Over the next few days, I’m going to look at the needs of some contenders as we approach the July 31 trade deadline.
First-half record: 49-43
Standings: Leading Indians by 1/2 game, White Sox by 5 games in AL Central
Starting pitcher: Cy Young contender Justin Verlander is the only Tigers starter with an ERA under 4.50, and the team recently sent Phil Coke back to the bullpen. Coke’s replacement, Charlie Furbush, has responded by giving up 12 runs — seven earned — in 7 1/3 innings while losing both of his starts. Since Rick Porcello is a tough guy to rely on and Brad Penny is a big-time injury risk, the Tigers need to add someone who can start Game 2 or 3 of a postseason series.
Second base: The Tigers have Ryan Raburn for pop, Ramon Santiago for defense and Danny Worth for… well, I’m not sure what he’s for… but they’ve been hurting for an everyday second baseman for a couple of years now. The plan is for Carlos Guillen to see time at the position if he can make it back from knee surgery, but he’s a terrible bet to stay healthy while playing second base. The Tigers should go get a real second baseman and see if Guillen can contribute as an alternative to Brandon Inge at third.
Outfield: I don’t see a real need here, largely because I’m a believer in rookie Andy Dirks. Still, there have been whispers that the Tigers will try to acquire an outfielder to help pick up some slack if they don’t think they can count on Magglio Ordonez. Ordonez has hit .284 since coming off the DL last month, but it’s come with just four extra-base hits in 67 at-bats and he’s turned into quite a liability defensively because of his leg problems.
Wandy Rodriguez (LHP Astros): Owed $10 million next year, $13 million in 2013, Rodriguez comes with plenty of risk. That’s especially the case because his $13 million option for 2014 turns into a player option in the event of a trade. Still, it’d be a gamble worth taking. He’d certainly provide a different look from Verlander and Max Scherzer at the top of the rotation, and his excellent strikeout rate suggests that he’d hold up just fine in the AL.
Rodriguez and 2B Jeff Keppinger for Porcello and LHP Casey Crosby
Astros fans wouldn’t be too happy with this one, but I think Porcello would have a bright future in the National League and come close to approximating Rodriguez’s success for the next three years. Unfortunately, it doesn’t look like it’s going to happen for him in Detroit. The Tigers would have a better chance of making an October run with Rodriguez slotted into their rotation, and Keppinger would be an upgrade at second base.
The way I see it, either top prospect Jacob Turner or Porcello will have to go for the Tigers to land a big upgrade this summer and Porcello is likely the one they’d move first.