One of the fun things about Pete Rose is that when he was the player/manager for the Reds he put himself in the lineup and at first base so that he could break Ty Cobb’s all-time hit record. Which, to be fair, is what the Reds brass and, I assume, most Reds fans wanted.
Rose wasn’t terrible in 1985 — he got on base at a good clip, but had no power whatsoever — but sabermetrician Craig Wright made a compelling case in a book several years ago that Rose was hurting the Reds by playing himself. I can’t remember the book — if someone does, please chime in — but the upshot was that there were younger players like Nick Esasky either buying buried or who were playing out of position and that the team would have been better off with him or a platoon or something.
No matter which way that actually comes out upon rigorous analytical scrutiny, however, I do think it’s fair to say that Rose’s entire reason for playing in 1985 and 1986 — and more generally, after 1981, really — was to break Ty Cobb’s record. It was his clear goal. Maybe it was a noble goal, but there can be no question that a huge part of Rose’s being was about chasing a record. Which makes his criticism of Jimmy Rollins on 97.5 The Fanatic in Philly today fairly hilarious:
Yes, there has been a lot of talk about Rollins not being willing to waive his no-trade clause until he can set the all-time Phillies hit record this season. But if anyone has a right to call Rollins out for that, it sure as heck ain’t Pete Rose.
The Nationals will be many people’s favorites in the NL East this season. Not everything is looking great, however. For example, their ace — defending NL Cy Young winner Max Scherzer — can’t even throw fastballs right now.
The reason: the stress fracture he suffered last August is still causing him problems and Scherzer is unable to use his fastball grip without feeling pain in his right ring finger. He will throw a bullpen session tomorrow, but will only use his secondary stuff.
Scherzer has not been ruled out for Opening Day — the fact that he is throwing some means that his timetable isn’t totally on hold — but you have to figure, at some point, not being able to air things out and use his heater will lead to some problems in his spring training routine.
File this under “man, that would’ve been cool.” Or, if you’re a Tigers fan, file it under “man, that would’ve signaled several years of misery.” However you fall on the matter, however, know that, according to Jon Heyman, the Dodgers inquired about trading for Justin Verlander over the winter.
It never went anywhere, but it’s not like it was silliness for the Dodgers to ask. As you may recall, the Tigers were reported to be willing to listen to offers on any and all players back in November, as GM Al Avila contemplated a tear-down. That never came to pass — the Tigers had a quiet offseason and are keeping the team together to make another run at the playoffs with the Verlander/Miguel Cabrera core — but it couldn’t hurt to ask.
Verlander, who is coming off a resurgent season which saw him return to form as one of baseball’s best pitchers, has 10-5 rights, allowing him to veto any trade. He’s married to an actress/model, however, owns a home in L.A., and the Dodgers are a clear contender, so there’s a good chance he would’ve allowed such a trade to happen. Heck, dude even loves pitchers batting, so a chance to do it all the time would be right up his alley.
The bigger issue likely would’ve been Verlander’s $28 million salary. The Dodgers already pay the luxury tax so taking on that commitment would cost them more than the sticker price. And, of course, if the Tigers are going to ever give up one of the best players in franchise history, it would take the motherlode of prospects to do it.
So, no, a Verlander-to-L.A. trade wasn’t ever a strong possibility. But even the slight possibility seems exciting in hindsight. It was a boring as hell offseason.