Now the Tigers may have been a step away from the big dance so to speak in 2011, but there are more holes to fill other than second base and a lead-batter. After Jose Valverde and Joaquin Benoit the pen could use a veteran in the middle sector.
A stroll through the 2012 free-agent reliever market leaves you with a lot of has-beens and guys pushing 40. There is RHP Todd Coffey however.
Now Todd Coffey is a far cry from Heath Bell or Jonathan Papelbon, but from a value standpoint he may be a decent option to join forces with the middle-relief core in Detroit.
After a solid campaign in 2009, Coffey had a down year for the Brewers in 2010. But in 2011 Coffey bounced back to post very decent numbers for the Washington Nationals. This past season, the 31-year-old pitched 59.2 innings and carried a 3.62 ERA with a 1.257 WHIP.
Coffey doesn’t miss a ton of bats, as he struck just under seven batters per nine innings last year. But for the most part he doesn’t give up a ton of walks and he keeps the ball in the park. He only gave up four homers last year.
The National’s right-hander is a large guy, standing 6’ 4’’ and weighing 240 lbs. He’s predominantly a two-pitch guy, working with a fastball in the mid-90’s, and pretty nice hard slider. Being that he throws from the right side, he could be a nice compliment to the lefties Phil Coke and Daniel Schlereth.
The walks will happen with Coffey, as he walks about three batters per nine innings, but this isn’t necessarily a bad thing – he won’t give in to batters, and at least last year, he had a pretty decent time stranding runners.
The danger with Coffey is that he may be the type of guy you only want to see face right-handed hitters. Last season, Todd was very stingy against RHB, allowing them to hit only for a .193/.250/.290 line. Against lefties it was another story, as they posted a .338/.404/.463 line against him.
A plus though will be that the price tag should be reasonable – Coffey made about $2 million in 2010 and $1.35 million this past year.
Coffey has been a career National Leaguer, which could be considered somewhat of a red flag. But just as he’d have to familiarize himself with the AL hitters, they would have to adjust to him as well, and in short one-inning stints, it could work out. Coffey does have a clunky delivery that seems to give hitters a tough time squaring up the ball.
If the Tigers want to go to the free-agent market for middle-relief, Coffey is no doubt one of the better options available. He is still fairly young at the age of 31, and the price shouldn’t be too high.
I think Coffey’s personality would work well in the Tiger’s clubhouse as well – he seems to have a workman like type of attitude and enjoys going right after guys.
As we sat and watched the postseason unfold, it seemed the Rangers and the Cardinals both greatly benefited from having a veteran presence in the middle of their pens. At the moment, the Tigers don’t really have that outside of Phil Coke who is actually still relatively young himself.
I’d like the Tigers to find a guy with a bit more experience in the pen to help the youngsters. Maybe Todd Coffey will be that guy.