaves Washburn and the 2008 bunch as the only two that I agree with, along with the last four games of 2009. So, I have to come up with seven better choices as “letdowns” and figure out a whole new list of the Top Ten Biggest Tiger Letdowns of 2002-2011.

10. Jacque Jones

From 1999-2005, Jones hit .279 with 132 homers for the Twins. From ’04-’06, he didn’t hit fewer than than 23 bombs with Minnesota and the Cubs. And through he had a poor 2007, when the Tigers traded Omar Infante to Chicago to acquire Jacque to be the starting left fielder, myself and many Tiger fans were excited at the possibility of a rebound year. Instead, Jones only played in 24 games, hit .165, and was released by mid-May. $6.3 million down the drain.

9. Aubrey Huff

Down the stretch in 2009, the Tigers looked to trade for an impact bat to solidify the lineup. In Huff, Dave Dombrowski thought he had found the answer and traded minor league prospect Brett Jacobson for him. The year before, Huff had hit .304 with 32 homers for Baltimore. And despite his mediocre .253 average and 13 homers at that point, DD and others thought a change of pace and a pennant race would re-energize Huff. Instead, the new Tiger middle of the order threat hit .189 with only 2 homers in 40 games to finish the season. To add insult to injury, the next season he’d be an MVP candidate in San Francisco and win a World Series. Dick.

8. Nate Robertson

The Patron Saint of this blog had supposedly turned a corner in the 2006 season. He was Mr. Gumtime and had an ERA of 3.84 in 208+ innings. That was enough for DD to reward Nate with extensions totaling over $24 million over the next four years. Sadly, in that time Robertson would lose any and all effectiveness and become a punchline before being sent off to the Marlins while the Tigers ate his salary. To this day, he toils around in the minors wondering what ever happened to his fastball and slider.

7. The Demise of Bobby Higginson

Yeah, this one breaks my heart. But I’m trying to be fair. In 1996, Higgy emerged as one of the bright young stars in the game, hitting .320 with 26 homers. For the next several years, he was one of the lone bright spots on some otherwise terrible Tiger teams. Finally, the team rewarded him in 2003 with nearly $30 million over the next three years. In that time, injuries and a shitty attitude destroyed the relationship between Bobby and many fans as he would never be the same player again. Higginson remains my favorite Tiger ever, but $30 million for sub-.250 hitting and no power is still hard to swallow and was a major letdown after his fine prime years in the D.

6. Carlos Pena

The Rangers selected Pena 10th overall in the 1998 draft. After being involved in a 6 player trade to Oakland, he was dealt to the Tigers as the crown jewel of the famous Jeff Weaver deal. So obviously, he was highly valued by at least three franchises. And he showed potential, especially with the long ball. I remember attending at game in Cleveland where he hit three homers and thought he was finally breaking out. But the guy was a strikeout machine and never developed the way the Tigers expected before being released in March of 2006. In 2007, he would hit 46 homers for the Rays. Shit.

5. Gary Sheffield

With San Diego, Florida, LA, Atlanta, and the Yankees, Sheff had hit at least 30 homers in a season for each of them before arriving in Detroit in a trade for three prospects after the 2006 season. Sheff was supposed to add some mega-pop to the Tiger lineup, but instead was mediocre by his standards. He hit .265 and .225 in his two years in Detroit with just 31 total homers in 247 games. Then, he was released just before the beginning of the 2009 season and the team is still making payments to Sheffield to this day. I don’t think that’s what anyone expected when the Yanks shipped him over.

4. The team’s treatment of Alan Trammell after 2003.

This one still pisses me off. The Tigers put a bunch of scrubs on the field in 2003, but had local heroes Trammell, Kirk Gibson, and Lance Parrish on the coaching staff. It was obviously a way to still have good will with the fans, despite such a shit product on the field. After three years of giving Trammell and company below standard ballplayers, they cut him loose in favor of Jim Leyland before 2006. They also finally gave the Tigers some real players, as well. It was a real classless and disappointing way to treat the ex-Tigers, especially Trammell, when they were in a losing situation to begin with. It wasn’t until this past season in Arizona where the guys were able to show what a job they could do with actual Major League talent on the field, leading the D-Backs to the playoffs.

3. Jarrod Washburn

Before Doug Fister suffered from a lack of run support in 2011 in Seattle, Jarrod Washburn had a similar year going in 2009 with a weak 8-6 record in 20 starts despite an ERA of 2.64. During their playoff run, the Tigers acquired Washburn for the stretch. But he didn’t seem to be the same man going 1-3 with a 7.33 ERA in 8 Detroit starts. What appeared to be a sure thing at the time ended up being a gigantic waste of time. Washburn never pitched in the Majors again.

2. Last Week of 2009

Epic fail.

1. 2008 Detroit Tigers

Nothing was more of a letdown to me in the past decade than this team. ESPN was actually paying attention to the Tigers in the preseason. Most experts picked them to win the AL Central easily and possibly set a runs scored record with their impressive-on-paper offense. Instead, they played like dogshit and finished dead last in the Central. It was an embarrassment to a growing fanbase that was really expecting something special.

So there. That’s my verison.

As always, let me know anything you think I may have missed.


Adam Dubbin said...

4. The team’s treatment of Alan Trammell after 2003. "

I love you again Rogo.

KevOB said...

Glad I could bring this to your attention through BT, when I read the 2006 Tigers I about had an stroke. 

Crunruh said...

I felt reading that post that you were reading my mind.  I also considered the December 2000 trade of Doug Brocail, Nelson Cruz and Brad Asmus for Chris Holt, Roger Cedeno and Mitch Meluskey a let down. Jeremy Bonderman's career path was considered as well.

Jay Hathaway said...

 Yeah, I would throw Bondo in there, too, I think, just because he seemed to have the right stuff to be a good #2 starter for a long time.  Huff is definitely on my list, along with most of yours.  I thought Big Red Shelton was the next Cecil when he jumped out of the gates hitting homers a few years back.  Not so much.  Honorable mentions: the failed experiments of Raburn being the everyday left fielder that was going to hit 30 homers, and Phil Coke as our token lefty starter (though I think with more time he would have been serviceable).

And yes, Tram and co. got F'd in the A.

Wgs said...

Aubrey Huff....... let's just say all my baseball rage and angst can be represented by Aubrey Huff popping up with men in scoring position.  Die, Aubrey, Die!!!! 

SRogo said...

Considered Bondo and Shelton. But left Jeremy off due to injuries and Shelton due to no one really having expectations for him before his two weeks of fame.

SRogo said...

Thanks, dude.

Blake VandeBunte said...

The 2008 pick as the worst is a good one.   I agree 100%, I was never so excited for a Tigers season as I was for that one.  My dad and I bought one of those 30 game ticket packages and spent the spring/summer of 2008 driving all over the state of Michigan, watching the Tigers play like shit the entire time.

Heliosphan said...

2008 could be 1-10 on the list and I'd agree with it. 

abc said...

Great list. The only thing I would have done different would have been to include D-train and his immediate 3-year, $29 million contract extension.