Thursday, November 21, 2013

Trade of the off-season, so far

Wow.  Just wow.  Prince Fielder and cash for Ian Kinsler.  I never would have thought that any team would take Fielder and his contract but I'm sure glad someone was, as it was an albatross around the Tigers financial neck, and would have continued to impact the team negatively going forward.

That deal should never have been made at the time.  I postulated a 2-year, 20 to 30 mil deal back then because he was the best bat available at the time, and Victor Martinez had just shredded his knee, but there were probably other options internally that might have been better long-term for them.  Fielder biggest asset is his ability to hit home runs.  But it seems he only does this during the regular season and only if something important isn't on the line.  He now has a proven track record of playoff disappearance (batting average under .200 career, and a handful of RBI), and when the Tigers needed him to step up and carry more of the offensive load late this season because of Miguel Cabrera's injuries, he was unable to do it.  He is Rob Deer with more drama and a bigger paycheck.

This trade brings up some interesting possibilities both offensively and defensively.  Kinsler probably takes Austin Jackson's leadoff spot which is probably a good thing for all concerned.  Cabrera probably stays in the third slot, as you want baseballs best hitter to get that potential extra at-bat every game.  Right now Martinez moves to cleanup, but wait to see what happens now with the opening in left field.  A left handed power-hitting outfielder would look really good there, and V-Mart in the 5-hole worked pretty well this past season.  Jackson then joins Iglesias, and Avila in the bottom half of the order.

The most common defensive scenario has Cabrera moving back to first base, which would probably bring top prospect Nick Castellanos up to third base, with Iglesias and Kinsler rounding out the infield.  Another scenario has Cabrera staying at third, Martinez moving to first, and someone else DH'ing.  Castellanos probably goes to left field in this case.  A third scenario has Cabrera at first, Jhonny Peralta at third, and Castellanos either at Triple-A or in left field, and Martinez staying at DH.

As well as Miggy did at third, for his long-term good he needs to go back to first base, where he will take much less of a physical pounding.  It's better for him and better for the team if he does so.  Then, it depends on Castellanos' ability to hit major league pitching.  If they think he can hit above .270 with some pop he needs to be in the majors, either at third or in the outfield - preferably at third.  If they don't think he can hit at that level, then another year or two of Peralta at third is not a bad or expensive option while Castellanos gets more time to learn to hit at this level.  I don't want Martinez as a defensive regular.  His role is "see ball, hit ball".  Part time fill in at first or emergency catcher - fine.  But his biggest value to the team is his bat.

So now, the biggest holes in the roster are where they have always been; left field and the bullpen.  But now, their ability to fill those holes effectively has been greatly enhanced.

Dave Dombrowski again shows why he is the best GM in baseball.

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