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Will, what happened with Bobby Seay? Bobby was injured for much of the second half of the 2009 season with a shoulder issue. I'm convinced that it was bothering him and affecting his performance before he was actually shut down.
As he entered his third and final season of arbitration eligibility, the Tigers gave him a rather generous $ 2.45 million last December after they went through the motions of offering and accepting arbitration. Well, to make a long story short, Bobby showed up in the spring at Lakeland, but he never made it back in the mound. Was there a medical exam? Why didn't the team know what the issue was?
Then, there's the whole timing of his decision to go Under the Knife (fully intended, there) and now he's probably out for the 2011 season as well. This is particularly bad for Bobby, since he'd be a free agent after this season. Reports were that he was hesitant to undergo "career threatening" surgery which, at a minimum, would end his season. I think that few Tiger fans really expected him (or Zumaya, or Zach Miner) to return this season anyway.
I had expected that the Tigers would probably offer him a minor league contract, let him rehab at Lakeland, and try to make it back. I still think they will give him every opportunity, even though their contractual commitment to him is finished. The Tigers and Bobby really like each other. But what happened? Why didn't they know he was hurt? Or know the extent of his injury?
Dombrowski has not signed a single free agent position player to a multi year contract since that Ordonez deal before the 2005 season. He did not sign a single multi year free agent contract at all before the 2007, 2008, or 2009 seasons, with Valverde's two year deal breaking that string this past winter. Dombrowski also did not pay any of the few free agents that he did sign in that three year period for any more than $ 4.25 million, the amount that was given on a one year deal to Brandon Lyon.
Meanwhile, Domrowski has managed to add some $ 80 million (not counting Damon) in bad contracts on the books for the 2010 season. Those are contracts that no other GM would take off his hands, even for nothing, and they belong to Ordonez (18), Bonderman (12.5), Robertson (10), Willis (12), Inge (6.6), Laird (3.9), Guillen (12), Seay (2.45), and Everett (1.55). That's after a $ 13 million option for Pudge Rodriguez ended with a salary dump to New York, and Gary Sheffield's $ 13 million was eaten while he played for the Mets. Each of those contracts was an extension, or a bad option that was picked up or vested.
The point is that Dombrowski has been extreme in handing out lavish extensions to players, and each of those seems to blow up in his face, while he has been successful signing free agents, yet no other GM has avoided free agency like he has, at least since the 2006 season. There are a few exceptions. Cabrera's huge contract now paying $ 20 mil per annum looks good so far, and Polanco got a four year, $ 18.6 million extension and he was worth every penny.
With some $ 75 million coming off the books after this season, with vacancies at SS, 3B, LF, RF, DH, Catcher, one SP, and one RP, and nobody in house ready to fill the vacancies (except maybe Boesch), Dave will need to hit the free agent market big time in order to get the team back in contention. Tiger fans have little reason to trust that he's the right man to do that.
Not to be lost in the shuffle here is that the Tigers designated Wilkin Ramirez, long one of their top position prospects, to make room on the roster for Peralta. They'll soon have to make a move on the 25 man roster as well, and that figures to be one of the infielders they've recently called up: Will Rhymes, Jeff Larish, or Scott Sizemore.
Ramirez has a problem. He can't hit a curve ball. Or right handed pitching. Other than that, he's got all those "tools" that scouts love to write about. One can surmise by Wilkin's designation that Dombrowski had sussed out his trade value recently, and found it non existent. It stands to reason, for example, that the Indians could have had Ramirez instead of Soto, since they can now claim him for nothing but the waiver fee.
I believe this trade is primarily about DD telling the players that management is not giving up on this season- yet. If he lands Adam Dunn, Ted Lilly, or Josh Willingham, I'll believe that he's actually serious about winning the division. I don't blame him for not trading his blue chip prospect(s) (is there a second besides Jacob Turner?), but he'll need a 2B, SS, 3B, Catcher, set up man, RF, DH, and at least one starting pitcher- two of whom need to bat second and third in the lineup. All of those players can't be bought with the $ 75 million coming off the books from the expiring bad contracts, so he may as well indulge in the trade market, starting now.
1. When you start with what the Tigers had in the top two spots in the lineup- NOTHING, and you add Damon, it doesn't really matter where they line up on the field. They now have a legitimate OBP hitter in the 1 or 2 slot, particularly against RHP's, whom they face 70% of the time. When looking at the impact of Damon, think of what they'd have in his spot in the batting order. If Raburn bats no 2- and he's as logical as any based on OBP and other stats, you get a 50 point jump vs RHP's, and you probably keep Raburn in vs LHP's.
2. Comerica is not as unfriendly toward lefty hitters as it is toward righties, but you wouldn't know that because the Tigers have had a lineup that tilts heavy to the right side since they've opened the park. We'll see what goes the other way to the House that Jeter built with Granderson in NYC, but I expect it's less than expected by many.
3. Damon essentially replaces Marcus Thames on the roster. As the season plays out, there will be injuries and slumps, and streaks. Raburn will get his AB's one way or another. But the bottom line for the Tigers is still whether the heroes of 2006 have a last hurrah left in the tank. It's about whether Guillen and Ordonez can stay healthy and produce. If Damon is getting on at a good clip and Ordonez is hitting ahead of Cabrera, the team will score runs, and they have the pitching to keep them in the vast majority of games. Without Damon, the offense was in dire straits.
Edwin faded in the second half after a great start for the second season in a row last summer. He was missing a bit more with the slider, often trying to get hitters to chase it outside the zone, and they weren't fooled. He needs to mix it up better and has to command that fastball to work the slider off the plate. He was missing low most of the time. It's like all of a sudden, everyone was on to him.
I like Edwin. I don't have illusions of Scherzer winning 13 games in 2010, but I think the Tigs will get the better end of the Arizona end of that deal before it's over. Boras is taking Edwin to market in two years, and Scherzer will still be wearing the D.