As for the potentially explosive issue of center fielder Curtis Granderson: The Tigers need help, possibly lots of it. There are better ways to acquire necessary players than to trade your leadoff batter and center fielder, but the Tigers may have no choice if the right package is offered.
Granderson has the kind of clout (30 HRs, eight 3Bs, 23 2Bs, 20 SBs) and manageable contract that could make him, at age 28, a player capable of bringing a significant return on a trade. A blue-chip relief pitcher and middle infielder, perhaps, with maybe a replacement-level center fielder as part of a possible two-player acquisition for Detroit.
If there is one player who could be overpaid for in a trade, it's quite possibly Granderson.
Dude. Come on.
Is it even worth the effort to contradict this line of thought any more as long as Henning beats this drum? Yeah, probably. So here we go.
There could be value in the Tigers trading Granderson (!). There could be value in trading anyone, something that Henning qualifies by saying "if the right package" is offered. The problem isn't that Granderson--or anyone--could be traded for the right price, it is what Henning's absurd assessment of what the right price would be.
A blue-chip relief pitcher, a middle infielder and maybe a replacement level centerfielder. Ugh. Let's take this step by step.
1. Never, never, never trade an impact position player for a relief pitcher. It is way too risky. Just ask Brad Lidge or Eric Gagne or Francisco Cordero. In 2008 the Tigers realized that they were thin in the bullpen, so they drafted a ton of big arms that could be major-league ready on short order--Ryan Perry was the first of this group to come up. The bullpen is designed to be filled internally, and to trade any all-star talent for a relief pitcher would be shockingly dumb in 99% of cases. If it turns out that the Tigers are hot and absolutely need a closer to make a playoff run next year they will pull the trigger when the time comes.
2. Middle infielders are really valuable. So valuable, in fact, that they are notoriously difficult to pluck from other teams in trades. So, if the Tigers were to nab a middle infielder in this trade, they would likely end up with either A) a proven, but just past his prime option or B) a prospect with high upside but high risk. If A) they should just resign Polanco. Nobody is trading Elvis Andus (or equivalent) for Granderson, which means that they'll likely a good prospect with some amount of risk. The Tigers have him too--his name is Scott Sizemore and he was the Tigers Minor League Player of the Year. There doesn't seem to be enough value added here to make this deal.
3. A replacement level centerfielder. Oh, like Ryan Raburn? Next. Also, a replacment-level centerfielder quickly becomes a below-replacement level centerfielder when he starts roaming Comerica Park.
I just don't see how you could make a trade like this without explicitly conceding 2010. I'm not saying that without Granderson on the team the Tigers are hopeless. I'm just saying that trading an impact player for three solid but unspectacular players sounds silly to me. You can get these players cheap in free agency, or through lesser trades. Unless Henning starts naming names of a reasonable return for Granderson, his speculative deal--aka "fill all of the Tigers' holes at once!"--is borderline insanity. I find talk like this to be both reactionary and short-sighted. Granderson had an odd year this year, with a low batting average and a below normal line drive rate. Does that mean that he is on a precipitous decline? Or could it be an abberration and he will regress back to a 2008 statistical level mean? This is the same type of talk that led people to believe that Verlander was finished after 2008. Oops. Trading Granderson now would be a mistake, and it seems like everyone except Lynn Henning knows it.