As a former professional baseball player, it appears appropriate to me to take my “portfolio managers” hat off and turn it around and attempt to be the General Manager for the Detroit Tigers in analyzing where the Tigers were a year ago versus where they are today, given the announcement of recent trades and some free agent signings.
One year ago, the Tigers had the following players on their roster: Curtis Granderson, Placido Polanco, Gerald Laird and Jeremy Bonderman. We are all aware of the trade that took place with Curtis Granderson going to the Yankees and in return we received Austin Jackson to take over center field and we also received Phil Coke to fill a hole in the bullpen. We lost Placido Polanco, to the Philadelphia Phillies, as a free agent. It has also become very clear that we aren’t going to sign Gerald Laird and Jeremy Bonderman for next season.
As of 11/29/10, the following transactions have taken place: We just signed Joaquin Benoit who has an electric arm and when we analyze his statistics, he potentially could be a superstar and he could possibly take over the closer role during the 2011 season and for many years thereafter! For now he will be our “set up guy” before we give the ball to Jose Valverde in the 9th inning. Why was this so important? We have determined that Phil Coke could be a solid starter in our rotation. He has command of 3 pitches which are his fastball, curve ball and his change up. We know he hasn’t gone more than 2 innings for a couple of years, but we will stretch him out during Spring Training so as to build up his arm strength to where he can give us 6 innings early in the season. We needed to diversify our starting rotation by including a left handed pitcher. By having all right handed pitchers, while they were talented, the starting rotation didn’t give us the “different look” that was needed to compete during the full season of 2010.
We just announced the signing of Victor Martinez. This addition will give us the left handed bat that we can use to help protect other teams from pitching around Miguel Cabrera. It is still uncertain how much time he will spend catching because we still believe Alex Avila is our number one catcher. That being said, knowing that we have Victor as part of our team, is a big bonus. Not only is he a very solid left handed hitter, it must also be noted that he can hit from the right side as well (switch hitter). He has spent some time at first base so he can also give Miguel a day off every once in a while.
Let me back track a bit, by talking about Jhonny Peralta. We acquired Jhonny from Cleveland, late in the 2010 season, with the mindset that he may be able to help us to make a run at winning our division. Needless to say, that didn’t happen, but he did show us enough to take the leap of faith that he can be our shortstop for a couple of years. He was very solid defensively and his offense was a big plus for us down the stretch.
Curtis Granderson was a fan favorite and we know many of you thought that we were crazy in trading him to the Yankees. It was not an easy decision, but after we did our analysis of what we were giving up and what we were going to receive in return, we felt it made sense. Now that we have had a year to evaluate, we did make the right decision. Austin Jackson has been a very solid lead off hitter and he has been stellar in center field. Time will tell if he can continue to get better, but we are pleased with what he has done to date. We also received Phil Coke in this trade and he was a work horse out of the bullpen. As I shared previously, we have enough confidence in Phil that we are going to give him a chance to become a starter in our rotation. These two players have certainly made a tremendous impact on our roster and in our analysis, a better team.
In my humble opinion, our team is much stronger today than we were a year ago. We have a combination of some good young talent along with some proven veterans. Our pitching staff has the potential to be one of the best staffs in the major leagues if they can perform to where we think they can. We are very pleased with our core players and we believe that by complimenting these players with some youthful talent, our team is a legitimate contender to win our division title next year and hopefully to have a chance at winning the World Series in 2011!
I have given you a brief synopsis of my assessment and judgment of the Tigers. As I did so, I chuckled to myself when I realized that the process of altering a major league roster is no different than the factors we take into consideration when we alter investment portfolios. We spend countless hours evaluating what we have and what we need in order to build that championship type portfolio.
Let’s go Tigers!
David B. Bergman