And now the second installment of the pure speculation that is, the Tigers offseason.
I now bring you:
Why the Tigers need Buehrle:
The Detroit Tigers were without a regular starting pitcher in the rotation that threw left-handed. That would be a good thing to throw into said rotation. Fans of the AL Central are all too familiar with Buehrle: works at a fast pace, fields his position very well, and still produces very good numbers. His 2011 season was pretty good, despite the White Sox struggles: 13-9 record, with a 3.59 ERA. In 205 1/3 innings this season, he walked only 45 batters. Not an overpowering pitcher by any means, but with an effective curveball still in the arsenal, he’d be a welcome addition in the Tigers rotation. The anti Brad Penny, the Tigers defense would welcome the pace he brings to the game. Because no one wants to stand around in the field all day playing defense. Buehrle will be 33 by Opening Day next season, so it’ll be interesting to see how GMs (or even Kenny Williams, Pale Hose GM) handle any length of contract, or how much he might command in the open market. Pretending C.C. Sabathia doesn’t opt out of his deal, Buehrle will probably be one of the bigger targets amongst starters this offseason.
Why the Tigers don’t need Buehrle:
Hard to find flaws with a pitcher who has a perfect game and a no-hitter on his resume, but as consistent as his 2011 might have been, his numbers at the begining and end of the season were consistent for the wrong reasons. Nu
mbers do show that he didn’t start well, or finish well during this last campaign, posting a 3-6 record for April and September – with the early season ERA starting at 5.12, and limping down the stretch with a 6.99 ERA for September. This probably wouldn’t be a huge concern except he had a similar stretch back in 2010 as well (for good measure, we’ll mix in a winless August 2009). This may never be enough to prompt any team to look away, but if you’re in a stretch pennant run, you might want a pitcher who isn’t going to flop down the stretch. If there’s any consistency with this in the coming years, as he gets older, then that would be a reason to look away. And as mentioned in the previous paragraph, he’s probably going to want some security in his next deal, and there’s no reason to assume that he won’t get it.
Another factor is, Buehrle has spent his entire career with the White Sox, and I’d be further speculating that he may desire to stay. Who knows… maybe his competitive spirit forbids him from considering such a career move to within the division. Maybe if some team really breaks the bank for him he will easily bolt. I don’t know if the team that opens up the wallet too far for Buehrle should be the Tigers. The risk would ultimately be at the back end of whatever deal he’s going to get, and it’s probably going to be a big one.
We’ll try not to forget that, Jacob Turner is still in the mix to grab that last rotation spot next season, but again, that leaves the Tigers full of right-handers in that 2012 rotation. Maybe we talk trades, perhaps?
(To be continued…)