11.11.2006

Assessing Sheff in the AL central

As I’m sure you’ve heard, the Tigers acquired Gary Sheffield yesterday from the Yanks for three pitching prospects. First off, it’s a great move by the Tigers that immediately, I think, makes them the favorite to repeat in the Central (I know, I know, the Twins actually won the division, but they didn’t even sniff the World Series). They’re committed to paying Sheffield $13 million next season and (I guess) $14 million for the two seasons after that (or some structure that adds up to $28 million, anyway). I should also mention that this is a smart move by the Yankees—getting some young pitchers (who, admittedly, I know next to nothing about aside from their numbers looking pretty good) and unloading an aging contract that had nowhere to play anyway. Could this be the beginning of a rational front office in the Bronx? Nah… probably not. But back to the Tigers…


Here’s the drawback for the Tigers: they keep locking themselves into paying a high price for guys that have big question marks—an aging Pudge Rodriguez, an injury-riddled Magglio Ordonez, an aging Kenny Rogers, and now an aging Gary Sheffield. Sheff will be 38 next season, meaning the Tigers are committed to him until he’s almost 41. To be sure, this strategy has worked out for them thus far—no one can argue with Rogers’ pine-tar-aided performance last year, Pudge has been the kind of leader the Tigers needed, and Ordonez—although his production has probably been less than the Tigers hoped for—has been an above-league-average right fielder. How long is it until this strategy backfires, though, and the Tigers are left with a bunch of broken down, overpaid, past-their-prime players? Nobody talks about this, but one shining example of this is them being stuck with Troy Percival for 2005-06, at $6 million per year. What happens when they’re stuck with a more Kevin Brown-like contract? I’m waiting for this to blow up in their faces.

This could really be a problem when guys like Bonderman, Verlander, Zumaya—if they continue on their rise—start costing more money. Verlander’s signed dirt-cheap through 2009 (and I’m not sure what the arbitration situation is there), but Bonderman and Zumaya (and even Robertson and Rodney) are year-to-year contract guys. The more the Tigers commit to guys like Sheffield, the less they’ll be able to lock up the futures of their young pitching staff. Because, in the end, the Tigers will remain a small-market-type team, unable to spend the kind of cash the Yanks or Red Sox do.

Nevertheless, Sheffield remains a smart signing for the Tigers, giving them a proven bat through 2009 in an offense that sputtered in the playoffs (remember how the Tigers made Jeff Weaver and Anthony Reyes looked like Koufax and Drysdale?). And, as a White Sox fan, it makes me cringe to think about seeing Sheffield—backed by the Tigers pitching staff—19 times a season. I have a feeling Sheffield will be more motivated than ever to prove to the Yankees, Brian Cashman, and pretty much anyone who ever mildly slighted him that he’s still a 40 homer/120 RBI guy.

Quick 2007 AL Central prediction as of 11/06 (and lord knows this could change with all the off-season moves yet to come):

  1. Tigers (how do you pick against the AL World Series rep who just got better?)
  2. White Sox (hungry again after sleepwalking through 2006)
  3. Twins (with Liriano, they might have jumped the Sox. But they’ve still got Santana, Mauer, Morneau, and the piranhas)
  4. Indians (where’s the pitching? I just don’t see it. And their young hitters may just be a bit overrated.)
  5. Royals (sigh…)

3 comments:

MB said...

Getting Sheff is a great short term move for the Tigers. They were able to pick up a big bat without giving up any of their MLB pitching. On the financial side, there's no reason the Tigers can't compete year-in and year-out with the other AL Central teams, but I agree with you that they might get caught holding the bag on the back-end of these big contracts to older players. I'd be interested to know if the Tigers are planning on making a 2-3 year run at the World Series and then go into a rebuilding mode for 2-3 years, or if they intend to make a sustained run of 85-95 wins as their goal

trout said...

Good point about the Tigers' possible goals, Mark. My guess is that they're trying to split the difference, while maybe leaning a bit more towards the 2-3 year World Series run. They desperately need to capitalize on the fan support and excitement that they generated this past year (much like the White Sox in '05) to show that one season isn't a fluke after 20 years of shittiness.

The easiest way to do that is to go balls out here and now, future be damned. They have to be able to look at the longer term, though, to sustain that in any meaningful sort of way. At some point, it seems like signing aging stars to expensive and potentially risky contracts is not the best way to go about doing that.

freefun0616 said...

酒店經紀人,
菲梵酒店經紀,
酒店經紀,
禮服酒店上班,
酒店小姐兼職,
便服酒店經紀,
酒店打工經紀,
制服酒店工作,
專業酒店經紀,
合法酒店經紀,
酒店暑假打工,
酒店寒假打工,
酒店經紀人,
菲梵酒店經紀,
酒店經紀,
禮服酒店上班,
酒店經紀人,
菲梵酒店經紀,
酒店經紀,
禮服酒店上班,
酒店小姐兼職,
便服酒店工作,
酒店打工經紀,
制服酒店經紀,
專業酒店經紀,
合法酒店經紀,
酒店暑假打工,
酒店寒假打工,
酒店經紀人,
菲梵酒店經紀,
酒店經紀,
禮服酒店上班,
酒店小姐兼職,
便服酒店工作,
酒店打工經紀,
制服酒店經紀,
酒店經紀,

,