Monday, October 29, 2007

Detroit Tigers Trade for Edgar Renteria

The Detroit Tigers aren't messing around. They want to win now and they aren't afraid to mortgage some of their future in order to help themselves today. Last season, right around this time, they traded one of their top pitching prospects (Humberto Sanchez) and two other young pitching prospects (Kevin Whelan and Anthony Claggett) for Gary Sheffield. Today, the Tigers traded two of their arguably top-five prospects (pitcher Jair Jurrjens and outfielder Gorkys Hernandez) for multiple-time All Star and Gold Glove shortstop Edgar Renteria.

On first blush, the Tigers gave up a lot for the 32-year-old shortstop. Jurrjens went 3-1 after being called up to the Tigers last season, and he looked very impressive late in the season. With Andrew Miller ticketed to start off next season in AA Erie, Jurrjens was the odds-on-favorite to win the fifth starting spot in the rotation for next season. Now, the Tigers will either have to bring up Miller (again faster then they really wanted to) or give the fifth spot to someone like Chad Durbin or Yorman Bazardo. And this assumes veteran Kenny Rogers will return, which is no sure bet.

Hernandez is also a very bright prospect. He hit .293 in Class A West Michigan with 58 steals, and had mouths watering over a potential Maybin-Hernandez-Granderson outfield of the future for the Tigers. But he just turned 20-years-old and he's at least three years away from the major leagues. Success at Class A West Michigan is a long way from success at Comerica Park, but Herandez has a ton of potential.

But the Tigers needed a shortstop now, not an outfielder three years from now, and there's no question, with Miller, and the drafting of Rick Porcello, outfield and pitching are positions of strength for the Tigers. And Renteria is one of the best available options for shortstop, certainly better than Jack Wilson, and better than any free agent the Tigers could have acquired. He can lead-off, allowing Curtis Granderson to move down in the lineup if the Tigers want (that's where manager Jim Leyland sees Granderson's future anyway), and he is a better defender than Carlos Guillen. He's also very familiar with Jim Leyland and Dave Dombrowski (having played for the World Series winning Florida Marlins team) and the Tigers have instantly become a better team today.

It's tough giving up so much, especially because Jurrjens looked so good last season, but shortstop was the Tigers biggest need, and the Tigers filled it with one of the best available options (and probably the best, A-Rod excluded). There's no question the Tigers, trading for Renteria, picking up Pudge's option, and trying to re-sign both Kenny Rogers and Todd Jones believe they have a short window to win a championship. They can be a great team for a long time with their young pitching and young talent, but they can be an elite team for the next two or three seasons, and the addition of Renteria certainly fits that strategy.

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