Monday, November 28, 2011

Tigers Interested in Mark Buehrle

Lynn Henning has reported a few times this off-season that the Tigers are interested in former White Sox left-hander Mark Buehrle.  Tigers General manager has hinted that upgrading the infield and acquiring a leadoff hitter are bigger priorities than adding a starter.  However, you can never have enough pitching and they do not have an established fifth starter behind Justin Verlander, Doug Fister, Max Scherzer and Rick Porcello.  As it stands now, rookies such as Jacob Turner, Drew Smiley and Adam Wilk would compete for the spot and there's a good chance none of them are ready yet.  

The 32-year-old Buehrle is a model of consistency and durability.  In fact, he is the only major league pitcher to pitch 200 or more innings for 11 straight years.  He's been quite effective as well with a career ERA+ of 120 and he has been 100 (average) or better in 10 of 11 seasons.  He is not a strikeout pitcher (5.1 K per 9 innings) but has excellent control (2.0 BB per 9 innings). 

Some will point out that his DIPS statistics do not match his ERA.  His lifetime 4.11 WDIP (average of FIP, XFIP, tERA and SIERA) is higher than his 3.83 ERA.  If he did that for a year or two, you might guess that he was lucky.  There comes a point though where you need to trust ERA and 11 years is long past that point.  It seems that he does have a run prevention skill that goes beyond what his peripherals suggest.

The Tigers are certainly not the only team that might pursue the under-rated veteran.  He will be attractive to a lot of teams and will be costly.  Is he worth a large multi-year deal?  Given his past health history and the the fact that good pitchers don't tend to drop off as rapidly as hitters in the 30s, I'd say he's a better bet than someone like third baseman Aramis Ramirez, who is also on the Tigers radar.  Depending on how ridiculous the offers get, Buehrle could very well be worth it.

Chances are the Tigers will sign neither Buehrle or Ramirez, but it's starting to get interesting.

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