Detroit Tigers Should Focus On Right Moves, Not Big Moves


David Dombrowski has spoiled Detroit Tigers fans. Whether or it be signing Prince Fielder, or trading for David Price, the Tigers’ GM has not been shy about pulling the trigger on blockbuster deals.

But then again, neither was Reuben Amaro Jr., and as it stands, the Phillies have a 26-49 record,  a 15.5 game deficit, and no rings under Amaro to justify their sacrifices. A fate that seems to be looming for Dombrowski in the wake of his unwillingness to address key needs.

Simply put, Dombrowski’s stubborn approach to his bench, his pitching depth, and his bullpen have been perplexing. Rather than adding a veteran fifth starter, or a solidifying presence in the bullpen, Dombrowski chose to add Yoenis Cespedes to a lineup that was already the best in baseball the year before.

Meanwhile, Dayton Moore added Chris Young, as insurance for a young staff, and let Billy Butler walk in order to sign the much more affordable Kendrys Morales. As of June 27th, Morales was hitting .292 with 48 RBIs, and Young’s seventh win put the Royals 6.5 games out in front of Detroit.

However, for now, the Tigers’ window for success is still propped open, just slightly. Because, despite an overwhelmingly bleak outlook amongst the Tigers’ faithful, Detroit does still have hope in a weak American League.

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As of June 27th, Detroit trails Kansas City in the American League Central by just those 6.5 games, which is actually lucky, considering their poor play. And, by the same token, they are just two games out of a spot in the Wild Card game.

If the Tigers hope to eclipse any of the several teams that they trail, however, Dombrowski needs to focus on making moves that address areas of concern, rather than ones that will make headlines.

For example, much like years past, Detroit has been hampered, in part, by a mediocre bullpen. As a unit, they are 18th in the league, according to ESPN, and have a 3.70 ERA. One name the Tigers’ brass should look to acquire is Cincinatti reliever J.J. Hoover.

While many among the Detroit fan-base are clamoring for Aroldis Chapman, or another big name Red such as Johnny Cueto, Hoover would do wonders for one of the league’s worst group of relievers. The 27 year-old has been remarkable thus far in a breakout year. Pitching in one of the least pitcher-friendly parks in baseball, Hoover is 5-0 with a 1.35 ERA, and has allowed just five earned runs all year. In fact, he has not allowed an earned run in 29 straight appearances.

Another unheralded pitcher who could help aide the Tigers’ postseason run is Jesse Chavez. Like Hoover, Chavez is not a household name, but he has the potential to make a real impact. Currently, the A’s right-hander is 4-6 with a 2.90 ERA, which for those of you keeping tabs at home, would be the second best ERA on the Tigers’ staff.

Now, that might not be saying much for a staff that has struggled with consistency in 2015, but regardless of whether the Tigers acquire Hoover, Chavez, or anyone else, the focus should be on adding useful, necessary assets without continuing to be negligent about the future.

Look at 2014 as a guideline. The Oakland Athletics added Jon Lester, and lost in the Wild Card game. The Tigers added Price and were swept in the Divisional round. The Giants, meanwhile, added Jake Peavy and won the World Series. Now, Peavy was certainly not the reason San Francisco were crowned yet again as champions, but it goes to show that the sexy moves which catch your eye may not be the ones which help you procure a ring, and Detroit should take note.

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