As I’ve now had two days to reflect on the big Sanchez/Infante trade, one thing has become clear to me. And that’s that Dave Dombrowski still has work to do.
We need another bat. I’ve said for a while that a corner outfielder with some pop in his bat needed to be the Tigers’ top priority at the trade deadline, not second base or a pitcher. I think the team was good enough to win the AL Central without making the deal with the Marlins. And yes, it did make them better and give them a better shot at making the World Series. But it’s not enough.
Austin Jackson is fine in center. But the LF, RF, DH combination of Quintin Berry, Andy Dirks, Brennan Boesch, Ryan Raburn, and Delmon Young does not bode well when matching up in the playoffs against the Rangers, Angels, and Yankees. Boesch and Young are too impatient, too hot and cold, and awful on defense. Raburn is a lost cause at this point. Even I finally admit that. Dirks is unproven and not guaranteed to continue his hot start. And Berry, while a fast runner with the heart of a lion/unicorn hybrid, has come back to earth hitting .226 in July and .133 in the past week.
Again, I feel this team takes the AL Central easily barring any serious injury issues. But you can’t count on 2011 Victor Martinez riding into town to save the day. Another move needs to be made if they want to win it all. As I was preparing to write this today, I saw that Lynn Henning wrote something similar for the News. After being completely horrified for a while that Lynn and I were on the same page for the first time since the Granderson trade, I couldn’t help noticing that while Henning had a similar idea, he offered no solutions.
That’s where we differ. With the additional Wild Card team this year, everyone says there’s less selling teams in 2012. Well, there are eleven teams (only three from the AL) that are ten or more games back in their divisions. I’m confident in saying they’ll be selling if they’re smart. The Tigers need a corner outfielder, preferably one that bats right-handed. Here’s a look at those teams and the potential trade targets on each.
Kansas City Royals, 41-55 (10.5 games back)
Jeff Francour, RF: .242/.293/.362, 8 HR, 27 RBI, 76 OPS+
No. Francour would be a huge improvement on defense, especially with his cannon of an arm (ask Jhonny Peralta), but he’s a worse offensive player than any of our guys. I’d even take my chances with Ryno rising from the ashes in August over Francour. It’s a shame Billy Butler can’t play a defensive position. If he could, the guy’d be perfect. If Victor wasn’t coming back in 2013, I’d say go for Butler at DH. But he is and I’m not. Regardless, Jeff Francour sucks.
Minnesota Twins, 40-57 (12 games back)
Josh Willingham, LF: .274/.385/.568, 25 HR, 72 RBI, 158 OPS+
Josh has been the best player on the Twins and teams are frothing at the mouth trying to get him from them. We have no shot at acquiring him.
Seattle Mariners, 43-56 (15.5 games back)
Casper Wells, LF: .255/.324/.436, 6 HR, 25 RBI, 115 OPS+
How bad are the M’s right now? Upstate Balla is probably their best hitter. And no. We do not want anything to do with him over the guys we have now. Sorry, girls.
San Diego Padres, 41-58 (15 games back)
Carlos Quentin, LF: .267/.383/.514, 9 HR, 22 RBI, 151 OPS+
Quentin, while an abortion on defense, is a beast with the bat. He’s also a constant injury risk. I think he’d be the ideal DH and part-time outfielder, but San Diego recently decided to keep him and gave him an extension. It would most likely take a huge haul to pry him away now.
Colorado Rockies, 36-60 (18.5 games back)
Michael Cuddyer, RF: .264/.321/.488, 14 HR, 53 RBI, 103 OPS+
Now we’re getting somewhere more realistic. Cuddyer’s not having as good of a year as he normally does, but one, he’s in his first year in the NL after eleven with Minnesota. And two, it can’t be easy to succeed in that Rockie lineup nowadays. He’s signed for $10.5 million a year through 2014, so he’d stick around until Castellanos is ready to come up. And with Colorado needing any help they can get, I think you could flip a Boesch or Dirks with some prospects to get him. Or maybe I’m nuts. Probably. But I think Cuddyer would be better than Boesch or Young at protecting Prince Fielder a bit in the lineup.
Milwaukee Brewers, 44-52, (12.5 games back)
Corey Hart, RF: .260/.318/.490, 17 HR, 47 RBI, 112 OPS+
Another interesting idea. The Tigers have been rumored to be interested in Hart before. And Prince would probably be happy to see him. Hart has more power than Cuddyer, and is also younger and cheaper at $9 million this year and $10 million next. I’d at least kick the tires on him and see if the Brewers would be willing to listen.
Chicago Cubs, 40-56 (16.5 games back)
Alfonso Soriano, LF: .274/.324/.503, 19 HR, 58 RBI, 122 OPS+
I don’t like Soriano. And he’s incredibly overpriced at $18 million a year through 2014 and he’s already in his mid-30’s. But if you’re going for broke this year you might want to think about it. But I think Cuddyer and Hart are better options so far.
Houston Astros, 34-64 (23.5 games back)
Right. Moving along…
New York Mets, 47-50 (10.5 games back)
No players meet the criteria.
Miami Marlins, 45-52 (12.5 games back)
Giancarlo Stanton, RF: .284/.364/.554, 19 HR, 50 RBI, 143 OPS+
Keep dreaming. Even the Marlins aren’t foolish to let the 22 year old slugger go. No chance in hell.
Philadelphia Phillies, 44-54 (14 games back)
Hunter Pence, RF: .268/.336/.451, 17 HR, 58 RBI, 111 OPS+
The 29 year old is a favorite of mine and is having possibly the worst season of his career in Philly’s aging and injury ravaged lineup. He makes $10.5 million this year and is under team control until 2014. Given the huge raise the Phillies just gave to Cole Hamels, they’ll be looking to cut payroll and have been said to be open to moving Pence. But would the Tigers have enough to offer them? Castellanos would most likely be asked for with other players. That’s when the Tigers have to ask themselves if they’re really all in to win right now. Is Pence worth giving up Castellanos/Smyly/Boesch/more?
I’m convinced that something still needs to be done. I have very little confidence in the team’s chances to win a World Series with three of the current guys in the lineup at LF, RF, and DH. But with Cuddyer, Hart, or Pence, I like their chances a whole lot more.
If they do nothing, and Sanchez is the rental that DD says he is, the team just basically traded two of their three top prospects for an AL Central crown that we already probably were going to win and a year of the guy we let go for Jacques Jones.
Seems like a waste the more you think about it, doesn’t it? Do what you’ve got to do, Dave.