Thursday, March 20, 2014

Jose Iglesias Likely Out for Season. What Now?

Should the Tigers sign free agent shortstop Stephen Drew to replace Jose Iglesias?
(Photo credit: Associated Press)

According to the Detroit Free Press and several other sources, The Tigers confirmed today that young shortstop Jose Iglesias would be sidelined with stress fractures in both shins.  General manager Dave Dombrowski went so far as to hint that Iglesias would probably miss the entire season:
“The reality is that he will be out basically for at least five months,” Dombrowski said. “Perhaps back late in the year, but in my thought process that’s more unlikely than likely at this time.”
This is a disappointing development to say the least as he was the centerpiece of the teams new emphasis on infield defense.  Not only does this cut into the Tigers projected edge in the American League Central, but it also deprives us of being able to watch perhaps the most acrobatic Tigers shortstop of most of our lifetimes.

The Tigers do expect the 24-year-old Iglesias to be back for next season, but they have a big void to fill for 2014.  It shouldn't be a crushing blow as they are still heavy favorites to win the division, but it's a substantial loss.  The Tigers are considering internal options to replace Iglesias - probably some combination of spring training invitee Danny Worth, rookies Hernan Perez and Eugenio Suarez and utility man Steve Lombardozzi.

That arrangement might work for a few weeks, but contending teams don't usually do shortstop by committee and it's hard to foresee any of those guys emerging as their starting shortstop for the full season.

So, I'm expecting them to aggressively pursue a replacement from outside the organization.  The most obvious choice would be free agent Stephen Drew.  The catch there is that the Tigers would have to give up a first round draft pick to sign him which is not usually a good idea for a one-year stop gap.

I've gone back and forth on Drew, but now that we pretty much know that Iglesias is gone for the season, I would be in favor of a one-year deal or two years at most.  The draft pick is important, but it's less important than trying to win it all this year. Keep in mind that draft picks in the second half of the first round have much lower odds of success than picks earlier in the first round. 

Other rumors involve Mariners middle infielder Nick Franklin (mostly a second baseman) and Diamond Back's shortstop Didi Gregorius.  Either would likely cost one or two of the Tigers top prospects which would be more than the likely value of a first round pick.  Since the Tigers do not have a deep farm system, this would limit their ability to add more help at other positions before the trading deadline.

Cubs second baseman Darwin Barney has also been mentioned as a possible replacement.  He's an elite defender at the keystone position, but probably not at shortstop. He doesn't hit much, so if he is only average or tick above defensively, then he won't be much of an upgrade over the internal candidates.  The Cardinals Pete Kozma?  He's a good fielder, but he had a .548 OPS last year which is not acceptable at any position.

Phillies shortstop Jimmy Rollins is one more option.  He'd be cheaper in terms of players because the Phillies would move him for salary relief.  The problem with him is that he has a no-trade clause and has no interest in leaving Philadelphia.

So, there is no easy answer, but I am confident Dombrowski will make a move.  If not, then they might start the season with a spring training invitee (Worth) and two rookies (third baseman Nick Castellanos and outfielder Tyler Collins) in the starting line-up. That's too much uncertainty for a team with post-season aspirations.  So, they'll likely do something and I'm guessing they'll work something out with Drew.

21 comments:

  1. I agree Drew is most likely, but he's a poorly leverage option and is more of the same type of shooting for the moon without a good long-term efficiency plan with solid exit strategy options for enhanced flexibility. I have for a LONG time now advocated that we find a superstar SS for the future and there have been a lot of fantastic players that we could have targeted in the past and maybe DD will surprise and come up with a really big and clever deal for a prominent established player or prospect!

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  2. I advise against the panicky OMG-the-world-is-going-to-come-to-an-end-if-we-don't-sign-the-rediculously-overvalued-Drew-now-now-now.

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    1. If the world ends because of a zombie pandemic then I'm going to take refuge in the Tigers facilities and clean out their Front Office as my first order of business, just in case a cure is found later so that I can claim dibs on my newly established territory.

      Rule #1: No dead baseball minds may enter this facility ever again.

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  3. Who said anything about the world ending? It's just a baseball discussion. What do you think Drew's value is and why do you feel he is overvalued?

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    1. Reasons not to sign Drew:
      1) Draft pick - I agree 100% with TSE (see below), who I think nails it. Even so, that isn't the only reason he hasn't gotten a job yet.
      2) Salary - IMO we'd be be overpaying even if there was no draft pick involved. And even in a crisis situation, 2 years, which is what he wants, is out of the question.
      3) recent injury history - 2010 was his last full season
      4) Hitting - I don't see anything special here. His production last year may very well have been inflated due to the friendly confines of Fenway. Get him in Comerica and he will probably regress. Remember Johnny Damon.
      5) Defense - average, some say in the Peralta range, maybe a bit better.

      What makes him a "legit" SS? Because he was a regular for 4 out of the last 7 years? I'm not buying it. SS is a key position, but I don't think Drew makes that much of a difference.

      And now with Rondon out also, I just don't see the SS issue as the biggest problem to start the season. Go internally until June, and then, if things are looking tough for us and his price has dropped considerably...maybe. Chances are pretty good that Drew will still be sitting by his phone waiting for it to ring.

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    2. Very interesting points! :)

      I call my philosophy Logicball, it's a system of ideas where money is only one of the nice byproducts that come out of playing the game the smart way.

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  4. B.J. RassamMarch 21, 2014

    I wouldn't get Drew because you have to give up your 1st round pick - for a one year stop-gap measure, not worth it.

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  5. I'd prefer they not give up a first round pick, but I also don't like going into the season with a Romine/Worth platoon. In order to get a legit shortstop, they'd have to give up prospects with more value than a #1 pick. Remember that this pick would come between picks 20-30 which have much lower odds of success than picks higher in the first round.

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    1. But they do have much higher odds than picks in Rounds 2 thru whatever. We could trade our 1st Rounder every year too if we want to find an excuse to do it. At some point in time though it is worthwhile to consider making more potent investments out of those picks rather than selling them at a discount which is what we have been doing for the last 10 years. We sell things for low prices and buy things for high prices and that's bad form and bad practice. It's a nasty habit and with any kind of harmful habit there isn't often much logic in saying it's ok to do it just one more time. It's not a good attitude to have and baseball is a very mental game. The best at the game understand focus and control.

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  6. Mr Anonymous...That is a fair response. I was hoping you would do better than your first comment and you did :-)

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    1. Perhaps the hyperbole was a little over the top.

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  7. That being said, I expect Drew to significantly better than what they have. The draft pick is a deterrent, but I don't care about salary if it's a one-year deal (it's not my money). I guess they are going with Romine/Worth to start the season. If they can provide above average defense, I won't complain much.

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  8. I think the money has to be taken into consideration to make a serious realistic appraisal. It is going to have a definite impact on what the team is able to do in the future, whether that involves signing draft picks, making improvements at the farm level, administrative hires, or potential long term contract extensions, etc. As I recall, some argued that trading Fister was partly a salary dump in order to be able to re-sign Scherzer to a long term contract. Even DD talked about cutting salary increases. I'm not sure I buy that entirely, since they then went out and spent 20M on Nathan, but there is a point to be made. Fister got 7M this year, while Drew is asking 14M. Hmmm.

    I empathize with your "it's not my money" theme. When the umpire yells "Play ball", I try to focus on the myth of 50 blue collar guys playing a blue collar game in front of 30,000 blue collar fans, but the fact is that off the field this is a huge corporate enterprise, where the money is really important. In the overall picture that just has to be taken into account.

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  9. Oh, I understand the business of baseball and don't like the team to be tied up in bad long-term contracts. For a one-year deal though, I don't care. If they overpay someone in an effort to make post-season, that's their problem, not mine. If it's a matter of one year versus three, then that's a different problem which may affect me as a fan.

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    1. Well it is your problem in that the more they spend in the present while not winning just limits their potential ability to fund future seasons as fully as they could if they saved more money now or made more money now. There will always be extra benefits that we will miss out on for every dollar of opportunity cost that slipped through the cracks. More money and more leverage was available and those dollars are permanently gone now. It's impossible to recapture that extra portion, it's gone and it didn't have to be.

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    2. Theoretically, that is true, but how do I know they are going to spend the money saved to improve their club in the future? They could cut their budget back to let's say $130 million next year and you might say that's a good thing because it means they'll have more money to spend in the future. But they might just pocket the money. How would that help me as a fan? Conversely, they might raise their budget to $ 200 million. That might not be wise, but If the Tigers want to have a $200 million budget for salaries, I'm certainly not going to root against it. I don't know what their budget is, so if they spend more I usually see it as a good thing unless they sign some crazy long-term deal which I know has a good chance of hurting the fans down the line.

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    3. You know through logical estimation. If I told Mike Illitch he is going to be worth "x" amount in 10 years no matter what he does, then he is going to spend "y" between now and then. If I could tell him that he is going to be worth "2x" in 10 years, then there is no logic to think he would spend less than "y". It only makes sense to assume he will spend more. If he chooses not to spend more then that's more personal profit and potential for the future beyond that. More money is always going to result in more likelihood to spend an extra dollar. $1 missing out of his pocket today is $1 more he would have spent, or a % chance to spend that $1 which results in an EV of again more money than nothing.

      If we could go back 10 years and do things the way I would have suggested, then what if I could show a different future where we won many more games, more titles, and he had say $250MM more to his name today than he does in the present real world? Well if you won more in the past and have an extra quarter-billion dollars then there's no reason to think that the next 10 years he would spend more. We don't have that money and extra past success now and your future 10 years is now going to be less from a statistical projection standpoint compared to what it could have been. Whether you acknowledge that it is costing you or not, the fact remains that we are shortchanged in the present relative to other destinies we could have chose. The fans are eating that cost in present time whether they are aware of it or not.

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    4. sorry typo...should say "no reason to think that the next 10 years he WOULDN'T spend more"

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    5. Here's how to look at the value of the other destinies. The best case scenario would have been to win 10 titles. That would be max results and then what would the additional profit and/or increased Present Franchise Value be worth? So from the point 10 years ago based upon whatever the plan was for a different set of choices you would then estimate the odds of hitting that maximum jackpot. Then next you would do that for 9 titles, and 8 titles and so forth down to 1 title. You can then compute the EV of all of those destinies to get an average score of results and additional financial value.

      We can debate what those probabilities would have been for each enhanced path, but the formula is going to work relative to whatever you accept as credible to input from your own perspective. My numbers would result in different average expectations than what somebody else would believe are the proper odds for my choices as an example. My theory is that as long as you never make a move that violates logic in terms of strategy from any perspective or angle, then our actual results we see today and present position would only have those 10 better scenarios to choose from. This is because the premise is that my philosophy is logically sound and no gambles would be taken that don't have a qualified logical angle existing as rationale to make a given choice.

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  10. Alex Gonzales, anyone? Maybe he can do just enough to fill the hole for one year, along with Romine, with Iglesias returning in 2015. replacing Rondon is the big concern now.

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    1. Well, Gonzalez track record over the last two years says no, but maybe he'll be Comeback Player Of The Year. If he can just come close to his career line of .246/.290/.396/.686. Now, as far as replacing Rondon, we've got a couple of guys named Roby and Krol that we could easily give up for an old 8th-inning guy on the bubble of some other team's bullpen.

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