Tigers

Jeff Riger: A Guaranteed Way To Win The Central

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Carlos Guillen #9 of the Detroit Tigers congratulates Jhonny Peralta #27 of the Detroit Tigers on a solo home run. (AP Photo/Jim Mone)

Carlos Guillen #9 of the Detroit Tigers congratulates Jhonny Peralta #27 of the Detroit Tigers on a solo home run. (AP Photo/Jim Mone)

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Let’s face it, this time of year is filled with a lot more fantasies then actual reality.  Every year a baseball teams fan base gets excited about a couple of players that more then likely will not end up with their team and they run with it.  For Tiger fans this is already happening! 

Every Detroit baseball fan, I guarantee at one point in the last month found themselves wondering what it would be like to trade for the Mets “do everything” shortstop Jose Reyes or for the Mariners “King” Felix Hernandez.  Now, both those moves along with many more will never happen as the trade deadline is quickly approaching, but I have one that will!  I have a move that if made would without a doubt in my mind win the Tigers the American League Central division.  Do you know who I’m talking about?  Yes, I think you do … James Shields!

Shields is nicknamed “Big Game” and he seems to fit that description.  According to reports, Detroit scouts were on hand in Tampa Thursday night to watch Shields out-duel the Yankees C.C. Sabathia and pick up a 2-1 victory.  This season he is 9 and 8 with an ERA right around 2 and a half and he is only 29 years old. The California native embodies pretty much everything that you might be looking for in a number two pitcher for the Tigers.  He has had success in the postseason, he has the ability to go deep into games (6 complete games already this season) and he is a great clubhouse guy as well. 

 But, the one thing that makes Shields a no-brainer for me is his contract. The Rays starter is very affordable having club options for the next 3 seasons.  IN 2012 he is due to make $7 million, in  2013 he is due to make 9 mil and in 2014 he will make 12 mil.  Also if for some reason he just doesn’t work out, Detroit will not be on the hook for any major amount of money.  Shields buyout in 2012 is 2 million dollars, in 2013 it is 1.5 mil and in 2014 it is just 1 mil.  So, have I sold you yet?  What would it take to get him?

The way I figure it is Tampa Bay has a very slim chance, if any to make the postseason this year.  Currently the club is 7 and a half games behind the Red Sox in the AL East and 5 and a half games out of the Wildcard race in the American League. so the Rays should be open to trading away Shields.  Tampa Bay is also notorious for dealing proven talent in an effort to get prospects in return while saving money in the process.  As crazy as it might seem to even think about trading away a guy like Shields, it’s not because this is what the Rays do.  Any talent not named Evan Longoria, David Price or one of their many other low paid up and coming young players does not fit in the Rays financial scene.  They want cheap, youth while Detroit wants a experienced arm, can you think of a better match?

Now, Shields will not be cheap, Detroit will have to part ways with one or more of their highly touted prospects to land “Big Game.”  Of course the one name that every Tiger fan is already aware of is Jacub Turner,  Turner is slated as the next great Detroit pitcher but he has not pitched a game at the major league level yet.  Turner is just 21 years old and is having an average year in double A Erie with a 3 and 4 record and 3 and a half ERA.  There is little doubt in my mind that Turner has what it takes to be productive someday in the “bigs” but the key words here is “some day.”  People all the time get enthralled with a young prospect and deem them “untouchable” because they constantly hear about their potential. 

I think that pure foolishness!  They are prospects for a reason, and that reason is they have proven nothing yet, so why not trade them for a guy that is already proven. 

Let’s be honest, if Turner one days grows up to be comparable to Shields then he will be worth the wait.  But my point is there is no need to wait, you can have Shields now!  Who knows what the Tigers will be like when Turner is actually ready to make an impact. 

My entire life as a Tiger fan I have always heard about the “next great” prospect that turned out to be the “next great” bust.  From Justin Thompson to Matt Drews, from Nate Corenjo to Matt Anderson, none of them have worked out so why should I be convinced that Turner will?  Remember Cameron Maybin and Andrew Miller?  Detroit had no intention of every trading those guys but when a chance to get Miguel Cabrera came up those guys were dealt and that is why we are even talking about a Detroit chance to win the division and go to the postseason.

Of course Turner is the best that Detroit has on the farm, but there is a chance that Tampa Bay would ask for some of the lesser rated prospects like Fransisco Martinez who could be an eventually stud at 3rd base and Nick Castellanos who is another 3rd basemen.  But if the Rays were to go this route, they might also want a major league ready player to sweeten to deal, maybe in the form of Brennan Boesch or Al Alburquerque I know no Detroiter would willingly give up the two names I just mentioned, but I would because this move is not just about this season, it’s also about the upcoming years as well.  Now I would not give up both Boesch and Alburquerque, but I would part ways with one and a prospect to make this deal. 

So what do you think?  Should the Tigers do whatever it takes to get James “Big Game” Shields?  If you say NO, just think how a rotation of Justin Verlander and James Shields would look.  Then remember back to 2006 when Detroit was in the playoffs and how amazing it felt to have your team with a chance to win a title.  I guarantee James Shields can make that happen!  So Detroit has to make this deal HAPPEN!  NOW!

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