DREW SHARP: Tigers shouldn’t give up too much to add a reliever

Nobody would blame Texas Rangers’ general manager Jon Daniels if every time his cell phone rings and he sees Dave Dombrowski’s caller ID on it, his colon constricts a little tighter. Every conversation would provide another reminder of the fleecing Dombrowski administered when he offered Prince Fielder and $30 million for Ian Kinsler last winter.

Kinsler was an All-Star and arguably the Tigers’ Most Valuable Player in the season’s first half while Fielder’s only contribution was that of magazine cover boy for an issue of ESPN: The Flabby.

But the baseball scales eventually balance. Daniels can extract some measure of retribution, if the reports are true that the Tigers are seriously courting Rangers’ closer Joakim Soria in a trade. The Rangers are in sell mode. Injuries – Fielder had season-ending neck surgery – effectively rendered their season meaningless. But Daniels finds himself in an advantageous situation – specifically as it pertains to the Tigers.

Dombrowski hides desperation well. He was all smiles and jokes when casually asked about any impending trade news prior to Saturday’s first game against Cleveland. He understands the importance of perception in delicate discussions. It’s the cool negotiator that doesn’t panic and subsequently doesn’t surrender too many assets in his pursuit of a greater asset.

But one can only imagine the general manager’s facial contortions when Joe Nathan served up a juicy ninth inning bases loaded meatball to Carlos Santana who subsequently smashed it off the wall for a bases-clearing double in Saturday’s nightcap. The bomb resulted in another Tigers’ home field drubbing, no doubt detonating yet another groundswell of public rage that Dombrowski must address the ninth inning problems…whatever the cost.

But Dombrowski can’t afford paying too much attention to outside chirping nor paying too much for a potential remedy that doesn’t address the Tigers’ primary problem — the need for a productive left-handed bat.

Their four-game losing streak was more the result of a predominantly right-handed hitting lineup succumbing to impressive right-handed starting pitching. In the first game of Saturday’s doubleheader, Cleveland’s Corey Kluber became the fourth right-handed starting pitcher to toss at least 8 1/3 innings against the Tigers this season. The numbers ranking the Tigers at or near the top of most of the American League offensive metrics matter little when this team abruptly stalls at the plate.

In those four losses, the Tigers scored a total of nine runs.

Sorry, but you can’t blame the bullpen for everything.

Dombrowski must smartly balance the roster needs with the available resources to fill those needs. Soria, a former All-Star, would certainly help the bullpen, but if Daniels brings an outrageous shopping list, Dombrowski would be better served looking elsewhere. It’s not about being cheap, but rather being shrewd.

The Los Angeles Angels aren’t exactly geniuses after trading a parcel of solid prospects to San Diego for closer Huston Street Saturday morning. The Angels already acquired former Pittsburgh closer Jason Grilli, who’s had a sub 1.40 earned run average since the trade, and Joe Smith performed admirably in his role as their emergency ninth inning specialist. They’ve now got three experienced closers to handle the final three innings if necessary.

The bullpen’s better. But they still need more quality starting pitching if they expect to battle Oakland for the AL West crown. And if that’s the cost for a closer, then what insane lengths are they prepared to stretch for a middle-of-the-rotation starter prior to the July 31 non-waiver deadline?

The Angels grossly inflated the price tag for Soria.

“Winning now” doesn’t justify every decision.

Dombrowski’s smart enough to know that you can’t overpay for relievers. This isn’t 2012 when the Tigers desperately needed starting pitching depth and an answer at second base, explaining why obtaining Anibal Sanchez and Omar Infante from Miami cost them two good prospects in pitcher Jacob Turner and catcher Rob Brantly. The Tigers are crazy if they surrender one of their top five prospects for a reliever.

I’m sure the Rangers are hoping that the Angels’ moves and Nathan’s latest dumpster fire might force Dombrowski into taking more dramatic action as the deadline moves closer, an opportunity for a small measure of vindication for an earlier trade that likely unsettled more than a few stomachs in Texas.


Posted by Tribune News Services

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