As the 2015 trade deadline approaches, the faithful fans of the Detroit Tigers, and likely the team’s front office, are split between buy and sell.
However, in the end, only Mike Ilitch’s opinion matters. Furthermore, it seems unlikely that he approves any course of action in which David Dombrowski dismantles his team.
So, Detroit is left with just one realistic option. For just as unlikely as it is that Detroit sells, it is equally unlikely that they have the pieces necessary to acquire Johnny Cueto, or another top tier piece. If Ilitch and the Tigers are keen on contending, they must pick and choose from the next level of available players.
And that has worked for them in previous years. While many pleaded with Ilitch and Dombrowski to add Ubaldo Jimenez in 2011, the Tigers’ braintrust decided that acquiring Doug Fister would be more effective.
They were right.
After coming to Detroit, Fister went 8-1 with a 1.79 in 10 starts. And, yes, Scott Kazmir will, in all likelihood cost more than the package of Casper Wells, Charlie Furbush, Francisco Martinez, and a PTBNL, that Detroit sent to Seattle. But, he will certainly cost less than Cueto, and he may end up being just as effective.
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This season, Cueto is 6-6 with a 2.73 ERA. By comparison, Kazmir is 5-5 with a 2.38 ERA. And, the Tigers are in dire need of that sort of stability within their rotation. Coming into today, Detroit’s rotation featured just one pitcher with an ERA under 4.00, and that is David Price.
The only group more unreliable for Detroit has been the bullpen. Even in the wake of Tom Gorzelanny and Joba Chamberlain being designated for assignment, the numbers for the Tigers’ relief unit have been gruesome. But, an elite reliever like Aroldis Chapman is not walking through the door for Brad Ausmus any time soon. One Cincinnati Red who could look good in the Olde English D, however, is J.J. Hoover.
The 27 year-old right-hander has had a breakout year for Cincinnati and would likely be even better in the spacious confines of Comerica Park. So far in 2015, Hoover is 5-0 with an ERA of 1.37, a WHIP of 0.94, and a staggeringly low total of six runs allowed all year. In fact, the Reds’ reliever has allowed just one earned run in his last 35 appearances, and probably should have been an All-Star.
At this point, it is probably safe to assume that Detroit has missed out on the opportunity to win the AL Central. So, they need to decide whether or not the Wild Card game provides them a realistic avenue for making a run to the World Series. When they inevitably do, it would help to have Kazmir and Hoover in their dugout.