Math was never my strong suit. It is why I became a sports writer in the first place. However let’s have a little fun with subtraction. The 2014 Tigers will be without Prince Fielder, Omar Infante, Jhonny Peralta, Bryan Pena, Doug Fister, Ramon Santiago, Octavio Dotel, and very likely Joaquin Benoit. The Tigers have added Ian Kinsler, Joe Nathan, Steve Lombardozzi, and prospect Robbie Ray. They have also resigned Phil Coke, and Don Kelly. They have already spent about 113 million dollars, and they still have several key pieces to pay including Max Scherzer.
At the end of the season it seemed the Tigers three biggest holes were in the bullpen, at left field and what to do about second base with Infante being a free genet. Granted what we have seen so far is only act one of this off season there is no way to argue that the 2014 roster is shaping up to be better than the 2013 one that failed to reach the World Series.
I would argue the team over reacted in signing Nathan, after dramatically under reacting to the closers jobs this time last year. Let us not forget it was this time last year that the Tigers named Bruce Rondon the closer and he didn’t even make the team out of Spring Training. Even with the addition of Krol the bullpen is already worse off than it was. Some team is going to give Beniot closer’s money. They also lose Drew Smyly to the starting rotation, and we wait to hear who else the team is going to bring in. I would argue that closer was not what was wrong with this bullpen in 2013. Given all the cost cutting moves we have seen already would it not have made more sense to pay Benoit to be the closer? Then look for a legit 8th inning guy? Is Bruce Rondon the 8th inning guy? Is Krol? Is Al Albuquerque? Is Coke? It seems if the plan was to save money and sign Nathan that Dombrowski should have gotten more in the Fister trade to shore up the rest of the roster. If not a LF candidate than at least one proven bullpen arm to help strengthen the weakest unit of the roster.
Let us not forget Benoit had 24 saves in 2013 and he didn’t get the job right off. His ERA was 2.01 and he wound up with a 4-1 record but closer was the problem??? It is hard to say what salary Beniot would have commanded as a closer but it has to be less than the 10 million the team will pay Nathan in 2014. Of course Nathan is a proven commodity over a longer period and we can say the closers spot has been upgraded but the bullpen overall is weaker. I would also argue Smyly will not be as good as Fister in the rotation so the team is not better. That is not to say they are bad by any means and I understand payroll dollars eventually run out, but this team is still looking to win the ultimate prize and I doubt very much any of these moves gets that done in the two year window that appears to be left.
113 million spent, Scherzer still to pay, and who is the left fielder? Not to mention what about a left handed power bat? It looks like it’s gonna be a long winter.