Saturday, October 20, 2012

Turning over a roster

The Detroit Tigers went to the World Series in 2006, which was just six years ago -- six years and almost an entire roster ago.

I got to thinking about this Friday while reading a piece about how the Tigers were going to try to cope with almost a week between games. They had a similar gap in 2006 and then embarrassed themselves against the St. Louis Cardinals, particularly when the pitchers had to throw to the bases. The basic implication of the story was that the players had learned something from that experience.

Problem: There are hardly any players from the 2006 Tigers on the 2012 edition. (The manager is the same, and many of the coaches remain, but the story quoted only players.)

There's ace pitcher Justin Verlander, of course, and second baseman Omar Infante returned in midseason after a couple of years in the National League. Infielder Ramon Santiago had a bit role in 2006 and played in six postseason games that year; he had a more prominent regular season role this year (at least until Infante returned), but I'm not sure Santiago was even on the postseason roster for the first two rounds.

Other than those two or three players, this is a completely different team.

This is not unusual. Roster rules encourage churn. Even good teams don't stay together long.

Teams tend to hang on to young players for the five years when they have little if any leverage; that period is past, and the 2006 Tigers were hardly a young team anyway. The core players of the 2006 team other than the then-rookie Verlander were veteran imports Magglio Ordonez, Kenny Rogers, Carlos Guillen and Ivan Rodriguez, all of whom have been gone for a while now. The only young regular with staying power was Curtis Granderson, who was traded away after 2009. Starter Jeremy Bonderman, who was expected to join Verlander at the top of the rotation, faded away instead.

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