Earlier this afternoon as Tigers fans paid close attention to the Winter Meetings, their hearts were ripped right out of their chest cavity. All baseball fans have been waiting for that one trade that everyone talks about. The one that opens things up. The one the Tigers shocked the world with in 2008, when they acquired super slugger Miguel Cabrera and the then always exciting Dontrelle Willis.
Now Tigers fans have to deal with losing a fan favorite. A player that has come up through the system and played closer to his full potential than any tigers fielder has in quite some time. It doesn’t need to be said that he was a fan favorite. And while the Tigers fan base feels for the loss of such a great player and person (including me), in all reality this is a move that had to be done.
Sometimes in this business, to fix an organization’s mistakes, that same management is faced with tough decisions. The toll of Nate Robertson, Gary Sheffield, Carlos Guillen, Dontrelle Willis and Magglio Ordonez caught up with the team’s strategy. In baseball it’s survival of the fittest. In order to adapt to the mistakes of the past, The Tigers had to make this deal happen. They had to change their roster management plan. Losing Curtis Granderson was the asset lost in order to rebuild a business. Because in this game you have to be competitive for quite some time.
When I first heard of this trade, as I got ready to crack open my mic to the country music audience, I wanted to scream. I couldn’t believe the organization would disrespect a player that has given so much to his teammates, the fans and the organization itself. Trading Edwin Jackson is one thing. But dealing one of the franchise’s cornerstone players? I was infuriated even though the trade reports had yet to be confirmed.
Now I am proud that this organization has realized the mistakes of the past and is ready to move forward to put a competitive team on the field for years to come.
Not only does the dealing of Edwin Jackson and Curtis Granderson return three players that are major league ready, it clears even more money for the future. Max Scherzer, the starting pitcher that will fill Edwin Jackson’s spot in the rotation, is under contract for five years. Relievers Daniel Schlereth and Phil Coke are both under contract long term. Coke has five more years, while 2008 draft product and former Arizona teammate of Ryan Perry, Daniel Schlereth is under contract for six. Center Fielder Austin Jackson is under control for six years. If the Tigers feel he is as close to the majors as the Yankees did, then that is five years of production at the major league level.
It takes a lot of guts for a general manager realize that in order to fix the problems in Detroit, that it’s going to take more than just a remodeling project. Sometimes you just have to start from scratch. Dave Dombrowski knows he could very well be on the hot seat if this deal doesn’t work out and blossom into wins quickly. Yet he still pulled the trigger. To some fans, that might make you sick. To take chances on some of these players could very well backfire. But staying stagnant cannot be an option. Even with so much payroll coming off the books in 2010.
A turnaround wasn’t going to happen in one year. Curtis Granderson was never going to have a higher value in the trade market. As much as I don’t want it to be, this is the right move. Scherzer has already shown us as a youngster that at points he can dominate the strike zone. In 170 innings pitched last season, he averaged more than 9 strikeouts a game. The Tigers have now solidified what the believe is a solid 1-2-3 punch that is not going anywhere for a while.
Daniel Schlereth has a closer’s arm. His mid 90′s fastball has been known to explode out of his arm. The power curve has fooled hitters at all levels. He still has to figure out major league hitters, but the product that has been compared to Billy Wagner is going to be an asset out of the pen starting this upcoming season.
Offensively, the Tigers did not acquire any help for 2009, but Austin Jackson brings a lot of talent to the Tigers organization. The Yankees number one prospect according to Baseball America in 2009, Jackson reflects a lot of the same type of play as Curtis Granderson. He is considered a “playmaker”. Like the center fielder before him, Jackson has a cannon. Even better, he is considered a clubhouse leader with a great personality. Sound familiar? While you can never project what someone with Jackson’s experience will turn into, the hopes are high. Last year at the AAA level, Jackson played 132 games and hit .300/.354/.405, drove in 65 runs, and stole 24 bases. If there is any type of player out there that has yet to prove himself at the major league level, that can prove through numbers he is a piece of the future, it is Jackson.
Overall, today’s deal was tough for fans. Watching a player of that caliber being dealt, knowing that he won’t be manning the large ground he covers in Comerica Park even makes the grown man tear up. All of the amazing catches, late inning heroics and game-winning hits are a thing of the past. Granderson’s smile will not shine in the evening like it has his whole career behind the water fireworks in center. Without a doubt us Tigers fans will miss you.
This Tigers fan though is looking forward. This deal makes the Tigers better for years to come. Here’s to Austin Jackson panning out, Max Scherzer becoming the number one ace he is projected to be and to Daniel Schlereth starting his first full major league season in the bullpen, sporting the Old English D.
It’s time to forget about this decade, and move into the next. It looks like the holiday gifts came a little early to Detroit Tigers fans. Maybe they aren’t what you asked for. Maybe you have no use for them. But like all gifts, over time you will begin to appreciate more than just the thought.
The new year is already here and a new decade of baseball is about to begin.