What is it with the Arizona-Detroit connection? The Curtis Granderson trade brought in Max Scherzer and Daniel Schlereth from the desert, while Houston Astros closer Jose Valverde, formerly with the Diamondbacks, found his way to Detroit, thanks to $14 million over two years.
Going back to that Granderson trade, it was the most devastating offseason move Tigers fans had endured since maybe the Juan Gonzalez blockbuster. But even that one didn't tug at the heart and cause a coronary: everyone was just skeptical of giving up so much for him. The same applies to the '87 trade that brought Doyle Alexander to Tiger Stadium in exchange for minor leaguer John Smoltz: nobody really knew what they gave up before it was too late. In the city of Detroit, comparable transactions of perpetual sadness might include the Pistons giving up Chauncey Billups or the sudden retirement of Barry Sanders.
And once rumors materialized into official announcements about Granderson leaving town, the mantra in my mind remained steadfast: this helps the payroll today and the team later. It was a sleek two-for-four swap, albeit two All-Stars for four unprovens. Austin Jackson and Scherzer could end up being better versions of Granderson and Edwin Jackson, with Schlereth and Phil Coke acting as bullpen throw-ins. This might make their relief phalanx one of their strengths yet again, despite losing Fernando Rodney and Brandon Lyon. The returning cast of Ryan Perry, Fu-Te Ni, Bobby Seay, whatever's left of Joel Zumaya, and an opportunity for Casey Fien gives them seven solid options, although I would say they need more righthanders.
And suddenly, out of the primordial ooze, a deal is made where the payroll of the bullpen more than doubled. I thought I had figured out general manager Dave Dombrowski's blueprint, but signing Valverde just confounds me further. What exactly are they going for? To have a really, really strong bullpen and hope for the best that some minor league guys earn everyday jobs?
Right now there is no centerfielder or second baseman. One-year deals to some veterans seeking redemption (Rick Ankiel, Jeremy Reed) would make more sense than solidifying the closer's job, which — given the pitching Detroit has in the wings — has a better shot of being handled beautifully from within.
Having let off that steam, there is reason to be excited for Valverde. He strikes guys out (more than a batter per inning) and could be a 40-save guy. Now, is there anyone else they can pry from Arizona? Stephen Drew, perhaps?
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