Later on Tuesday night, it was announced that catcher Gerald Laird was possibly on the block. This was not upsetting news because Laird is coming off an awful offensive season and they've got Alex Avila and Dusty Ryan waiting in the wings. They would certainly miss Laird's throwing arm but he's not indispensable.
The really disconcerting news for Tigers fans came on Wednesday when it was rumored that center fielder Curtis Granderson was available. Granderson has his faults to be sure. He is slump prone and is terrible versus left-handed pitchers but he is also the only Tiger who is capable of performing above average both offensively and defensively. He can hit for average (some years) and power, is a solid(sometimes spectacular) defender at an important position and can run the bases. Very few Tigers in the past couple of decades have been able to do as many things as Curtis can do.
Off the field, he is the perfect ambassador for the Tigers and for all of Major League Baseball. He just won the Marvin Miller Man of the Year award for all his charity work and everything else he does. His internet presence has made him particularly appealing to bloggers and fourumites. Even beyond the internet though, his work in the community and the way he carries himself have made him perhaps the most popular Tiger player at this time.
My first reaction to the Granderson news was similar to Samara's tirade:
Curtis Granderson stays. Period. End of sentence. END OF SPECULATION ABOUT SOMETHING SO HORRIFIC AS THE DEPARTURE OF CURTIS GRANDERSON FROM THIS DETROIT TIGERS TEAM. I hate to get fuzzy on you here, but he is really the heart and soul of the squad, he is one of the most popular guys on the team with the fans (if not THE most popular), he is amazing for the community and for baseball and HE IS A DETROIT TIGER, HE STAYS. HE DOES NOT LEAVE. IT IS NOT ALLOWED.Curtis has been a personal favorite of mine ever since I saw him play for Oneonta in 2002. He is my favorite Tiger since the days of Lou Whitaker and Alan Trammell. I'm usually very analytical logical and rational (maybe to a fault at times) but the thought of him playing for another team is something which is difficult for me to process.
Are the Tigers having a fire sale? GM Dave Dombrowski says no and I believe him. I still believe that owner Mike Illitch wants to win now and there have been no indications that they he wants to slash the payroll. He didn't spend big last winter but he didn't cut much either. One MotownSports poster brought up the point that he allowed Magglio Ordonez's option to vest and gave Dombrowski the freedom to pick up Jarrod Washburn and Aubrey Huff at the trading deadline. I don't think all of that would have happened if there was a major financial crisis.
So, I'm not expecting a situation where the Tigers dump salaries in exchange for the best set of prospects they can find. Those types of typically don't work out too well for the teams acquiring prospects. Rather, I think Dombrowski is exploring ways to make the team stronger in 2010 and beyond without raising the payroll any higher. That could mean moving salaries around in order to acquire a young major league shortstop or a player at another position of immediate need. Those trades are difficult to make but worth exploring.
Oh yes, in case you did not know, Brandon Inge is also reportedly on the block. If nothing else, all the rumors make for some interesting discussion. Here is what others are saying: