St. Louis Cardinals general manager John Mozeliak did what he does best on Monday. By acquiring right fielder Jason Heyward and reliever Jordan Walden from the Atlanta Braves for pitchers Shelby Miller and Tyrell Jenkins, Mozeliak directly filled one dire need while indirectly addressing several others at the same time. The trade may have cost the Cardinals some young pitching talent, but it will likely result in the team making fewer moves and taking on fewer risks to build a championship-caliber team for 2015.
There’s always a method to Dave Dombrowski’s madness, right? Let’s try to explain this one.
The Tigers last night completed a trade that sent Doug Fister to the Nationals for pitchers Robbie Ray and Ian Krol, and utilityman Steve Lombardozzi. Krol is a lefthanded reliever that will add another arm to an atrocious bullpen from last year, and Lombardozzi is a Don Kelly-esque player (whom the team also re-signed yesterday) who can play multiple positions while providing a switch-hitting bat off the bench.
The trade did benefit the Tigers–most notably, trading Fister now gives room for Drew Smyly to jump up to the starting rotation for next season. Lombardozzi will replace Ramon Santiago and also serve as a decent pinch-hitting option. Krol joins a bullpen that was just terrible last season in hopes of finding his own way. Ray will start 2014 in the minor leagues, where the Tigers hope he can continue to grow into a legitimate pitching prospect, of which Detroit has none. Ray was named the #5 prospect in the Nationals’ system by Baseball America, and took some significant steps forward in his velocity and overall development.
So, the Tigers clearly got some useful tools, but was that return enough for trading Doug Fister?
The Cardinals yesterday announced the signing of free-agent shortstop Jhonny Peralta, a move made to fill a glaring hole in the Redbirds’ offense. Peralta is coming off a season in which he hit .303/.358/.457 with 11 HR and 55 RBI–his best production since 2011. Peralta looked comfortable at the plate, drove the ball to the opposite way, and had a knack for timely hits last season. However, his numbers in 2013 would have been more impressive had he not been suspended 50 games by MLB for his role in the Biogenesis scandal.
While many MLB fans are up in arms about rewarding an admitted steroid user with a hefty contract (plenty of merit to that grievance), I’m more upset at the contract itself; over the next four years, the 31-year-0ld Peralta will make $52M.
This winter, second baseman Robinson Cano will likely join the elite club of MLB’ers to earn a contract exceeding $100 million. Cano has deserved the contract that he will receive–a career line of .309/.355/.504, with the ability to hit 30 home runs and drive in 120+ RBIs is definitely worthy of such recognition. Tack on two Gold Glove awards and an MVP trophy, and it’s clear why Cano is this year’s top free agent.
He obviously deserves the paycheck that he will get from whichever team antes up the most money, but a GM that wants to make that kind of investment in one player needs to know what he’s getting into. In my opinion, devoting that much money to Cano over what will likely be upwards of five or six years is too great of a risk to undertake.
Tigers General Manager Dave Dombrowski basically guaranteed the baseball world when he said that Drew Smyly would be in the starting rotation in 2014. Unless he and new manager Brad Ausmus have a 6-man rotation in the works (which they don’t), one of the Tigers’ starting five from 2013 will be on his way out.
The Tigers finished the 2013 season with 93 victories and an American League Central crown. They rallied to knock off a pesky Oakland Athletics team in the ALDS, and hung with the eventual World Series champion Boston Red Sox in the ALCS. For just about any other team, 2013 would have been a rousing success, and a source of optimism for years to come.
Just not for the Detroit Tigers.