digillustration by Samara Pearlstein
So the Phillies have signed Placido Polanco to a 3 year deal (option for a 4th year, when he will be 38 years old). To play third base.
You can take a moment to revel in the sheer WHAT of that, but when you’re done I think we need to talk about WHAT IN THE HOLY CATS ARE THE TIGERS GOING TO DO WITH THEIR INFIELD IN 2010?!
The Tigers were rumored to be ‘shopping’, or at least open to potentially trading Gerald Laird, I guess because he’s probably going to make at least $3 million next year? OK. I don’t even want to think about this. He’s going to be 30 years old for the entire 2010 season, he hasn’t been unusually injury prone or anything (what, some small back spasms that didn’t land him on the DL?), he’s a great defensive catcher who gets insufficient credit for that because his bat was weak as hell this season.
No, he isn’t Joe Mauer, but you know what, we aren’t going to get Joe Mauer. JOE MAUER: NOT OURS. This is a Fact of Life, I have accepted it, I have digested it, I am over it. Yadier Molina: not ours. Also not ours: Pudge circa 2004, Bill Freehan circa 1974.
Could we find a catcher who would come cheaper than Gerald Laird? Yes, of freaking course we could, we could spend the season with a cheapity-cheap-cheap combination of Dusty Ryan and Alex Avila’s 5 o’clock shadow, and maybe they would sometimes hit, and maybe they would make some good throws on occasion or whatever, but they would not be as good defensively as Gerald Laird and they’re just children so they would not be as big a help with our pathetic pitching staff, which has issues, you know that it does, we love it anyways but our love is not enough to heal it.
(Don’t even bring up Brandon Inge. Don’t even. You don’t want to go there with me.)
As of right now, Miguel Cabrera is our 2010 first baseman, but he too has been at the heart of a number of trade rumors this winter. This is because
a) he has an enormous contract ($20 million next year, then $106 million from 2011-2015. That is a lot of millions) and the Tigers, as they keep telling us over and over and OVER again, are trying to do something to reduce their payroll,
b) he was pretty much the only Tiger from ’09 to hit with something approaching consistency (good consistency, not, you know, consistently failing to get hits) and as such is one of the few Tigers who can be said to have real trade value without people laughing at us,
c) he got all mutually combative with his wife and she threw him out of the house because he came home drunk after partying with Wrong Sox players when he had potentially division-clinching games to play in the next two days and the police got involved and Dave Dombrowski had to pick him up from the police station really early in the morning, at which point Cabrera’s blood alcohol level was still quite elevated, and I’m sure none of this made Mr. Dombrowski real pleased with him,
d) and also because Lynn Henning likes trading away the entire team.
But let’s face it, Miggy is going to be 27 next year. He’s entering his prime. We just got him all nice and broken-in at first base. It’s going to be difficult to find someone else willing to take on his contract, and even if that happens, the Tigers will need to be offered something truly out-of-this-litter-box spectacular to make it so. It is unlikely to be made so. So, uh, there.
It will be Brandon Inge. He’s due $6.6 million in 2010 and he just had surgery on both knees at once. He is such an untradeable commodity that we can’t even call him a commodity, he’s just, like, THERE. Not that I consider this a bad thing, because I love Brandon Inge and eagerly await his 2010 resurgence, fueled entirely by hustle and determination and sugar-laden gum and bionic knees.
Look, you know that Detroit wants Inge to do well next year, he is the longest-tenured Tiger and it would be a good story, and there isn’t really much of anyone else to back him up. If you think they DIDN’T pump his knees full of self-repairing nanobots while they had the chance, well, I would just have to question your obvious baseball naïvité.
Scott Sizemore is allegedly the cat for the job. He is a few months older than me, he went to Brandon Inge’s college, he split last year between double-A and triple-A, hitting moderately well at both levels. He broke his ankle in the Arizona Fall League and has been recovering ever since. Allegedly it’s healing well and he hopes to be up to speed by the end of Spring Training.
He has not had a single at-bat at the Major League level and the Tigers are willing to entrust second base to him. I know it worked out OK for FredFred and it worked out… kind of horribly, actually, for Jeremy Bonderman, but that wasn’t immediately evident– anyways the point is that I’m not so sure this is a good idea for a position player.
I don’t know! I’m not a Scott Sizemore expert. Presumably the front office cats who are familiar with him have reasons for believing that this is a doable thing. I just worry. It’s what I do. If Sizemore’s ankle doesn’t end up being ready, or if he isn’t as competent as hoped right away, I’m not sure what the Tigers do. Is there a viable backup plan? (Just lie to me and say yes.)
HOLY CATS Y’ALL I HAVE NO IDEA
Try to get Adam Everett back after not offering him arbitration? Try to pick up some scrub and pair him up with Ramon Santiago all season long? Try to work a trade for someone random I can’t think of right now? Or dip into the unimpressive free agent pool?
Which would mean… go with someone old? I think all the free agent shortstops this winter are old. Like, over 30. Craig Counsell will be 39 years old, can he still walk? (Aside: I have a cactus named Craig Counsell. True story. He needs to be re-potted but I keep putting it off because it’s hard to re-pot a cactus.) Orlando Cabrera is 35 and I am pretty sure he’s a Type A guy. Bobby Crosby will only be 30 but he’s so injury-prone that his body is more like 78. The Red Sox probably just signed Marco Scutaro.
Shortstop is a huge, gaping hole for the Tigers right now. Combine that with the uncertainty about second base, and the possibility of (Paws forbid) Inge getting hurt again or something, and we are looking at a very unhappy situation with a lot of Tiger fan tears in the coming season.
Seriously, what are we doing for a shortstop? We aren’t really considering Ramon Santiago full time, right? Please, someone tell me that they have an idea that does not involve Ramon Santiago full time. Please.