For as long as he is the Detroit Tigers general manager, Dave Dombrowski will never live down trading away Doug Fister.
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Yet his hits have greatly outweighed his misses for not only the Tigers, but his entire career which included stops in Montreal and Florida, winning the 1997 World Series. For some fans the Fister trade was inexcusable, but let’s remember this is the guy who basically stole Miguel Cabrera, a future Hall-of-Famer.
DD would never describe trading away Fister as a mistake and if you can get past raw emotions, you can see that it probably was not a mistake. The Tigers accomplished what they were trying to do, which was trim another expensive arbitration eligible player off the books. Additionally look who is been rumored to be on the trading block in Washington: Doug Fister!
Arguably the Tigers could have gotten more for Fister than middle-tier prospects. So while you can appreciate the idea of dealing Fister, who they got back (Robbie Ray, Ian Krol, Steve Lombardozzi) was probably a misstep.
By sending Ray and minor league infielder Domingo Leyba to Arizona in exchange for Shane Greene (with shortstop Didi Gregorious becoming Derek Jeter‘s replacement in New York), Dombrowski has taken the sting out of the Fister deal.
Look, we don’t know what kind of player Ray will be. The lefthander pitched in just nine games on the major league level, but as far as being able to help the team immediately, the Tigers received an upgrade. This is because Greene, like Ray a rookie in 2014, was solid for the Yankees last year, posting a 3.78 ERA.
Greene is a strikeout pitcher (averaging one per inning), so he fits the Tigers mold pretty well. Sure his ERA is somewhat bloated though you could argue that had a lot to do with the new(er) Yankee Stadium, a place where every Yankees’ pitcher has struggled since it opened. Remember how good C.C. Sabathia used to be?
Yanks Go Yard
Greene overpowered the Tigers in two starts last year and while Ray started well in a pair of spot starts for Detroit in May, he couldn’t record outs consistently after that. He also struggled in Toledo, though he was one of the better pitchers from the Arizona Fall League.
Ray probably won’t be ready to be a full-time big leaguer next season (though with Arizona in rebuilding mode, they may ride out the ups and downs with him there anyway), but Greene has proven he can be consistent in the majors.
So with all that said, this deal looks very good for Detroit, yet if this is it, if they end all off-season moves on December 5 it may not be a very good deal after all.
This is because with or without Max Scherzer in 2015, the Tigers’ rotation is one of the team’s strengths. Yesterday in the Morning Links, we talked about Joe White’s article on iSportsWeb talking about how the Tigers may put too much stock into having a premier rotation. This is spot on.
You can have all the great pitchers starting your games, but as we know strikeout pitchers have very high pitch counts. That means the bullpen is often called in for the sixth inning. The Tigers still don’t have a reliable pen to hold leads as was the cause of so much grief the last couple seasons.
There is also the lack of quality bats in the lineup from the outfield. This is why a Yoenis Cespedes for Rick Porcello trade makes so much sense, assuming the Tigers receive something else in return from Boston (or a third team) like a reliable reliever.
I don’t believe that Dombrowski is done with off-season moves. Monday, our own Tom Zahari said that he thought a Porcello trade would kickoff a series of moves. While he may have been off about who would be traded to start it off, I still think this is the case.
I still believe another quality outfielder (whether through trade or free agency) will be in the Tigers’ Opening Day lineup and I believe the bullpen will be addressed in some fashion.
I wrote a couple of weeks back that if the Tigers go into 2015 with the bullpen that is currently in place, they have no legitimate shot at the postseason. And if I, a lowly sports blogger, recognizes this fact, so does a GM with a World Series championship under his belt.