“Trade a player a year too early, rather than a year too late.” -Branch Rickey, Baseball’s Ferocious Gentleman.
DISCLAIMER: I have no problem with Andy Dirks as a player – gap power, runs the bases well, decent glove, plays hard. If it were up to me, I’d pencil him in left-field, batting 8th, 150 times this season, and I think come October would be pretty happy with the results. The Tigers brass, however, does not appear to share the same opinion, inasmuch as they are actively seeking his platoon partner and unabashedly grooming his replacements.
If management perceives Dirks to be a part-time player, and deploys him as such, as a commodity his value can only go down. It would seem prudent to spin an impressive 2012 line of .322/.370/.487, OPS+ of 130, into a deal now, rather than experiencing the likely regression to his 162-game average of .293, 15 HR, 61 RBI, OPS of .794. The sample size roughly equates to one full season, but his minor league numbers are quite similar. In the Tigers opinion, this equals “platoon player”. If someone views Dirks as more valuable than that, a sagacious GM needs to take advantage.
Zach Miner burst onto the scene during the Tigers run to the pennant in 2006. In 15 starts, he went 7-4 with a 4.15 ERA – solid back-of-the-rotation numbers, but the eyeball test reckoned “mop-up man”. Regardless, his trade value was at it’s zenith in the winter of 2006. Who knows – it takes two to make a deal and perhaps Dave Dombrowski was hawking Miner like a French fur trader. We do know that Zach bounced between spot starts and the bullpen, had some arm trouble, and is now trying to reclaim his career in Toledo.
Hot Stove rumors have it that the Tigers are pursuing fielding upgrades at SS and a reliable closer… potential targets vary, but partners covet blue-chip prospects Nick Castellanos and Avisail Garcia, erstwhile 5th starter Rick Porcello, and the high ceiling of Brennan Boesch. Would a LF platoon of Quintin Berry and Garcia be noticeably less productive than Dirks everyday? If not, Dirks should be in any and all trade conversations. Packaged with Porcello, maybe DD fills in the missing pieces of his puzzle.
Let me reiterate – I’d rather see #12 out there everyday, not toiling with Texas or playing with the Padres. But it appears as if the organization projects him as no more than a solid 4th outfielder, under club control until 2018. His 2012 numbers might entice a GM to pay a premium for him, and if so Mr. Rickey and I approve.