Trade Fodder Abounds in Upper Level Lefties

Now here, I suppose, is what you might call an ‘unconventional’ trade post. I’m not going to be drooling over the guys on other teams that could help propel the Tigers to another AL Central crown. I’m going to be talking about the guys that the Tigers could most afford to give up to bring said pieces to the Motor City.

The operative word here is ‘surplus’. For a trade to give you big benefits (unless you are able to genuinely rip off some poor sap like the well known Ramon Santiago for Carlos Guillen deal) you have to be able to deal guys with value that you just don’t need for other guys with value that you do. The Tigers have an organizational surplus of outfielders with a .700 OPS and an organizational surplus of middle infielders that can’t walk, hit for average or hit for power. These don’t count, they don’t have value. The only place in the organization where the Tigers really do have value to spare is in left-handed pitching at the AA and AAA levels.

Follow through the jump for a list and subjective/arbitrary ranking of the guys we could afford to deal:

1. Drew Smyly [11-6, 2.06 ERA, 130 K 36 BB as a starter at A+ & AA]
2. Adam Wilk [8-6, 3.24 ERA, 76 K 14 BB as a starter at AAA]
3. Casey Crosby [9-7, 4.10 ERA, 121 K 77 BB as a starter at AA]
4. Andrew Oliver [8-12, 4.71 ERA, 143 K 80 BB as a starter at AAA]
5. Fu-Te Ni [6-3, 3.24 ERA, 93 K 34 BB as a starter and reliever at AAA]
6. Austin Wood [3.16 ERA, 61 K 28 BB in relief at AA]
7. Jay Voss [12-7, 3.56 ERA, 101 K 37 BB as a starter at A+ & AA]
– the guy we got for Nate Robertson. Hilarious.
8. Ryan Robowski [3.07 ERA, 38 K 19 BB in relief at A+, AA & AAA]
– and here’s the lesser half of the package the D’Backs sent for Armando Galarraga.
9. Duane Below [9-4, 3.13 ERA, 83 K 37 BB as a starter at AAA]
10. Matt Hoffman [3.45 ERA, 46 K 25 BB in relief at AA & AAA]
11. David Purcey [2.38 ERA, 7 K 5 BB in relief at AAA]
12. Brad Thomas [3.48 ERA, 12 K 6 BB in relief at AAA]

Unless they are with the big-league club or out of the organization entirely, each and every one of these guys should either start 2012 in Toledo or finish 2012 in Toledo. Do you see the problem? They’re all southpaws and with the exception of Smyly none of them is a great bet to be more than a 5th starter, swingman or middle reliever. But since left-handed pitching is “scarce” any or all of them could have actual value to a big-league team in 2012 or 2013.

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Tags: Adam Wilk Andrew Oliver Austin Wood Brad Thomas Casey Crosby David Purcey Drew Smyly Duane Below Fu-Te Ni Jay Voss Matt Hoffman Ryan Robowski

  • DoctorDaveT

    Great post, Christ. I had no idea of the LH depth. You’re conclusion is spot on: they can’t all be in Detroit or Toledo. That list can produce game changing results.

    Right there is why you draft pitching, and why you prefer heat.

    I just looked at it again. Wow.

    Perhaps we could package two of those with one of our famous infielders (that can’t hit, walk, catch, or throw) and get a real infielder in return.

    Tiger fans are so used to being in the basement, that it’s easy to forget that the ’11 squad was one or two players away from “final bubbly.” The “Dirty Dozen” mentioned above could bring that last “over the hump” piece. Let me rephrase: the “Dirty Dozen” mentioned above _should_ bring the last “over the hump” piece.

    The ’12 squad (on paper, right?) is as good as the ’11 squad. So – trade anyone not named Smyly on that list, and let’s get a 2b and/or some speed. (A legitimate leadoff 2b would be perfect, right?)

    PS – kudos to our Silver Slugger Catcher!!

    • ChrisHannum

      @DoctorDaveT One big problem would be that Oliver and Crosby have some of the highest ceilings, but are experiencing prospect-status-threatening control problems at the moment. If none of these guys can fetch a long-term solution to the second base problem, I’d be happy if some could be flipped for a good AAA right-handed reliever.

      • woodnick

        @ChrisHannum@DoctorDaveT I agree, which is why I think it would be a great time to move Oliver because some other team my think they can solve his dilemma. Crosby probably wouldn’t get anything decent in return right now due to his past injuries and lack of control, but Crosby may still come around…supposedly control is the last thing to come back after an injury, so hopefully he’ll regain his control in a repeat in AA ball.

  • garretkc

    I had been thinking about the prospect of Detroit dealing one or two of Smyly, Crosby, and Oliver but I guess it never clicked in my head how much left-handed pitching the Tigers really have at the upper levels of the minor leagues. Good thing too since the most trade-friendly asset on the major-league club seems to be Rick Porcello and no one thinks he’ll be dealt for at least another year. Great post.

  • woodnick

    2 teams that seem to have a need for a lefty SP that might give us some value are the Pirates and Angels. As of right now neither have a lefty in their rotation for next year, like us, but neither seem to have any LH options in their upper minors. If we could get either Starling Marte or Peter Bourjos in a package centered around one or more of our lefties(not named Smyly) then I’d take it as we could then get some speed in LF with lead-off potential. Both guys’ future with their organizations are also in question due to the major league rosters and top prospects behind them, especially Marte.

    • ChrisHannum

      Looks like Marte would be no better as a leadoff hitter than Jackson. Speed and batting average with no walks isn’t much better than speed with walks but no batting average.

      • woodnick

        @ChrisHannum If Marte could provide a higher OBP than Jackson, what does it matter if there is a high BA or walk rate? I don’t think Marte is ready for the majors yet, it was more a move for the long-term health of the club, but I guess I should have said it.