Thursday, July 14, 2011

Don't Expect Big Moves From Tigers at Deadline

After the All-Star break the focus in baseball shifts to the next biggest mark on the calendar; the trade deadline. It's at this point when a fan can tell whether their team is calling it quits for the season or if there is a legitimate chance at going to the post season.

The Detroit Tigers aren't any different than most baseball teams; they are in the hunt and are looking to be buyers at the deadline.

Fans have suggested all sorts of trades, none of which show much knowledge of the game. Trades such as the Tigers trading Ryan Raburn and Brandon Inge for any number of players, including; Jose Reyes, Hunter Pence, David Price, Matt Kemp and Clayton Kershaw.

First of all, none of those players will be heading to Detroit. They cost too much and the Tigers have one of the weakest farm systems in the majors. The Mets are clearing salaries in order to make a play for Reyes in the off season, they won't trade him because he's their shortstop of the future. Pence has burst onto the scene in recent seasons, but seeing as he is one of the only bright spots in Houston they will be unlikely to trade their franchise player away for a handful of prospects.

David Price is one of the most ludicrous proposals suggested; he is arguably the best pitcher in the Tampa Bay rotation and they're just supposed to trade him away? Not a chance, this guy nearly won the Cy Young and will only continue to dominate batters in the future. Matt Kemp and Clayton Kershaw have the unfortunate luck of having to play for the Dodgers, despite their financial troubles it's unlikely that Los Angeles would have a fire sale when they're trying to become competitive again. A losing team isn't as appealing to potential buyers as one that has a chance at winning.

The Tigers have several holes to fill at the deadline, but it remains to be seen whether they will address those via trades or by promoting from within. They will have to look at either second or third base and look to find a fourth or fifth starter around the deadline in order to remain in the hunt for the post season.

One of the most glaring holes in the Tigers is at third base, Brandon Inge is currently the starter but is on the verge of being relieved of that role. He is batting .182 at the All-Star break and was threatened by Manager Jim Leyland to either step up his production or be ready not to play. Detroit can either promote Don Kelly to the full time third base position or they can go out and make a deal for a third baseman who would also be able to fill in at second base to help the struggling Ryan Raburn.

Infield Targets;

Adam Kennedy, 2B, Seattle Mariners
-- 242 AB, .259 BA, .308 OBP, 30 RBI

Kennedy can provide a solid defensive presence at either third or second for the Tigers in the stretch run, and with him having already been ousted from his role by a rookie in Seattle he will be available for relatively cheap. His bat isn't the best, but it is nearly .08 points higher than Inge and is more consistent all around than Raburn.

Jack Wilson, 2B, Seattle Mariners
-- 124 AB, .226 BA, .252 OBP, 6 RBI

While Wilson doesn't have the same type of numbers as Kennedy does, he may be available for an even cheaper price. He too, brings an increased fielding ability to the infield and has proven to be more consistent than Raburn. Given his relatively few at bats this season it is hard to get an accurate picture of his abilities with the bat, but he has to be better than Inge.

Detroit will also need to address the pitching problems on their team, the bullpen is in a state of flux right now, but with Phil Coke being in the pen and Joaquin Benoit appearing to be getting back on track. With Al Alburquerque on the mend, the bullpen will only improve as the season continues. What the Tigers need is a fifth starter, they can't keep going with the "Phil Coke/Charlie Furbush Experiment," and expecting anything good.

If the Tigers make a move to improve the infield they may want to keep the pitching improvements in house and look to the minors for help.

In-House Talent;

Thad Weber, RHP, Toledo MudHens
-- 4-6 record, 18 G, 5.68 ERA, 1.51 WHIP

While Weber's ERA stands out as being a bit high,but he has showed that he can handle nearly big league talent. His 1.51 WHIP is the number that should really stand out to Tigers fans, it means that he gives up only 1.5 hits or walks each inning that he pitches. And he currently ranked fifth on the organizational depth chart for the Tigers organization.

Jacob Turner, RHP, Erie SeaWolves
-- 3-3 record, 15 G, 3.49 ERA, 1.16 WHIP

Turner's name has been tossed around all season as being on the fast track to the big leagues; much has been made about General Manager Dave Dombrowski's affinity for advancing players from the minors rapidly. Turner's numbers indicate that he may be capable of holding his own in the majors, but facing the Minnesota Twins is much different than facing a AA opponent. His numbers may be tantalizing, but should also come with caution, he could end up performing like Furbush. It's better to take things slow and move him to Toledo before bringing him to Detroit.

Should the Tigers choose to go the trade route to fix their pitching staff, there are a few candidates that they could consider. Most of the pitchers that Detroit will target will not be high profile and will be more rent-a-player's than anything else.

Pitching Trade Targets;

Aaron Harang, RHP, San Diego Padres
-- 7-2 record, 14 G, 3.45 ERA, 1.28 WHIP

Harang's name has begun to surface in trade speculations with the Tigers, although it is unclear whether or not the Tigers have contacted the Padres the thought of Harang to Detroit is a good one. He has one year left on his contract and will not be very expensive to pry away from San Diego. His ERA is in decent shape for a pitcher playing in front of the Padres defense and his WHIP is in excellent condition going into the second half of the year. He would fit well into the third or fourth slot in the Tigers rotation.

Hiroki Kuroda, RHP, Los Angeles Dodgers
-- 6-10 record, 18 G, 3.06 ERA, 1.19 WHIP

The Dodgers are embroiled in both divorce proceedings and bankruptcy proceedings, not to mention the MLB is sitting just to one side waiting to jump in and take control of the team. Meaning, they will be looking to make some deals that could shed some salary while bringing in a bit of talent for the future. Kuroda has been rumored to be frequently talked about by the Tigers front office, and for good reasons. While posting a losing record, Kuroda has maintained an almost 2-ERA and a WHIP that is flirting with 1.0. He is a skilled pitcher who could become a solid spot in the rotation for the Tigers.

It remains to be seen just what exactly the Tigers will do at the deadline but they do need to do something. Being only ahead of the Indians by 0.5 games and with the White Sox only going to improve, Detroit needs to shore up some holes and make the push to the post season.

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