Tigers Miss Boat on Hinske... Again

The Tigers have a great many holes to be filled before Opening Day.  They need to identify starters and reserves alike, they need a find a closer, a lead-off hitter, and possibly another starting pitcher.  What they also need is a left handed bat that can play both corner infield spots, and possibly fill-in in the outfield.  They need Eric Hinske.

Now, anyone who has even glanced at this blog over the past six months knows that I have been banging my drum for Hinske for quite some time.  Last season, the Tigers failed to pounce when Hinske was made available by Pittsburgh, and watched as Hinske and the Yankees won the World Series.  Hinske has been a member of each of the last three AL Champions, you know.  Instead of Hinske, the Tigers dealt for Aubrey Huff.  Huff, theoretically at least, is similar to Hinske in that both have experience at all four corner spots, and both bat from the left side.  It didn’t work out so well for Huff and the Tigers as Jim Leyland refused to play him at all in the field, and Brandon Inge’s bad knees got no rest, despite what had been said by Dave Dombrowski at the presser announcing the trade.

So here we are in early January and the Tigers again have a need for a player that fits with Hinske’s skill set.  And once again, Dombrowski whiffed.  CBS Sports’ Scott Miller reported yesterday that Hinske has reached a deal with the Braves to play a reserve role and pinch-hit.  It is a one-year deal, and finacial terms have not been disclosed, but I’m sure it can’t be much.  It was a contract the Tigers could certainly have offered, anyway.

I’m not suggesting that Hinske would have been the missing piece, the cure-all for a team that figures to struggle offensively, but he is a guy that has a lifetime OPS of .774 and has shown above average defense at almost every position he has played.  He would have fit quite nicely backing up Inge and Cabrera, while also getting some at bats in the outfield and DH.  Sound like a guy the Tigers could’ve used?

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  • Bob

    I agree about Hinske. At the very least he would have provided a stronger bench. Perhaps DD doesn’t feel the necessity for these kinds of moves and feels that there are other parts out there on the market that fit the Tigers more precisely. Maybe he just doesn’t see the gaping holes in the roster that we see, although I find that difficult to believe. There are some decent players out there still looking for jobs so I still think DD will do a couple more things before the reporting date. On another subject, I think the Cardinals giving Matt Holliday seven years and $120 million (every penny guaranteed of course) is TOTALLY INSANE! The guy plays baseball for a living for christ’s sake, he isn’t curing cancer or making the world a better place to live in these perilous times. Didn’t these guys get the memo that there’s a recession going on and that many people are having trouble hanging on to their houses, much less their dignity. I really and truly don’t understand the priorities of people these days. Detroit teachers have to give the schools millions collectively in order to keep the schools open, yet Holliday prospers like an arabian sheik with untapped oil wells under his feet, and nobody bats an eye. It’s a very strange world we live in.

    • John Parent

      Bob- I agree that the Holliday contract is a bit much, if only in that the Cardinals were bidding against themselves. However, I won’t fault Holliday for signing the deal. If the Cardinals hadn’t offered $120MM he wouldn’t have been paid that much. The players do have a responsibility to the community, and I hope that Holliday does his part to give back to the fans. That said, value is a tricky word. When I was younger and collecting baseball cards, I would get excited about finding a particularly high valued card. My dad would remind me that an item isn’t worth anything unless someone is willing to pay you for it. Is Holliday worth $120MM? Not to the RedSox, not to the Tigers, but he is worth that much to the Cardinals, obviously, or they wouldn’t have been willing to offer the contract they did. In other words, I won’t blame Holliday for taking the offer given to him, I’ll blame the folks making the offer.

  • Bob

    Clearly these owners have more money than brains, yet it makes me wonder how they became so rich and powerful in the first place. It certainly wasn’t by lavishing big money on undeserving employees. I remember a time when the Tigers wanted to make Kaline the first $100,000 a year player on their payroll. He turned it down, not because he wanted more, but because he didn’t feel he had earned it, and he took $90,000 instead. Times have certainly changed.

  • Chris

    I’m not at all surprised, or even disappointed, that the Tigers haven’t signed Hinske or someone else like him. Carlos Guillen should be the guy backing up Inge and Cabrera. The real issue right now is that what passes for cheap talent in the MLB (like Hinske) is blocked by the commitments to Guillen and Ordonez. Unlike a lot of people, I don’t think either one of them is terrible. What hurts is that people like Hinske (or Vlad Guerrero?) who can DH, play sluggish defense at the corners and hit for a .775-ish OPS are cheap. Finding a shortstop that can provide the same barely adequate offense will cost at least $10-million a year. Do you think there is any chance of an upgrade on that front, or are we going into spring training with Ramon Santiago?