When the Detroit Tigers lost Max Scherzer, I was not upset, but I was glad the Tigers didn’t sign him to a contract that was going to hurt the team presently and in the future. Max’s ginormous contract with the Washington Nationals for 7 years, $210 million would have handicapped the Tigers for many years to come. The Tigers would have committed just under $100 million on just four players over the next 4 years in Scherzer, Cabrera, Verlander, and V-Mart. Having two starting pitchers making that kind of money handicaps a team’s financial flexibility this season and in the seasons to come. While the Tigers may have received another three years of good Scherzer, where would the rest of the money come from to fill out the rest of the roster to replace our aging stars? At the end of Scherzer and Verlander’s contracts, both pitchers will be over 37 years old and well beyond their prime years. The Philadelphia Phillies are still going through the potential issues the Tigers would have faced if they resigned Scherzer to an untradeable contract.
When I look at Max Scherzer, I see a pitcher who is peaking at the right time of his career for a huge payday. While I don’t blame him for taking the money, I just can’t seem to understand why a GM would give him the second highest pitcher contract. If you compare Scherzer’s stats to Clayton Kershaw’s the numbers just don’t even compare. Over the past two seasons Scherzer is 39-8 with a 2.97 era, but only 1 complete game and 1 shutout. Kershaw on the other hand does post more losses going 37-12 with a 1.81 era and 9 complete games with 4 shutouts. Kershaw has more losses because in 2013 he only received 3.97 run support per game compared to Scherzer’s 5.59. Not only has Scherzer not put up the career numbers to compare to a guy like Kershaw, but Scherzer might not be likely to make the Hall of Fame, yet he’s getting paid like he’s Randy Johnson, or Pedro Martinez. Scherzer currently has 98 career wins and to reach what is now considered the bench mark for wins to get a pitcher in the hall, 200. He will need to average at least 15 wins per season and quite a few more complete games. Recent hall of fame elective Pedro Martinez set helped set the new standard with his 219 wins, but he also had a career .687 win percentage, 2.93 era, 46 complete games, and multiple Cy Young awards.
Looking through the Tigers starting pitching staff, I see one that slightly resembles last year’s staff, with the exception that Porcello was a really good number four. Verlander is one full year removed from core surgery, which they say takes a full year to recover. We have David Price from the beginning, a strong powerful yet crafty left hander. Anibal Sanchez can put up big and consistent numbers, if he stays healthy, then Shane Greene put up good numbers in his first season under the New York Yankee spotlight and their horrible offense. Then there is Alfredo Simon, who had a good year in his first season as starter. Plus you can throw in some minor league pitchers for spot starts to spell people at times, and hopefully a much improved bullpen and we will be much better off. Last year Scherzer only pitched an average of 6 2/3 innings per start, meaning that the bullpen had to pitch 2 1/3 innings on average for his starts. This year’s bullpen will have Rondon back, andJoakim Soria will hopefully return to Texas form. Not mention a hopeful bounce back season by Nathan, and no more Phil Coke or Joba. This overall pitching staff should be more rounded and better off than when we had Scherzer.
Though there are many people that disagree with me that the Tigers are better off without Scherzer. I just feel that he did us a favor and Dave Dombrowski a favor by allowing the Tigers to have more financial flexibility for many years to come. Thank you Scherzer for the years you gave us and the opportunity you gave the Tigers to stay flexible in the short and long term.