I heard this joke the other night and it made me laugh.
Q: Who bats after Brandon Inge?
A: The other team.
Now I didn't laugh because it's really all that funny. I laughed because it had gotten to the point where if you couldn't laugh as a Detroit Tigers fan at the disaster that was Brandon Inge's 2011 season, you looked like Donald Trump at this year's White House Correspondents Dinner. At some point you just have to learn to laugh at your shortcomings.
Thankfully, it appears as though Detroit has finally cut bait with Inge and remedied the problem at third base, at least for the time being. And with Carlos Guillen performing well since his return and (knock on wood) looking somewhat healthy, the only urgent need the Tigers have is at the back end of their rotation.
There are lots of names being thrown around as to who the Tigers might target on the trade market. Guys like Erik Bedard, Derek Lowe, Hiroki Kuroda, Matt Garza and even Ubaldo Jimenez are in the mix.
There is one name being thrown out there however that wouldn't cost Detroit a single prospect if they were to make a move to add him to the rotation. That's because he's a top prospect the Tigers already have the rights to. His name is Jacob Turner.
Turner has posted a 3.49 ERA, 1.19 WHIP and 82 strikeouts with only 31 walks in 105.2 innings this year at Double-A Erie. He's only 20 years old and has only 40 starts in his minor league career to date.
While 20 is very young in baseball, the Tigers do have a recent history of rushing pitchers to the majors with a fair amount of success to show for it. Justin Verlander, Jeremy Bonderman and Rick Porcello were all starting for the big club before they had 30 minor league starts under their belts. All three have enjoyed varying degrees of success with stretches of dominance.
Dave Dombrowski and the rest of the Tigers' front office seem very impressed and excited for Turner's arrival in Detroit as well. They project him as a No. 1 starter in the very near future and ESPN's Keith Law has him ranked as 13th overall in his midseason top 50 prospects in baseball list.
Turner offers an excellent fastball clocked at 92-94 mph and two complementary pitches, a curveball and a changeup. His pitches can be great at times but inconsistent and are still being developed.
Dombrowski does have concerns about his innings pitched this year and has hinted it may not be likely they will make the move to call him up just yet. He has not ruled it out altogether, however, which may be a sign in itself that it is a move he is contemplating amid all the Jacob Turner buzz in the Motor City.
Do the Tigers call him up for a stretch run this season and risk him getting knocked around and maybe damaging his psyche before he's ready?
Porcello was dominant when he was first called up, but after a stellar first year, the league figured him out. He is now a middle-of-the-pack starter struggling to find himself. Ryan Perry is another example of a pitcher that showed great promise but maybe was rushed and now struggles as well.
Detroit is a young, talented team that will likely be shedding two veteran, overpriced contracts in the offseason in Magglio Ordonez and Carlos Guillen, totaling of $23 million. Miguel Cabrera, Justin Verlander, Rick Porcello, Brennan Boesch, Austin Jackson, Johnny Peralta and Alex Avila are all under 30 and signed through at least next year.
I don't think it would be the right move to throw your potential ace of the future into the fire when you could easily wait until next year, bring him up slowly and sign a rental player to round out your rotation for the stretch run. If it doesn't work out, at least you haven't jeopardized a big piece of your future in doing so.