Edwin Jackson delivers start after start: Why isn’t Tigers’ Management stepping up to the plate?


Edwin Jackson has delivered.

Whenever the Tigers acquisition has made his way to the mound in 2009, he has brought the best to the table. Since his first start in Toronto, he has awed many with his ability to keep the Tigers in ballgames. Out of his twenty two starts this season, twenty of them have been outings in which he gave up three runs or less. His 2.62 ERA has been the second best in the American League for quite sometime. Some would argue that the All-Star is the ace of the staff in 2009. His numbers display a pitcher of franchise player value. In a baseball era, where having a solid 1-2 punch at the top of the rotation is the key to success,  Jackson has taken the ball and provided something special for fans and teammates alike. Despite having subject run support (61st best among starters throwing 120 IP or more), the Tigers have won twelve out of Jackson’s twenty-two starts. Not bad for a guy that has been written off not once, but twice in his career. Jackson has done his part on the mound for this team.

Now it is time for Detroit Tigers Management to step up to the plate for him.

There is no doubt that Edwin Jackson will demand a truckload of cash. Alongside John Lackey and Cliff Lee, the free agent pitching class of 2010 will cause some intruiging story lines. Gerald Laird, Armando Galarraga, Placido Polanco, Adam Everett, Brandon Lyon, Ramon Santiago, Jarrod Washburn, Zach Minor, and Marcus Thames will all be free agents. Depending on the rest of the season, The Tigers might have to decide on whether to keep Magglio Ordonez or release him. Management will also have to decide on whether to swallow the hefty contracts of Dontrelle Willis, Nate Robertson and Jeremy Bonderman, or if they want to find roles with them.

With the emergence of prospects Scott Sizemore and Alex Avila, the Tigers will have a rough time decided at what to do up the middle to compliment Curtis Granderson.  The shortstop position is up in the air. Adam Everett could possibly find a starting job elsewhere, for more money. There is not a prospect ready to take his job. The shortstop free agent class is very weak, but the Tigers could find a defensive type player in this market for cheap.  Craig Counsell, Jerry Hairston, Marco Scutaro and John McDonald could come at a discount rate.

It will be nearly impossible to immediately replace a talent like Jackson. That is why it is so key to resign him. He has been just as good on the road as he has at home. That is key for a rotation that is just 17-24 on the road, compared to 23-13 at home. Since Jackson has been in the league since 2003, many forget that he is in the middle of his prime. At 25, Jackson has a lot of good years ahead of him. He was used in the pen for the Rays in 2006 sparingly. His arm is still young. If you have to keep one of Jeremy Bonderman, Nate Robertson and Dontrelle Willis, you will need Jackson in the rotation to keep the team competitve. There is not a pitching prospect that is ready to step in and do what Rick Porcello is. Casey Crosby deserves a promotion, but he is still a year away from the majors.  There are many questions going into 2010. One thing is clear though. Edwin Jackson deserves that extenstion.

Especially after an owner said he would do anything possible to win a pennant, just to sit on his hands during the deadline.

The acquisition of Jarrod Washburn on July 31st made one thing clear. Management is going to continue to build this team around defense and pitching. The offense struggles will co-exist with on the performance of upcoming offensive prospects, Miguel Cabrera, Brandon Inge and Curtis Granderson.

If this is the new model of the Detroit Tigers, then maintaining their pitching is key. The Rays let Edwin go to maintain their young rotation. He was the odd man out when David Price showed he is ready for the major leagues. The Rays have less than a seventy million dollar payroll, but they have locked up David Price, Matt Garza, James Shields and Scott Kazmir until at least the 2011 season. Within the division, the White Sox have Mark Buehrle, Jake Peavy and John Danks under contract until at least 2011. I can understand following this model. It has worked for teams like the Rays and Twins. The Baltimore Orioles and Athletics are showing that young pitchers can make a transisition quickly to the major leagues. Once they get there though, maintaining a solid major league career is a transition in itself.

The Tigers management has lived through giving pitchers bad contracts the last few years. It will be even harder to do for an arm that has only proved himself during only one season. Whether they like it or not, this is a situation that if handled wrong, could possibly be regretted for quite a long long time.

Remember 1991? The Tigers let go of starter Jack Morris. The team he went on to win the World Series. Has Edwin Jackson shown that he is a Jack Morris? No way. He brings more value to the team though, than any of the free agents that are leaving the team.

The Tigers need to stick to the gameplan. If the Tigers have post-season aspiration, a lot of it has to do with number 36. If he performs he has all-season, he deserves to be rewarded. Edwin Jackson is a first class act, and in a city that has built baseball teams around his type of personality,  It only makes sense to bring him back. When the Tigers traded for him, they were hoping for a diamond in the rough.

Now that the diamond has been pulled from the mines of talent, and his game has been polished, it’s time to put it on display.

For years to come.