Grand Cards: The Grand Scheme Toes The Ledge

Friday, November 13, 2009

The Grand Scheme Toes The Ledge

In this edition we convince ourselves that things are going to be ok in Tigertown. But first…

Ernie
Ernie Harwell recently spoke with Bob Costas in an interview that will be aired on the MLB Network on Tuesday at 8pm. I do not have the MLB Network, but I’m hoping that a version will crop up online shortly thereafter. This will likey be Ernie’s last interview. The beauty of all of this is that through the magic of audio recording his voice—which has remained unchanged for decades—will live on forever.

Onto the meat and potatoes…

What’s The Opposite of a Fire Sale?
I don’t know. But that is what this is, because this definitely isn’t a fire sale according to Dave Dombrowski (via Beck’s Blog):
"We're not having a fire sale," he said by phone Wednesday.”

Wonderful!

Read My Lips
The insightful Old English D says not so fast my friend:
Do Dave Dombrowski's words "This is not a fire sale" sound too much like "No new taxes" and "I did not have sex with that woman"? Words that are famously proven wrong at a later date, and never did ring true? Words spoken to pacify for a fleeting moment before the ugly reality is plastered all over, and the angry mob comes with fiery torches reflected in their eyes to....Ooops, sorry about that, I may have gotten a wee bit carried away there.

No, that sounds about right. If Michigan is looking for a new industry to revitalize the economy, I’d put my shekels in Torch & Pitchfork manufacturing and distribution. With Michigan football, we’re looking at year-round revenue opportunities, people.

On The Nose
My brother sent me this text message last night:
“I’d much rather see the Tigers struggle for a year with an inexperienced bullpen and rookie infielders than trade Granderson.”

Seconded. Here’s the thing: The Tigers are not in a good situation right now—they have holes to fill in the bullpen, SS and 2B. But I’m struggling—I mean really, really struggling—to find a situation in which the Tigers trade Curtis Granderson AND are competitive in 2010. If that’s what you need to do to plug holes in the roster, then I’m afraid that you’ve just opened up a much larger and more damaging hole in the process.

Hold Your Horses
Says Kurt at Mack Avenue Tigers:
So now, I think history is repeating itself. The Tigers still have too high a payroll. The economy is still bad. And the Tigers' general manager is shopping a few of his players around.

Financial problems in Detroit! Firesale, straight ahead!

Or not.

So, as I was saying, what does it mean?

Despite the myth of owner Mike Ilitch's deep pockets, I think it's a sign the Tigers really won't be able to do much of anything on the free agent market due to financial constraints. They will improve themselves on the trade market if that is at all possible. But I don't believe Dombrowski feels pressured to trade any players if he can't improve his team's chances in 2010 and beyond.

I agree completely. I can’t tell you how many times I read or was told that the Tigers would have a firesale in 2009 as soon as they started to struggle. After all, Michigan is an economic black hole. Which is true, kind of, but the National Media has an odd obsession in Detroit right now. My ever-insightful wife believes that this is the rest of the country’s way to feel better about its own economic struggles. “At least we’re not Detroit” has been the recurring theme. Detroit is a scapegoat in a pseudo-traditional sense of the word. The rest of the world has cast all of its troubles and problems on Detroit and has sent it off into the wilderness to die, while alleviating themselves of the weight of their own burdens.

The problem is, this isn’t entirely the case.

The Tigers actually held up pretty well last year, and while I’m sure they would like to shed some payroll, they really aren’t in a situation that warrants a fire-sale. The prudent move would be to do what it takes to make the team competitive while minimizing the additional payroll burden.

Ditto
Billfer at The Detroit Tigers Weblog says the same thing.
When the Jackson rumor hit we went through a number of factors and possible scenarios. With Granderson and Inge added to the list it clears up a lot of the possibilities but I don’t think it points to payroll slashing. What I do think it confirms – and this isn’t a surprise – is that the team likely has limited flexibility with their payroll.

What we’re seeing now is every player on the roster with potential value being floated. It wouldn’t surprise me to see Miguel Cabrera’s name or Justin Verlander’s names pop up in the coming weeks. The Tigers have holes to fill and limited means to fill them. They also have a number of contracts coming off the books after 2010. If the Tigers trade a player or two to fill a couple holes and get younger or cheaper at the same time, it’s a win – especially going into a season where playoff aspirations are likely limited.

The Tigers have basically said that nobody is untouchable (remember, removing the untouchable tag from Cameron Maybin is how they netted Miguel Cabrera in the first place), which is an acceptable thing to do. Dombrowski is trying to put together a team that can win a championship in the next few years. He is being a responsible GM by saying that he will do whatever it takes to make that happen. He also happens to not be an idiot. He knows Granderson’s value to the team (full value: both on and off the field) and isn’t going to just give him away. He’s not even trying to trade him. He’s just leaving his options open. The frustrating part about all of this is that it has been perceived as desperate maneuvering and “fire sale” tactics instead of responsible management.

The trick is that Dombrowski needs to prove that it is responsible management by not hurting the team and devastating the fan base at the same time. It sure would have been nice if this had all stayed behind closed doors.

Bottom Line
Don’t panic. Look yourself in the mirror and tell yourself not to panic. Maybe write down a little note that says "don't panic" and place it where you can look at it every time you read another article that gives you reason to panic. Craft elaborate scenarios that somehow dispel all notions that Granderson could end up a Yankee. Punish yourself for reintroducing the thought into your mind that Granderson could end up a Yankee. Look up the stats of Juan Encarnacion (2000), Roger Cedeno (2001), Wendell Magee (2002), Alex Sanchez (2003-2004) and Nook Logan (2004-2005) and remind yourself how crucial Curtis Granderson has been to the success of the team since he started roaming Center Field of Comerica Park in 2006. Cross your fingers that Dave Dombrowski has done the same. Don’t panic.

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