Saturday, July 23, 2011
Trading For Shields Will Only Weaken Tigers
It's no secret that the Tigers are in the hunt for pitching at the trade deadline this season; and reports have them looking for a left-handed starting pitcher to help back up Justin Verlander.
Despite those reports Detroit has been rumored to be very interested in Tampa Bay Rays' right-handed pitcher James Shields. Last Thursday the Tigers had two scouts at Tropicana Field to watch Shields take on CC Sabathia and the New York Yankees. Shields outdueled Sabathia on that night and may have increased his trade value in the process.
His value is obvious; he is a top of the rotation guy who has several years left on his contract. This season he is 9-8 with a 2.53 ERA, 7 CG and a 1.01 WHIP. Those kind of numbers are staggering, if the Tigers were to add a player of his caliber to their rotation they would run away with the American League Central.
If Shields were to join the Tigers he would fit into the second spot in the rotation behind Verlander. The rotation that Detroit would throw out would be one of the best in the American League. It would allow Max Scherzer and Rick Porcello to drop to third and fourth in the rotation and move Brad Penny to the fifth spot to continue his successful season.
The only problem with a possible addition of James Shields would be that the Tigers would have an entirely right-handed rotation and would strip Detroit of either a heavy portion of their prospects or of a producing outfielder currently on the 40-man roster.
Reports have the Rays looking for several prospects in return for Shields, but seeing as the Tigers have a dearth of talent in the minor leagues the cost of adding the hurler might be rising star Brennan Boesch.
The 26-year old Boesch is in his second season with the Detroit Tigers and has made a good impression on the club. He got out to a scorching start in his rookie season last year before slowing down in the second half, but this season he has calmed his swing down a bit and has become much more consistent. In addition to giving Detroit a consistent two-hitter in the line-up, Boesch has given them something that they have long been searching for at the deadline anyway; a power-hitting left-hander.
Boesch has 14 home runs this season with 24 doubles, 48 RBI and a batting average that hovers around the .300 mark. Standing 6'4" and 235 lbs he is an intimidating figure in the batters box; in addition, he has also calmed his swing a bit and has reduced his strikeouts. He gives the Tigers a fearsome bat that will only continue to grow into a better player as the years go on.
While the addition of Shields is a tempting one, the cost that it be to the Tigers would be one that would only weaken them in the long run. The pitching staff would drastically improve, yes, but the outfield would suffer for it. By trading away Boesch it would force the Tigers to play either Andy Dirks, Casper Wells, Don Kelly or God-forbid Ryan Raburn in his place. While most of those names, not Raburn, are quality players, they are not as good as Boesch.
While Boesch is often lifted in the later innings for Andy Dirks or Casper Wells as defensive replacements, none of his potential replacements can measure up to his offensive abilities. Not to mention, the Rays are already sporting a former Tigers outfielder, rising star Matt Joyce. As much as Tigers fans may want to add Shields to their team, having to give up Boesch to get him only makes the team weaker as a whole.