Grand Cards: The Grand Scheme Weighs the Pros and Cons

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

The Grand Scheme Weighs the Pros and Cons

But First...

Closing the book on 2009  Is this official?  Can we do this now?  What I'm asking is, with 2010 Topps now trickling to the mainstream are we finally done with 2009-dated card releases?  To put it another way, is this it?

If anybody can help clarify if there are any card sets that came out in 2009 that I do not have on my list, please let me know.  I've got Tigers Checklists and Gallery Checklists done or in progress for all of those and I want to make sure that I've got the complete listing before we get too deep into 2010.

New Forum for Tigers Collectors A few weeks ago the Detroit Sports Collectors forum was unceremoniously murdered by hackers for the umpteenth time.  Fortunately, we lost collectors have migrated over to the Motown Sports Forum, which set up a collecting section just for us.  If you're a Tigers collector, please jump on the board--the more the merrier.

Pay The Man  Justin Verlander, in his penultimate arbitration year, submitted an offer of $9.5 Million to the Tigers, who countered with a $6.9 Million offer of their own.  For a guy who made $3.675M last year, that's not a bad little bump in pay.  It also stands to be a tremendously good deal for the Tigers.  "The Sports Economist" JC Bradbury expects that Tim Lincecum could get $18M or more in arbitration this year, and the Mariners just signed Felix Hernandez--who had two years of arbitration left, just like Verlander--to a five-year $80M Contract.  Suffice to say, the Tigers are getting a good deal on Verlander no matter where the final salary number falls.

The worry, of course, is that after this season the Tigers will just have one year of Arbitration left before Verlander is a free agent.  It is imperative for the future of the franchise that they lock him up long-term in a Felix-style deal.  The problem is that unless that happens this offseason (the chances of which seem rather slim), Verlander will get more and more expensive.  With less Arbitration to buy out, you'll have to pay him his market rate.  Here's hoping the Tigers are willing to pony up when the time comes.

Glimpse of the Future  Tom Gage, in Tuesday's blog, pulled out some juicy Dombrowski quotes that give us some insight as to what's going on roster-wise.  Quotes #1 and #2 stuck out the most to me:
1.  "We're really going to dedicate Ryan Raburn to playing outfield full time.  That will help his defense.

2.  "We have a very good defensive club.  I don't think we'll take a step back at all defensively in centerfield with Austin Jackson."
Hmm...this seems to directly counter the public statements that Carlos Guillen was going to be a full-time left fielder.  This is great news, as Guillen is really just a DH at this point, and it lets us know that the Tigers are realizing the same thing.  Hopefully this all becomes abundantly clear in Spring Training.

On the other comment, this essentially dashes my very slim hopes that the Tigers would keep Jackson in AAA next year--at least to start.  I just have this worry that they are going to rush a player who hits for an OK average, but strikes out too much and doesn't have much power and in so doing will stunt his development to prevent improvement in either area.  This terrifies me.  This is a player who was less highly touted, and has fewer tools than Cameron Maybin--another player who was rushed and has struggled.  Let this one season a bit Tigers.  You can make due.

I'm not entirely alone in this either.  A very good Henning article the other day talks about the doubts that many independent third-parties have on Jackson's ability to adjust to major league pitching.  The most damning:
Butch Wynegar, the Yankees' Triple-A hitting coach, said that he expects Jackson to be a legitimate big league hitter. But he did not disagree with Carter and other critics of Jackson's swing.

"He still is raw, still has a lot to learn, but he's an intelligent kid and a good athlete -- and he wants to learn," Wynegar said. "I basically told the Yankees at the end of the year, if they were thinking about him being their center fielder this coming year (2010), I didn't know if he was ready yet.

"But I know he has a bright future. There are just some things he needs to iron out yet and incorporate to be successful."
This from the guy who coached him all year last year.  He's not ready.  In fact, the most damning comment may be the one from Dombrowski above.  He's been harping on Jackson's defense, team defense, defense, defense, defense but seems blissfully ignorant that the team's offensive weapons are few and far between.  Drew Sharp is on it.  He quotes Dombrowski thusly:
"We think we have a good ballclub," Dombrowski told reporters during a teleconference Tuesday. "We were in contention all last year. We made some adjustments. We're in a position where, if a couple of veterans come back and have years like they're used to having, we'll have a real solid team."
If ifs and buts were candy and nuts...

Valverde contains Sodium Benzoate  That's...bad?  Al Beaton over at takes a look at the Jose Valverde signing via an extensive list of pros and cons.  It's nicely done and does a good job of showing 1. Why Valverde is actually good for the team and 2.  Why it's still not a particularly good move.  Of course, I'd be remiss if I didn't mention the one line item that feels like a million little needles stabbing me simultaneously:
Pro: They needed all the pitching they can get after trading Curtis Granderson.

Con: The Tigers essentially traded Granderson’s contract for Valverde’s. You’ll never convince me an All-Star CF who plays every game is worth the same as a closer who might pitch 60 innings, max. Granderson was MUCH more valuable.
Aww, crap.  Traded Granderson's contract for Valverde's.  That hurts.

Misc.  Miguel Cabrera is going to be A-OK next season, because if he's not then this team is really, really screwed.  A Henning-esque speculation article about the Pistons and Red Wings combining forces into a new downtown arena, or combined ownership etc. has gone from "hmm...that does  make a lot of sense" to anyone reading it to "they MUST Unite".   I don't think that this thing has legs at this point--the Pistons and the Palace are owned by the same group, so moving the Pistons out of there would likely hurt revenue significantly--however, it would be a great addition to the city and could really help the two teams via consolidated stadium operations.  I'd be a fan.  For those of you who fainted after I praised both Lynn Henning and Drew Sharp in the same post, never fear.  Henning let's us know that the Offense could be a pleasant surprise next year.  I agree, it could, but that's why they call them surprises.  The Royals could surprise everyone and win the World Series next year.  See?  Surprises.

Also, in the category of "facts that make you sad," the Tigers have spent more per-win (via Bless You Boys) over the last five years than any other team in the AL Central.  Good thing we have all those titles...