Sunday, March 23, 2008

Leyland's gut, Cabrera's wallet, and Granderson's finger all make headlines

It was a news filled 24 hours for the Detroit Tigers.

Yesterday began with the latest nugget of wisdom from the Marlboro Man. The Tigers' skipper claimed his "gut was telling him" a trade would be made for a relief pitcher before opening day. Jim Leyland had no other details of names or teams, just the churning of his gut.

It wasn't Leyland's get telling him a trade was on the way,
it was his larynx saying "Smoke 'em if ya got 'em!"

If you rule out Leyland's gut feeling wasn't indigestion, hunger pangs or appendicitis, this was good news. The bullpen has begun to give we fans a gut feeling, but of one closer to nausea.

A little after 10 PM last night, as I was watching Sparty take Pitt to the woodshed in the NCAA's, my RSS feed reader was bombarded by posts from the Tigers bloggers en masse. The news had broken that Miguel Cabrera had agreed to a long (8 years) and expensive ($153+ million) contract extension.

As the smoke cleared, details emerged. The deal includes the one year, $11.3 million contract signed earlier this year. The tacked on extension is for 7 years, and a tad over $140 million. That's almost exactly the mind-numbing numbers in the contract the Tigers offered that enigma wrapped inside a strained hamstring, Juan Gonzalez, back in 2001.

Though the numbers are comparable, as bad as the Gonzalez deal would have been for Detroit, giving Cabrera a similar contract is just good business. Cabrera is only 24, motivated by his teammates and countrymen, his best years ahead of him and he actually wants to stay in Detroit. Juan Gone was 30, best years behind him, and as we knew by his moaning, groaning and malingering, Detroit was the absolute last place he wanted to be.

The trade with the Marlins has stepped up from good to very good with the Dontrelle Willis extension. You may now call the trade great with the inking of Cabrera long-term.

When I drug my sleepy ass out of bed this morning, there was even more Tigers news, but nowhere near as good. Curtis Granderson will begin the regular season on the disabled list, thanks to a being hit by a pitch yesterday, fracturing his finger. Not exactly the news I needed to start my morning. Especially before I had my coffee.

On the bright side (If there is a bright side to any injury), it's not an injury that will cripple the Tigers long term, as it's expected Granderson will only miss the first 2-3 weeks of the season. On the other, it definitely crimps the Tigers chances of dealing for a pitcher before the season starts, as bargaining chip Brandon Inge just became that much more valuable to the the team. I wonder if Leyland's gut is still telling him a trade will be made?

I'm sure some combination of Inge, Ryan Raburn and Jacque Jones will man center field in the meantime. They won't handle it as well as Granderson, obviously. I have a bigger concern over over the leadoff position. The Tigers have no clearcut leadoff man, and as Granderson went, so went the Tigers.

If I were to venture a guess, we'll see Placido Polanco or Edgar Renteria hitting first. Though I wouldn't be surprised to see Pudge Rodriguez leadoff, as we've seen Leyland tinker with that in the past. Why his fascination with Pudge leading off, I'll never understand.

Say NO to Timo! PLEASE!

But there is a bigger issue at hand, other than leadoff. There now may be an extra roster spot up for grabs, opening a hole for Timo Perez to sneak through. And you all know of my irrational hatred for all things Timo Perez, mostly due to Leyland's affinity to play suck ass NL expats like Timo and Neifi Perez entirely too much.

With opening day a week away, I don't need anymore 24 hour news cycles like the last 24 from the Tigers. I'm ready for them to play ball for real. The last week of spring training is good for only one thing...getting players hurt.

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