I’ve never been the biggest Drew Sharp fan (a primarily skeptical writer for the Detroit Free Press), and in recent years I’d say I’ve become ambivalent to his Glass-Half-Empty style of journalism. Just bland enough to ignore, I guess; no hot takes. Good for him!
But today, while obsessing over the trade deadline, Tiger fans watched as Al Avila sat on tradeable commodities, and seemed to make no effort to upgrade the parts of the team that could have used an affordable (re: easily acquired) level up. And then Mr. Sharp wrote an article that can be summed up in six words: Avila did nothing, and that’s okay.
Let’s break this article down, shall we? Retorts from yours truly in bold:
The trade deadline passed Monday. And the Detroit Tigers passed as well.
With the asking price too high and available resources too scarce for the one significant piece they dearly needed — another top-of-the-rotation anchor — they opted instead for trusting that improved health will make the difference in the back end of the starting rotation in the closing 57 games.
I mean, that’s one way to look at it… And that’s assuming Jordan Zimmermann returns as a mediocre pitcher instead of the pitcher routinely worth 3+WAR every season since 2011 (which seems like a pretty good Number 2 to me).
Though boring and passive, “standing pat” was nonetheless the right decision.
That accomplishes nothing; If the Tigers are really feeling froggy, they can’t make a jump with just what they have. And if they want to continue to replenish a farm system that compared favorably to a soiled diaper they would have made a couple moves that wouldn’t have thrown up a white flag.
If general manager Al Avila couldn’t go big and bold (acquiring elite starting pitchers Chris Sale or Chris Archer),
Wait, what? That’s not what they needed at all…or were linked to.
it made little sense overpaying for mediocrity that wouldn’t upgrade what the Tigers already possessed. It would have excited the masses happily dizzied over successive three-game series sweeps against good teams like Boston and Houston.
Um, Mike Aviles (supposedly good utility man) has a WAR of -1.2. Steve Pearce (good utility man who also happens to destroy LHP) has a WAR of 1.9 and was acquired by the Orioles for High-A catcher Jonah Heim, who was either a notable mention outside Baltimore’s top 20 prospects or nowhere to be seen in their top 30. That’s just ONE position that could have been immediately (and cheaply) upgraded.
But baseball’s trade deadline has become more about perception than reality. Any trade before the clock runs out grows in importance because, at least, the buyer made a move. They made a statement. If the public thinks the team is serious about its playoff chances, they’re more inclined to buy more tickets in the season’s final two months.
Yeah, that’s a pretty good point. Definitely would have signaled the Tigers were serious more so than standing pat. Also? Upgrades are good in general for a team lacking depth.
Avila is asking his players and Tigers fans to trust the moves he made in the off-season going forward in the regular season. And he thinks that once starting pitchers Jordan Zimmermann and Daniel Norris and slugger J.D. Martinez soon return from the disabled list, they will be better acquisitions than anything they could’ve gotten prior to the trade deadline.
…This is the same guy who signed Mike Pelfrey, Mike Aviles, and Mark Lowe before the season, right? Trust those moves?
It won’t help them beat Cleveland in the American League Central. The Indians added a quality closer in former Tigers’ first-round draft pick Andrew Miller and bench depth in outfielder Brandon Guyer. They already have the game’s best starting rotation.
The Tigers are competing for the one-game wild card. That’s not an advantageous position, placing even more emphasis on the depth at the top of your starting rotation. But in his first trade deadline as a general manager, Avila couldn’t project an air of panic. Scared that if he does nothing, his ambivalence is portrayed within the vacuous social media platforms as a sign of weakness. Or worse, an indication that he’s overwhelmed by the challenge of steering an ownership vision that still fervently believes this core remains capable of winning a World Series.
But he IS overwhelmed and outmatched at this whole GM thing! He’s not showing anything worthy of the promotion OR extension he received!
The fallacy was that the Tigers merely required rotation depth — a No.3 or No.4 starter rounding out the rough edges in the bottom half of the staff. But when they acquired Doug Fister and Anibal Sanchez in deadline moves in 2011 and 2012, respectively, they already had a Cy Young worthy ace in Justin Verlander and a still developing Max Scherzer gradually growing into the role of dominating ace.
Fallacy? Anibal Sanchez is getting rolled out to the mound with frequency as the back-end starter, and he’s sporting an ERA of 6.56, a FIP of 5.15, and a WHIP of 1.64.
The middle of the Tigers’ rotation isn’t the issue going forward.
You’re right! Jordan Zimmermann and Daniel Norris will really hel-
It’s the No. 2 spot in the rotation.
Huh? Please explain.
In the No. 1 spot, Verlander has decisively silenced the critics who adamantly declared at this same time a year ago that his days of dominance were done, relegated to nothing more than a $28-million-a-year, middle-of-the-rotation starter.
But there’s no guarantee that No. 2 starter Zimmermann can remain both effective and healthy battling neck and groin injuries. And while rookie Michael Fulmer’s poise and tenacity belie his 23 years, it’s asking an awful lot of a pitcher that has never thrown more than 125 innings in a season to successfully assume the responsibilities of a dominating No. 2 starter in a potentially tight September playoff chase.
If both do well this month, the Tigers can still add another piece to the bottom of the rotation in a trade should that piece clear waivers in September. It’s dumb to appease the masses by making a minor deal solely for the sake of making a deal. That’s faux change. It wouldn’t make the Tigers any better adding Hector Santiago or Jeremy Hellickson — especially if the cost was a top-five organizational prospect — if Zimmerman can’t return to the level that made him the American League’s April pitcher of the month.
BOTH of those pitchers are better than Sanchez and Pelfrey, ergo they WOULD make the Tigers better because they are better pitchers! And besides, Santiago was bought at the cost of a bad pitcher and a worse former prospect, so let’s not go about tossing “top-five” stuff around.
And why is he slamming on Zimmermann already? Dude was injured and rested and rehabbed. I don’t think he’s secretly turned into Jeremy Guthrie or anything.
Standing pat was a concession the Tigers didn’t have the minor leaguers or the additional payroll flexibility for something big and bold. They’re not a better team once the trade deadline passed — they’re trusting that the money already spent will be good enough to keep them alive in the playoff chase.
No, this is a loser’s mentality. At the very least, trading for Pearce and dealing K-Rod for something similar to (if not better than) what the Brewers got for Will Smith (and San Fran fans are NOT happy about what they gave up, btw) would have greatly helped the organization. Not doing a blessed thing signifies that A) Avila was too scared to try and improve the team, or B) Avila is too confident that the Tigers are peachy keen as is…which they are not. The Tigers’ best case scenario right now is making the Wild Card game and getting bounced, or missing the playoffs and looking like a bunch of dopes.
Ugh, what a day.