Detroit Tigers: Ten Players the Tigers Wish They Would Have Kept
We all have regrets. Some more than others, but bottom line is that we have them floating around in our heads. Same goes with baseball organizations, and the Detroit Tigers are no exception, especially in their recent playoff-less years. The Tigers have said goodbye to players that have become everyday starters, all stars, and even MVPs, and boy could they use them right about now.
Non-Honorable Mention: Ugurth Urbina
I have to mention this one really quick because this is one of the most underrated trades in sports history, bar none.
Back in the 2005 offseason the Detroit Tigers and the Philadelphia Phillies were both looking to add depth to their needed positions; Detroit needed a middle infielder and Philly needed a dominant reliever. Luckily, both teams got what they wanted in the trade, so end of story, right? Wrong! (Game show buzzer sound)
In the offseason Urbina and his crew were in his home country Venezuela, and apparently didn't like the way five workers on his ranch were working. Urbina then tried to murder them using gasoline, matches, machetes, and a couple other things you can't bring in an airport and as a result was sentenced 14 years to jail.
Polanco went on to win two Gold Gloves, a Silver Slugger award, and was a crucial member in the Tigers 2006 World Series run.
I'll let you take the pick, should we have kept Urbina, who is almost halfway done with his prison sentence, or was the trade a good idea?
Now on to the bad news of our list.
Omar Infante (now with the Florida Marlins)
Before we get the ball rolling I want to let the reader know that these players are in order of appearance on the roster, so older players will be first and more recent players will appear at the end.
Omar Infante is one of the most solid utility players in baseball today, and no one could really blame the Tigers for letting him go in 2007 since his batting average was on a steady decline and considering he wasn’t the most powerful hitter.
Once Infante joined the Atlanta Braves he immediately made an impact on offense by hitting .293, .305, and .321 in his three seasons with the squad. Not only was the bat alive, but combined with his glove work in 2010 he earned his first all-star appearance.
The Tigers may have reasonable depth at every position, but having an all-star utility player on the roster wouldn’t hurt them.
Carlos Pena (now with the Chicago Cubs)
Just two years after Pena left the Tigers he was already racking up prestigious awards with the Tamba Bay Rays. In back to back years he won the Silver Slugger award in ’07 then went on the next year to win a Gold Glove, also coming ninth in MVP voting both those years. Pena also got to play in his first All-Star game in 2009, but that happened to be Pena’s last solid year at the plate since he hit .196 the next year and .169 so far with the Cubs.
If Pena was still on the team, we could have had a great reliable designated hitter during our playoff races. Also, if the Tigers had that solid DH, who knows if we would have kept Ordonez? The Tigers could have possibly used that money elsewhere, and that would have given the Tigers the opportunity to buy a pitcher that could either be our fifth man at worst, or a reliant arm that could come out of the bullpen.
Even though Pena is having a rough streak right now, he is apt to come out of it as he has before in his career, and that could boost Detroit.
Kyle Farnsworth (now with the Tampa Bay Rays)
The Tigers had Farnsworth for two different stints, with the most recent one coming in 2008 as a result of a trade done with the Yankees. Detroit, however, had every reason to let Farnsworth go elsewhere after posting a 6.75 ERA in just 16 appearances.
Since then Farnsworth has gone up and down, but most recently throwing up a 1.23 ERA for the Rays so far this season in nine appearances. There is no telling what kind of seasons Farnsworth would have gave the Tigers with his rollercoaster stats, but last year during the Valverde woes at the end of the season Leyland would have liked a hard throwing righty to replace “Papa Grande” with.
Ivan "Pudge" Rodriguez (now with the Washington Nationals)
Now to the flip side of the Pudge/Farnsworth trade, Ivan has played for four teams since the last time he donned the old English “D”. Many people thought that Pudge’s career was just ticks away from ending, but the future hall of famer, but he has proved critics wrong.
Sure his batting average is down in the mid 200’s and his caught stealing percentage is dwindling below 40 percent, but seriously, it’s better than what Laird had to give to us the last few years. Rodriguez also has shown potential starter status by gearing up in 111 games for the Nationals last year. Avila is having a breakout year so far in 2011, but last year he threw up stats that Rodriguez topped in nearly every category.
At the time the trade seemed right to dump the catcher nearing the end of his career, but not a lot of people expected the 39 year old to still be relevant in the league, especially the Tigers.
Placido Polanco (now with the Philadelphia Phillies)
Back to the player that we got in Detroit sport’s finest trade. “Polly” gave Detroit five magnificent years with winning Golden Gloves, a Silver Slugger, and one All-Star Game appearance. After his contract expired Polanco went back to Philly to leave the Tigers with a carousel of second basemen.
Polanco, since leaving, he gave Philly a .298 average in 2010 and has hit .367 so far in 2011 and has still kept his vacuum-like glove with an error-free 2010. Having a solid, everyday player last year would have given more options at shortstop then just Adam Everett, which was definitely a weak spot for Detroit last year.
Polanco, without a doubt, would be a great fit for the Tigers. Sorry Rhymes, but batting .185 isn’t going to give you any votes if it came down to you and Polanco so far this year.
Marcus Thames (now with the LA Dodgers)
Thames may not be the player with the most campaign members to bring him back to the “D”, but it’s still a thought to have. Thames overall was a decent player at best for the Tigers, but last year he earned his highest career batting average with .288 and knocked twelve balls out of the park.
Another attractive number that might leave regret in the Tigers’ front office is his .350 on base percentage last year. All in all Thames was a useful designated hitter, and if Ordonez ever gets bogged down with another injury while Victor Martinez is on the DL, he could be useful as an effective designated hitter.
Fernando Rodney (now with the LA Angels)
This Tiger probably had the most split fan base out of any player. Half the fans wanted him out of Detroit, and others loved the guy.
Last year Valverde was a borderline train wreck in the second half of the 2010 season, and replacing him as a closer wasn’t easy considering no one else on the staff had significant closing experience, and keeping Rodney in the bullpen, even though it would have been a little pricey, may have been the Tigers’ saving grace.
So far this year Rodney has started with a 1.86 ERA after ten games, which sounds like a convincing arm to have in your bullpen.
Curtis Granderson (now with the NY Yankees)
I think it’s safe to say that every Tigers fan had a hard time saying goodbye to Granderson. In a three team trade with the Yankees and Diamondbacks that gave us Austin Jackson, Phil Coke, Max Scherzer, and Dan Schlereth for the price of Granderson and Edwin Jackson.
“Grandy” has been doing good with the Yankees as their starting center fielder, which is a very demanding position. Granderson at the plate posted average numbers, but has commited only three errors in the outfield. Compared to the six errors Austin Jackson had last season, that number doesn’t look to bad, but then again it was his rookie season.
It will be a few more years until we can make out final decision on the outcome of this trade, but in the short run I would rather have a young player with experience than a young player struggling in his sophomore season so far.
Jair Jurrjens (now with the Atlanta Braves)
I’m calling it right now, Jair will make a couple of All-Star appearances by the time his career is over. At the age of 25 Jurrjens has a 3.43 ERA and has never thrown more losses than wins in his young career.
If anyone in the front office would turn down the opportunity to get Jurrjens back at no cost, they should be fired and accused of treason. Lets face it, the Tigers don’t have the most dominant starting five, and with a 3.25 million dollar contract, it would be a cheap number two or three pitcher in our rotation. Coke seems to be having a rough time adjusting to the starter role, so bumping everybody down and including Jurrjens into the mix would favor Detroit in the down AL Central.
Jurrjens was traded even when he proved himself with a 3-1 record to the Braves for former all-star Edgar Renteria. Hey, speaking of Renteria…
Edgar Renteria (now with the Cincinnati Reds)
In times of watching Adam Everett do God-knows-what in the field and more embarrassingly at the plate, having Edgar Renteria follow up on his one year in the Tigers’ uniform wouldn’t be bad at all.
In 68 games for the Giants last year Renteria only had four errors and swung a decent bat last year. This year Renteria is sporting a .310 average, so far proving that his career isn’t just yet over. Now that we have Peralta the Tigers really don’t have a use for him, but last season would have been golden. And plus, the money that we spent on Peralta could have been used on another player such as a pitcher or a…actually that’s their biggest need right now.
Not to mention Renteria helped the Giants to a World Series title. Actually he helped them so much that he was named World Series MVP. Now come on, tell me we couldn’t have used him last year. That’s right, you can’t, because then you would be lying.