Wednesday, December 05, 2007

Above the Fold - The trade that shook the baseball world, Detroit blogosphere edition

Has there ever been a crazier few hours for Tigers fans than yesterday afternoon?

The news first broke that the Tigers were in trade talks with the Marlins around 12:30 in the afternoon. I, as did most of us, spent the rest of the day refreshing our browsers, and vigilantly listening for any news on the radio and TV.

Around 5 PM, the MSM was telling us that the talks with Detroit were just a Marlins ploy to force the Angels hand in trade talks. The Tigers supposedly didn't have the ammunition to compete with the Angels offer. It wasn't going to happen, and hopes were deflated. The news was just too good to be true.

If you felt an earth tremor at 6:15 last night, that was the jaws of baseball fans hitting the floor all around the country, as Peter Gammons announced on Sportscenter that the Tigers and Marlins had agreed in principal in a BLOCKBUSTER trade. Detroit acquired Miggy Cabrera and the D-Train, Dontrelle Willis, from Florida, in return for 5 prospects, including super prospect Andrew Miller, uber-prospect Cameron Maybin, and last season's backup to Pudge Mike Rabelo.

I actually had to hit rewind on the DVR, as I couldn't believe what I thought I had just heard. The news of the trade was a shocking, heart stopping, and ultimately giddy, moment for Tigers fans.

After we all picked up our jaws from off the floor, the Detroit blogosphere exploded with a mixture of joy, wonderment, and a feeling of incredulousness that the deal of all deals actually happened.

Motown Sports Revival puts it thusly, "I have been waiting 28 years for a trade like the one the Tigers made on Tuesday." This is easily the biggest trade in Detroit in the past quarter century, and possibly, ever. Jake is thrilled with the deal, and especially thrilled with Dave Dombrowski...

This is literally a once-in-a-lifetime deal. The Tigers may have issues with the bullpen but no team in MLB has a better lineup and few can touch the depth of the rotation. Dave Dombrowski is the best GM in baseball just ahead of Randy Smith everyone else. It’s one thing to run a baseball team when an unlimited payroll or a loaded farm system is waiting for you the day you take the job like the Yankees or Red Sox. It’s something entirely different—and with a degree of difficulty vastly more impressive—to take over an organization with neither and turn it into one of the two or three best organizations in baseball in just four ears.

Words cannot describe how happy I am that Dave Dombrowski is the Tigers' GM. 3 years ago, I would have KILLED for a .500 season. Dombrowski now has the Tigers hobknobbing with the baseball elite, where nothing less than a World Series appearance is a disappointment. Talk about going from the outhouse, to the penthouse...

At Bless You Boys, Ian is once again in his infamous question mode...

The first question I had yesterday (well, after "Holy $#!+!! Miguel Cabrera?!?") after hearing rumors about the deal was made the Tigers change their mind about Cameron Maybin? At what point did he go from "untouchable" to "Okay, we could trade him"? Was it the possibility of getting a hitter like Miguel Cabrera in return?

How big a role did Curtis Granderson's development play in this? After the 2007 he put together, Granderson planted a flag in center field, making the position his for years to come. As high as the Tigers' hopes for Granderson may have been, they likely didn't expect him to become such a multi-category threat so soon into his career. Maybin wasn't going to supplant Detroit's new burgeoning superstar, and left fielders are easier to find than center fielders, so the jewel of the Tigers' minor league system became - dare we say it - expendable.

I'm with Ian on this. Granderson's jump from good to great made the thought of trading Maybin, for the right player(s), actually sensible, rather than unthinkable. And yes Ian, I'm as happy as you theorized...

Quo Vadimus praises the one man who made sure this deal happened, Mike Ilitch.

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 much grief Mike Ilitch deservedly took for the decade plus of Tiger irrelevancy, he deserves just as much praise for approving this trade. He's now running the Tigers as he has run the Red Wings for years, with a big market aggression, the money be damned.

From the Copa woke from their off season slumber, and Rock and Rye goes for the always welcome Glengarry Glen Ross reference...

It takes brass balls to sell real estate, and to be a MLB GM. Dave Dombrowski, you my friend have a ginormous set. I suddenly picture the Winter meetings as a scene from Glengarry Glen Ross, with Dombrowski yelling at Dayton Moore "Coffee is for Closers!". While Lil Stienbrenner was setting imaginary (possibly illegal) deadlines and sabre-rattling with Theo Epstien, Double D swoops in and steals the show.

I love it! Let me try... Hit the bricks, AL East! You'll have to settle for the steak knives, as the Tigers are winning the Cadillac!

Before the trade, Gorilla Crouch didn't like the Tigers' post season chances. But now?

The Tigers were going nowhere and were likely to miss the playoffs prior to this deal. Now they have to be the favorites in the AL Central and can compete with Boston. They’ve traded away two very high-end prospects in Andrew Miller and Cameron Maybin, but neither player really seemed like they were ready to become a regular contributor anytime soon. That’s clearly not the case with Cabrera, who will likely replace Brandon “Babe Ruth” Inge at third, and Dontrelle “D-Train” Willis, who will strengthen the rotation considerably.

I wasn't as down on the Tigers as Dave was, but you have to admit they were a question mark, especially who would fill the final hole in the rotation? The Tigers are no longer a question mark...

At Mack Avenue Tigers, Kurt breaks down the Tigers everyday lineup, and likes what he sees.

It’s not Murderer’s Row, but it’s pretty darn impressive. Not an actual lineup below, I took no lefty-righty considerations, but look at how it stacks up.

* Curtis Granderson, 20-20-20-20 year, 136 OPS+
* Carlos Guillen, 123 OPS+
* Gary Sheffield, now surgically corrected, of massive power and hitting ability, still 120 OPS+
* Magglio Ordonez, now healthy and coming off a .167 OPS+ year
* Miguel Cabrera, 150 OPS+, still getting better and lost weight
* Edgar Renteria, 125 OPS+ SS
* Placido Polanco, coming off a .388 OBP/.122 OPS+ year
* Jacque Jones, Well, he’s a lefty anyway.
* Ivan Rodriguez, uhm, yeah. Someone’s gotta catch.

Now, deny excitement in that lineup. You can’t. It’s going to score runs big time. Maybe relief pitching won’t be such a big deal with those kinda batters on offense most nights.

My concerns over the bullpen have eased as well. The Tigers have bargaining chips at the major league level in Brandon Inge and Marcus Thames that could help get the final piece of the puzzle, one more late inning set up man.

D-Town Baseball takes a look at the prospects the Tigers gave up, and the supposed throw-ins aren't too shabby. Here's Eric's thoughts on Dallas Trahern.

An impressive starting RHP prospect that pitched for the Erie Seawolves during the 2007 season with a short stint in Toledo. David Laurila at Baseball Prospectus believes he could be the ‘Sleeper’ in this trade. Which could very well be true.

Trahern isn’t a huge strikeout pitcher but gets ground balls and relies heavily on the defense. He’s been solid and consistent at each level of play and appeared to be destined for the shot at the bottom of the rotation. I guess just not for this team.

The Tigers did not just give up bodies, but players with legitimate shots at becoming solid major leaguers. Hey, you have to give up something good, to get something good in return. This is a win-win for everyone but Marlins fans, who will have to wait several years to see if those prospects pan out. I feel for them, as we Tigers fans were in the same boat for close to two decades.

Eno makes his trade thoughts known at Out of Bounds, and his first one was "Oh. My. God."

Cripes sakes.

This team could run away with the Central title. It's that good on parchment, the Indians be damned. Manager Jim Leyland must be beside himself. I bet you he's already jotted down about a dozen variations of the batting order I took a stab at earlier. I can almost hear him telling the media with typical self-effacing humor, "This team looks good -- as long as I don't screw it up."

Of course, you gotta perform. But I think the Tigers, having made some major, MAJOR moves since the last out was recorded in 2007, are about as well-equipped as a team can be for a 162-game battle. Yes, the bullpen might still be shaky, but that can be addressed. It's not like Dombrowski has shown any shyness.

My first thought? "You're shittin' me!" I'm a tad more profane than that man of letters, Eno...

For the chick POV, we head over to Roar of the Tigers. Sam loves the trade, and the look of the new everyday lineup. "Drool. DROOOOOOOL." That says it all. But she also touches on the catching situation, worried that the Tigers have a one armed man, and a 3rd baseman who hates catching, behind the elderly Pudge.

I know everyone is going to be talking about Maybin and Miller and the other young pitchers. But if it turns out to be true that this trade included Mike Rabelo, I am seriously kind of concerned about that. I know. I KNOW! Mike Rabelo! But think about it. What on earth is our catching situation right now? We have Pudge, whose bones have been slowly liquefying month by month for a couple years now. We have Vance Wilson, if he doesn’t show up for Spring Training with both his arms amputated at the elbow or something, and even if he’s fully recovered from his surgery come April, he’s not exactly a spring kitten himself. We have… uh….. Brandon Inge? (egads, no)

Inge for a catching prospect? It could happen...

The trade looks good from the saber POV, as Lee tells us his thoughts at Tiger Tales.

As difficult as it is to see Miller and Maybin go, it is not too often you get a chance to acquire an elite hitter like Cabrera. Badenhop DeLaCruz and Trahern are also decent prospects but in a trade of this magnitude they are almost throw ins. The Tigers signaled in their earlier trade of top prospects Gorkys Hernadez and Jair Jurrjens for Edgar Renteria that they were going for it all in 2008 and this deal confirms it emphatically.

They now have arguably the best line-up in baseball.

As I said last night, the Tigers are going all in. And they aren't bluffing, as they have pocket aces.

At The Daily Fungo, Doug describes the day long buildup, then almost kills himself when the trade was announced...

When Mike first broached the possibility of Dave Dombrowski’s blockbuster this afternoon late this morning by forwarding me Fox Sports’ Ken Rosenthal I thought it must’ve been some posturing and cheap talk.

When I nosed around and saw Peter Gammon’s blog entry saying there was some validity to it I let my mind wander a bit as to what the lineup would look like.

When fellow teacher and baseball coach Paul Diegel e-mailed with news his buddy told him the deal was happening (Maybin and Miller straight up for the two), I knew it was too good to be true, and put those pipe dreams to bed.

By the time I left work this evening and turned on sports yappers it was apparent there was still some smoke billowing up from these smoldering trade talks.

And finally, when I heard Steve Phillips on WXYT say it was pretty well done I darn near drove off the road.

Also worth checking out at The Daily Fungo is Mike's page dedicated to screenshots of the Tigers dominance of every sports site when the trade news hit the wire. It was above the fold, top of the page, story...

At Take 75 North, Matt's headline says it all. "Tigers give up Seawolves roster for Cabrera and Willis." The Tigers did literally give up the farm, but it's worth the heavy cost in order to get a player with Cabrera's talent.

Please don’t take this line of thinking as me saying you never know with prospects and you should go with proven veterans. That’s not my argument at all. I believe minor league track records are nearly as telling as major league ones, and my argument is there are valid concerns over the track records of both Maybin and Miller. It’s true they have very high ceilings. But if you weigh those ceilings against concerns that could prevent them from reaching what is seen as their potential, I think you can sleep at night when you give them up for Miguel Cabrera. After all, Cabrera has a track record too and it suggests he could be a historic talent. Seriously, he is on a career curve that is likely yet to peak and already points to Hall of Fame potential. If you’re going to give up Maybin and Miller for one player, Cabrera is the type of player who forces you to do it.

It can't be emphasized enough, Miggy is a hall of fame talent, and he's only 24. You have to make this deal, as players with the talent of Cabrera are rarely, if ever, put on the trading block. The fact that the Tigers also got a big time innings eater in Willis, who will benefit greatly from a change of scenery, is gravy.

Tiger Blog breaks out the crystal ball, and looks well into the future...

For the Tigers, they sign Dontrelle Willis and Miguel Cabera to longer term deals and Willis reverts back to his 2005 form and becomes a front line starter and Cabrera keeps doing what he’s doing. With these two guys as corner stones, the Tigers could go on to win five straight division titles, three pennants and one or two World Series. Again, we’re being optimistic but that’s not out of the realm of possibility.

I like what Brian's crystal ball says...

As he's been covering the Tigers since the Great Depression, I'm going to leave the final word from the Tigers blogosphere to Bill at The Detroit Tigers Weblog. "Holy Freakin Crap," indeed...

As for what happens next, the Tigers just have to sign Cabrera long term. They also have some of their own players to move. Cabrera is thought of as a third baseman, but he could play left as well. I don’t know where he’ll play for Detroit and it depends on who they can get for Brandon Inge probably. I know that the Tigers just traded for Jacque Jones, but I don’t think they are married to him.

I applaud Dombrowski and the Tigers for pulling this off. The Tigers have the pieces in place to be a very very special team this year and I can’t wait for spring training.

I can't wait either, Billfer!

Expect more reactions to the trade heard round the baseball world, as I'm going to try and do a MSM link dump later today.

That's "Above the Fold - Detroit blogosphere edition" for Wednesday, 12-5-07!


  1. Dear Mike Illich,

    I love you and I want to kiss you on the mouth.

    - Detroit

  2. I'm not so sure about Inge being trade bait. I mean, according to what I understand, he can play catcher, third base and the outfield. I don't think it's unreasonable to assume he can play any other position, possibly at a gold glove level. Why would you trade a terrific athlete who can be the ultimate Utility Man?

    Keep him on the bench, and you know Sheff will never have to play the outfield again. Pudge has a backup (perhaps), and someone can fill in for the slightly over the hill infielders when they need a night off. Not to mention a defensive replacement for Cabrera at third.

    And of course it's *possible* that '07 was something of an aberration, and that he'll hit for more average (and more power) in the future.

    I just don't see a lot of downside to keeping him, and don't know what we'd get in return.