Not to say that this happens as a rule, but this year the similarities seem striking. Both teams – at least until a week ago – had done little this offseason despite known weaknesses and an ownership with an overwhelming desire to win. For the Yankees, the need to improve the rotation was clear (though it was and is debatable whether the team had any other needs). Although there were a few options at or near the top tier, the Yankees had an overwhelming need to avoid future punitive luxury tax payments and a cheap, talented pitcher isn’t something that the market (whether free agent or trade) ever has in abundance. So for a long while they assessed options and talked and we were all baffled by the Yankees do nothing offseason – maybe even getting the impression that the team was simply content given that the Rays and Red Sox were doing little or nothing to make up ground. And then ‘BOOM’ suddenly in one day they move to the list of the biggest offseason winners by acquiring Michael Pineda and Hiroki Kuroda. Now they have an impressive rotation to match the rest of their squad.
The Tigers’ offseason has had some striking similarities:
while Dombrowski did move quickly to grab Octavio Dotel after getting some reports on Alburquerque’s arm the team’s biggest needs have gone unaddressed. This isn’t, of course, because the Tigers are simply content to go forward with a roster full of holes. It is because the right fit is awfully difficult to find, particularly when your organization does not have an exceptional depth of spare parts. Finding someone who has what you need and wants what you can afford to give? That’s a toughie.
The Yankees finally found someone who wanted the guy they could afford to give up – Jesus Montero – and wanted him badly enough to give up a young stud for the rotation. And they waited long enough to find a good starter who would take a one year deal. The Tigers are still trawling for a second baseman and maybe a third baseman and a fifth starter too. They’re still looking for table setters and speed. It could be a while yet, it could be into spring training or into July before we see anything but Duane Below in that rotation spot. But it could happen any minute and when it does, suddenly this dearth of rumor will move abruptly to forecasting how much we’ve improved and anxiously awaiting the month of April.