The Detroit Tigers head into the final day of the MLB non-waiver trade deadline with a choice to make. Dropping 5 of 7 on their current road trip has fans in the Motor City uneasy yet again. The decision has boiled down to whether this team should add one final piece to the puzzle.
So far, the trade with the Miami Marlins has left much to be desired. Anibal Sanchez got torched north of the border and Omar Infante has done his best Ryan Raburn impersonation. Fear not Tiger faithful, these two will perform.
The big question management is currently faced with is pretty simple: Is the team, as currently constructed, good enough to reach the end goal? That ultimate destination for this team is of course a World Series championship.
Billy Beane, the Oakland A’s GM, may have said it best to Michael Lewis, author of Moneyball. He basically said that his job was to get his team to the playoffs. From there, it was a virtual craps shoot as to who wins. The hottest teams generally prevail, even if they snuck in at the back of the line as the playoff motorcade was making its final lap.
In kind, Tigers GM Dave Dombrowski must make the right moves to get this team comfortably into the playoffs. From there, it’s up to the men on the field to bring it home. To be comfortable within the framework of the new MLB playoff rules, the Tigers better find a way to leapfrog the White Sox and win the AL Central.
A one-game playoff is not what this team needs or wants. The Tigers, if they can’t pull away from the pack, might have to use their big arms all the way up until game 162. Do you really want Rick Porcello pitching to the Angels in a one-gamer?
Jim Leyland has been consistently rolling out his lineup of choice since Infante arrived in town. So any piece added now is most likely going to be a bit player unless Dombrowski shocks us all yet again with a mega deal.
At the end of last week I pointed out that the Reed Johnson’s of the world are the type of player the Tigers are targeting. Johnson himself was shipped to the Atlanta Braves in a trade last night so he’s off the table, but the idea remains. A strong outfield defender who can hit lefties with consistency is the label. If that’s all the Tigers think they need, then should anybody be worried?
Get that player or not, but Detroit thinks they’re that close to being able to take down the big boys in October. Or do they? The Tigers enter play on Tuesday at 54-49 and 1.5 games back of the division leading ChiSox, hardly the record of a sure thing come playoff time.
There are still some huge names being mentioned on deadline day. Players such as Hunter Pence, Cliff Lee, Matt Garza, Justin Upton, and plenty more could be on the move before the final bell tolls.
Could the Tigers’ most recent chilly stretch of baseball nudge Dombrowski into the fray for another big deal? Should he remain calm and let the status quo take this team as far as it can? Will a minor acquisition be enough to make any difference at all?
All of these sub-questions hover around the one mentioned earlier: is this team good enough to challenge for a World Series title?
We’re about to find out how confident the Tigers’ brass is in that answer.