Once again, we’re only two months into the season, and a lot can change between now and July. Using a familiar anecdote, the Yankees were 22-29 last May 31, and ended up being the best team in baseball in the second half. So while they looked like possible sellers on May 31, when July rolled around that would no longer be the case. The Detroit Tigers have a similar possibility this year.
Touted by a to-be-unnamed ESPN analyst as having the best offense in baseball history, the Tigers have faltered in 2008. They’re 23-31, good for fourth place in the AL Central. The good news is that they can turn it around. The bad news is that the division rival Cleveland Indians are also having a poor run, sitting at 25-29. Any potential run by the Tigers could be dampened by a potential Cleveland streak.
So if you’re Dave Dombrowski, do you consider reloading for next year? The armchair GM in us is likely to say yes. Clearly, though, Dombrowski won’t be so impulsive. He and manager Jim Leyland have been tinkering with the lineup to see if they can spark anything. Namely, the idea is to move Carlos Guillen, who has already switched from first to third this season, to left field. That would open up third base for Brandon Inge.
I’m not quite sure that’s the best idea, considering Marcus Thames is hitting better than Inge, though in fewer at bats. So it’s doubtful that this tinkering really gets things going. Just ask Joe Girardi. He’s been tweaking his lineup since Day 1. And while the Yankees have started hitting, I don’t think anyone is attributing it to his daily lineup shifts. Your players have to hit, plain and simple. And it stands to reason that the Tigers will hit, regardless of the lineup.
Who’s expendable? Magglio Ordonez? It’s not often you see a team trade their best hitter. But Maggs is 34 this year. I’m not saying he’ll tank next year, but the Tigers could be seeing his peak value pass this July. If they’re truly out of it, they could consider a Maggs move. Conversely, they could consider his potential production next year far too valuable to sacrifice. He’s signed through 2009, with a pair of $15MM team options for 2010 and 2011.
Edgar Renteria? He’s in the final year of his four-year deal, though he does have a $11MM club option for next year. That could be an attractive contract for an acquiring team. Placido Polanco? I only mention his name because he’s signed on the cheap, $4.6MM, through 2009. He could net some return for the Tigers because of his cheapness and consistency at the plate.
I know Kenny Rogers and Nate Robertson will enter the conversation at some point. I just don’t think the pair of lefties will get the Tigers anything attractive in return. They could be token trades for players in the lower minors, for high-risk players. But if they consider themselves out of contention, it’s better than nothing, I suppose.