• HaroldHecuba: Mike Mussina is EASTERN EUROPEAN, not Italian....

The 2009 Tigers finished 9 games over .500 and tied for first place. That’s the good news. The bad news is Detroit lost a one-game playoff to the Twins. What’s worse, the Tigers were lucky to get that far. Detroit won 86 games despite giving up more runs than they scored. That’s not likely to happen again.

This offseason, motivated by a desire to shed payroll, the Tigers parted ways with several of their top players. They traded Edwin Jackson to the Diamondbacks. They sent Curtis Granderson to the Yankees. They declined to offer arbitration to Placido Polanco, Brandon Lyon, and Fernando Rodney, and all departed via free agency.

So far, the Tigers have signed one free agent of note: closer Jose Valverde. They also acquired some talented young players in the aforementioned trades.

Detroit landed RHP Max Scherzer, LHP Daniel Schlereth, LHP Phil Coke, and OF Austin Jackson.

Coke and Schlereth are hard-throwing middle relievers and neither figures to make a huge splash, though both should make the opening day roster. Scherzer is a starter who misses bats and has the potential to be an ace, if he can stay healthy (though most scouts doubt that he will). Meanwhile, Austin Jackson should be a serviceable replacement for Granderson. Here’s what ESPN’s Kieth Law had to say about Jackson:

Jackson is a good-but-not-great athlete. He’s an above-average runner, but not a burner; he’s wiry, but the power that has been projected has yet to materialize. His game played up in the low minors because he controlled the strike zone well for a young, inexperienced hitter. His plate discipline has gotten worse as he’s risen the ladder, and he may need a few years in the majors before he’ll post acceptable OBPs. But he can handle center field defensively and should produce enough at the plate to be an asset even in 2010, during which he’d earn the minimum salary.

What else do the Tigers need?

Detroit’s pitching was pretty woeful in 2009 (just look at the Tigers’ FIP, which was the third-highest in the AL). The team’s ERA was greatly bolstered by excellent team defense. Scherzer has the potential to improve the team’s staff all by himself in 2010. But the big difference-maker could be Jeremy Bonderman, who has struggled with injuries the past few seasons but could be a number 3 starter if healthy. Bonderman walks a few too many batters, but he’s also capable of racking up strikeouts.

A rotation fronted by Justin Verlander, Rick Porcello, Scherzer and a healthy Bonderman would be an admirable staff, and could help the Tigers keep pace in 2010. A little of the luck they enjoyed in 2009 wouldn’t hurt either.

-What They Need Index-

5 Responses to “What they need: Tigers — a healthy Jeremy Bonderman”

  1. The Tigers offseason moves were NOT, “motivated by a desire to shed payroll.” The organization has stated this like 100 times, yet every baseball blog quotes this… The Tigers payroll will basically be the same as last season, atleast within 4%.

    The owner of the Tigers has publically stated that he will nto cut payroll and all that matters is winning a W.S.

    Did the moves save money? yes… but the moves were made to get young cost controlled players in place this year so the team could evalute them and see what holes they will want to spend the $50 million plus they will have. Please get your facts straight instead of just following the masses.

    Blogs like this critisize mainstream media for their views on the game, cliches they use, and information that is just wrong. Well you have just done the same.

  2. “Detroit’s pitching was pretty woeful in 2009″ ???????????

    I love sabermetrics the much as the next guy, but the Tigers pitching in 2009 was FAR from woeful… for one thier xFIP was .18 lower, which puts them closer to middle of the pack…

    Verlander came in 3rd in the AL Cy young voting, and probably should have been 2nd. He was worth over 8 WAR. Porcello was a ROY, and if you value WAR, should have won it over Bailey. And Jackson had a DOMINATE 1st half, and even after his 2nd half collapse he still posted well above average numbers. Rodeny blew a single save the entire season. (yes I know not to use saves as an evaluation tools, but not the # of saves, but the # of blown saves is a very good indicator of success.)

    Lyon and Perry both had very good years in setup roles.

    Sure they had a hole with thier 5th starter but to call them woeful.

    This is my first time on this site, but am an avid reader of fangraphs and beyondtheboxscore. I stumbled here after seeing a link on MLBtraderumors.

    I read the article about Stark cherry picking numbers which was a good article. THEN I READ THIS AND YOU DO THE EXACT SAME THING BY CALLING A STAFF WOEFUL BECAUSE OF ONE STAT. WTF?????

  3. Whoa, calm down Jeff. No need for all caps. It’s just baseball. Take a deep breath.

    You’re not, by any chance, a Tigers fan, are you?

    What Stark did and what I did wasn’t the same. The data Stark was using didn’t support his thesis (that the difference between good hitters and bad hitters is that good hitters do better against good pitchers). I think the data I’m using — Detroit’s high FIP — supports the idea that the Tigers’ pitching was greatly aided by their above-average fielding.

    FIP is a statistic that looks at the three things pitchers have control over: walks, strikeouts and homers. When you look at just these three things, it’s obvious that the Tigers’ pitchers weren’t great in 2009.

    Regarding the team’s payroll, it sure seemed like the Tigers were trying to spend less — until they went and signed Valverde. That was a curious move. Seemed like they had bigger holes to fill.

  4. Its true that the Tigers had a bad FIP, but your just looking at one stat. Like I said thier xFIP was much better. They had a HORRIBLE season offensively, but were carried to being .500 by thier pitching. I understand some of that was great fielding also, BUT to all them wooful was way over the line. I guess my tone my have been over the line too so i am sorry. I am just sick of certain teams getting no respect by the sabermetric community.

    An example was the Valverde signing. It was ripped around the net, and understandably since closer maybe pitch in 4% of a teams innings.

    But alot of teams still value a closer more than they should. And when a team like the Tigers, with a scouting/nonsaber GM makes a move like that it gets ripped, but yet when the Rays sign Soriano for the EXACT same amount of money I dont see a bad word about it.

    Its just unfair.

  5. I think the reason a lot of people were surprised that the Tigers signed Valverde was that the Tigers have a lot of other needs. The Rays, on the other hand, are pretty much set at every spot on the diamond. The team’s biggest need entering the offseason was its bullpen, and Soriano addressed that need.

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