At the trade deadline of the 1987 season the Detroit Tigers traded a young arm from their farm system named John Smoltz to the Atlanta Braves for one Doyle Alexander. Over the balance of that season Doyle went 9-1 for the Tigers and they reached the playoffs losing to the Minnesota Twins in the ALCS.
While I appreciate that hindsight is always 20-20, what the Tigers did then was trade away one of the greatest arms of a generation at a chance to win now, or then. This is a classic mistake that many teams make.
However, the Tigers have failed to learn the lesson. They continue to make questionable moves to win in the short term while sacrificing the long term.
Now that Dave Dombrowski is coming to the end of his tenure as the GM of this team, he has dealt away far too much young talent over the last few seasons.
Last offseason, he dealt Jair Jurrjens to Atlanta for Edgar Renteria, a player no longer with the team. In that same off season, Dombrowski sent Andrew Miller and Cameron Maybin to the Florida Marlins for Dontrelle Willis and Miguel Cabrera.
Now in the current offseason, the team has dealt pitchers Guillermo Moscoso and Carlos Melo to Texas for catcher Gerald Laird. Laird is a career .255 hitter and the heir apparent to the Tigers starting catcher position.
Far too often have the Tigers traded away top talent from their farm system in a vain attempt to win now. If we look at the Tigers 2009 roster, we see a squad devoid of talent at many key positions. Most importantly starting and relief pitching.
How does trading away top minor league talent for questionable-at-best talent make any sense for this team?
The Tigers still have questions at catcher, at shortstop, and pitcher. They have too much money tied up in aging stars like Magglio Ordonez and Gary Sheffield.
I think it makes a lot of sense to trade Ordonez to anyone, not only to dump his salary, but to truly address the holes in the rotation and the bullpen. Especially when we consider the Tigers have a talent like Matt Joyce waiting in the wings to assume one of the starting outfield spots.
Regardless of that, the Tigers continue make the future bleaker as they trade away young talent and stand fast with aging superstars past their prime.