With the trade deadline only a few weeks away, there are rumors flying left and right, some of which involve all of the Oakland Athletics and Kansas City Royals being traded to other teams. And there is one team that needs to make a move right now.
That team is the Detroit Tigers.
Yes, I am fully aware that they play in a medium-sized market and a city in decline, and they probably won’t fare well in the free-agent market.
1. The price would be too high, as they would be trading for Reyes at the apex of his success.
2. The Mets would be daft to give up Reyes—they could contend this season or next once they get Wright and Santana back.
3. If the Mets do give Reyes up, it will probably be to a team other than the Tigers.
4. Most importantly, it’s not on the offensive side that the Tigers’ troubles lie.
The Tigers give up 4.33 runs a game, half a run more than the league average and 0.4 runs more than any team currently in a playoff spot.
This might not be good enough to win the AL Central and certainly won’t wash in an era in which the playoffs clearly favor pitching.
Detroit's No. 2 starter is Max Scherzer, who, with a lackluster 4.47 ERA, is hardly in a league with the No. 2s of last year's playoffs. Porcello and Penny are worse…they’d be No. 5 starters on most other teams in the league.
And the Tigers bullpen could still use some help, especially since their knight in shining armor, Al Albuquerque, is hurt.
With regard to starting pitching, rumors have been surfacing that the Mariners want to unload Felix Hernandez or one of their other starters. I had been hearing Hernandez to the Yankees, but now that the Yankees’ starting lineup is getting it together, that seems unlikely.
A better fit for King Felix or fellow Seattle pitchers Michael Pineda (who is having a breakout season) and Erik Bedard (who is finally healthy) would be to be dealt to Detroit in a batting-for-pitching deal that would give Seattle' remaining pitchers much-needed run support.
Hernandez or Pineda would help get Detroit playoff wins, and could each go for seven or eight innings (as Verlander—with 135 IP in only 18 starts—is doing) and provide relief to the bullpen.
If the Tigers can’t get an arm from Seattle, they could always try Kansas City…
And to my point about the bullpen, with Albuquerque hurt and Joakim Benoit tanking all season, it would behoove the Tigers to add another reliever.
There are several teams that have or potentially could have two closers, namely Minnesota with Matt Capps and Joe Nathan and, soon, Seattle with Brandon League and David Aardsma.
Aardsma and Capps are widely regarded to be on the trading block, and either would make a good setup man for the Tiger’s Jose Valverde.
A long shot, but perhaps worth a gamble, would be to claim Ryan Franklin off waivers. Despite his 8.46 ERA with the Cards, Franklin probably deserves a second chance somewhere, and his previous performance as a starter back in Seattle means that he could be converted to long reliever if need be.
In summary, the Tigers might win the AL Central with the team they’ve got, but if they want to go anywhere in the playoffs, they need better arms.