NOTE: The views expressed in this EDITORIAL do not necessarily reflect the views of Detroit Sports Nation or a majority of its writers and should not be misconstrued as such. The views contained within are the views of the author and the author alone.
I have to get this off my chest…
Since the Tigers made the last-minute, blockbuster deal that sent away Austin Jackson and Drew Smyly for David Price, I keep hearing things like “Scherzer’s gone”, “Move Verlander to the pen for the playoffs”, and “That was a bad deal. We NEEDED a bullpen.”
Let me tell you why YOU who say all those things are wrong.
1) Moving Justin Verlander to the bullpen for the playoffs is a BAD idea
Who came up with this one? David Schoefield tweeted this on the trade deadline, as did Wendy Thurm. Craig Calcaterra with NBC Sports Hardball Talk mentioned this on August 1st. Dan Holmes over at Detroit Athletic Company echoed this idea three days later. Apparently no one has noticed that while Verlander is having another “off-year” and has been “unreliable” for most of the season, he has picked up steam as of late. This is a good sign, with his longest win streak this year being 3, back in April. Since the beginning of July, he has gone 4-3, though last night’s loss was lack of offense – Verlander allowed 2 runs.
Now if the idea is for a Goose Gossage-style reliever, one who can come in until it is time for the closer, then it should not be Verlander. By his second time through a lineup, opposing batters have him figured out. It is better to have allowed runs earlier, say the fourth inning, than in, say, the eighth. The logical choice is Anibal Sanchez. Sanchez has the fourth-best ERA of the rotation, and it has been rising as of late, but in a Gossage-style situation, he would make a better middle relief guy in the playoffs, because he is still doing well in the fifth and sixth inning, while Verlander is starting to give up runs. Using Sanchez in this role will take some pressure off both the starters and the bullpen guys.
The people for the argument of moving Verlander state the facts, that he is worse as the game goes on. I reviewed these statistics and concur, however, we all saw Verlander OWN the A’s in 2012, and last year, after an “off-year”, he again OWNED the A’s. We all know, barring some catastrophic collapse, the ALCS will be the A’s against the Tigers. We need Verlander in the rotation for that series. Verlander faced them a month ago and once again showed them who the boss is in that relationship.
2) The David Price Deal was a GOOD Move
I think all the people who have complained about this move are either Austin Jackson fans, Drew Smyly fans, or think Price’s past failures in the postseason directly reflect what kind of pitcher he is in the postseason. Detroit Sports Nation covered the specifics here.
While it is true that last year in the ALDS he was shellacked by the Red Sox, allowing 7 runs in 7 innings, his other postseason appearances haven’t been too bad, with an ERA of 3.96 over those 8 games. I attribute most of those losses to a young, relatively inexperienced (playoff-wise) Rays team. Here in Detroit, most of the team has already been into the playoffs, and even to the World Series. They know what it takes to win. It is a focused and determined team. Besides, Drew Smyly hasn’t lived up to the potential we expected and Austin Jackson, while great at times, also struck out a lot. Let’s not even get me started on his attempts at batting in last year’s postseason.
People can argue that “we needed a bullpen” or “the left side of the infield is inexperienced”. In truth, there wasn’t much on the block for bullpen help. We already took the best thing out there in Joakim Soria, and he is struggling to perform. I am sure there were infielders to be found, however most teams wanted too much for good infielders. Would you prefer another pitching ace, one that can be counted on in the playoffs, or another “he might work” utility infielder in exchange for what we gave up? I’ll take David Price any day of the week.
The David Price trade was a genius move by Dave Dombrowski, in response to Oakland’s trade for Jon Lester. It has been reported that, after the David Price deal was done, Dombrowski sent a text to Oakland GM Billy Beane that read “You have 3 minutes to get (Chris) Sale”. Price, while playing for the Rays, saw Lester pitch more than any other pitcher on the Tigers staff, and is the perfect pitcher to oppose him in a series against the A’s.
3) Max Scherzer SHOULD be resigned to a lengthy deal, as should Price
Many have said that Max Scherzer is now definitely gone after 2014 now that Price has arrived. I don’t believe so; in fact I see the opposite happening. I see a meeting between Dombrowski and the starting rotation, with Dombrowski pointing out that this is the best rotation since the Braves of the 1990’s. This will definitely occur if the Tigers do not win the World Series this year. Contracts will be restructured because the players themselves are smart. They will want more titles than championships. Scherzer has said he wants to stay in Detroit. I think the attraction of a title, or MORE titles, will keep the rotation intact for several more seasons to come. This is a team that can run a long string of AL Central titles together if they keep the rotation together. This is a team that can be expected to be in the playoffs every year, like the Braves of the 1990’s, especially if Verlander gets his groove back and Porcello is not having a fluke of a season.
Letting Scherzer just walk is a recipe for disaster. If he goes to another American League team, odds are the Tigers will face him in the playoffs, because it will be a team on the verge of success that will pay the bucks for him. Not only that, but if the Tigers cannot get Price to agree to an extension, in a three-year span, the Tigers will have either traded or lost three great pitchers. Unless Dombrowski is planning on picking up Jon Lester this fall, it would be an unwise move to just let Scherzer leave the Tigers.