Believe it or not, Curtis Granderson isn’t the only player involved in the three-way pact capable of making an instantaneous impact.
Detroit Tigers : SP Max Scherzer, OF Austin Jackson, LHP Dan Schlereth and LHP Phil Coke
The Tigers, in an obvious payroll slashing mode, prioritized moving both Granderson and Edwin Jackson this offseason. Little did they know they would land a stud starter who is not only capable of outperforming Jackson right away, but one who is younger and inexpensive. They have to be ecstatic that they were able to pry Scherzer away from the Diamondbacks.
Scherzer, a 24-year-old fireballer, averaged more than a strikeout per inning in 30 starts in 2009. A victim of the Diamondbacks’ anemic lineup, he won just nine games, despite posting a respectable 4.12 ERA. The 6-foot-3 Scherzer throws a violent fastball in the mid 90s with a nasty slider and changeup to round out his arsenal.
Scherzer’s mechanics are flawed, which lead some to question his long-term durability. Assuming the Tigers are smart with him, their outstanding trio of front-line starters (Justin Verlander, Rick Porcello, and Scherzer) can remain intact for many years to come.
While Scherzer is poised for a breakout season, the Tigers may need to exercise patience with center fielder Austin Jackson. The 22-year-old batted .298 with four homers and 64 RBI this past season at Triple-A Scranton Wilkes-Barre.
Though he may be ready defensively, Jackson’s three-to-one strikeout-to-walk ratio suggests otherwise at the plate. Further, his lowly .404 SLG suggests it’s unrealistic to expect power at the next level right now.
If Detroit deems him ready to start the season in the majors, they will bank on him playing plus defense and hope that he can utilize his speed to generate some extra base hits at the plate.
Pitchers Dan Schlereth and Phil Coke provide the Tigers with two different types of lefties. Schlereth has a live arm and if he can harness his control, could eventually be used in the back of the bullpen.
Coke, on the other hand, has the ability to start or setup depending on Detroit’s needs. He setup for the Yankees all season and was the primary lefty up until the postseason emergence of Damaso Marte.
Arizona Diamondbacks : SP Edwin Jackson, and SP Ian Kennedy
Once a prized prospect, Edwin Jackson was an abject failure as a big league pitcher until he made strides with 14 wins in 2008 for Tampa Bay. Then the Rays stunned everyone by sending Jackson to Detroit for the unheralded Matt Joyce.
Joyce could only muster 32 unproductive at-bats in Tampa Bay while he languished in the minors for most of the season. Meanwhile, Detroit reaped the benefits of Jackson’s immense progress, especially in the first half when he went 7-4 with a 2.52 ERA.
Overall, he shaved 8/10ths of a run off of his ERA in 2009 to 3.62 and trimmed his WHIP to a serviceable 1.26 in the AL.
Though he slowed down considerably after the All-Star break, Jackson finally displayed the promise of a big-time starter. His second half struggles can be attributed to him surpassing the 200 innings mark for the first time in his career. Crucial to his overall success was his ability to limit his walks to 70 in 214 innings, his lowest total as a starter.
Still, it’s hard to believe Arizona would be so quick to rid themselves of Scherzer unless they believed Ian Kennedy was a legitimate pitcher for the long haul.
Kennedy, who will turn 25 in 10 days, was once mentioned in the same breath with Phil Hughes and Joba Chamberlain. Injuries have beset the former 2006 first round pick and he was most recently sidetracked by an aneurysm.
Fortunately, Kennedy has fully recovered and pitched in Winter Ball to confirm as much. Kennedy’s stuff is not overpowering as his fastball tops out in the low 90s and he is reliant on his command to be effective.
Yankee officials have whispered that they believe Kennedy can win 12 games in the offensively challenged NL West. Afforded an opportunity to showcase his underappreciated ability, Kennedy is the linchpin of the three-way deal.
His upside is as high as a No. 2 starter. If he fails, Diamondbacks’ GM Josh Byrnes will join a crowded unemployment line.