Word of the trade broke just as I was about to hit the road last night, so I really didn’t have time to get as deep into the reaction as I would have liked. The more I thought about the trade, the more okay I was with it.
Yes, I understand that Scott Sizemore has much more upside than David Purcey, or than really any of the Tigers options at second base. But there’s really no getting around the problem that Sizemore still hasn’t shown he can hit in the big leagues. He may wind up being an outstanding player in Oakland, but the Tigers couldn’t afford to wait on him any longer. They had a hole in their bullpen, created by Phil Coke‘s move to the rotation, and they had a few guys whom they could plug in at second base and get about the same results they were getting from Sizemore. I’m certain that they didn’t want to trade Sizemore (would have rather dealt Will Rhymes or Danny Worth), but that was the price for Purcey so that’s what they did. Despite the cries from fans, you can’t trade a guy just because you don’t want him anymore (see Inge, Brandon), that player has to actually have some value in order to get a good return, or in some cases, in order to find a taker for that player and his salary.
Sizemore is young enough, makes very little money, and has a solid track record in the minors, that made him attractive to Oakland. Purcey is left handed, a reliever, and has been very good this year with the A’s. He fills a void in Detroit’s bullpen. That makes him attractive to the Tigers. You can always look back and say “well they should have traded him for Matt Holliday in 2009″, but they didn’t make that trade and now, because Sizemore has flopped in the big leagues, this is the best they could get for him.
There has been a lot of backlash in the interwebs from this deal. It seems like every “prospect guy” is chirping about how the Tigers gave up on Sizemore far too early and that a “mediocre” reliever like Purcey is too little a return. Those people could turn out to be correct. Without looking it up, I’m sure there were plenty of folks saying that Andrew Miller and Cameron Maybin were too much to give up for Miguel Cabrera as well. No, I’m not comparing Purcey to Cabrera, but I will say that both Maybin and Miller were regarded as better prospects than Sizemore is and neither of those two have come anywhere close to the players their ceiling suggested they would be. Sometimes prospects turn out to be great, most of the time they don’t. It’s the nature of the game. And it’s Dombrowski’s job to pull the trigger on a deal like this one if he sees he has a need and can make a move to fill said need. The Tigers needed a veteran left hander in the bullpen, they had three or four guys they could use at second base and get similar results, so they traded one of those guys to fill the need.
No, Purcey isn’t an all-star, but neither is Sizemore. The Tigers didn’t trade a great second baseman, they traded a guy with a good minor league track record who hasn’t yet shown he can hit major league pitching. They traded a guy who has just as good a chance at turning into the hitter we all hoped he would as he does of becoming just another Four-A player.
Keith Law tweeted that he’d much rather have Sizemore than Purcey. But if your club has the worst bullpen in the league, Sizemore isn’t helping you there. He wasn’t helping the offense or the defense either. Long term, this move could look bad, that’s a risk you take when you deal a young player. But short term, making this trade gives the Tigers a better chance to win than they had without it.