Let me get one thing straight. Lynn Henning is one of the few remaining journalists in Detroit that is also a Michigan native all the way through. Born and raised in Michigan, Henning went to Michigan State and has covered baseball, among other sports, for numerous publications throughout our state. He is a great sportswriter with great insight into the game.
That said, his analysis of this Tigers team for most of the season has been completely off. This comes as a surprise. It started when he told the Detroit sports world that Dontrelle would be released before the season started. The Honolulu Blue called him on it, and said Willis would be in the rotation (see it). Not only wasn’t he released, but he was brought north with the team. Now Henning is gloating after Willis’ failure and subsequent release/trade. I feel it’s important, now, to highlight his latest column detailing why the Tigers can’t and won’t pull off a trade for Roy Oswalt or Cliff Lee (article here).
The overall thesis of Henning’s contention is that the Tigers can ill afford either of these starters financially or, and perhaps an even bigger cost, because it would deplete a newly replenished farm system.
He compares the trade shopping to a gentlemen walking into a Maserati dealership, and drooling over the cars in the showcase saying:
In each case, the Tigers will need to do what the guy drooling over the Maserati probably will do. They will walk away, and for these reasons:
The asking price will be too heavy, especially for a team that (a) has little chance of winning the American League Central Division race in 2010, even with Oswalt or Lee, and (b) has put itself in nice position to be a playoff contender in the seasons ahead but could squander that chance if it deals away the kind of young talent Houston and Seattle would demand.
First problem with that contention is putting Oswalt in a Maserati showcase. That is a horrendous analogy. Oswalt performed at a high level for many consecutive years, yes, but most recently, last year, he barely broke 180 innings, posting an ERA over 4.00 for the first time in his career. He’s 33 and will command nearly as much as Miguel Cabrera over the next two seasons. Sure he’s pitched well in a small sample this year, but that’s an incredible contract for a guy entering his mid-30s a year after a VERY average season. He is reliable for the most part, and has a track record, so maybe a Cadillac showcase. He can still help the Tigers because he’s a guy that, when healthy, will give you innings and keep you in ball games.
Second problem with that is saying 40+ games in that the Tigers have “little” chance of winning the central. This could be a whole column in itself, but broadly speaking, the Twins have shown they are human, and the Tigers have shown an ability to produce 1-7, with the starting pitching starting to show some life. The bullpen, for the most part, has been dominant. Ridiculous statement.
And rounding out this portion of the article is the notion that the Tigers will “squander” their chances at future playoff contention if they send some young players after Oswalt or Lee. Should they make a deal for either pitcher, it would obviously be with consideration of either trying to resign Cliff Lee, or having Oswalt for the next 3 years.
Here’s another gem:
I got an e-mail last week from someone wondering if the Astros would consider dealing Oswalt to Detroit for this package: Jacob Turner, Brennan Boesch and Joel Zumaya.
And, on a relative scale, that’s pretty much what the Astros would demand. Turner, the Tigers’ top pitching prospect; Casey Crosby or Andy Oliver, two more blue-chip pitching talents; Boesch, perhaps, or Ryan Strieby. They would want, minimally, three potential All-Stars.
Are you hallucinating, Lynn? That trade MIGHT be possible if you throw in say, oh I don’t know, Lance Berkman too. Mark my words..should the Astros deal Roy Oswalt before the deadline, to the Tigers or any other MLB team, there is not a chance in hell they will receive compensation anywhere NEAR that value. You are suggesting that a 33 year old pitcher commanding $16 million a year, who has made it known that he wants out, and very well may have his best years behind him will receive a 18 year old potential ace and first round pick, a young slugger with a ceiling as high as the GM building, AND a shutdown future closer that throws 102 MPH with ease as compensation????? You may even be able to get Cliff Lee cheaper than that.
Put this in perspective. In acquiring Roy Halladay, the Philadelphia Phillies had to give up their number one pitching prospect, as well as two other highly regarded minor leaguers. In return, as part of a three team deal, they not only received Halladay, but also 3 prospects, including one pitcher as highly rated as the prospect they lost. To recap, the Phillies give up big prospects for the best pitcher in baseball (which Roy Oswalt is not) AND replenish their system. Sure, this may have been one brilliant and opportunistic trade, but its a good jumping off point when you look at trades for big name pitchers. Henning’s proposal is ludicrous.
The Tigers have put themselves in the fortunate position where some of their farm players have become expendable in order to make deals exactly like these. There’s no doubt that Cliff Lee may be more expensive, but with his track record he very well may be worth it.
My point, though, is simple. To dismiss these possible deals on the premise that they are “too expensive” or because they Tigers have “little chance” to win the central or because it will “squander” future playoff chances is baseless speculation and, frankly, dumb. I’m disappointed. The Tigers may or may not pull the trigger. But if they do, they won’t have to give up nearly as much as Henning suggested. And if the Astros ask for what Henning said they should ask for, all they will hear is dial tone. The Tigers will explore this, I promise you, and if they stay 3-4 games out of first, they are more likely than not to get something done.