Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Remember the FUP Plan? The F is back in the D

Remember those awful days in 2005, when the Tigers weren't expected to contend? During the first half of that season Alan Trammell instituted the FUP Plan in the late innings. Kyle Farnsworth in the 7th, Uggie Urbina in the 8th, and Troy Percival closing.

It sounded good in theory, but as was typical of the Tigers of that era, it didn't work out. In fact, it blew up.

Percival hurt his arm, never to pitch for the Tigers again. At the deadline, growing headcase and soon to be imprisoned Urbina was traded to Philly for soon to be All-Star Placido Polanco. The hard throwing, hot-headed free agent to be Farnsworth was sent to Atlanta for Roman Colon and current number 5 starter Zach Miner.

In the long run, the FUP Plan blowing up worked out for the Tigers. Looking back at Farnsworth, his Tiger legacy could be wrapped up in one picture...

Farnsworth working on his bodyslamming technique...

Turns out, they always return to the scene of the crime. As of 4:30 today, 1/3 of the FUP Plan has come back, as Kyle Farnsworth was the Tigers' haul in return for Pudge Rodriguez.

Farnsworth (1-2, 3.65, 1 SV, 11H) has been more than decent as a setup guy for the Yankees, but he's not a world beater. Far from it. If he was, the Yankees, who are in a pennant race themselves, wouldn't have traded him. Considering catching is at HUGE premium, you have to wonder if Pudge, and his hall of fame cachet, could have fetched more in return from another team. Then again, Pudge is a 2 month rental, a shadow of what he once was, not even the player he was 2 years ago. Obtaining Farnsworth may have been the best the Tigers could do.

I'd probably be more fired up about this trade if I hadn't seen Farnsworth pitch that half season for the Tigers. He was a solid, but not great, reliever. (His fighting skills, on the other hand, were exemplary) But if I put aside my biases, I have to admit Farnsworth is an upgrade to the Tigers bullpen.

OK, enough rambling...

Now that I've had an hour to let this settle in, why was this trade made?

  • The Tigers needed someone, anyone who could consistently throw strikes from out of the pen.

  • With Jorge Posada out for the year, the Yankees needed a catcher...stat.

  • Farnsworth is in his walk year, and would welcome an opportunity to close.

  • Pudge wanted out, as he wasn't exactly happy sharing time with Brandon Inge.

  • It was unlikely Pudge was coming back in 2009.

  • Pudge has been swinging the bat well, his value is as high as it's going to get.

  • The Tigers think Inge would not be much step down as the full time catcher.

  • The Tigers had seen enough of relievers who think the strike zone is only a suggestion.

What do I think is going to happen now?

  • For better or (probably) worse, the .227 hitting Inge is the full-time catcher for the remainder of his contract. (Dombrowski has confirmed this)

  • The Tigers have to be in the market for a MLB quality backup catcher. I mean, Dane Sardinha?

  • The Tigers' locker room is probably a much happier place tonight.

  • Todd Jones has become totally marginalized. Totally. There is no spot left for him in the pen.

  • Farnsworth will end up as the Tigers' closer. At the very least, he's a fall back if Fernando Rodney implodes.

  • The Tigers have not waved the white flag, as they would have wanted prospects from the Yankees rather than a walk year reliever.

Anything else?

  • Eno has ESP.

  • We all know how Dave Dombrowski feels about hard throwers. Farnsworth should consider the next 2 months an audition for a long-term deal.

  • We should thank Pudge for his service, as he was a big reason the Detroit Tigers rose from the dead.

As for the trade? Yay or nay?

Pudge was leaving after this season. The Tigers needed bullpen help. Rather than get nothing (other than extra draft picks when he walked) for the mercurial catcher, the Tigers decided dealing him would get the pen a needed upgrade. Farnsworth was probably as good a reliever that would be made available.

So after talking myself into it, I give the deal a mild, qualified...Yay?


  1. This trade is not a yay, even a mild, qualified one. The extra draft picks for Pudge when he walks have more value than Farnsworth, who is just an average reliever, and certainly not a worthy closer. This is a panic trade for the Tigers. Their need for relief help was no stronger than the Yankees need for a catcher. The Yankees plugged their hole AND made themselves stronger for the future with a couple of draft picks. The Tigers panicked and plugged the hole with bondo, created a new hole in the process, and weakened themselves for the future.

  2. We'll just have to agree to disagree on this one, Neil.

    I'm not thrilled the Tigers have Farnsworth, but he does help stabilize an iffy bullpen. The 2 picks would have been nice, but the Tigers are only 5.5 back and on the edge of contention. Farnsworth helps a team built to win now, not 3-4 years from now.

    I wouldn’t be surprised if there were some Pudge locker room shenanigans we’ll never be privy to helping to grease the skids of this trade.

  3. Here's your trade...Dane Sardinia to the Rockies for Yorvit Torrealba. Yorvit lost his starting job and is on the books at 3 mil per for three years and the Rocks aren't going to pay that for a back-up. He's serviceable and he was in the World Series last year. Sardinia is the perfect Rockies back-up. He comes in cheap. With the latest Nate Robertson implosion, Greg Maddux is looking better all the time.

  4. I wouldn't doubt the locker room shenanigans aspect. Problem is, even assuming that Farnsworth is going to be great, 20 innings of him can't raise the Tigers chances of making the postseason that much since the odds are pretty long to begin with. Selling out the future to cut 10:1 odds to 5:1 just means an 80% chance of getting nothing this year, AND not having much of a future.

    Three cheers for the 2010's being a repeat of the 1990's.