As we head into the All-Star break, it's a good time for organizations and their fan bases to sit back and evaluate their first half of the season. It's also important for them to decide what moves, if any, they need to make before that magical July 31 trade deadline. As a Tiger's fan, we have gone from loveable losers to respectable to contenders to a team viewed with similar hatred as teams like the Yankees and Red Sox in the past 10 years. However, the team has underperformed in the first half and some glaring holes have emerged. Some will correct themselves and others require attention.
So below I have listed 5 moves I would like to see the Tiger's pull off with #1 being the move I would love to see them make the most.
#5 Trade Drew Smyly, Aaron Westlake, and a mid-level prospect for Cole Hammels. This is my lowest ranked move for one simple reason: it's a rental. I'm not a big fan of
giving up a ton for a player who is almost a guarantee to be around for only 4
months. For the Tiger's I'm 100% against a rental move that would include
Castellanos; he's too valuable and too good of a prospect right now to include
in a deal for a rental. However, I'd be OK with the move for Smyly. You
basically replace Smyly with Hammels for 4 months (HUGE upgrade in the
rotation). Then next year when Hammels moves on you replace that rotation spot
with Jacob Turner. In the short-term you develop the top 1-2 punch on the mound in baseball and in the long-term you have a young replacement for that 5th
spot already waiting in the wings. The only problem with this is that I can't
see the Phillies making this move without Castellanos being the centerpiece. As
for Westlake he's a first baseman that hits for power but not much average;
good prospect but not when you have a log-jam at 1B for the next 10 years.
#4 Trade Andy Oliver and a couple mid-level prospects for Matt Garza. If the Tigers are
going to go after someone other than Hammels, I would love it to be Garza; mostly
because they would have him this year and next. He is more than just a rental
player and could actually be a candidate for an extension at a reasonable rate
in comparison to Hammels. He would be a very solid fit as the #2 in the Detroit
rotation and would give them options with guys like Porcello and Smyly.
SIDE NOTE: I'm one of the few who don't feel it's a huge need for Detroit to acquire more
starting pitching right now. I especially don't want to see them give up the
farm to bring in anyone for the rotation (unless they are named Felix Hernandez).
Porcello, Scherzer, and Fister will find their stride in the second half; none
of them may be the dominant #2 Detroit feels they need behind Verlander but
they'll be good enough. Porcello is the one we need to be especially patient
with; remember not that long ago (2008), Justin Verlander had an ERA of 4.84
with just 160 strikeouts despite pitching 200+ innings. That following year
(2009) was his first truly dominant year on the mound and that was his fourth
full year in the majors and he was 26 years old. This is Porcello's fourth full
year in the majors but he's only 23 years old! He has the chance to be a very
good major league pitcher and I see it happening as early as the second half of
this year or 2013 at the latest. In my opinion, Scherzer (27 years old also in
the fourth full year in majors) is the one who needs to be taking the heat not
#3 Trade Aaron Westlake and Adam Wilk along with several mid-level prospects for a RH and LH power arm out of the bullpen. If we learned anything from last year's Texas Rangers, the best way to make up for a lack of starting pitching in the playoffs is to
stockpile your bullpen. Unless Verlander is pitching, this move would allow
them to carry enough quality arms out there to ask only 5 solid innings out of
the other 2 or 3 playoff starters. That's reasonable to ask and a lot less
pressure for guys like Porcello, Scherzer, and Fister. Then turn it over to RH
power arm, LH power arm, Benoit, and Valverde with Coke able to fill in the
gaps where necessary. That formula makes more sense to me than giving up a ton
for another starter.
#2 Trade Ryan Raburn, James McCann, and a lower-level prospect for an everyday second baseman. I'm not asking the world here out of this deal, just a guy who can
hit .260, bat ninth, and play a high-end 2B. That really isn't asking a whole
lot and can be done with several different guys. The first target that appeals
to me is a familiar one: Placido Polanco. I know that he's old (he'll be 38 in
October) but he can still hit enough (hitting .266 right now) and would give
them a veteran presence who has been in a WS with Detroit. However, anyone who
fits the bill of an everyday second baseman would provide a much needed jolt to
a position that has been dreadful to this point for the Tigers. Raburn needs a
fresh start and between Don Kelly and Ramon Santiago they can back-up just
about every position other than catcher for Detroit.
#1 Trade Brennan Boesch, Nick Castellanos, and Drew Smyly for Justin Upton. HERE WE GO!! Now this is a move that I'd be willing to give up the farm to make. The
Diamondbacks have made it known that while they aren't actively shopping Upton,
they are willing to listen. The Tigers would be wise to offer up a package that
includes a Major League outfielder, the hottest position prospect in baseball,
and a young arm with MLB experience to grab a guy who was runner-up for MVP
just last year in the National League. Plus, he's under control through 2015
for under $50 million which isn't too bad considering he's still only 24 years
old. The Tigers would have to either make another move to fill the rotation or
call up Turner but it'd be worth it! Imagine this lineup:
Jackson - CF
Berry - LF
Cabrera - 3B
Fielder - 1B
Upton - RF
Young - DH
Avila - C
Peralta - SS
Polanco - 2B
This move also allows them to let Delmon Young walk in Free Agency next year when Victor Martinez comes back. What an incredible lineup this would be and perhaps the only move I can see that makes sense for Castellanos to be included in.
Obviously, they can't make all of these moves but grabbing Polanco and Upton would put them in a position to hide some deficiencies if the staff is unable to turn it around.