Grand Cards: Tigers Sign Jose Valverde; My Soul Dies, Just A Bit

Friday, January 15, 2010

Tigers Sign Jose Valverde; My Soul Dies, Just A Bit

Not that I have anything wrong with Jose Valverde per se, it's just, well, allow me to repeat myself from the other day (this was buried at the end of a long "Grand Scheme")
I'm sure that the 30 year old Valverde is a fine closer, who by objective measurements would be worth that kind of money. Not the point. The point is this. The Tigers tore out the collective insides of the fan base under the guise of getting younger and cheaper. This move would not only make the Tigers 1) Older and 2) More Expensive (more expensive than keeping Fernando Rodney, even, who signed for 2 years and $11M!) but it would directly undermine the long term goal by giving up a first round draft pick.

No No No No No. There is no plan. I can't see how there could be.

Imagine my joy and surprise to learn that probably not quite worth it to boot. From Fangraphs (H/T Bless You Boys)
Seriously, in a market where everyone else is finding bargains, the Tigers pay $7 million a year for a good-but-not-great relief pitcher, and give up a draft pick for the right to do so. Were they not paying attention to the rest of the contracts being handed out? Did they not realize they were bidding against themselves?

Rob Neyer chimes in too:
Umm, yeah. I wish I could disagree with Cameron, if only for variety's sake. But this strikes me as a monumentally poor use of $14 million and a first-round draft choice. Not because Valverde's a useless pitcher; he's actually quite useful. But a pitcher like Valverde -- any relief pitcher, really -- should be the final ingredient. You fill all the other holes you can fill, and when you're satisfied with your catchers and your first baseman and your second baseman and your shortstop and your third baseman and your three outfielders and your four best starting pitchers ... When you're satisfied that you've done everything you can possibly do at all those spots, then you start worrying about the guy who's going to pitch 65 or 70 innings.

And both are exactly right. It begs the question, what the fuck are the Tigers doing? I don't have time to go on too much of a rant, because I'm just finishing a bowl of cereal and about to head off to work, but, I'm going to go out on a limb and say this:

The Tigers didn't want Curtis Granderson on the team, for some reason that I can't begin to comprehend.

He was not traded for Money--we just spent his 2010 and 2011 salary on Valverde--
He was not traded to fill holes in the system--we now have a metric ton of pitchers, and the only position player they got in return is at the position Granderson played.
He wasn't traded to rebuild the franchise--I think the 1st round draft pick the Tigers just gave up for Valverde could have contributed quite nicely.

And honestly, I can't find another reason. I'm starting to wonder whether Dombrowski mis-analyzed his team's position going into the offseason, having read one too many articles about the importance of bullpen strength or something. Need we forget that the Tigers' biggest problem was it's offense? That is not solved by trading it's 2nd best offensive performer, losing the 3rd or 4th (Polanco) to free agency, and adding two rookies instead. All of a sudden he's whipped up in the "Magic Bullet" of "trading Granderson and Jackson will cure what ails ya," only to find that it didn't really work, and there are still just as many holes on the team as there were before the trade (maybe more, with no left handed hitter).

What's a GM to do? Oh, luckily there's an extra $14M in the bank. Might as well get the one piece of a team that you don't really need, because your likelihood of making the playoffs is already slim and you have a bunch of internal candidates who could probably do the job at least 70% as well as Valverde for about 5% of the cost. Meanwhile, you still don't have a left handed hitter, or a lineup that looks to be any good at all, or a left handed starting pitcher.

So again I ask, what is the plan? Just tell me. It can be a two-year plan, that's ok. Just tell me what it is instead of making a bunch of nonsensical deals that do more damage to the team than they do help.