By: Holly Horning & Kurt Snyder
This is where our real talents start to come out. We have reached a point in the season where things look bleak and unfortunately we need to start looking to the future, as the present is getting pretty darn ugly.
But we’d be in big trouble if we stopped working when things got bad. So, without further ado, let’s discuss a couple of future issues.
1. What should the Tigers do with JV?
Holly – Justin is owed at least $140 million over the next 5 years, has a complete no-trade clause and has yet to show anyone, let alone other teams, that he is capable of pitching adequately and injury-free. He is simply, untradeable.
That said, the Tigers need a sense of urgency because right now, it appears they will only have one solid starter next year in Anibal Sanchez. And that means they need a new manager who can establish an effective relationship with him as it’s been a very rough ride given the public fighting between him and Ausmus dating back to last year.
It is obvious that JV has not caught up to the reality that ageing brings with his arguments about not needing some rehab starts in AAA. Not to mention his media debriefings after he pitches when he tries to spin his performance.
Maybe his longtime manager, Jim Leyland, can get through to him but someone, like a professional performance coach, needs to help him travel the unfamiliar road and discover that changes need to be made. It worked for John Smoltz and 4 other Hall of Fame pitchers who give them credit for successfully extending their careers.
In the meantime, Bruce Bochy has been effective in sending his underperforming pitchers to the BP, who often came back stronger, better and more determined. Maybe sitting in the pen is the motivation Justin needs in order to reinvent himself.
Kurt – Unless some Texas Ranger type team is going to swing a trade with us and take this contract off our hands, there really isn’t anything to do but pitch him.
But the question is where? Given the state of the standings, there doesn’t seem to be a whole lot of risk continuing to run him out there every fifth day. Justin has to pitch and whether that’s here, Toledo or some other town, it will be the only way we will find out if he’s got anything left to give.
I don’t subscribe to the JV to the bullpen theory. I doubt he would have interest in contributing out of the pen. So we are kind of stuck.
With so many years left on a lengthy and a very expensive contract, we had better pray he’s got plenty left. Because we are saddled with Justin Verlander. And we can only hope that he figures out how to transition to the back-end of his career while still being effective.
2. Price, Cespedes, Davis, Avila, Soria and Simon: If you could only save one free agent, who would it be and why?
Holly – While I would love to have Price stay, his salary would push the payroll for just him, JV and Miggy to 50% of the entire team payroll. It is financially unsustainable and would create significant and long-term roster problems.
Cespedes, too – his contract is structured to attract the maximum number of interested teams and create a bidding war. Besides, Tyler Collins, young and controllable for years, would look great in leftfield with that desperately-needed left-handed bat.
And while I’m tempted to say Soria, I’m starting to doubt his effectiveness lately and a check of his stats show a trend of peaking a couple of years ago.
But I do like Rajai – he is the catalyst, fastest guy on the team and it’s no coincidence that when he starts, the Tigers win significantly more games. He’s worth another couple of years as Gose’s platoon partner and comes at a reasonable investment. Remember when the Tigers struggled for years trying to make Jackson, Carrera and all the others fit into that postion?
And because playing centerfield is particularly demanding, Davis needs to stay, especially since he can play all three outfield positions. Cespedes, with a whopping 3 stolen bases this year, hasn’t played more than a couple of games in centerfield in almost three years – for a reason.
Kurt – It’s David Price. I know there are plenty of pitching candidates on the market for 2016, but I think we have seen plenty of evidence that we are a pretty darn good team with Price on the mound. It’s when he is not on the mound that things fall apart.
And isn’t that really been the story of the season? The Tigers record has been absurd with Price on the mound versus when it’s someone else. And if the Tigers pull the unexpected and retain Dombrowski, why shouldn’t Price be the first order of business?
The Tigers are in need of a stud to continue to lead that rotation. And Price is that stud. The challenge will be to give him a reason to return. And I’m not talking about money.