Paul Wezner, Senior Editor
I'm sorry, as much as I'd like to be the good soldier, these were simply not good signings. The Tigers are going to pay $11 million over the next two years to a closer who ten months ago was willing to accept a minor league contract with a non-roster invite attached to it. Now he's worth $11 million? Since the Tigers moved him mid-season in 2001, he's pitched for six different teams. He didn't close for any of them until he got the job almost by default in Florida. Last year, we saw the team sign a very successful closer on the downslope of his career, and watched the bottom fall out on him. Now, we've got another guy on the downslope, except he hasn't even proven himself consistently effective over the past five years. Is that really an upgrade over Fernando Rodney? Things don't get much better when we examine the signing of Kenny Rogers. Over the past five years, Rogers has posted a 4.43 ERA. He's also averaged 12 wins. He'll make $8 million each of the next two years, and oh yeah, he turned 41 years of age last month, leaving him ready to see the bottom fall out any day now. Let's examine Jason Johnson, who if offered arbitration, would likely cost the Tigers maybe $5 million for a one year deal. His ERA over the past five years? Try 4.50. He did average only eight wins compared to Rogers' 12, but maybe that could be attributed to the fact that Rogers' teams averaged twelve wins more per season than Johnson's. And, oh right, last time I checked, Johnson never hit a cameraman. We just paid $27 million for two players that are a combined 78 years old and may not be able to produce like they did in '05. Or we could have gotten similar production for about $6 million and looked to use that $21 million somewhere else.
Mark Anderson, Minor League Editor
From the standpoint of how this is actually going to effect the team, I don't really have a problem with either move. Neither is of a long term nature, and won't handcuff the organization down the line. From a philisophical perspective, I'd have to say that I'd give them a resounding two thumbs down. Are we really giving $5 million to Todd Jones in 2006? The same Todd Jones that was given a minor league contract, and non-roster invitation to spring training by the Florida Marlins last year? The same Todd Jones that in spite of his snazzy 2.10 ERA in 2006, has posted a cumulative ERA of 4.38 (5.04 without 2006) since leaving Detroit in 2001? This just doesn't make sense to me. Why are we paying for solely for his 2005 performance, when the likelihood that he repeats it is remarkably low? With Kenny Rogers, you're getting exactly what you see; at least we hope so. At some point, you have to expect that a 40+ pitcher is going to start to decline, but instead we're paying him as though he's assured of repeating his 2005 career year. Like I said, philisophically, I think both deals were pretty dumb, but in terms of the grand scheme and their lasting effects, neither is likely to matter much. I just hope in the end, we don't show some unwarranted loyalty to either player if they begin to decline past the point of being useful.
Jason Avery, Amateur Baseball Editor
I give a thumbs down to both. I believe they are nothing more than stop gap
measures and the Tigers could've either investigated the trade route, or
taken a longer look at the remaining free agents available.
The Tigers were incredibly fortunate that the Marlins didn't offer Jones
arbitration and thus cause the Tigers to lose a second-round pick in next
June's draft. Sure the odds are long that a player will make it, but I'd
rather have a chance of having that player becoming at the worst, a useful
player in potential trades in the future, then nothing at all. Jones has also struggled in the years leading up to his banner '05 season,
so it certainly screams fluke, and I hope that if he struggles and can't get
it together, the Tigers will turn to Fernando Rodney and give him the
chance, rather than stay with a struggling pitcher.
Also, considering Kyle Farnsworth is making roughly the same amount per year
as Jones is, it makes wonder why DD didn't pursue him further, not to
mention, the Tigers could've kept a close eye on Octavio Dotel and see how
his rehab from Tommy John Surgery was going and made an offer. Keep in mind,
the Tigers didn't land Ugueth Urbina until February two years ago, so to me,
signing Jones looks like a move of desperation.
Like the Jones signing, this also looks like a desperate move. Rogers is 41,
so giving him a two-year deal isn't bad, but $16 million, after the incident
with the cameraman and a 4.72 ERA in the second half last year just shows
how ridiculous the price for pitching is these days.
It also concerns me that the Tigers are very quickly becoming the new outlet
for Scott Boras to dump his troubled clients on. Pudge didn't have any
market interest two years ago, yet the Tigers gave Boras what he wanted.
Same with Magglio Ordonez last year and now Rogers this year. In an offseason where owners have decided to pay through the nose for
mediocre talent, the Tigers should've been patient and waited things out.
Lets see which arbitration-eligible players get non-tendered and become free
agents, or see what the trade market would've brought, because I would be
more than willing to bet that both Jones and Rogers would've gone into the
new year unsigned.
I don't want to be totally negative here, so I will say that these two guys
should bring stability to the pitching staff, and perhaps if the Tigers are
out of the race in July, net quality young players for the future in trades,
but we'll have to wait and see.
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