Jump to content

cruzer1

DETROIT DILEMMA: REBUILD OR RELOAD?

Recommended Posts

Detroit Tigers' dilemma: Rebuild for future, or reload for 2016? | FOX Sports

Two weeks ago, the Detroit Tigers essentially fired long-time general manager Dave Dombrowski. Despite four consecutive division titles -- a streak that will end this year, of course -- and a lot of success over the past decade, Dombrowski was unable to bring a championship back to Motown, and with the Tigers' window closing and the team struggling, ownership decided to make a change. Now, it will be up to new GM Al Avila to improve a roster that is starting to show signs of age and decline.

The first step in retooling is to determine what you have. The 2011-15 Tigers were known for great offenses, great starting pitching and terrible bullpens and defenses that let down their star hitters and pitchers at the worst times. During their best years, the Tigers scored runs like few others, and their starting pitching was as good as it gets, but aging and departed stars have taken their toll. So the 2016 Tigers will be missing some key components that formed that foundation. Max Scherzer is now in D.C. participating in the tire fire that is the Nationals' season, David Price is busy attempting to free Blue Jays fans from two decades plus of a playoff-less existence, and Yoenis Cespedes now spends his time demonstrating to Mets fans that when you hit a ball with a bat sometimes it can go far.

Scherzer is signed long term in Washington, and Cespedes and Price are going to command hundreds of millions of dollars on the free-agent market, making a return to Detroit questionable at best. To offset some of the decline in pitching, the Tigers improved their defense this season mostly by adding a healthy Jose Iglesias. This is no longer a team that betrays its pitching staff with poor fielding; these days, they're just giving up runs because their arms aren't that good anymore.

As for finances, the Tigers have $111.8 million committed to seven players next season, only five of whom will be on the club (they owe the Rangers $6 million of Prince Fielder's contract and Joe Nathan will get a $1 million buyout on his $10 million option). What's more, the Tigers are going to have to pay J.D. Martinez a big raise in arbitration, and role players like Iglesias will also require above-the-minimum salaries as first-time arbitration qualifiers. Just keeping those players will cost another roughly $15-$20 million, so the Tigers could be on the hook for about $130 million to just 10 players. This means spending $25-30 million on a top-tier free agent is going to be very difficult unless they are about to dramatically expand their payroll.

So the Tigers need to improve their bullpen and strengthen their rotation, and adding a bat who can also field some wouldn't be a bad idea either. The question is, can they afford to acquire those assets on the free-agent market, or do they need to be more circumspect and move assets around through trade?

But there's an even greater philosophical divide. The Tigers five highest-paid players will be 33, 33, 37, 32 and 34 next season. That screams all-in to me. The Tigers have to decide if they want to go all-in on 2016 or if they want to start re-building from within immediately. The trades at the deadline -- Price for Daniel Norris and two other near-ready MLB arms, plus Cespedes for Michael Fulmer and a lower-level pitching prospect -- would indicate that the team knew it needed to fill out its rotation on the cheap, since it didn't have the internal pieces to put a competitive team together without getting some help from guys who can't negotiate their salary on the open market.

For years the Tigers have had a philosophy of "go big or go home" and then they've gone home. Justin Verlander's recently improved pitching and Miguel Cabrera's recently improved health bode well for 2016, but with their contracts in addition to that of Victor Martinez on the books, they're there for the long haul, whether they perform or not. Ultimately, Avila will have to put a team around them that is simultaneously expecting greatness from them, but able to pivot toward the future should that greatness not come.

(More of the story at the link)

Edited by cruzer1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

In Detroit, Dave Dombrowski wasn’t afraid to trade prospects - The Boston Globe

In Detroit, Dave Dombrowski wasn’t afraid to trade prospects

By Alex Speier GLOBE STAFF AUGUST 21, 2015

On the morning of Nov. 12, Baseball America named Devon Travis the top prospect in the Detroit Tigers farm system. That evening, he was traded to Toronto.

“Very fitting,” laughed Baseball America’s Ben Badler, who put together the rankings. “They’ve traded so many prospects over the years.”

In 14 seasons under president/CEO/GM Dave Dombrowski, the Tigers showed some clear differences between how they scouted for the draft and operated and utilized their farm system and how the Red Sox did the same. The distinctions merit examination at a time when Dombrowski transitions from an organization that often is considered to have one of the worst farm systems to an organization that possesses one of the best in terms of industry prospect valuation.

A few reasons explain why the Tigers farm system built under Dombrowski was pegged regularly as one of the weakest in the game. Among them: perennial playoff contention that led to low draft positions; sacrificing first-round picks to sign free agents; a new Collective Bargaining Agreement that has limited the ability to spend aggressively on draftees who slip due to signability (something that wasn’t a problem when they drafted Andrew Miller and Rick Porcello); and, perhaps most notably, a willingness to trade top prospects such Travis to address major league needs.

Dombrowski kept the homegrown prospects who made the biggest impact in the big leagues (Justin Verlander, Curtis Granderson, Porcello, Alex Avila) and traded aggressively from the remaining pool of minor leaguers, stripping the farm system and knocking it down in the overall ratings. But virtually none of the traded players has come back to haunt Detroit, and they’ve helped to deliver considerable upgrades to Detroit’s big league roster — most notably obtaining Miguel Cabrera from Florida for Cameron Maybin and Miller, among others.

“We’ve never ranked their farm system very highly in the last few years, but it’s a combination of them not having top draft picks and then trading away a lot of the pretty good players that they have drafted — and trading them away at the right time, at the peak of their value,” said Badler. “No GM is going to have a perfect track record, but [Dombrowski] has one of the best track records in terms of identifying and projecting the major league talent from other teams and really knowing the value of the prospects in his own organization.

“They’ve done an outstanding job if you look at the track record of selling high at the right time, getting major league guys, and not having guys come back to bite them.”

Dombrowski insists that he isn’t anxious to start trading the Red Sox’ prized prospects. He suggested that he had a win-now/mortgage-the-future mandate in Detroit. Sox owners, on the other hand, have articulated a desire to create a sustainable model of success, which requires significant contributions from a young, homegrown core.

“We had the pedal to the metal to try to win a world championship [in Detroit] and unfortunately we fell short of that,” said Dombrowski. “And we traded a lot of good young talent at that time. We just recently replenished it a little bit [by trading David Price and Yoenis Cespedes at this year’s deadline]. But ideally your farm system, if you can bring up your own homegrown players, it’s that much better.”

A couple facets of the Tigers’ scouting efforts and minor league system are noteworthy. In terms of scouting, Dombrowski and longtime scouting director David Chadd used many of their early picks on power arms — 11 of the 16 first-round picks under Dombrowski were pitchers, seven from college, four from high school. That shouldn’t come as too much of a surprise.

“If you [asked] me what would I love, I would love to have power pitching — I love power pitching overall,” Dombrowski said immediately when asked about his team-building philosophy.

Under Dombrowski, the Tigers also showed a striking willingness to put prospects on the sort of fast track that few other organizations embrace.

Take Daniel Fields, who made his major league debut this year. Fields was taken in the sixth round of the 2009 draft out of high school. The typical progression would have had him in either a short-season league or, in rare instances, full-season Single A in 2010. The Tigers had him make his full-season debut in the high Single A Florida State League in 2010.

“Almost no one is in the Florida State League as a 19-year-old out of high school,” said Badler. “This is definitely a team that’s not afraid to push guys up the ladder.”

There are even more extreme examples. In 2003, the Tigers put Jeremy Bonderman — a 20-year-old who had spent his one pro season in High A — in their big league rotation. Porcello went from his pro debut in High A in 2008 straight to Detroit’s big league rotation in 2009. Jacob Turner blitzed from high school to the big leagues to make three starts as a 20-year-old. Detroit, in fact, is the only team in the majors that had three pitchers go from the draft to the big league rotation during Dombrowski’s tenure there. Verlander, at 22, made 20 minor league starts — 13 in High A, seven in Double A — before joining the Detroit rotation in late 2005.

The Sox, by contrast, haven’t had a player go from the draft to a big league start at age 20 since Jeff Suppan in 1995. The fastest that a Sox starting pitcher has gone from the draft to the big leagues in recent years came when Justin Masterson — drafted out of college — reached the big leagues in early 2008, after little more than 200 minor league innings.

It remains to be seen whether Dombrowski alters the model of the club he is inheriting, potentially entrusting jetpacks and skates to some of the younger pitching talents in the system. But, at a time when the Red Sox have made changes to their baseball operations department masthead, it is unavoidable that something else will change — the Red Sox’ way of doing things, or Dombrowski’s modus operandi with Detroit, or perhaps both.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I don't think there's any dilemna. Reload. We have a deep and talented roster that could potentially be dominant with the right tweaks IMO and Illitch wants to win now.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
I don't think there's any dilemna. Reload. We have a deep and talented roster that could potentially be dominant with the right tweaks IMO and Illitch wants to win now.

We're not deep. We're getting our butts kicked pretty much every night right now. We have some talented players, but we have a long way to go to be the best.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Talk is cheap. DD loves to deal.

Free agents are expensive, the Yankees proved that. The Tigers were chasing their tail, they need to think long term from now on. If you're one piece away, then by all means make the deal for the short term, but the Tigers need to accumulate more talent before we can be at that stage. They have made some mistakes, and time will heal those mistakes.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
We're not deep. We're getting our butts kicked pretty much every night right now. We have some talented players, but we have a long way to go to be the best.

It's a dilemma right now because we don't know what we have, and with Norris and Greene both hurt, we can't ever use the last weeks of the season to find out anything more about those two critical pieces. If you move to reload, and Greene and Norris, or even Boyd would have been two solid starters to go with JV and Sanchez, leaving us only one PA arm away, then moving the expensive position guys would be a colossal mistake.

If Norris/Boyd/Greene are Dontrelle Willis, Jeremy Bonderman and Armando Galarraga, we are toast. But there is no way to answer that question today. The team is going to have to let it play it out to make any kind of intelligent decision, and of course the problem is theyl may have to decide on FA offers before they have a very firm answer with Greene or have seen enough of Boyd/Norris/Fulmer.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
It's a dilemma right now because we don't know what we have, and with Norris and Greene both hurt, we can't ever use the last weeks of the season to find out anything more about those two critical pieces. If you move to reload, and Greene and Norris, or even Boyd would have been two solid starters to go with JV and Sanchez, leaving us only one PA arm away, then moving the expensive position guys would be a colossal mistake.

If Norris/Boyd/Greene are Dontrelle Willis, Jeremy Bonderman and Armando Galarraga, we are toast. But there is no way to answer that question today. The team is going to have to let it play it out to make any kind of intelligent decision, and of course the problem is theyl may have to decide on FA offers before they have a very firm answer with Greene or have seen enough of Boyd/Norris/Fulmer.

At least one, if not two of Norris, Boyd or Greene are going to be in the rotation next season. Do they bring back Simon plus another FA?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

With the Tigers having $111.8 million committed to seven players next season, they do not have a choice but to reload. They are going to have to go out and raise payroll. There is really no reason to have an expensive loser. Might as well try to win, now.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
It's a dilemma right now because we don't know what we have, and with Norris and Greene both hurt, we can't ever use the last weeks of the season to find out anything more about those two critical pieces. If you move to reload, and Greene and Norris, or even Boyd would have been two solid starters to go with JV and Sanchez, leaving us only one PA arm away, then moving the expensive position guys would be a colossal mistake.

If Norris/Boyd/Greene are Dontrelle Willis, Jeremy Bonderman and Armando Galarraga, we are toast. But there is no way to answer that question today. The team is going to have to let it play it out to make any kind of intelligent decision, and of course the problem is theyl may have to decide on FA offers before they have a very firm answer with Greene or have seen enough of Boyd/Norris/Fulmer.

Always the voice of reason--great post.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
With the Tigers having $111.8 million committed to seven players next season, they do not have a choice but to reload. They are going to have to go out and raise payroll. There is really no reason to have an expensive loser. Might as well try to win, now.

They have to look big picture. No more bad contracts. They have too many bad contracts right now. There are other ways to acquire good value. They also lost value when they traded Travis for Gose.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
They have to look big picture. No more bad contracts. They have too many bad contracts right now. There are other ways to acquire good value. They also lost value when they traded Travis for Gose.

I somewhat agree. I'd plug the holes with 2nd and third tier free agents, shouldn't have to give them absurdly long contracts.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
I somewhat agree. I'd plug the holes with 2nd and third tier free agents, shouldn't have to give them absurdly long contracts.

My thought is to spend wisely. Buy roll players, such as relievers. They should be cheap. This team will be a lot better with a stronger pen. We also have strong relief prospects, so I'd also invite them to camp to see what they can do. I saw Jiminez a couple of weeks ago and he was pretty awesome. He blew away Aaron Judge at the future's game, and I think he can get big leaguers out right now.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Cheap relievers. Haven't we tried that already?

We've done expensive too (Benoit, Nathan). The org has just been lousy at evaluating relievers at any price.

I saw where DD was expounding his love of power pitching in Boston the other day - you'd think that would be great for building a pen. DD's problem is that he undervalues command in relievers. I think when looking at starters you can hope there is room for their control to improve with more innings or even time to settle down on the mound within an appearance - but with relievers who have to enter games with men on base, walks are so much less tolerable, and the signature of the bullpen under DD over the years has been guys with high walk rates.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Reload, clearly. Not only is that the clear mandate from ownership but it is the right call.

A lot went wrong in 2015, but this is still the most talented team in the division. We brought in some MLB ready prospects and will spend again this winter. That will put us in competition for the division next season.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
At least one, if not two of Norris, Boyd or Greene are going to be in the rotation next season. Do they bring back Simon plus another FA?

Bringing back Simon would be nice insurance if they only sign one legit starter, which looks likely with the payroll situation. A mix of Simon, lobstein, fulmer, Boyd, Norris and Greene should be enough to fill the backend of the rotation

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I wouldn't be surprised to see the team turn around and trade one or two of the guys they just acquired for a SP with a year or two left on his contract. Say they trade Norris and get Gio Gonzales. They have Verlander, Sanchez, Gonzales, and then Fullmer, Farmer, Greene, Boyd, and Lobstein for the last two spots. Not too bad. Also leaves them some bullets to also make an summer acquisition if necessary.

If they have have 25-30MM to spend this off season after arbitration and raises that would leave them with about 10 -15MM to spend on a left handed hitting LFer and a reliever.

This way they would burn a decent prospect but they wouldn't be committing to another SP contract of 4-6 years and 100+ million. They will need to acquire a #2 type starter somehow if they expect to make the playoffs next year.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
The question is, what would you pay Simon, for how long and for what role(to start off with)?

I don't think anyone is set on Simon, per se. It's that we need a guy who can log innings if we need it, and comes at a price where we can reasonably move him to the bullpen in favor of Greene, Boyd, Fulmer, Lobstein et al if they are ready. Simon feels like that kind of guy. He could fill out that 5th spot with 180-190 innings with a low to mid 4's ERA, which is not bad, but he could also shift to the bullpen and might be even better there (maybe).

A big concern is that we roll into 2016 needing two young SP to step up to fill rotation holes and get burned by it again, or injuries happen and we get exposed with no depth again. We need the depth. And if not Simon, we need a veteran type that we could shift between the rotation and bullpen as needed. There are a few of those guys out there as free agents this winter.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
My thought is to spend wisely.

Yes, this.

Pitching is where the efforts should be concentrated, followed by a right handed CF option, and a catcher to pair with McCann.

The IF, RF, and DH positions are set, and really, its a good group to build with. I think that Verlander is turning the corner and will be back as a top tier SP next season. I think that Sanchez' HR ball is more fluky than not, or at least correctable, but his health history does cause concerns. There is some youthful pitching to try to build a rotation with, and it might be the way to go. If all of the reasonable options for next season are hits out of camp, the bullpen issues can be solved from within. Its difficult to see it working out that well, so I think we'll see if Avila can create a bullpen this offseason.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
I wouldn't be surprised to see the team turn around and trade one or two of the guys they just acquired for a SP with a year or two left on his contract. Say they trade Norris and get Gio Gonzales. They have Verlander, Sanchez, Gonzales, and then Fullmer, Farmer, Greene, Boyd, and Lobstein for the last two spots. Not too bad. Also leaves them some bullets to also make an summer acquisition if necessary.

If they have have 25-30MM to spend this off season after arbitration and raises that would leave them with about 10 -15MM to spend on a left handed hitting LFer and a reliever.

This way they would burn a decent prospect but they wouldn't be committing to another SP contract of 4-6 years and 100+ million. They will need to acquire a #2 type starter somehow if they expect to make the playoffs next year.

I would be pretty surprised to see any of the newly acquired guys traded. I don't see a reason to do that, with a pretty deep FA class in two of our biggest areas of need (SP and Corner OF).

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
We're not deep. We're getting our butts kicked pretty much every night right now. We have some talented players, but we have a long way to go to be the best.

3 of our highest paid players were hurt this year. It could happen again, but you can't think that way as GM. You have to build around the players you've invested in at this point. We may lack some depth issues in terms of bench and bullpen but those are the areas you can fix the cheapest. I also believe we have a good core coming together in the pen with Rondon,AA,Hardy and Wilson plus some of the prospects you discuss above and a guy like Lobstein for the long relief role. I believe we are deep in talent in terms of core players particularly. As far as big acquisitions go, we aren't more than 1 or 2 players away.

I think the trades we made leave us deeper and cheaper for next year and that's huge. At the same time though, we are going to have to live with some unknown. The 4th and 5th spots in the rotation are going to have to go to a combination of Norris,Boyd and Greene to start the season IMO and possibly someone like Fullmer or Farmer further down the line.

I think we look to add a LF,SP, RH RP and LH RP. The latter 2 not being big money acquisitions. I think adding something like Fowler/Parra/Span plus a Shields/Kazmir type makes this team the favorite in the division and one of the AL favorites, with potential for dominance if the youngsters progress and we stay healthy. All teams depend on those two things, but I think we have a higher ceiling than most if not all of our competition.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
I don't think anyone is set on Simon, per se. It's that we need a guy who can log innings if we need it, and comes at a price where we can reasonably move him to the bullpen in favor of Greene, Boyd, Fulmer, Lobstein et al if they are ready. Simon feels like that kind of guy. He could fill out that 5th spot with 180-190 innings with a low to mid 4's ERA, which is not bad, but he could also shift to the bullpen and might be even better there (maybe).

A big concern is that we roll into 2016 needing two young SP to step up to fill rotation holes and get burned by it again, or injuries happen and we get exposed with no depth again. We need the depth. And if not Simon, we need a veteran type that we could shift between the rotation and bullpen as needed. There are a few of those guys out there as free agents this winter.

I have no issue with Simon, but you didn't really answer the question of what you're going to offer him. Having him back, in a vaccuum, is a great idea IMO.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Guest
Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.


  • Forum Statistics

    • Total Topics
      96,775
    • Total Posts
      2,942,574
  • Who's Online (See full list)

  • Upcoming Events

    No upcoming events found
×
×
  • Create New...