Tuesday, December 04, 2007

Above the Fold - Talking Tigers, winter meetings style

When MLB's winter meetings roll around every December, it gives the hot stove league a shot of steroids. With all the GM's in one place for the week, it's a dream scenario for rumormongering.

The Tigers, having done of of their business before the winter meetings, may be doing more window shopping than anything else. But with their off season mantra of win now, another trade or free agent signing is not out of the question.

Much as there was "The Summer of George," this has been "The Winter of Jon Paul Morosi." The Freep's Tiger beat writer has been given the opportunity to shine by his fishwrap, and he has responded by constantly scooping the opposition at the News and Mlive. This morning is no different...

The Tigers are close to acquiring Denny Bautista from the Colorado Rockies in exchange for Jose Capellan, in a trade of hard-throwing right-handed relievers, according to two industry officials.

Both pitchers have had good numbers while pitching in the Dominican Winter League this off-season. Barring a last-minute change, the deal should be announced today.

Bautista, 27, spent most of this past season at Triple-A Colorado Springs, where he went 3-2 with a 2.92 ERA in 51 relief appearances. He also pitched in nine games -- including one spot start -- for Colorado, where he went 2-1 with a 12.46 ERA. Bautista did not pitch in the postseason for the Rockies, who advanced to the World Series for the first time in franchise history.

This comes across as Dave Dombrowski obtaining another pitcher that he familiar with, as Bautista was once in the Marlins' system. He's trying to catch lightening in a bottle, trading for/signing relievers who may benefit from a change of scenery, as you could say the same about the Tigers' signing of righty reliever Francisco Cruceta last Friday.

At Milve, Danny Knobler agrees that the Tigers will shop for arms of the second tier variety, and he tosses a few names into the ring...

They won't deal Maybin and they won't deal Miller and they can't deal Rick Porcello (and wouldn't, even if they could). And what's left in the farm system, after trades the last two winters for Gary Sheffield and Edgar Renteria, is unlikely to yield even the second-tier trade-market names of Erik Bedard and Dan Haren.

The Tigers could shop for a lesser pitcher, and there are some of those available in Nashville. St. Louis, for example, wants to trade right-hander Anthony Reyes, who beat the Tigers in Game 1 of the 2006 World Series but slipped to 2-14 in 2007 while clashing with manager Tony La Russa and pitching coach Dave Duncan.

The Haren rumors started last night, but I'll touch on those a little later when I hit the blogs. But I do like the idea of the Tigers taking a flyer on a starting pitcher, as it never hurts to have more than just the current in-house options to fill the final spot in the 2008 rotation.

The News' Lynn Henning, also at the winter meetings, other than saying the Tigers are only "Browsing" this week, covers the same ground as Knober, the Tigers' need for a 5th starter. Henning focuses on the options that are already in the Tigers system.

Among the other possible No. 5 starters, all right-handers:

Chad Durbin , whom the Tigers probably would prefer to use in the bullpen, often was effective filling in for Kenny Rogers, who was lost at the end of spring training with arterial blockage.

Yorman Bazardo , a hard thrower acquired early last year in a trade with the Mariners, could end up as a convenient choice. He showed the command the Tigers would ideally want from a fifth starter.

Jordan Tata , who had three starts for the Tigers in 2007, could be a candidate. So, too, could Virgil Vasquez and Dallas Trahern , who was solid last season at Double-A Erie.

There is some talent there, but it's not the most inspiring group of pitchers either. These are the same names we've been hearing about for over a year now. Will any of them step up? That will be the big story in spring training.

At Bless You Boys, Ian ponders the rumors that hit the wires last night. The Tigers are interested in the A's Dan Haren, with the Tigers' prize pitching prospect, Andrew Miller, being the bait. Ian asks, is that enough without including Cameron Maybin? If so, would it also be enough to snag the winter meetings big catch, Johan Santana?

Yet I'm not sure this rumor passes the smell test. If the Tigers are talking about giving up either (or both) of their top two prospects in an all-in/win-now type of move, shouldn't they be aiming even higher? As good as Haren is (15-9, 3.07 last season), couldn't Miller and/or Maybin also be a part of a deal to acquire Johan Santana? I mean, if you're going to shoot, shoot for the moon, right?

I really like Haren. He's only 27, still under a reasonable contract, started the 2007 All-Star Game, is an innings eater, and is the closest thing to an available ace that's not named Santana. If it's Miller and a couple of B prospects, I jump all over the deal. If it's Miller and Maybin, I pass on Haren.

The dean of Tigers bloggers, Billfer at The Detroit Tigers Weblog, thinks the Tigers have more up their sleeves, as they are short on arms.

But that can’t be it right? If the Tigers are are working with urgency, why have 2/5ths of the rotation be so questionable? Counting on Rogers for more than 150 innings given his age is risky. Counting on a combination of Andrew Miller/Chad Durbin/Yorman Bazardo, and who ever else is risky as well. Don’t the Tigers have to mitigate the risk of these two pieces of the rotation by bringing in somebody? It doesn’t have to be a Carlos Silva (although I wouldn’t complain). A risky pitcher coming off an injury willing to take a one year deal would be perfect. Then you’re looking at a group of pitchers to fill the back end, without relying on any one.

I have nothing more to say, as Billfer has said it all...

Now that Kurt has recovered from his cold, he tells us at Mack Avenue Tigers that thanks to the speed of Dave Dombrowski in making his off season moves, don't expect much to happen this week...

Tigers GM Dave Dombrowki, on the other hand, is not a patient man. As proven the past two years, he knows what he wants and he makes it happen. So the Tigers traded for Gary Sheffield in early November last year, and Edgar Renteria a day after the World Series. Dombrowski followed that up with trades for Jacque Jones to fix the LH and LF problems. He re-signed Todd Jones. He re-signed Kenny Rogers. He signed a reliever. Yeah, Detroit is in the market for more relief help. But the Tigers are not in the market for the type of stuff that typical draws headlines at the winter meetings.

I was going to agree with Kurt, but then...

As I was putting the finishing touches on this post, this bombshell of a possible blockbuster trade was reported by Fox Sports' Ken Rosenthal...

The Marlins, stalled in their attempts to trade third baseman Miguel Cabrera, could be laying the groundwork for an even bigger deal.

The Marlins and Tigers are engaged in preliminary talks about a blockbuster that would send Cabrera and left-hander Dontrelle Willis to Detroit for a package of young players, according to major-league sources.

Outfielder Cameron Maybin and left-hander Andrew Miller likely are among the Marlins' targets. The Tigers already feature two veteran left-handed starters, Kenny Rogers and Nate Robertson, possibly making Miller available in a deal for Willis.


That news damn near took my breath away. Sure, it's just a rumor that it's only preliminary discussions at this point, though WXYT tells us that the 4 Letter's Rob Neyer has confirmed there are talks going on. There's definitely smoke, fire, and all that...

If true, at first blush, my gut tells me that you make this trade in a heartbeat. Cabrerra is only 24, and may be the best player in baseball not named A-Rod. He's a stud, the kind of player you build a team around. Willis, though coming off a down season, is also young (25), an innings eater (197+ innings the past 4 seasons) and has been dominant in the past (His 22 win 2005 season).

Expect another post pondering this possible blockbuster trade laster today...

That's "Above the Fold" for Tuesday, 12-4-07!


  1. I don't know there, dude, we might have to throw in Should Be Gold Glover Brandon Inge to make the Cabrera-Willis deal work. This would be an earth shaking deal, no matter who the Tigers give up, including Maybin, Miller, and whatever else the Fish see in the farm system. I like this one better than the one I proposed trading Maybin, Miller, and the Farm System for Santana a couple of weeks ago.

  2. Dude? The Dude abides...And needs a White Russian. (Sorry, I couldn't resist)

    God forbid we lose Inge! lol I agree with you regarding Santana. The thing about a Santana trade is that you're dealing within the division. That's hard to do, and could bite you on your future ass for a very long time. There's also the HUGE $100-120 million extension Santana would want.

    Word is now coming out that the Marlins would want more than Maybin and Miller, so I guess we'll just have to sit tight, ans wait. It's nice to think about, though...

  3. I dunno, Willis scares me. He's coming off his worst season and his numbers were blech. OTOH, Cabrera!!!! would be AWESOME!!!! Has lost 15 lbs!!!!! ALREADY!! makes people overuse exclamation points!!! And seems incredibly personable, so just for baseball's sake, for goodness sake, I want him in a bigger market like Detroit.