Tuesday, December 04, 2007

Transaction Recap: Tigers, Marlins

Tigers receive: 3B Miguel Cabrera, SP Dontrelle Willis

Marlins receive: OF Cameron Maybin, SP Andrew Miller, C Mike Rabelo, three minor leaguers

(No ratings until the identities of the minor leaguers are revealed)

Well, perhaps I wrote the Tigers off as a 2008 contender just a wee bit too early.

That said, this deal probably doesn't improve the team as much as you think it does. Despite what NL Rookie of the Year voters think, they still play defense in baseball, and Detroit just replaced perhaps the best defensive 3B in the majors with one of the worst.

I'm not suggesting Brandon Inge is a more valuable player than Cabrera, but if Miggy is perhaps 55 runs better with the bat, he gives 20 of those back with his terrible glovework. This deal doesn't instantly make them World Series favorites; it simply brings them up to contender status.

In fact, the best plan for the Tigers is probably to start Cabrera in left field. Jacque Jones is a slightly better hitter than Inge, but it's not worth the defensive hit. Of course, the team won't do this, because they'll want to keep their new superstar happy.

As for Willis, the bloom is off his rose already, but it's important to understand that he's no better than a league-average starter going forward; the Marlins waited far too long to deal him. (Reportedly, two years ago they turned down a package of Justin Verlander and Curtis Granderson. Oops.)

The package the Marlins receive is loaded with upside, even though the three minor leaguers haven't been ID'd in a major news source. (One is reportedly Eulogio de la Cruz, a hard-thrower who has no clue what to do with it.) Maybin is one of the top five prospects in baseball, and fills an immediate need in center field for Florida. You may remember Miller as the most talented pitcher in the 2006 draft. He needs to bring his walk rate way down to realize his potential, but his K/9 and GB/FB numbers are already star-level. Rabelo is a generic backup catcher.

Overall, this was probably about as well as the Marlins could have done, considering that the Dodgers and Angels were balking at their asking price. Maybin and Miller are not only top talents, but both are basically Major League-ready, much like Hanley Ramirez two years ago. The next step for the Fish should be to trade all their players who won't be part of the next championship-caliber squad, guys like Dan Uggla and Josh Willingham. If they can get good value in those deals, the 2010 Marlins could be a very dangerous team.


RJA87 said...

Don't the Marlins have control of Uggla and Willingham for several years?

j holz said...

Yes. My point is that both are serviceable starters now, good enough to play during their physical peak, but both have severe defensive issues and will be a lot less valuable three years from now.

Take a look at their PECOTA comps and you see a whole lot of guys who didn't do much after age 30. Ken Harrelson, Kelly Gruber, Tom Brunansky, Dale Berra...you can look at the full list if you want.

Guys with old players' skills who don't break into the league until age 26 tend to have short productive careers.