This week the Tigers made a surprising move trading second baseman Scott Sizemore to the Oakland A’s for relief pitcher David Purcey. The deal comes less than a month after Sizemore was recalled from Toledo to replace Will Rhymes.
Tigers management felt that Sizemore had his chances to earn the starting job at second, but never fully developed into the player they hoped he would. With Sizemore gone the second base position will be handed to Ryan Raburn who has spent most of this season playing in the outfield, and struggling at the plate. Raburn is batting .200 with 4 HR this season.
The Tigers received a left handed journeyman for their bullpen. Detroit will be the third stop this season for Purcey – who started the year in Toronto before being shipped to Oakland. Purcey started the season a little rough, but has pitched well since his move to Oakland. Opponents are batting .191 against him since mid-April.
The Tigers were in need of some bullpen help. The bullpen has struggled mightily the past couple weeks with Joaquin Benoit, Al Alburquerque and Daniel Schlereth all losing games late. Jose Valverde, Ryan Perry, Benoit and Alburquerque each sport an ERA over 5.00 for May with five collective losses coming from the bullpen. The team has already sent Perry and Brayan Villarreal back to Toledo. Hopefully Purcey will continue to pitch well and get this bullpen back on track.
The second base position has been the source of much discussion among Tigers fans since the team let Placido Polanco sign with the Philadelphia Phillies after the 2009 season. Since his departure the Tigers have had Sizemore, Rhymes, Raburn, Ramon Santiago, Carlos Guillen and Danny Worth all play at least a game at second. This season has been awful with the second base position contributing a .242 batting average, 2 HR both from Raburn) and 13 RBIs in 50 games. These numbers do not seem likely to rise with the position being handled by the weak-hitting Raburn.
Could this trade mean that something bigger is on the horizon? The Tigers have more holes than just at second base, but an opening there may increase the chances of management going after someone before the July 31 trading deadline.
The Texas Rangers have moved Michael Young around since he started his career as a second baseman, and have recently asked him to fill in for injured outfielders in addition to his DH duties. If he available would the Tigers want to grab Young, his $16 million a year salary and .301 lifetime average? His price may be a little steep, and he is 36 years old but with Guillen and Magglio Ordonez gone after this season they would be able to afford his contract.
It appears that the New York Mets are willing to move pretty much anyone on their roster, but the Tigers would probably be only interested in 3B David Wright or SS Jose Reyes. Wright is currently on the disabled list, so he may not be a player the Tigers front office pursues. It may also mean they can get a five-time All-Star for very little in return. Wright does stand to make $15 million next season, but if he is healthy he is a far better third baseman than Brandon Inge. Wright is a lifetime .302 hitter who averages 27 HR a season and would fit very nicely in the middle of the Detroit lineup with Miguel Cabrera.
Reyes would be a huge boost for this club, but probably only for the remainder of this season. Reyes is in the final year of his contract, and according to reports has been saying he should receive “Carl Crawford money” during the off-season. The Tigers would make a trade for Reyes only if they want to win this season because more than likely he will not be with whichever team rents him this season. Adding Reyes to the top of the lineup with his .337 OBP and 17 stolen bases would make the Tigers lineup very dangerous.
We will have to wait and see whether the Sizemore trade is the start of something larger, or just a move to help out a bullpen in need. If the Tigers make a deal for someone to help the infield it will send the message that they are serious about contending this season. If July 31st rolls by and nothing has changed then that message will be a white flag of surrender for the remainder of the 2011 season.
About the Author
Written by Jeremy Klumpp
I am a graduate of Eastern Michigan University with a degree in Electronic Media and Film. For two years I wrote a baseball blog, "Ground Rule Double," and have contributed to a book on the 1968 Detroit Tigers. If you want to read my non-sports thoughts head to jklumpp1.posterous.com.