Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Around the Division: Detroit Tigers

The Tigers traded for Anibal Sanchez in midseason.
He went 4-6, 3.74 in the regular season and 1-2, 1.77
in the postseason.
As has been the case in recent years, the Detroit Tigers have spent some serious money this offseason.

Torii Hunter, cast loose by the Angels, landed in the D last month on a two-year, $26 million deal. While the erstwhile Twin has been better in his 30s than I expected, that's a pretty fat salary for a 37-year-old outfielder.

And last week the Tigers outbid the Cubs for the services of pitcher Anibal Sanchez. If the Hunter salary seemed generous, Sanchez' is something closer to excessive: six years, $80 million. For a guy with two winning seasons out of seven, who has never pitched 200 (regular season) innings, who figures to be the fourth man in the rotation.

Sanchez is talented, but the results have never matched the talent.

The signing leaves the Tigers with six starters for their rotation. The odd man out figures to be Rick Porcello, whose pitch-to-contact style is less than a perfect fit with the Tigers' porous infield defense. Drew Smyly, a left-hander, gets strikeouts. And the Tigers could use a southpaw in the rotation.

So Porcello is likely to be peddled, and some early speculation has linked him to the Angels (for an outfielder) and Pirates (for a closer). I wouldn't be stunned if his destination turned out to be the Cubs in a deal involving Alfonso Soriano. This Detroit blog post even mentions the Twins as a potential trading partner, although I don't think that's likely.

Anyway, the Tigers have won the last two AL Central titles and seem well positioned for a third, even if their infield is regularly mystified by the process of turning a double play. They have the best rotation in the division, maybe the best in baseball -- if Porcello is traded to the Twins, he'd be their most logical Opening Day starter -- they have some hammers in the middle of the lineup; they have some heat in the bullpen; and they've improved the outfield defense.

I have a post in the works on how local cable revenues are fueling the overall increase in free-agent pay and how that leaves the Twins lagging, but in the case of the Tigers, it's not TV money getting spent. It's that Mike Ilitch is 83 and worth some $2.7 billion (according to Forbes), and he's decided that he'd rather die with a World Series parade than with $2.7 billion.

What happens to that "business model" when Ilitch does die and his heirs get to decide if they want to continue to divert resources to a vanity investment is a fair question -- and one that will be answered at some future date.

1 comment:

  1. Closing paragraph comments are thought provoking remarks, something to consider for the long-term health of any sports team.