Detroit Tigers Dissector: Cabrera the Great

Johnny LawrenceCorrespondent IMay 14, 2009

Welcome to Rudy Dominick & Johnny Lawrence's fourth weekly installment of Detroit Tigers information and analysis. Each Thursday, we will delve into all things Tigers. Read and digest, or skim and spit out our insightful banter.

Keep An Eye On—Scott Sizemore, Second Base—Erie Sea Wolves (AA)
(May 6—May 13)
.363 BA, 3 HR, 6 RBI

Drive-By Argument: Jim Leyland Moved Ryan Perry To Long Relief.  Fair Or Foul?

LAWRENCE: Foul. Ryan Perry is not Zach Miner or Nate Robertson. These back-and-forth starters can't fit into the rotation. Long relief is inherently a misfit position meant for a tosser whose inconsistencies have failed to establish him an identity.

Management has always considered Perry a back end-of-the-bullpen kind of guy, so he does not fall into this group. His premium value is as a closer, a one-inning reliever not asked to throw more than 20 or 30 pitches per appearance.

Since the closing role is occupied by Fernando Rodney, Leyland should hold Perry to less than 30 pitches, until the spot opens up, or a setup man is needed when Zumaya is not available. The only scenario Perry should find himself pitching more than two innings is in an extreme extra-inning situation, like last night's 13 inning adventure in Minnesota.

DOMINICK: Fair. The Tigers have not extended Leyland's contract or fired him, so he's essentially fighting for his job. If you were in the same situation, you would pull anything out of the hat to achieve success.

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Shifting Perry around in the bullpen will not affect his ability to throw strikes—it just stretches him out a bit. The position of middle relief could strengthened with Perry's addition. Right-handed flamethrowers occupy the closing innings—now Perry can cover the in-between.

I would prefer to see Perry over heart-rate destablizers Robertson or Miner. Young pitchers have made changes before—Joba Chamberlain transformed from starter to bullpen stud back to the rotation and it didn't seem to affect his game. If you can pitch, you'll succeed in any role. It seems a temporary place for Perry, one the other middle relievers forced Leyland to make.

Cabrera, Miller, and Maybin: A Post-Trade Analysis

Tiger prospects Andrew Miller and Cameron Maybin were once considered untouchable. Superstars in the making. Building blocks to a perennial playoff contender.

On December 5, 2007, General Manager Dave Dombrowski shockingly peeled off those labels.

In exchange for these highly-rated prospects, Detroit acquired a cornerstone in Miguel Cabrera—a player who evolved into the face of the Tigers. Though he failed to lead Detroit back to the playoffs, he did manage to snag a home run title in his first season in the Junior Circuit. His 127 runs batted were just three RBI behind AL leader Josh Hamilton.

At 26 years old, Cabrera slugged more than 30 homers for the fourth time. Since his rookie year in 2003, the first baseman has racked up 182 home runs and 672 runs batted in.

He was the first Tiger to exceed the 30-longball mark since Bobby Higginson cracked 30 in 2000. Only two other Tigers have topped this mark since Cecil Fielder in 1995—Tony Clark and Dean Palmer.

His lethal combination of home run strength and hand-eye coordination is rare. If chronic health problems do not interfere, Cabrera should retire one of the greatest power hitters in Detroit history, synonymous with Al Kaline and Hammerin’ Hank Greenberg.

Beyond the long ball, Cabrera is recognized a top 10 player and consistent Triple Crown threat. A four-time All-Star, he surpassed the 1,000-hit mark at the age of 25.

Leyland said this prior to Spring Training last year, "He has the power and talent to be one of the best ever...I told him if he keeps going the way he is, he'll end up in Cooperstown."

As of right now, Detroit has benefited most from this blockbuster deal.

Miller, the sixth-overall pick in the 2006 draft, has scuffled through inconsistency and injuries thus far. Miller's Florida stat line looks unimpressive—11 losses, 119 IP, 134 H, 64 BB, 5.97 ERA—as his potential has not yet translated into major league success. Sidelined with a strained oblique muscle, the Marlins hope he can begin to harness his natural ability when he returns Saturday.

Maybin flashed brilliance to close out last season with Florida, but a horrendous start as the team's everyday centerfielder left management wondering when he will be ready to handle major league pitching. In 84 at-bats, he batted .202 with one homer, one stolen base, and 31 punchouts. Demoted to Triple-A New Orleans, Maybin looks to regain his stroke.

Of course, if Miller and Maybin live up to their hype, the Tigers would have given up two tremendous players. Considering Detroit's past luck with superstar prospects, however, the probability of both ascending to elite status is extremely low. Matt Anderson, Eric Munson, and Kenny Baugh just a few of a countless number of huge picks that missed.

Florida does have a keen eye for talent, but they were only eligible to receive these two because they shipped a sustained elite player to Detroit. Miller and Maybin still have time to develop, so the winner of this trade will not be known for a few more years.

Favorable Matchups

May 14: DET Magglio Ordonez vs. MIN Scott Baker (.429 BA, 12-for-28, 3 2B, 2 HR).

May 14: DET Justin Verlander vs. MIN Michael Cuddyer (.190 BA, 4-for-21, .333 SLG).

May 15: DET Placido Polanco vs. OAK Dallas Braden (.455 BA, 5-for-11, 2 K).

For comments or questions, contact us at: johnnyandrudy@gmail.com

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