Wednesday, December 5, 2007

Thoughts on the Tigers-Marlins Blockbuster Trade

Wow. As I'm sure many of you already know by now, The Detroit Tigers stunned the baseball world Tuesday by trading for both Miguel Cabrera and Dontrelle Willis, and trading away their two top prospects (Andrew Miller and Cameron Maybin, widely considered two of the top prospects in all of baseball) along with catcher Mike Rabelo and minor league pitchers Burke Badenhop, Eulogio de la Cruz and Dallas Trahern. It's a trade which changes the Tigers present, and their future, and one that instantly makes them the favorites in the American League Central and perhaps in all of baseball to win the World Series.

I will miss watching Cameron Maybin "grow up" in Detroit and blossom into the top major league player I believe he will become, but the trade was a no-brainer for the Tigers. Miguel Cabrera, at this point in his career, has put up numbers virtually identical to those of Alex Rodriguez at the same point in his career. In four full major league seasons, he has never hit lower than .294 (years of .294, .323, .339, and .320), never had fewer than 112 RBI (112, 116, 114, 119) and never hit less than 26 home runs (33, 33, 26, 34). And he's only 24. 24. Which means he hasn't even entered the prime of his career yet. He's only going to get better, especially when he is protected in what will be the best lineup in all of baseball. And Willis? While he struggled last season (10-15, 5.17 ERA) he was beaten down by the Marlins losing seasons, and the poor play behind him. Just two years ago, he won 22 games (22-10, 2.63 ERA) and with the Tigers offense and defense behind him, in pitcher-friendly Comerica Park, he could become dominant again. Plus, he's only 25, so he, like Cabrera, is just entering the prime of his career. And in Detroit, unlike Florida, who won't have the pressure of being the #1 and only guy in the rotation. With Jeremy Bonderman, Justin Verlander, and Kenny Rogers (not to mention Nate Robertson) Willis can just go out and pitch.

While the Tigers did give up a lot, because they were not only getting back All Star players in return, but All Stars in the mid-20's who, should they sign long term contracts, can be cornerstones of the Tigers for at least the next decade, parting with Miller, Maybin, and the rest was a no-brainer. Even with all the upside Cameron Maybin has, at the end of the day, him having a better start to his career, or a better career at all than Miguel Cabrera is going to be very, very tough. And if he does the trade still isn't a mistake because it gives Detroit the best chance of any team to win a World Series in the next two seasons. Detroit Tigers owner Mike Ilitch, who didn't blink an eye today when he increased his payroll by almost $20 million, and he deserves a lot of credit for allowing Dave Dombrowski to do practically anything it takes to get the Tigers a World Series ring. Last season, the Tigers fans showed Ilitch they would show up in record numbers if he put a winning product on the field, and ticket sales should be even brisker this season which should help the Tigers defer what may be a $200 million payday for Cabrera in 2009.

As for Brandon Inge, if the Tigers do trade him, and Cabrera plays third base as anticipated, I would miss him, despite his horrendous plate appearances. Brandon suffered through the losing seasons, the 100-loss seasons, and seeing him redeem himself with a trip to the World Series was gratifying. And he has turned into one of the best defensive third baseman in baseball. The Tigers should be able to get a decent return for him, and shed some of his $6.5 million salary at the same time, so it's logical for him to go, but I would really think seriously if I were the Tigers about keeping Inge the everyday third baseman and moving Cabrera to left-field. Inge is a Gold Glove talent, and with the batting lineup stacked, they can afford his .250 average at #9. Cabrera has played left-field before and he's no defensive wiz in the infield -- He committed the most errors of any NL third baseman last season. It's not likely, but something to think about.

My last reflection is to think of all the prospects the Tigers have traded away the past two seasons in an effort to get back to the World Series. Humberto Sanchez, Anthony Clagett, and Kevin Whalen for Gary Sheffield. Jair Jurrjens and Gorkys Hernandez for Edgar Reteria. Now Maybin, Miller, Rabelo, De La Cruz, Badenhop, and Trahern to Florida. That's 11 prospects, many top of the line. And yet, the Tigers still have plenty of talent. Pitcher Rick Porcello is compared to Josh Beckett, and with position players, the Tigers have a number of interesting prospects (Danny Worth and Scott Sizemore among them). Just shows you what an amazing job of amassing talent Dave Dombrowski has done.

Add To: Digg! Reddit Del.Icio.Us Stumble



© New Blogger Templates | Webtalks