Last night the Tigers made the biggest splash of the Winter Meetings, acquiring all-star third baseman Miguel Cabrera and starter Dontrelle Willis from the Florida Marlins for six-players.
It definitely makes the Tigers if not the best, one of the teams in all of baseball.
Cabrera is one of the best players in baseball. The biggest knock on him was his ever gaining waistline, but reports are he’s losing weight (15 lbs. since season’s end). His numbers at this stage of his career, rival hall of famers. At 25 years old he could be a fixture in Detroit for years to come.
Although Willis is only two years removed from a twenty-two win season, he was nothing better then average in 2006 and was terrible last season. Reports were a lot of Willis’ problems were he was trying to locate the ball, which took his velocity off and made him very hittable. Chuck Hernandez is one of the better pitching coaches in the league, and he should be able to work with Willis and help him return to his old form. Another benefit of Willis pitching in Detroit is less pressure. In Florida he was the staff “Ace”, and mentally he had to live up to it. In Detroit he’ll probably be the 4th starter with Justin Verlander, Kenny Rogers, and Jeremy Bonderman in front of him. If Willis can just go out and pitch his game, there’s a chance he’ll be able to return to his Cy Young-caliber status.
As good as Tiger fans have to feel about the players they picked up from Florida the Marlins received a TON in return.
Andrew Miller was the Tigers #2 prospect last season (via Baseball America). His career stats are 5-6 with a 5.69 ERA, but don’t let that fool you. Miller was drafted in 2006 and has more experience in the major league then in the minors, so some say he was rushed to Detroit. He has the ability to be a true #1 starter. Mid-90’s fastball and a mid-80’s slider with great movement.
Cameron Maybin was the Tigers #1 prospect and is the #3 prospect in all of baseball. He’s still probably a year away from starting in Florida, but he has five-tools. Barring any injury he’s an all-star caliber player.
Eulogio De La Cruz is a wicked fastball that tops out at 100mph. He’s still probably a year away from the major leagues, but he could be a set up man and eventually be the Marlins closer.
Dallas Trahern is a strong starter. Some reports were he would challenge for the Tigers fifth starter spot, but worst would be with the Tigers by midseason. He projects as a #3 starter.
Mike Rubelo was the Tigers backup catcher last season, and most thought was the heir apparent to Rodriguez. He has strong defensive skills and a decent bat. He should start behind the plate.
I don’t know much about Burke Badenhop. Statistically he was strong last year going a combine 12-6 with a 2.92 ERA last year between A & AA. He went 14-3 at Single A ball in 2006. A few years away from making his major league debut.
In saying all this I’m not sure how I feel about this deal. The Tigers are showing they want to win now, but I think they overpaid for Cabrera and Willis. The Tigers depleted their farm system in getting both of these two guys. Pudge Rodriguez, Magglio Ordonez, and Gary Sheffield aren’t getting any younger. The only real prospects left are Brent Cleven and Rick Portcello.
Another concern I have is what this does for baseball. As of now the Marlins have a payroll UNDER $10 million. Their highest paid player is now Kevin Gregg who makes roughly 600K. Even though they won’t, the Marlins need to spend some money and at least acquire players who can fill in until guys like Maybin and De La Cruz are ready to contribute.
WFAN in New York is reporting the Orioles and Dodgers are nearing a deal that would send pitcher Erik Bedard to Los Angeles for Matt Kemp and Jonathon Broxton.
Varied rumors have said that Bedard’s deal would be similar to what the Twins would get for Johan Santana. Do you think the Dodgers can get Santana for Kemp and Broxton? I don’t think so.
The Orioles need to be smart. Bedard is in high demand right now. Sure, he might not want to sign an extension, but it doesn’t mean they have to deal him this off-sesaon. He’s still Orioles property for two more seasons. If they were to trade him they need to get maximum value for him. When dealing with the Dodgers not trade fro Bedard should go down without the Orioles receiving Clayton Kershaw in the package.
Although Andy MacPhail is the new sheriff-in-town in the Emerald City, the Orioles have a history of making less than desirable moves, mainly due to owner Peter Angelos. MacPhail’s known as a very deliberate and methodical guy, so it should be interesting how the Bedard trade talks progress.
The Hot Stove is heating up, and the rumors are flying. The latest rumor is a blockbuster deal. No, not Johan Santana. This one is between the Marlins and the Tigers.
Word is the Tigers are willing to ship a group of prospects That would include Andrew Miller and Cameron Maybin for Miguel Cabrera and Dontrelle Willis.
While Cabrera joining a Tigers lineup that already includes Magglio Ordonez, Curtis Granderson, Carlos Guillen, and Gary Sheffield, would give them one of the leagues best lineups, I’m not sure what help Willis really gives.
Dontrelle Willis is only two years removed from a Cy Young-type season, but he was one of the worst pitchers in baseball last season. His 5.17 ERA was near the bottom of the National League, and that’s pitching half your games in a pitchers park. Letting him loose in the American League where he has to face a DH could be disasterous. On the other hand, maybe a change of scenery is what Willis needs.
With the Winter Meetings starting today in Nashville, the focus on the first day will be on one player. Who will acquire Twins pitcher Johan Santana?
Queue the circus music…
The Yankees have offered a package of Phil Hughes, Melky Cabrera, and a prospect to be determined. Word is the final prospect is the current hold up. It’s been rumored the Twins want Austin Jackson or Ian Kennedy, but the Yankees aren’t willing to include either. They want Minnesota to take more of a mid-level prospect, like Alberto Gonzalez or Jeffrey Marquez.
Red Sox have offered a package centered around Jacoby Ellsbury. With Ellsbury in the deal it means the Clay Buchholz and Jon Lester are off the table. Rumors are that a package of Ellsbury and prospects Justin Masterson, and Michael Bowden is the current offer.
Santana has made his own statements that he will only waive his no trade clause to play for the Yankees or Red Sox. This is only in the off-season. He will not waive his no-trade clause once the season begins. Essentially saying that once the season begins the most the Twins will get for Santana will be a draft pick form whomever he signs with next off-season.
Then you have to question if the Red Sox really want Santana. Obviously he’ll improve the team, but the one thing the Red Sox don’t need is a starter. Reports are with their current roster; they are considering a six-man rotation (Josh Beckett, Daisuke Matsuzaka, Curt Schilling, Tim Wakefield, Lester, and Buchholz). As much as a Beckett/Santana righty/lefty duo will make any Red Sox’s fan mouth water, do they really want him or are they making things difficult for the Yankees?
To heighten the drama, Yankees owner Hank Steinbrenner has set a deadline for today to get the deal done or the Yankees are out. While it sounds like the Yankees are making a stand, didn’t they tell Alex Rodriguez the same thing if he opted out of his contract? We all know how that worked out.
The Johan Santana Circus continues, and most likely other pitchers on the market (Dan Haren, Erik Bedard), will not be dealt until teams know where Santana will wind up.