Collateral Damage From the Fister Deal

Jason Beck at is writing about it, and if it has progressed that far then you know the secret is out: what the Tigers needed most in the ALCS (and didn’t have) was another good right-handed arm in the bullpen. I’m sure they knew it going in too – it’s no secret what lineup the Rangers are going to field – but a hittable Perry, a wild Alburquerque and an unusable Penny were the best options Leyland had to fill out the roster. Oh, and two southpaws against a lineup with two left-handed bats.

Know who would have come in handy? Chance Ruffin.

Now I’m not saying that the deal wasn’t worth it – Fister has earned some respect – and I’m not saying that I’d rather the Tigers had kept Ruffin over Castellanos or Smyly – Castellanos is the only real position prospect we’ve got and Smyly is killing it for Team USA. But… I sure wish that Dombrowski could have swung a Fister deal that took less from the major league roster. And, yes, Chance Ruffin was and is a major league reliever already. In his first season in pro ball Ruffin put up a 2.03 ERA with 60 Ks in 48 2/3 between AA and AAA before getting the coffee call from Detroit. After the trade to Seattle, he never went back to the minors and finished with a 4.08 ERA and averaged over a strikeout an inning.

If that 4.08 ERA doesn’t sound all that impressive – compare it to Ryan Perry’s 5.35 and bear in mind that Ruffin looks to be a righty-killing righty – whether or not he can ultimately develop enough control to be a real relief ace. The vast majority of the damage dealt to him in this small sample was by left-handed bats, who are known to be scarce in the Rangers clubhouse. Maybe just having Ruffin as a middle-innings or extra-innings option (over, say, Brad Penny) is enough to get Detroit to the series… Who would have thought he’d be missed this soon?

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Tags: Chance Ruffin Doug Fister

  • MCBjohnverburg

    Its kind of an indictment of the organization’s scouting that the Tigers are still looking for relief help given all the draft resources, and free agent signings they’ve put towards it.

    • ChrisHannum

      @MCBjohnverburg Not quite sure it’s that simple. As far as organizational depth goes, the Tigers traded away 2 of the top 3 right-handed arms at the upper levels of the minors, and have seen a bunch of possible contributors tank down there during 2011. But… on the left side, relief and back-end rotation candidates are just piling up. If the Rangers had a lineup with 7 lefty regulars, I don’t think the Tigers would have had any difficulty finding bullpen depth. As is… I’m not sure why they didn’t put Brayan Villarreal or Jacob Turner on the ALCS roster over Penny – he clearly was never going to be used in any non-zero leverage situation.

      • jgorosh

        @ChrisHannum@MCBjohnverburg I doubt either one of those guys would have been either. Especially Turner. You could tell he was gassed at the end of the year. It wasn’t worth it, I’m glad they shut him down. i wish they’d have sent Villarreal to the AFL though.

        • JAYRC_MCB

          @jgorosh I wish Villarreal would have gotten send to the AFL too.

        • ChrisHannum

          @JAYRC_MCB@jgorosh I suppose it’s possible that he’ll be playing in Venezuela

        • ChrisHannum

          @JAYRC_MCB@jgorosh Yep, he’s pitching out of the bullpen for Oriente.

  • Sam Genson

    If David Pauley would have performed as he did in SEA, then it really isn’t an issue. We seem to forget how good he was in SEA and that he was viewed as a nice piece initially.