Before the season started, I wrote an article about not wanting Alfredo Simon on the Detroit Tigers roster because of his character issues. The presumption in that piece was that he was at least a decent pitcher. I clearly presumed incorrectly.
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Alfredo Simon has been a disaster. Period. Dave Dombrowski, former Tigers General Manager, saw an opportunity to offload up and coming pitcher Rick Porcello to the Red Sox for offense in Yoenis Cespedes. When Trader Dave made the deal he made three assumptions. First, Simon could fill in at least evenly for Porcello and provided Simon would pitch a good season he could be signed for less than what Porcello was likely to demand. Second, the Tigers pitching staff was solid with David Price, Justin Verlander and Anibal Sanchez anchoring the rotation. One for three wasn’t a bad assumption. Although Verlander post injury is proving this assumption to be true. Last, Porcello was going to cost a lot in the free agent market. This assumption has proven to be true as the Red Sox signed him to an extension for $82 million over four years. It could be argued that after Porcello’s season this year the value would have been lower.
Simon came to Detroit with many warts besides his character and his off the field actions. Simon’s career started in in 2008 at the age of 27 in Baltimore where he spent four seasons, the first three in relief and the last as a starter. His first starter season ended with a 4-9 record, 4.90 ERA and a 1.452 WHIP. He then went to Cincinnati and for two years improved in the bullpen. In 2014 the Reds gave him another the starter position. He had a stellar first half of 2014 making the All-Star game. He finished the season soft but with an overall 15-10 record, 3.44 ERA and a 1.207 WHIP.
The Reds clearly knew what Dombrowski didn’t know or failed to recognize – Simon at 33 years old wasn’t going to be a steady starting hand in the rotation. Simon started on fire this year for the Tigers in April and May going 6-2 and an ERA below 3.00. Dombrowski’s big move looked like it would pay off especially when Verlander went down injured.
But June came and so did the 5.40 ERA, July brought a .7.26 ERA, August a 7.20 ERA and then in September so far a 5.92 ERA. Post All Start break he is pitching 6.15 ERA baseball with a .273 batting average against him. He is easily one of the most hittable pitchers in the American League. He’s allowed 24 home runs this season and 66 walks
But why is this a shocker to us? Last season before the All Star break he was 12-3 with a 2.70 ERA and after he was 3-7 with a 4.52 ERA. How about in 2011 when he was a starter in Baltimore? Post All-Star game he was 3-7 also with a 4.92 ERA.
Simon historically gets worse as the season wears on and as he ages. How did Dombrowski not know this? I don’t know what scouting reports were available for this decision. But what scares me is the person in charge of scouting is the assistant general manager who is Al Avila. How much does the Simon disaster truly belong to Al Avila and not Dombrowski?
How’s Porcello doing you ask? I’m not advocating he was worth $20 million. But if the Tigers were willing to roll the dice with Scherzer why wouldn’t they have rolled the dice with Porcello? A stellar pitching lineup of Price, Verlander, Sanchez and Porcello. He was a strong arm in our rotation last year and if this were the year to win – did we need the bat in Cespedes (also a free agent at the end of the year) or the arm in Porcello? Especially when we didn’t invest in the bullpen. The Monday morning quarterback here says that we needed Porcello. So to answer the question, Porcello has pitched 3.65 since returning from his injury and gone 3-4. Back to the form we knew and expected.
Bye bye Alfredo Simon. I suspect you are headed back to the bullpen for some team needing a 34 year old inconsistent, 60 mph weird pitch ball you throw, in their lineup.
Big Pasta, my friend, you are the poster child for what went wrong with the Tigers in 2015.