Tigers Played Hardball a Year too Late


Yes, the Tigers organization probably look like big meanies. Professional sports is a business and the Tigers are finally acting like it.

Yesterday’s shocking news that the Tigers had designated Armando Galarraga for assignment just hours after avoiding arbitration by reaching a contract agreement probably didn’t make for a good day in the Galarraga household. On some level it was hard to take for Tigers fans who stood behind him in the wake of his “perfect plus one” performance last season. The reality is that the move was necessary with Brad Penny officially in the fold.

I never like to think about any roster move in a vacuum so this one had me thinking back to last season when the Tigers decided to let Placido Polanco walk rather than offer him arbitration. My thinking at the time was that the Tigers were ready to move on but let Polanco hit the free agent market unencumbered by the added cost of a lost first round draft pick by the team that signed him due to Polanco’s type A status. Owner Mike Ilitch’s biggest fault might be his loyalty.

Looking at the way the Tigers were willing to cut bait with Galarraga makes me even more disappointed in the way they handled Polanco’s departure. The organization’s biggest need is minor league depth, a problem that would certainly have been helped by the two draft picks returned to the Tigers after Polanco signed elsewhere.

Some might argue that the Tigers couldn’t afford to have Polanco accept arbitration. Look back at the way the second base position turned out last year and try arguing that with a straight face. Can’t do it.

I don’t fault the way the Tigers handled Armando Galarraga but I wish they had applied the same principles a year ago with Placido Polanco. My question isn’t “Why?” Rather, “Why now?”

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