Sunday, June 25, 2006

How to turn current success into long term success

This team is now 51-25 with a sweep of the Cardinals just finished up. There is a different feel to this team than any team I have followed in my 24 years. There are statisitical ways to explain the Tigers success which starts and ends with the ability of the pitching staff and defense to prevent runs.

So the question is how to turn short term success into long term success. This is a tough part of any GM's job. Who do you pick up and who do you trade away? What prospects are a part of the future as players? Which are a part of the future as trade chips?

There are several different ways to build/keep a team going:

1. Draft/Develop-

The Tigers for several years went through a dry spell of developing top notch talent. The system is far from perfect or deep but there is some hope at long term success especially in the pitching staff.

The following are the players the Tigers have acquired in the draft or through Latin America:

Fernando Rodney, Omar Infante, Brandon Inge, Justin Verlander, Joel Zumaya, and Curtis Granderson.

2. Trades-

This is where DD has really excelled at times. Sometimes he has done a poor job but most of the poor moves have been minor deals.

They have aquired Carlos Guillen, Jeremy Bonderman, Placido Polanco, Zach Miner, Roman Colon, and Vance Wilson in this way.

3. Minor League Free Agents/Rule V draft-

One of the most underrated portions of the team building process is players that you give a shot for little or no risk. These players come via the Rule V draft and via Minor League Free Agency. This is really a spot the Tigers have done some things that help out.

Wilfredo Ledezma, Marcus Thames, Craig Monroe, and Chris Shelton are some names acquired in this way.

4. Major Free Agents-

Really in many ways this is the most costly and risky portions of team building. Many times the players signed are older and/or have injury risks. The Tigers have taken two very large risks that at this point are paying off.

Magglio Ordonez, Ivan Rodriguez, and Todd Jones were picked up this way. As well as failed experiments with Fernando Vina and Troy Percival.

It is questionable if Jones has been a success. The jury is still out on whether Ivan and Magglio will be valuable throughout the length of the contract but they are just fine right now.

Team building can take all of these forms. Long term team building takes good development and the right young players.

So what is the answer for this team when it comes to building long term success.

In all honesty from the current team here is how I think it stacks up as far as long term building block players:

CF - Granderson
SP - Bonderman
SP - Verlander
SP/RP - Zumaya
SS - Infante

Now the only surprise to some will be Infante being on that list. But looking over his stats and his ability in the field I think that the Tigers will give him a shot at starting SS when Guillen's contract runs out. Miner is a possibility on the current roster. As is Ledezma. If both survive the trading deadline I think that they could be a part of the long term.

So several holes will have to be filled long term. Ordonez is going to be around so he probably takes the DH role in his later years and will probably be a bit of an albatross toward the last 2 seasons of his contract.

Luck is going to play a big portion of the success. At this point I have hope for the following players as impact ones. This list can shrink and grow depending on trades and bumps in the road development wise:

SP - Sanchez
SP - Miller (if signed)
SP - Jurrjens
LF/RF - Maybin
1B - Larish

There is a sharp dropoff after these prospects.

As can be seen much of the teams hope is pinned on pitching. That is good in someways bad in others. There is so much that can go wrong with pitchers. Looking at the current building blocks and the prospects you have 6 out of 10 as pitchers. It is good to have depth in pitching if you are going to build around it to protect against TINSTAPP.

So as this team goes along it is likely they will have to continue to use trades and free agency to fill holes. Hopefully they won't have to overpay for free agents with years and money after this season.

Getting there is one thing and staying there is another. Lets hope that they stay there. I trust DD to be able to do it.


billfer said...

Great work guys. My only question - no mention of Fernando Rodney in the long term view?

Brian B said...

Rodney is 29. I suppose he could be viewed as part of the long term.

Lee Panas said...

I can't disagree with any of this. I would hate to see a one year and out team. They have some young players but they have quite a few older ones so they will need to keep re-tooling each year if they want to stay near the top. The White Sox made a lot of changes after winning the World Series last year. No matter how far the Tigers go this year, I hope they continue to try to aggressively improve the club in all the different ways you mentioned.

Anonymous said...

granderson is the epitomy of what has gone wrong with pro sports these days. In july of this year, in Seattle he slept with my wife. Quite impressive considering he was only in Seattle for three days. Lucky me!