Monday, July 18, 2011

Buying in on the pitching market

I decided to change things up because the college football offseason is arguably in its slowest period and there are many other sites that have covered what's necessary in the middle of July.

Today's question is simple: What should the Tigers do at the trading deadline? With only a couple weeks remaining, decisions will have to be made on whether or not to make a couple moves that put the team in position to take the division. The following are my opinions:

Positions of need (in order): Starting pitching, left field, third base

Expendables: Any prospect not named Turner or Castellanos, Rick Porcello, Dirks, Wells, Alburquerque

Given who I feel should be expendable, I will not cover the possibility of Ubaldo Jimenez in a Tigers uniform because he would likely take Turner and Castellanos, among others.

Team stats that matter:

ERA: 4.26 (26th in the majors)
BAA: .261 (25th)
OBPA (On-base against): .331 (tied for 25th)
WHIP: 1.38 (26th)

These numbers are actually pretty eye popping when you consider Verlander's dominance this season. In short, the rest of the rotation has stunk and something either needs to change or they need help. Let's look at some options:

Wandy Rodriguez

Stats that matter:

ERA/FIP: 3.67/3.92 (would be 2nd and 3rd in the rotation respectively)
BAA: .265
WAR: 1.1

Houston's GM Ed Wade is currently asking too much for Rodriguez (or Hunter Pence for that matter) considering he's currently overpaid and will be until 2013 when he's raking in $13 million. Don't get me wrong, Rodriguez is a solid pitcher who would likely slide into our two spot. He's also a competent southpaw, something the rotation sorely lacks. He's 32 years old though and would likely become an albatross contract in 2012 and 2013 when he starts to age. I don't think the risk meets the potential reward here. We'd likely have to give up an uncomfortable amount and Wandy has been relatively inconsistent throughout his career. Not something we're really looking for in order to make a playoff run.

Hiroki Kuroda

Stats that matter:

ERA/FIP: 3.12/3.67
BAA: .245
WAR: 1.5

To me, Kuroda is the best option for Detroit. He's having a solid year and is in the last year of his contract. The Dodgers are in financial ruin and are likely desperate to unload guys like Kuroda, so the price might not be too high. I've always admired Kuroda's statistical output because he does a good job of keeping himself out of trouble. He's always had a very low walk rate and strikes out a fair amount of batters. However, there's one huge stumbling block: the full no-trade clause that was included in his 2011 contract. Almost all reports on Kuroda claim he's not interested in moving east. You'd think any competitor would welcome the chance to pitch for a prospective contender, but it's also possible he's content in Los Angeles. Of any option that has been discussed for the Tigers, I feel like Kuroda would provide the most for the team. He'd be a stable option that could be counted on. However, he's also a long shot.

Jeremy Guthrie

Stats that matter:

ERA/FIP: 4.45/4.25
BAA: .266
WAR: 1.1

Baltimore will likely finish last in the AL East, and as usual will likely be selling. Guthrie seems like a prime candidate to be moved. He's young enough at 32 to be enticing to a contender but too old to really fit into Baltimore's long term plans. He's been relatively average this season, but is reliable and would provide another Brad Penny-type pitcher into the rotation. That's a good thing. He wouldn't cost a ton either. Guthrie is perhaps the most viable option for Detroit because he won't hurt our farm system through subtraction and could be a contributor down the stretch. He'd also likely approve a deal to pitch for the Tigers. I'm meh on him in general, but given the context of Detroit's situation he's potentially valuable.

Derek Lowe

Stats that matter:

FIP/ERA: 4.37/3.44
BAA: .262
WAR: 2.0

Detroit was once tied to Lowe when he became a free agent a couple years ago. Thankfully they didn't fork the 15-per that it took Atlanta to get him because he hasn't even approached living up to that contract. That being said, he's actually pitched pretty well this year and his ERA is in line to improve as the season continues. What doesn't make any sense to me is why Atlanta would trade him. He's making too much money and is at the back end of his career; what kind of player would they expect to get in return for him? Not to mention they are in line to run away with the NL Wild Card, and Lowe would be a valuable asset given his playoff experience. I don't see them moving him unless they really think Mike Minor (or maybe even Julio Teheran?) could perform at an equal level. If his contract wasn't so awful, I'd be a fan of this move because of his ties to Detroit. I don't foresee this one happening either.

Lesson of the story:

The market for starting pitching is thin as it usually tends to be. Detroit has the pieces to make a deal, but when the market is so thin, teams can afford to raise their asking prices and I'm not sure it's in their interest to get into a bidding war for pitchers who are wholly marginal. I feel like Guthrie is the most feasible out of those listed. Would he be the next Jarrod Washburn? No, but I'm not sure he would make the difference in the Central race either. If they can swing a deal for Kuroda, they should, but it's incredibly unlikely.

I'll post on the third base market in the next couple days.

No comments:

Post a Comment