MLB Trade Rumors: Detroit Tigers Look To Bolster Pitching Staff

Zachary StanleyCorrespondent IJuly 13, 2011

LOS ANGELES, CA - JUNE 19:  Hiroki Kuroda #18 of the Los Angeles Dodgers throws a pitch against tthe Houston Astros on June 19, 2011 at Dodger Stadium in Los Angeles, California. The Dodgers won 1-0.  (Photo by Stephen Dunn/Getty Images)
Stephen Dunn/Getty Images

After Jon Paul Morosi of reported on June 30 that the Detroit Tigers weren't actively pursuing Mets shortstop Jose Reyes, it became even more evident that the Tigers would likely make improving their pitching a greater priority than strengthening their lineup. 

The assumption was solidified when Morosi (on Twitter) subsequently reported that the Tigers were interested in Los Angeles Dodgers pitcher Hiroki Kuroda

The problem with a potential Kuroda trade is that the 36-year-old hurler has a no-trade clause that would have to be waived in order for the Tigers to acquire him. 

With Phil Coke being removed from the rotation in favor of rookie Charlie Furbish, the Tigers are clearly fishing for answers. 

A half game up at the All-Star break, the Tigers have reached that time of the year when borderline teams must decide whether or not to spend the cash and “go for it.” 

With a 2.90 ERA, Kuroda has been one of the NL's most successful pitchers. 

Swinging in the Tigers' favor is the fact that Kuroda's contract expires at the end of the season. At 36, in the midst of what should be a stellar season, Kuroda has the bargaining chips to demand some significant money at the end of the year, regardless of his age.

Whether the Dodgers are willing to sacrifice the funds for an older pitcher has yet to be determined, but that type of move is always risky. 

There's no doubt that pitching is a cause for concern for Detroit. 

With inconsistencies from the starters and bullpen, the Tigers have a lot that needs to be answered. 

Brad Penny has been, well, Brad Penny. 

At 6-6 and sporting a 4.50 ERA, Penny is just about as average as average gets. 

It was easy to question the Tigers' signing of Penny, as the aging star has become increasingly unreliable. 

The bullpen sports only two players (that have had any significant playing time) with an ERA below 3.00, while the rest of the pen has been suspect (to put it lightly). 

The Tigers will continue to hope that relief pitcher Joel Zumaya will be able to return to the team by the end of the season, but it is safe to classify that as a cautious maybe. 

Meanwhile, the Tigers have struggled with all too familiar lineup woes. 

While the heart of the lineup is still a threat to any opponent, Brandon Inge's potential season-long slump (.184) has done significant damage to an already weak end of the Tigers lineup.

Despite starting 67 games, Ryan Raburn is hitting .213 and is part of a group of several players that have struggled to hit over .250. 

With the Tigers, you know the players are going to get it done (Verlander, Cabrera, Martinez). The problems lie with the “role” players that have been unable to do their part (besides the rising Alex Avila). 

We have seen the effect that a dominant pitcher can have in a rotation. The best hitter rarely touches an elite pitcher's best stuff.

Kuroda could bring that type of talent to the Tigers.

Either way, gunning for an improvement in the rotation over the bat is the right decision.