Detroit Tigers: Success with Roster Turnover the Reason Team’s Championship Window isn’t Closing

Since the Detroit Tigers started their run of success, they’ve everyone will tell you some combination of these next seven statements about the Detroit Tigers.

  1. Their bullpen is dreadful.
  2. Their defense is bad too.
  3. They’re not built for the future.
  4. They’re top heavy.
  5. They spend money at a rate that isn’t sustainable.
  6. Their farm system is “barren”.
  7. They have no minor-league depth.
  8. The window is closing.

The first two statements are indicative of the team’s shortcomings over the past few years, but this season they are vastly improved. Detroit has solid a bridge to closer Joakim Soria consisting of Tom Gorzelanny, Joba Chamberlain and Alex Wilson. Additionally, Angel Nesbitt, who has pitched well as a rookie along with fellow youngster/flamethrower Bruce Rondon (once he returns from injury) will be vital bullpen cogs moving forward. Throw in rebound candidate Al Alburquerque (10.29 ERA at present, career 2.82 ERA entering the season) and you have a solid bullpen.

In terms of the defense, the additions of Anthony Gose and Yoenis Cespedes, coupled with the subtraction of Torii Hunter, the return of Jose Iglesias and the improvement of Nick Castellanos have left the Tigers with a strong defensive unit.

What’s significant about almost all of the aforementioned players is that general manager Dave Dombrowski brought them in an attempt to shore up the bullpen and defense. That’s been the Tigers model since their magical World Series run in 2006, reload and reshape.

The Tigers have gone from a team with a powerful lineup with no real weakness (2006) to one with the best rotation in baseball (2013), to this year’s team which excels at defense while still bringing the pop offensively.

They’ve been dependent on one major offseason acquisition/bat (Magglio Ordonez) before turning to another player brought in from outside the organization to lead the team (Miguel Cabrera).

They’ve also moved from one ace (Kenny Rogers) to another (Justin Verlander) before repeating the process again (Max Scherzer to David Price).

They’ve achieved all this with a perceived “weak” farm system. But regardless of prospects, the Tigers have continued to sustain success. They won their fourth straight AL Central title last season and are tied with the New York Mets for the best record in baseball over the course of the young season.

All good things have to come to an end, but Detroit’s window won’t be closing any time soon because of their ability to sustain success. They rarely deploy homegrown prospects, instead deciding to flip them into better, more established players. For as much as certain mainstream pundits like to go after the Tigers system, the belief is clearly not shared throughout the rest of the league. If it was, then the Tigers wouldn’t have been able to pull off trades for the likes of Price, Anibal Sanchez and Doug Fister. Throw in players like Devon Travis and Drew Smyly excelling elsewhere and the Tigers “system” doesn’t look quite as bad other writers make it out to be.

This continual roster reshaping/reloading has firmly jammed Detroit’s championship window open. They’ve continually dealt for top talent while bringing in replacements of equal value when that talent grows old, ineffective or too expensive.

Dombrowski turned Curtis Granderson and Edwin Jackson, both of whom were All-Stars in Detroit and the on the verge of massive contracts, into Scherzer and Austin Jackson. Scherzer would go on to win a Cy Young award in Detroit while establishing himself as one of baseball’s best. Jackson, on the other hand, provided stellar defense in centerfield before growing too pricey relative to his production. He was one of the key pieces in the Price trade.

Rick Porcello was also shipped out before he grew too expensive, he brought back Wilson as well as Yoenis Cespedes, who has provided good defense while hitting .310 and driving in the same number of runs as Cabrera (17).

All in all, the Tigers aren’t as fiscally irresponsible as you might think.

The Tigers are rarely on the side of the deal that yields prospects for one player thanks to a history of trading prospects. Recent acquisitions Alfredo Simon and Shane Greene have joined a lit that also includes the likes of Carlos Guillen, Jhonny Peralta, Jose Iglesias, Delmon Young and Soria. The most significant player traded in all of those deals? Avisail Garcia, who hit .244 for the White Sox last year.

Detroit has continued to tinker with their team while not being afraid to cut their losses if an experiment fails. Furthermore, the team isn’t afraid to make bold/unpopular moves to further success.

Jeff Baker was acquired by Detroit in August 2012 for the stretch run, but due to ineffectiveness, was traded before the month was out. The Tigers ate money to move on from Prince Fielder despite their being seven years left on his contract. Robbie Ray, the still-developing centerpiece of the Doug Fister debacle was moved in a three-team trade to bring in Greene.

Bringing in Greene and Simon to replace Max Scherzer and Rick Porcello is certainly bold, as is dealing fan-favorite Granderson and replacing him with an unproven Jackson. Even bolder is the decision to deal nearly every prospect of note in the system (at the time) for Cabrera.

However, the moves seem to have paid off. Scherzer was essentially replaced in kind by Price, so swapping out the now over-paid Porcello and Drew Smyly for the comparatively cheaper duo of Simon and Greene is a win considering how well Simon is pitching this year and the potential Greene has shown. If Cabrera continues his current career trajectory he’ll be discussed in the same discussion as Hank Aaron… so that trade worked.

The team will do whatever it takes to win, and continue winning. They mortgage their future by swapping out prospects for veterans. However, when that future comes, they simply trade excess players and more prospects for new parts in order to maintain success.

Pundits will tell you that the Tigers will decline and be a very bad team soon, but they’ve been saying that for a while now. The Detroit Tigers have perfected their model and stayed competitive for nearly the last decade. Who’s to say it won’t happen for another decade?

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All stats courtesy of Baseball-Reference.com unless otherwise noted.

5 Stats to Know from the Detroit Tigers 10-7 Win vs the Minnesota Twins

The Tigers have won yet another series, taking two-out-of-three in Minnesota. Here are five stats to know from the 10-7 triumph.

  • Four

The number of runs driven in by Miguel Cabrera. Miggy went 3-for-5 with the four RBI and two runs scored.

  • 17

The number of hits by the Tigers offense just a day after managing three against Mike Pelfrey and friends.

  • One

The number of home runs by rookie James McCann. It was the catcher’s first career, big-league homer. It also happened to be an inside-the-parker. J.D. Martinez also went yard, though the pitch that he hit actually left the yard, while Cabrera continue to show his ridiculous skill at the plate with two home runs.

  • Seven

The number of runs surrendered by Shane Greene in just 4.1 innings pitched. He’s now given up 15 runs on 18 hits in his past 8.1 innings after allowing two runs in his first 23 innings pitched as a Tiger. To Greene’s credit he struck out a season-high eight batters and didn’t walk anyone.

  • Six

The number of Tigers players to post multi-hit games. Andrew Romine, making a start at shortstop, had a hit in all four of his at-bats. Cabrera and McCann weren’t far behind with three hits apiece while Ian Kinsler, Yoenis Cespedes and Nick Castellanos all had two hits each.

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Three Reasons Why the Tukwila Arena is a Good Idea

  1. Location, Location, Location

While an arena in SoDo would be amazing and add to an already sporting atmosphere with Safeco Field and CenturyLink field, it can be tricky getting to the stadiums. It shouldn’t be, but coming from the south, it can be a bit of a hassle to get to Safeco from the highway. In other words, it shouldn’t take long, but it does. It also makes games more accessible geographically for fans south of Seattle.

  1. Privately Funded

The arena project, spearheaded by the “Russell Group” will be privately funded. This means the public won’t be paying. This has been an issue in the past, not just in Seattle, but in other locals.

  1. Hockey First?

Seattle is no doubt interested in the NHL making the Pacific Northwest a permanent home, but the NBA is likely a bigger draw given the city’s history with and yearning for professional basketball.

The hockey first would also solve the city’s Catch-22 situation with the NBA were the city (specifically the Seattle Arena project) needs a team to break ground on an arena, but the league wants an arena in place before it can send a team our way.

Having an NHL team first would also give the area time to get behind hockey in the same way the team threw their lot in with the Sounders.

Tukwila Arena Updates

With news breaking recently that a potential NBA/NHL arena to be built in Tukwila is in the works, their has been plenty of news on the subject of late. The arena group includes former Sonic legend Fred Brown as well as all-time NBA great Bill Russell among others.

Here’s the latest. 

  • According to King 5 News, the arena has been “in works for months”.

Here are some shots of the land in Tukwila and what an arena might look like-

Here’s more specifics from Chris Daniels

Not to be outdone, the Seattle Arena is on track to make progress as well.

To read why I think the Tukwila Arena is a good idea, click here. 

5 Stats from the Detroit Tigers 3-2 Loss to the Minnesota Twins

  • Three

The number of hits the Tigers accumulated. Anthony Gose, J.D. Martinez and Yoenis Cespedes were the only Detroit players to notch a hit. The Tigers only added two walks, both coming from Alex Avila. Twins leadoff hitter Danny Santana had the same number of hits as the entire Detroit lineup.

  • Zero

The number of runs allowed by Blaine Hardy and Al Alburquerque in an inning of work. Both lowered their ERAs which sat at 7.36 and 11.37 respectively entering the game.

(RELATED: Should the Tigers Sign Rafael Soriano?)

  • .355

Miguel Cabrera’s ridiculous average after the game despite going 0-for-4 with a strikeout. Best hitter in the league. Period.

  • Two

The aforementioned number of walks by Avila. The fact that the catcher can draw walks is a positive sign going forward if Avila can’t significantly raise his average above .171.

  • Seven

The number of strikeouts by Tigers hitters. In a close game with a dearth of offense, a 7/2 strikeout-to-walk ratio isn’t great, or even close to being called “good”.

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5 Stats to Know from the Detroit Tigers’ 5-4 Win over the Minnesota Twins

  • Three

The number of runs allowed by David Price, who rebounded from an awful start against the Yankees. Price didn’t have his best stuff, but battled through 6.1 innings of work to earn the win.

  • One

The number of hits surrendered by Joakim Soria in the ninth. The closer earned his eighth save.

  • Two

The number of holds picked up by Tigers relievers. Alex Wilson and Joba Chamberlain held the lead for Soria. The recently called-up Wilson has 2.45 ERA over the course of 3.2 innings this season.

  • .397

Jose Iglesias’ batting average after the game. The slick-fielding shortstop has been super with the bat this season. He went 3-for-5 with a run scored and a run driven in. He went yard (his first of the season) and finished a double short of the cycle.

  • Six

The number of walks drawn by the Tigers, easily outweighing the team’s collective three strikeouts. Miguel Cabrera, Victor Martinez, J.D. Martinez and Alex Avila all had a walk each. Anthony Gose drew two free passes.

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5 Stats from the Detroit Tigers 8-6 Win over the Cleveland Indians

  • Three

The number of runs driven in by Miguel Cabrera, who has continued his torrid start. Miggy went 3-for-4 with three RBI and two runs scored to raise his average to .377. Cabrera also went deep. Additionally, Rajai Davis scored three runs on three hits.

  • Two

The number of hits driven in by Ian Kinsler. The second baseman had two hits in four plate appearances. He had an RBI, scored two runs, stole a base and drew a walk.

  • Seven

The number of innings thrown by Kyle Lobstein in a winning effort. Justin Verlander’s rotation replacement allowed six hits and three runs (all earned) in his seven innings. He only walked two and struck out four. His ERA on the season is 3.50.

  • 86

The number of pitches required by Lobstein to pitch seven innings. It was an incredibly efficient day for Lobstein, who picked up his second win of the season.

  • One

The number of runs, hits and walks allowed by Joakim Soria. This broke a stretch of six straight games in which Soria had thrown perfect innings—a stretch that lasted two weeks.

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5 Stats from the #DetroitTigers 4-1 Win over the Cleveland Indians

  • Four

Maybe the biggest stat of the game—Miguel Cabrera had four walks (three intentional) en-route to a 0-for-1 day at the plate.

  • Three

The number of runs driven in by Victor Martinez. All those intentional walks handed to Miggy certainly helped V-Mart. The designated hitter drove in three runs on two hits. He only had five RBI on the season entering the game.

  • Two

The number of hits by both Rajai Davis and Ian Kinsler. The duo went 4-for-8 with four runs scored and a walk.

  • One

(I swear I’m not doing a countdown) The number of runs allowed by Alfredo Simon. The former All-Star continues to impress in Detroit. He only struck out three, but allowed just two walks.

  • Zero

(Ok, I inadvertently did a countdown… hopefully that doesn’t happen again) The number of runs allowed by the Tigers bullpen. Tom Gorzelanny rebounded from giving up a run and taking the loss in his last outing to earning the hold while pitching 1.1 shutout innings. He allowed two hits but added a strikeout. Joakim Soria threw a perfect ninth.

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