New Mariners General Manager Jerry Dipoto’s First Priorities

The Seattle Mariners wrapped up a disappointing season on a positive note, claiming a 3-2 win over the Oakland Athletics. The attention now shifts to the offseason, where new general manager Jerry Dipoto will be tasked with turning the team around.

Dipoto has already made it clear that he’s keeping hold of, and building around, “core” players Kyle Seager, Robinson Cano, Nelson Cruz and Felix Hernandez.

Thankfully, none of those four players will be leaving the Emerald City any time soon. If the M’s finished 76-86 with that quartet, who knows how they’d fair without the foursome? Odds are it wouldn’t be pretty.

Dipoto has his work cut out for him, but if he can creatively fill some of the team’s needs without losing much either in a trade or in salary, the M’s have a chance to contend next season.

Among the most prominent needs is at catcher. Per Baseball Reference, Seattle catchers collectively finished last season with the worst wins above average by any backstop grouping in the league. Mike Zunino and company were worth -3.9 wins below average. No other catching group was worse than -2.6.

The problem with the situation is that Zunino is only 24-years-old. The Mariners aren’t going to bail on the former third-overall pick that quickly, but he has to start improving offensively. Zunino has a career .193 batting average in 1055 plate appearances. This simply isn’t going to cut it. Adding another catcher to the roster in the same vein as the Wellington Castillo transaction.

In addition to a catcher, Seattle needs a leadoff hitter. Ketel Marte performed atop the order, hitting .283 and stealing eight bases in 57 games. However, the team may find easier to find an outfielder who hits atop the order. Mariners’ center and left fielders both were below league-average in terms of wins above average. Seattle left fielders were worth -0.2 wins below average while centerfielders were worth -1.3 wins below average. Only four teams had worse production from their centerfield groupings, so perhaps someone like Denard Span, Dexter Fowler, or even Rajai Davis, could make sense.

(RELATED: Analyzing Jerry Dipoto’s Top 14 Career Trades).

The M’s could use stand to score more runs. Only six teams scored fewer runs in the league. Another bat would certainly make sense. Mark Trumbo showed flashes of the talent he showed in Anaheim, but only managed to hit .248 against right-handed pitching. Logan Morrison was supposed to fill that role, but he hasn’t hit much either (.241 against righties, .190 against lefties). Justin Morneau could hit free agency and would be a fit. The former Minnesota Twin hit .316 with an .850 OPS in 184 games for the Rockies over the past two years. He’d be a great fit alongside Trumbo, especially considering he’s a career .297 hitter in over 4,000 (4,169) plate appearances against right handed pitching.

Last but not least, Dipoto must fix the bullpen. Generally a strength for Seattle, this year’s bullpen was often an eye soar.

Going back to the “Wins Above Average by Position” leaderboards, the M’s relievers finished fourth-worst in the league. The relievers were worth -3.4 wins below average. The group may get better simply by subtraction. Fernando Rodney has already departed while a number of ineffective relievers could, and should, be jettisoned.

A number of quality relievers (Tyler Clippard, Joakim Soria and Darren O’Day, just to name a few) could hit the free agent market, so Seattle will have its pick should the team chose to spend. Additionally, effective relief pitchers are found on the waiver wire every month, so there’s plenty of options for Dipoto to fix the bullpen.

New M’s general manager Jerry Dipoto has his work cut out for him, but he’s shown he can make shrewd trades. Seattle has a number of issues, but if Dipoto can fix them, the team has a chance.

Detroit Tigers: Team Must Stop Being Patient with Bullpen

If it weren’t for the Detroit Tigers’ faulty bullpen, Dave Dombrowski probably wouldn’t have been let go, the team would have won at least one World Series and Jim Leyland may have had a couple more rings on his resume heading into Cooperstown.

“What could have been” probably sums up the situation aptly.

Yet to this day, the Tigers, with all their financial resources, still have a bullpen that surrenders both small leads and big leads alike.

It’s time for the Tigers to stop being patient with their current relievers.

Since trading Joakim Soria at the trade deadline, the Tigers’ bullpen has essentially been Alex Wilson and Blaine Hardy doing the heavy lifting with a smattering of Bruce Rondon and Al Alburquerque.

These four are fine relievers to have moving forward, but the others must pick up the slack before the aforementioned four become over-worked and start falling apart.

The rest of the Detroit bullpen options are as follows:

Ian Krol (currently with Triple-A Toledo) — 1-3 record, 26 appearances, 21.1 innings pitched, 6.75 ERA, 5.44 FIP, 22 strikeouts, 13 walks, four home runs allowed.

Neftali Feliz—0-1 record, 10 appearances, 8.2 innings pitched, 14.54 ERA, 7.49 FIP, eight strikeouts, five walks, three home runs allowed.

Buck Farmer (as a reliever) — 0-0 record, two appearances, six innings pitched, 6.00 ERA, one strikeouts, one walk, one home run allowed.

Tom Gorzelanny—1-1 record, 31 appearances, 24.1 innings pitched, 6.66 ERA, 5.24 FIP, 19 strikeouts, 15 walks, three home runs allowed.

Kyle Ryan (as a reliever) — 1-0 record, four appearances, 8.1 innings pitched, 6.48 ERA, five strikeouts, four walks, zero home runs allowed.

Angel Nesbitt (currently with Triple-A Toledo) – 1-1 record, 24 appearances, 21.2 innings pitched, 5.40 ERA, 4.67 FIP, 14 strikeouts, eight walks, two home runs allowed.

Things have to change with this group.

Just when Krol looked to be turning a corner (2.89 ERA in 13 July appearances) he imploded against the Red Sox. One of the pieces acquired in the Doug Fister trade, Krol allowed four runs on four hits and a walk in 0.2 innings. Right handed batters are hitting .320 off the Tigers’ reliever while lefties hit .359 against Krol. He was optioned to Triple-A, with Ryan taking his place.

Maybe the most maddening pitcher in terms of results, Feliz isn’t really this bad. This is the pitcher who won Rookie of the Year while posting a stellar 2.69 ERA and 242 strikeouts in 261.1 innings for Texas—not to mention racking up 93 saves.

Gorzelanny deserves somewhat of a pass because he just returned from a stint at Triple-A to work on a different arm angle. But the former Pittsburgh Pirate did allow Jackie Bradley Jr.’s home run—an uncommon statement given the Boston outfielder’s career .191 batting average and .280 slugging percentage. The one-time starter showed promise early in the season with

Farmer has the taxing job of being the Tigers’ long reliever. The top prospect’s career numbers aren’t pretty to look at as both a starter (11.54 ERA) and a reliever (5.00). The young pitcher has potential, but he may not be ready quite just yet.

Yet another long reliever/starter, Ryan will take Krol’s place in the bullpen. While he’s struggled this season, Ryan actually performed fairly well as a reliever last season, posting four scoreless outings in five total appearances. For now, he’ll be another long option in the ‘pen while allowing the Tigers to experiment with Farmer’s stuff as more of a single-inning reliever.

Angel Nesbitt started the season with plenty of promise, posting a 2.92 ERA in his first 12 appearances. His next 12 appearances didn’t go as swimmingly. The rookie’s ERA was 8.68 over that span while opponents hit an unsightly .359 off him. His ERA in Triple-A Toledo is currently 5.14, so don’t expect to see him in Detroit any time soon.

Something has to change. Detroit can’t keep going back to the same well of relievers when that well has consistently produced poor results. The Tigers haven’t won a World Series ring because of bullpen failures, the team’s new front office should learn from this and fix the bullpen. There are a number of relievers that hit the market on an almost-weekly basis. The Tigers should be taking fliers on all of them to see what sticks ahead of next season.

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

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Detroit Tigers: Predicting the Lineup in 2020

After trading David Price, Joakim Soria and Yoenis Cespedes (in that order no less!), the Detroit Tigers are seem to have an eye on the future. The team will still be ultra-aggressive in winning in the short-term, but the trades of the impending free agents signal that the team is at least conscious of building a long-term winner that is more sustainable. Here’s a look at what that future might entail. Without further ado, ladies and gentleman, you’re 2020 Detroit Tigers (as it stands right now anyways…).

  • C: James McCann

Anyone under the impression that James McCann would take time to acclimate have been dead wrong. The catcher has lived up to his reputation defensively—he leads all catchers in fielding percentage (0 errors) while grading out well in defensive metrics. McCann also has thrown out 45% of would-be base stealers. The 25-year-old is hitting .282 with 22 extra-base-hits and owns a 1.3 WAR as a rookie. The Tigers seem set behind the plate for the next decade.

1B: Miguel Cabrera

By this point, Miguel Cabrera will be one of the game’s greatest all-time players. He isn’t going anywhere, regardless of his salary.

2B: Dixon Machado/ JaCoby Jones

Here’s where it gets interesting. Ian Kinsler will be 38 by this point, and the Tigers have two excellent converted shortstops ready to take the reins. Machado is currently at Triple-A, and is a plus-plus defender while Jones is at Double-A and has tantalizing potential.

Machado has already earned a cup of coffee with the Tigers this season and with a .267 batting average in the high-minors, there’s hope that he’ll offensive potential to go along with his excellent defense.

While further down the minor-league ladder, Jones possess just as much potential as Machado—if not more. The former third-round pick has raw power to go along with elite athleticism and plus-plus capabilities on defense that allow him to play most positions. This will obviously be the case with Jose Iglesias entrenched at shortstop, so expect Jones to be in the Tigers lineup come 2020, if not much, much sooner. The prospect is off to a strong start in Double-A after hitting three home runs in one game soon after arriving from Pittsburgh.  

SS: Jose Iglesias

When a 25-year-old shortstop can do this

And this

Then you’ve clearly found a keeper. Throw in the fact that Iglesias is hitting .318 this year (and in the process earning his first All-Star nod) and you might just see him in a Tigers uniform in 2025, let alone 2020.

3B: Nick Castellanos

Nick Castellanos is finally starting to become the hitter everyone thought he would be.

While his .237 batting average this season is far from encouraging, his recent numbers are. The third baseman is hitting .276 with seven home runs, 24 RBI and an .846 OPS since June 23rd.

Castellanos still has work to do in terms of reaching full potential, but the fact that he has almost surpassed his home run and RBI totals from last season is an extremely good sign moving forward. It seems like he’s been around for ages, but Castellanos is still only 23-years-old. When he reaches his prime, he should be a more-than-competent middle-of-the-order bat.

LF: Anthony Gose/ Christian Stewart/ JaCoby Jones

Again, another tough decision. Gose will only be 29 in 2020, so he’ll likely still be with the team if he performs well. But, by that time he’ll likely have shifted to left in order to accommodate top prospect Derek Hill.

Stewart is one of the team’s better outfield prospects. He may not be on Gose’s level defensively, but it seems that his offense will be his meal ticket in the bigs. Jones’ potential won’t be recounted again, but put it this way—he can be a plus defender in the outfield as well as the infield.

CF: Derek Hill

Hill isn’t going to be a power-hitting player in The Show, but he’s got plenty of speed to help him reach the bigs and stay there. Hill has what scouts would call “plus” speed. The prospect also possesses good plate discipline. He’ll be a dangerous leadoff-type hitter for the Tigers for years to come—not to mention a strong defensive centerfielder.

RF: J.D. Martinez

Maybe the biggest lock here not named Miguel, J.D. Martinez isn’t leaving Detroit any time. Right now its probably a safe bet to assume he’ll be with the team until he retires. The Tigers will need protection for Cabrera once Victor Martinez retires/departs, and they already have that in J.D.

Fun fact: J.D. Martinez has homered in three consecutive games three different times this season.

DH: Steven Moya

If Moya can put it together in Triple-A, this job’s his. Dude can hit the ball a mile.

Bookmark/subscribe/follow/keep on eye on Know Hitter over the next few days—coming soon, predicting the Tigers pitching staff in 2020.

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

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Dave Dombrowski Out as Detroit Tigers’ General Manager

The architect who brought the Detroit Tigers back to baseball relevancy is no longer with the team. The Tigers announced the move just this afternoon. The announcement also revealed Dombrowski’s successor: longtime-Tigers executive/ Dombrowski’s right-hand man Al Avila.

The announcement also had a few interesting nuggets of information. The most prominent being Avila stating that “We’re confident we can make a strong push to win this year, and that we have the foundation in place to win next year and for years to come.”

This goes against Dombrowski previous statements were he essentially said the team wasn’t going to win the World Series this season.

Dombrowski will be best known not only for turning around baseball in Detroit, but for fleecing other teams in trades. He acquired Miguel Cabrera, Doug Fister, Anibal Sanchez and David Price for relatively little given the prominence of the players. Another brilliant move? Turning the expensive Curtis Granderson and Edwin Jackson into Max Scherzer, Austin Jackson and Phil Coke.

Other masterstrokes include finding gems like J.D. Martinez, Al Alburquerque and Blaine Hardy off the scrap heap.

The changing of the guard in the front office may or may not impact Brad Ausmus’ future with the team, however a late postseason push/appearance may help the manager’s cause.

Still, things are changing in Detroit (baseball-wise). It started with Jim Leyland leaving and continues with Dombrowski exiting stage left. The appointment of the already-employed Avila ensures that there won’t be much adjustment in terms of the change.

Avila’s statements about contending this year should sit very well with a Tigers’ fan base that has seen the team trade away Price, Yoenis Cespedes and Joakim Soria in an effort to “reboot” for next season.

Detroit’s GM is no longer Dave Dombrowski, the team will now place the baseball-decision making duties in Al Avila’s hands. Hopefully for Tigers fans, Avila can deliver a World Series-winning squad.

Recently DFA’d Players the Detroit Tigers Should Take Fliers On

With the Tigers opening up a number of roster spots thanks to the trades of David Price, Joakim Soria and Yoenis Cespedes, the team will be auditioning players for next year to see who fits on the team moving forward. Granted all three roster spots have been filled, but other roster spots aren’t set in stone.

Their rare a number of bullpen pieces struggling that could be demoted if not cut out-right, while Buck Farmer could be optioned if Detroit feels another one of its young arms is better suited for the current rotation.

If anything, the second half of this season is a chance for Detroit to examine players with an eye towards next year. The new additions could also propel the Tigers towards the playoffs. The American League wild card is wide open, and Miguel Cabrera returns from the disabled list in only a few short weeks.

  • Vance Worley

2015 Stats: 4-5, 3.78 ERA, 3.76 FIP, 20 games (8 starts)

Worley was solid/effective during his time in Pittsburgh. He posted a 3.21 ERA and a 3.56 FIP as Pirate, working in the rotation and out of the bullpen. Worley’s ERA as a starter was 4.81, but he posted a much more acceptable 2.08 ERA when entering games as a reliever. Never a big strikeout pitcher, the former Minnesota Twin has had a fairly successful career and is only 27.

If the Tigers acquire him, he can be a controllable and reliable swing-man. Worley could also serve as a rotation place-holder for some of the young arms acquired at the deadline. At the same time, he would also provide the Tigers opportunity to win some games down the stretch.

  • Danny Valencia

2015 Stats: .296 batting average, 7 home runs, 29 RBI, 20 XBH (extra-base hits), .838 OPS

A surprising DFA victim by the Blue Jays after Toronto’s trade deadline-dealing bonanza, Valencia hits the waiver system with plenty of upside. At 29, the versatile player can fill in at first base, third base and left field while providing an above-average bat. Valencia is hitting .316 against left-handed pitching this season while posting a .279 clip against righties. Not only would the former Twin provide another option in left field, he would also give Brad Ausmus another option at first base while the Tigers wait for Cabrera to return.

  • Brandon Beachy

2015 Stats: 0-1, 7.88 ERA, 10 hits and seven runs allowed, 2 starts, 10 innings pitched.

Brandon Beachy’s numbers this year are bad, real bad. But if you consider he’s just returned from an injury and that he hasn’t pitched in two years, the numbers aren’t so awful. While the right-hander’s showing this year isn’t that appealing, his track record is. The 28-year-old posted a 3.23 ERA and a 3.34 FIP in 267.2 innings for the Braves. Beachy is still young and could still regain the effectiveness he displayed in Atlanta. Like Worley, he could be a place-holder or long-term piece at the back end of the Tigers rotation. Once he works things out, it wouldn’t be a shock to see him post 10-12 wins on a contending team with strong run support.

  • Roberto Hernandez

2015 Stats: 20 appearances, 11 starts, 4.36 ERA, 4.43 FIP, 4.5 strikeouts-per-nine-innings

Roberto Hernandez is not a long-term piece, not even close. His ERA is passable (not to mention the definition of a back-of-the-rotation arm) and his strikeouts-per-nine numbers aren’t pretty. However, as low-risk a placeholder this year for a Tigers team looking to win some games? Well, in that case he just might work. Hernandez isn’t the world-beater that he was as a member of the Indians, but he could give the Tigers some innings down the stretch. Think of the Tigers signing him similar to the team’s signing of Freddy Garcia. It would be in no way anything long-term, but it would be a mutually beneficial move. Hernandez would serve as a placeholder for pitchers like Luis Cessa and Michael Fulmer.

  • Bud Norris

2015 Stats: 2-9, 7.06 ERA, 5.58 FIP, 18 games, 11 starts

Somewhere in between Worley/Beachy and Hernandez is Bud Norris. Norris won 15 (!) games for the Orioles last season, posting a 3.65 ERA in 165.1 innings pitched. At 30, he doesn’t have the youth of Worley or Beachy, but he’s proven that he can win games. Like Worley and Beachy, he’s a solid bet for double-digit wins and a solid-but-not spectacular ERA on a winning team that comes with good run support. If the Tigers think they can get 2014-like stats from Norris, then the team should sign him. At worst he’s a meh signing that can be discarded at any time (or in the offseason). In other words, he’s worth a shot.

  • Caleb Thielbar

2015 Stats: 5.40 ERA, 6 appearances, 5 Strikeouts, 1.08 FIP

Finally, a potential long-term piece. Thielbar has struggled in a small sample-size this season, but has a strong track record over the past two seasons. The former Brewers farmhand entered 2015 with a career 2.59 ERA in 93.2 innings pitched accumulated over two seasons. His FIP over that span spits out to a slightly-less favorable 3.48, but when a player like Thielbar hits the open market, they generally tend not to last long. Thielbar is only 27-years-old, is controllable/cheap and has shown that he can be a productive reliever. Detroit should take a flier on him to see if he’s a potential piece for next year. The team’s tried just about everything, and Thielbar might be a solution.

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

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Detroit Tigers: Grading the Tigers’ Trade Deadline Trades

As the MLB Trade Deadline passed, the Detroit Tigers firmly planted their flag on the “rebooting” side of things (as they like to call it). For a team that was so used to buying at the deadline, the Tigers replenished their farm system (the most overused term of the day) and generally did well for themselves.

General manager Dave Dombrowski turned rental players David Price, Joakim Soria and Yoenis Cespedes into prospects Daniel Norris (Van Man!), Jairo Labourt, Matt Boyd, Michael Fulmer, Luis Cessa and JaCoby Jones.

All seven players are now top-fifteen prospects in the Detroit system, per MLB.com.

While the Tigers system was heavy on position players, Dombrowski and company clearly focused on adding pitching. Norris is already in the Tigers’ rotation while Boyd, Cessa and Fulmer have the potential to join him next season. This won’t happen obviously, but it gives the team more options moving forward than Buck Farmer and Kyle Ryan.

Now onto the grades.

The Trade: Price to Toronto for Norris, Labourt and Boyd

Grade: A

The Tigers probably weren’t going to re-sign David Price thanks to his likely out-of-this-world price tag, and did well to cash in on him when they had the chance. Norris is a future front-line starter and already owns a 3.86 ERA this season in five starts for the Jays. He’ll likely fill Price’s shoes in the coming years and gives the Tigers a legitimate piece to build around—pitching wise.

Labourt is a potential starter, but control issues may force him to the bullpen. At worst, he’s a reliever at the big-league. The former Jays’ farmhand is the “lottery ticket” of the deal and the hardest to project. Norris and Boyd are more surefire bets to make The Show, but Labourt has a chance talent-wise.

Last but not least, Boyd has big league potential. He’s displayed good control and feel for his pitches. This has clearly been on display this season with the left-hander posting a 9-2 record with a 1.68 ERA and 107 strikeouts in 112.2 innings pitched. Opponents are hitting a measly .178 off him. The former sixth-round pick has been effective at both Double-A and Triple-A, so a Major League call up may not be far away. Worst-case-scenario (in terms of his future) he’ll compete for a job with the Tigers next Spring Training.

The Trade: Soria to Pittsburgh for Minor League Shortstop JaCoby Jones

Grade: B+

While not the biggest haul for Soria, Jones is an intriguing prospect. Well, maybe “intriguing” is underselling the point. Tigers’ fans probably thought Soria would bring more of a return, but Jones has the chance to be special.

Granted he’s still a work-in-progress, but the Double-A shortstop has raw power to go along with plus speed. He’s big for a shortstop (6’2”) and has the athleticism to play other positions. The outfield is also a possibility for a player who has drawn comparisons to Adam Jones.

Jones comes with a great deal of risk, but his combination of raw power, plus speed and elite athleticism (not to mention his ability as a plus-plus defender at a number of positions) make him a player with difference-maker/star potential. He’s certainly worth the gamble for a half season of Soria.

The Trade: Cespedes to the Mets for Fulmer and Cessa

Grade: A

If Labourt (acquired in the Price trade), pans out as a big-league starter, the Tigers will have acquired an entire starting rotation for Price and Cespedes. Judging on a number of reports, tweets and what-have-you, the Mets seemed to like Fulmer a lot.

And rightfully so, Fulmer has a mid-90’s fastball and some nasty off-speed offerings. In terms of the future, it’s not hard to imagine Norris and Fulmer headlining the Tigers’ rotation for a decade. The former first-round pick was blocked in New York thanks to the presence all the Mets’ young starters (i.e. Zach Wheeler, Matt Harvey, Steven Matz, Noah Syndergaard, Jacob deGrom), so a move to Detroit is clearly beneficial for his future prospects.

Cessa is another starting pitcher who profiles as a back-end starter more than anything. He’s a converted infielder with a fastball that sits in the low-to-mid 90’s with two off-speed offerings that could play in the Majors. He’s struggled at Triple-A this season, but nonetheless shows promise.

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

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Detroit Tigers: Regardless of Buying or Selling, Bullpen Must be Fixed

Stop me if you’ve heard this before, the Detroit Tigers bullpen imploded, costing them the game—against the offensively anemic Seattle Mariners no less.

Detroit lost the contest Tuesday by a score of 11-9 in a game that sums up the bullpen problems in Detroit.

The Tigers essentially have three reliable relievers bridging the gap to the equally reliable Joakim Soria. However, Al Alburquerque, Alex Wilson and Blaine Hardy can’t pitch every game. Heck, every other game for all three is probably too much. The word “burnout” is going to make its way into the headlines eventually if that happens.

Outside of those three, the Tigers don’t have much. The team’s hope is that Neftali Feliz and Bruce Rondon join the “reliable” fraternity. But at this point, it’s just that– a hope. Feliz served up the grand slam to Franklin Gutierrez that gave the M’s the win on Tuesday, while Rondon’s ERA has hovered around nine as of late.

The reality is simple for the Tigers, their bullpen isn’t working—and must be fixed. The Tigers have tried almost everything. It’s gotten to the point where the players who aren’t performing have to be shuffled on. Whether it be optioned to Triple-A Toledo, or designated for assignment, Detroit has to try different options.

Regardless of if they’re “buyers” or “sellers” at the trade deadline, the Tigers’ brass must fix the bullpen.

Soria, Alburquerque, Wilson and Hardy are keepers, but the rest is in serious question. Feliz was solid up until he surrendered the grand slam to Gutierrez, and may be worth keeping around given his track record. Rondon has tremendous potential, but might benefit from a stint in the minors. Ian Krol has been better of late, but still owns a rather ugly ERA (5.87).

There are a number of low-buy relievers on the market, an area in which Detroit should be actively searching for a replacement—searching to the point that the team is throwing any reliever they can acquire at the wall and seeing what sticks.

Krol and Rondon should be optioned to the minors in order to make room for the new additions. It seems drastic, but the team needs all the help it can get.

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

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Detroit Tigers: Low-Buy Trade Targets to Improve the Bullpen

The Detroit Tigers have whittled their bullpen (in terms of reliability) down to four pitchers setting up closer Joakim SoriaAlex Wilson, Blaine Hardy,  Al Alburquerque and Neftali Feliz.

The rest have been maddeningly inconsistent. Bruce Rondon and Ian Krol seem like long-term pieces, however both have abnormally high ERAs (in albeit small sample sizes). Rondon’s is 9.35 in 8.2 innings while Krol’s is 6.14 in 14.2 innings.

If the Feliz’ arrival has shown the Tigers anything, it’s that quality relief options are available—and they may just need a change of scenery to thrive. Here are some low-buy trade targets the Tigers could look into in order to bolster the team’s bullpen.

(RELATED: Neftali Feliz Signing a Smart Move by the Tigers)

Steve Cishek, Miami Marlins

Per the Boston Globe’s Nick Cafardo, the Tigers have been watching Steve Cishek. This makes sense.

Cishek struggled mightily to start the year, so much so that he was sent down to Double-A to work things out. The former closer is back with the big league club, and seems to have figured things out. As a setup reliever since June 14th, Cishek has a 0.93 ERA and nine strikeouts in 9.2 innings.

The most unnecessary luxury on a losing team is a good reliever, so if Miami sells off pieces, Cishek may be out the door. He’s even more expandable considering how well A.J. Ramos has fared as a closer (1.55 ERA, 14 saves). This isn’t even to mention the presences of Sam Dyson (3.48 ERA), Bryan Morris (3.31) and Carter Capps (1.55).

It seems that the Tigers like to acquire relievers with closing experience to serve in a non-closer role. This has happened with everyone from Jim Johnson and Joel Hanrahan to Joakim Soria and Feliz. Cishek (94 careers saves) would fit the mold.

Addison Reed, Arizona Diamondbacks

Yet another former closer who’s had troubles, former White Sox reliever Addison Reed would be the ultimate low-buy for the Tigers.

Reed has a career 4.39 ERA, including a 5.92 number this year, but when you look at the numbers more closely, he comes off as a much better pitcher. The former closer’s FIP is a much-more-acceptable 3.84 this year. In other words, the Diamondbacks aren’t doing him any favors defensively.

Over the course of a year-and-a-half in the desert, Reed has nine losses and 35 saves (only three this season). His ERA in Arizona is 4.73. Going purely on those numbers alone, the D-Backs may be inclined to move him, especially considering the team’s depth chart.

Arizona is stocked with quality relievers, from closer Brad Ziegler to setup relievers Andrew Chafin (2.90 ERA), to Randall Delgado (2.93 ERA) and the duo of Daniel Hudson and Oliver Perez (3.32 and 3.46 respectively).

Reed isn’t even on the team’s big league roster. They’d probably be more than open to moving him, especially given his salary. Nonetheless, he’d be a good low-buy option for the Tigers, especially with his closing expertise (104 career saves).

Joe Thatcher, (Formerly of the) Houston Astros

Finally! A non-closer. Joe Thatcher was just designated for assignment by the Astros and is available. Not only is Thatcher wildly non-expensive, relative to his value, he’s also been consistent for Houston.

Thatcher has a respectable 3.79 ERA and an even more attractive 3.17 FIP. The former Angel has struggled of late (27.00 ERA in last five appearances, spanning 1.1 innings), but was dynamite before that. In 31 appearances prior to the struggles, Thatcher posted a sparkling 2.04 ERA.

Given his relative inexpensiveness and success, the Tigers should take a flier on Thatcher. His arrival would be another step towards having a strong bullpen.

Jean Machi, (Formerly of the) San Francisco Giants

It seems that the piece has now moved from struggling former closers to relievers that were recently designated for assignment. Joining Thatcher in the DFA category is now former Giants’ reliever Jean Machi.

Machi excelled in 2014 and 2014 for the Giants, posting a spectacular 2.49 ERA and a 2.93 FIP in 119.1 innings. He struck out 102 batters over that span while accumulating 10 wins. The four-year veteran would likely pitch earlier in games, a la Hardy, and would provide yet another dependable reliever in the Tigers’ bullpen.

Machi does have a 5.14 ERA this year, but his 4.20 FIP suggests he’s better than his high ERA. Despite those “struggles,” the right-handed pitcher has been filthy against lefties this year. Left-handed hitters have produced a miniscule .120 batting average against Machi. Other nasty numbers? Left-handed batters have posted a .241 OBP and a .160 slugging percentage. That’s good for a .401 OPS against. Those are p-r-e-t-t-y good numbers for someone on the waiver wire.

Since he’s been designated for assignment, the Tigers won’t have to pay much to acquire him. Which is nice when you don’t have a boatload of assets to trade.

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

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Players the Tigers Should Target at the Trade Deadline: Tyler Clippard and Scott Kazmir

With the baseball season reaching its annual All-Star break, things aren’t exactly ginger-peachy in the Motor City. The win-now Detroit Tigers own a .500 record at 44-44 and are nine games out of first place. Given the Tigers’ recent track record and desire to win, you’d expect them to be major buyers at the trade deadline. Here are some of the players Detroit and general manager Dave Dombrowski should target at the trade deadline.

Tyler Clippard

Since leaving the New York Yankees in an ill-fated trade for Jonathan Albaladejo, Clippard has long since established himself as one of the premier relievers in the league. Since 2009, his accomplishments include two All-Star appearances, a 32 save season (2012) and another season in which he won 11 contests without starting a game.

Clippard’s ERA since ’09 is a sparkling 2.62 over a whopping 490.2 innings. Over that span, he’s struck out 557 batters. The reliever is now in Oakland following an offseason trade, and has predictably thrived in the cavernous confines of the O.co Coliseum. He’s solidified himself as the team’s closer with 17 saves on the campaign.

Adding the reliever would do a number of things for Detroit’s bullpen. Not only would the addition of Clippard improve the group, it would also ease pressure on the other pitchers. Clippard set-up Joakim Soria in the eighth, therefore allowing Alex Wilson, Blaine Hardy, Al Alburquerque, Neftali Feliz and Bruce Rondon to pitch the seventh inning or earlier in situations with more margin for error and less pressure.

(RELATED: Neftali Feliz Signing a Smart Move by the Tigers)

Scott Kazmir

While Clippard would help stabilize the bullpen, Scott Kazmir would bring much needed help to a rotation that is practically begging for it.

David Price has been everything and more in terms of being the team’s ace, while Anibal Sanchez has rebound as of late (5-0 record, .182 batting average against and a 2.84 ERA over his last six starts). Outside of those two and a seemingly rebounding Justin Verlander, there are major question marks in the Detroit rotation. Alfredo Simon and Shane Greene both started out pitching superbly. The key words there are “started out”. Both have been horrible lately, and Kyle Ryan and Buck Farmer haven’t been much better.

If healthy, Kazmir would fix some of those issues. He can’t clone himself, but he’d be a massive upgrade.

The former Tampa Bay ace hasn’t been racking up the wins like last season when he posted 15. Still, Kazmir has lowered his ERA by nearly an entire run, going from 3.55 last season to 2.49 this year. His walks are up slightly (2.4 last season, 3.0 per nine innings this season), but so are his strikeouts— 7.8 in 2014, 8.5 in 2015.

With only five wins on the season, Kazmir could follow a similar route to Doug Fister in terms of winning significantly more games in Detroit thanks to much-improved run support. He may not be an ace, but he’d fit in well in Motown as the Tigers’ second or third starter.

Cost:

The A’s farm system is not what it once was, specifically in the pitching department. Six of Oakland’s top eight prospects (including their top four overall, according to MLB.com) are position players. Going on that, a number of Tigers pitching prospects could interest Billy Beane and company. Angel Nesbitt showed flashes of potential, as well as a blazing fastball, during his stint in Detroit earlier this season. He may benefit a stint pitching in the O.co Coliseum. Tigers’ Futures Game representative Joe Jimenez could also interest Oakland.

(RELATED: Players the Tigers Could Move at the Trade Deadline)

The Tigers’ rotation struggles have been well documented, but one thing they have brought to light is the number of starters who are near big-league ready. Any one of Farmer, Ryan or Drew VerHagen could thrive in spacious Oakland. Detroit could also dangle infield prospect Dixon Machado.

Verdict:

While both players are rentals, but they might be the difference in the Tigers making or missing the playoffs. Beane will likely sell high on two of his better assets, but Detroit should at the very least kick the tires on both, if not acquire them outright.

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

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Neftali Feliz Signing a Smart Move by the Tigers

Detroit’s bullpen hasn’t always been the best, and while the rotation has had its struggles this year, the bullpen has been much improved. The team has a reliable closer in Joakim Soria and dependable relievers in Alex Wilson, Al Alburquerque and Blaine Hardy. With Bruce Rondon still searching for consistency, the team made a move to bolster the ‘pen, signing former Texas closer Neftali Feliz. Feliz should successfully fill the role Soria struggled in last season. That role would essentially be back-up closer/eighth inning setup man.  

All three of Wilson, Alburquerque and Hardy are having better seasons, but none have the extensive closing experience that Feliz does. Additionally, Feliz has much more experience serving as set-up reliever than Soria did, which will help him succeed.

Disregarding this season’s numbers with Texas (which may be an outlier), Feliz has been nothing but outstanding as a Major League reliever. The ex-Ranger’s numbers from ’09 to ’14 are as follows—

198 Games, 142 Games Finished

241.2 Innings Pitched.

226 Strikeouts

2.53 ERA

87 Saves

If he continues to pitch like he did in Texas and in his Detroit debut (one shutout innings, minimum of three batters faced, one strikeout, good usage of his off-speed offerings in addition to his fastball), then the Tigers’ bullpen will be in good hands, not just for the rest of the season, but for the foreseeable future.

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

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