Let me make one thing clear right off the bat: I have no influence over the Detroit Tigers’ front office and nor do I have any unique insight into how they operate. I’m not trying to predict what Dave Dombrowski and Mike Ilitch will decide to do over the next four months. I’m just going to rattle off what my goals – as armchair GM – would be for the Tigers offseason as of the end of October 2012.
Now – let’s start with a recap of what I wanted the Tigers to do (which they, of course, did not do) after the 2011 season:
1. Non-tender Delmon Young: I’m not sure that anyone here at MCB (correct me if I’m wrong) thought that paying Delmon Young what he’s getting this year was going to be worth it. Leyland and Dombrowski clearly disagreed. Who was right? Despite his three postseason home runs, I’d have to say me and every one else here. Young’s .707 OPS was replacement-level for a DH or a corner outfielder, and coupled with his bad D in occasional time in the field made Young 7 runs below replacement level.
2. Sign Kelly Johnson. We all knew that the Tigers had desperate need of a decent second baseman going into the 2012 season, but Dombrowski turned up his nose at the free agent offerings that were out there – preferring to stick with his bat/glove platoon of Ryan Raburn and Ramon Santiago. We know how badly that turned out – and we know that those two guys’ inability to hit or field over the season’s first half led to the Infante trade and the loss of two of the Tigers top 3 prospects. Kelly Johnson accepted arbitration from the Blue Jays – since no-one seemed inclined to make him a better offer – and gave them a .688 OPS and 0.7 WAR. Good? Not really. Despite the failure of the Raburn experiment, DD may have been right to steer clear of Johnson. I call this one a wash.
3. Decline Jose Valverde‘s option. Jose Valverde did not have the greatest of seasons. He wasn’t worth the $9 million dollars he got paid. The Tigers would have been a slightly better team had they spent that money elsewhere. But… the guy I wanted them to go after, with the money that they weren’t paying Papa Grande, was Ryan Madson. Madson ultimately signed a one-year deal with Cincinnati and blew out his arm before the season even started. I’d have to give this one to Dombrowski (though both of our picks were bad).
4. Sign Grady Sizemore. Others at MCB wanted the Tigers to make a big push for Carlos Beltran – to start in left field over Delmon Young (who we wouldn’t have signed) or Andy Dirks (who we didn’t think would have such a good year). That obviously would have paid off in a big, big way. My pick for a new, non-Delmon, left fielder was Grady Sizemore – who would presumably have come cheaper than Beltran and involved the same high-talent, high-injury-risk sort of equation. Sizemore didn’t play a game in 2012, though, so clearly my decision was bad.
There you go – my 2011 offseason plan for the Detroit Tigers… doesn’t seem like I’d make the greatest GM in the world now, does it? So follow through to page 2 to see my 2012 plan – but obviously take my ravings with a grain of salt: