When word hit my various outlets of communication that the Detroit Tigers had traded Avisail Garcia away, my heart sank. I know he’s a star in the making and now Detroit will be forced to watch it launch into orbit on the south side of Chicago of all places, right in front of their faces, 18 times per year.
As for Brayan Villarreal leaving town in this same deal? Adios muchacho. If you can’t throw strikes, see ya.
Tigers GM Dave Dombrowski was proactive while facing an extremely unenviable situation. All-Star shortstop Jhonny Peralta is bound for suspension before the week is up. Conveniently, MLB didn’t plan to release the list of names until a day or two after the trade deadline. Gee, thanks. But it has become increasingly obvious that Peralta’s name will be among the guilty.
The Tigers’ brass felt like they had to act and they knew it would be pricey. Names that surfaced in recent days included the Angels’ Erick Aybar, Seattle’s Brendan Ryan, and Chicago’s Alexei Ramirez. Ultimately, Detroit was able to negotiate a 3-team trade that brought upstart shortstop Jose Iglesias to the Motor City.
As recently as yesterday, Dombrowski said they were not looking for a bat. Well then maybe they view Iglesias as a glove, and rightfully so.
CAUTION: do not buy the .330 batting average that Iglesias totes with him from Beantown. During parts of 4 minor league seasons, Iglesias hit just .257 with a paltry .307 on-base %. His strikeout to walk ratio has been subpar at all stops along the way.
This year, he came out of the gates hitting like crazy. Despite spending most of April and May in the minors he finished the month of June with a cumulative batting average of .395. During the month of July he has hit .205.
His glove is legitimately one of the best in the business. He has only committed one error while manning shortstop for the Red Sox. He has played a bunch of 3rd base as well and held up nicely there too. However, his on-base skills are meager, he has no power (1 homer, 10 doubles, 19 RBIs) and little base stealing ability (3 steals).
On the surface of the matter, it looks like the Tigers got an up-and-coming 23-year-old star in the making. While this could be true as he continues his development, my suspicion is that the Tigers acquired a glorified utility man that won’t hit much after a lucky 1st half of the season.
Was that worth dumping Garcia on their division rival? Again, Dombrowski’s back was against the wall. He had to do something with Peralta’s suspension looming and elected to go with a young player and an elite glove. That very well may good enough to propel the Tigers to the championship they so desperately seek.
There is still so much left to be determined in the Peralta situation. Will he appeal? If he doesn’t, will he make it back in time for the playoffs (this is my hunch as to the current plan of attack)?
What Detroit couldn’t risk was letting the Indians pass them in the standings. Wild Cards are too tenuous to count on. Winning the division is the Tigers’ obvious agenda. Iglesias, if nothing else, should ensure that the drop-off isn’t too steep. I have to sit here and wonder though: would Danny Worth be a drop-off from Iglesias? Not as much as you might think.
And what about that batting order?
Peralta has been on fire in the 6-hole for Jim Leyland’s lineup hitting .308 with 10 homers and 53 RBIs. Nobody in the bottom four of the order is a logical candidate to move up. Andy Dirks hitting 6th? Yikes. Is it feasible that Alex Avila can get hot enough to hold that spot down? I suppose it’s possible. Iglesias probably slots in as the 9th hitter behind Omar Infante once he’s back next week.
The lineup has been critically wounded while the defense has been upgraded.
Watching this play out over the next two months will be very interesting.
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