The Detroit Tigers began the supposedly impossible -- or impossibly expensive -- task of adding a relief pitcher at the trade deadline by tapping into a familiar source on Wednesday.
Like Ian Kinsler and Joe Nathan before him, Joakim Soria will make the trip from Texas to Detroit to shore up Brad Ausmus' bullpen. Soria's the real deal, with a 2.70 ERA, 17 saves, and 42 strikeouts to just four walks over 33 innings, but Dave Dombrowski paid a measurable price for the market's best reliever:
- Jake Thompson, a 20-year-old righty and 2012 second-round draft pick who represented the Tigers in the Futures Game.
- Corey Knebel, one of two first-round picks in 2013 and the fast-tracked "closer of the future" until he faltered in his first try.
That said, it's an appropriate move for the time, similar to the Jeff Samardzija-Jason Hammel trade for Oakland. A very hittable Tigers bullpen carried a 4.41 ERA into Wednesday's action (12th in the AL). A half-measure may prove to be just as effective in the long run, but given how committed the Tigers are to the very present -- and how little a division or league championship means to them -- it doesn't make much sense to half-ass it now.
It's also similar to the Angels' acquisition of Huston Street. You can say the Tigers gave up two of their best prospects, but their farm system is depleted to the point that "two of the best" means very little with no additional context.
Christian Marrero Reading Room
Rick Hahn took vertigo victim Don Cooper's place for an appearance with season-ticket holders, and Brian Bilek at Future Sox has a number of verbatim answers from Hahn, such as:
"This year is by far the lowest percentage of accuracy in White Sox rumors. Less than 30% of the rumors I hear are accurate this year. So while I would usually say don't believe everything you hear, this year, that would be especially true."
Back in action after the birth of his son, Tyler Flowers recounted the story of getting to the hospital 10 minutes before the delivery.
"I knew like in the sixth (inning) that it was pretty much time to go," Flowers said. "That’s why I was really hoping they would correct that (home run) call because it would put me in a good spot to where I was maybe coming out of the game. When that didn’t happen, I was, ‘I hope she can hold out a little bit,’ and she did. A bunch of the (players’) wives were there helping her out."
Speaking of tales from the hospital, the five-year anniversary of Mark Buehrle's perfect game brought back memories, and John Danks' story is the best.
- The anatomy of an Astros breakdown - Baseball Prospectus
- The inside story of how the Houston Astros lost No. 1 pick Brady Aiken - SI.com
This is something of a Venn diagram of "How the Astros Astro'd the draft" stories. Nick Faleris at Baseball Prospectus illustrates how the Houston front office systematically eliminated its own leverage, while friend of the podcast Ben Reiter -- who wrote the cover story on the 2017 World Series champion Astros -- takes a more sympathetic view, saying the Astros genuinely believed in Aiken's talent, and had to have seen something genuinely concerning in the medical report to choose that course of action.
(Faleris points out that the White Sox played the leverage game correctly by establishing a maximum signing amount for Carlos Rodon by signing all their other draft picks first. Scott Boras did well for his client, but the Sox could afford it.)
The main disagreement comes down to how much the Astros actually hurt themselves, considering they get the second pick in the 2015 draft. Reiter maintains the position that black eyes fade and the No. 2 prospect could be a better fit than a 17-year-old pitcher was; Faleris says the combination of bad press, professional acrimony and sheer unspent money can have lasting scars.
Grant Brisbee puts Robin Ventura under the "New manager, bad team" category of managers who won't be fired. I'd disagree with calling Ventura "new," but the contract extension and long-term rebuilding plan basically make it the same thing. I'm pointing this out mainly because I really enjoyed this paragraph:
The owners of all of these teams might wake up every morning, look in the mirror, and mutter, "Oh, god. What have we done? Who have I hired?" These managers might be awful, all of them. One of them might have shown up to spring training, grabbed a bat by the barrel, pretended to use it like a hockey stick, and yelled "Someone throw me an alley-oop! I'm open!" He's still getting one more chance.
You can't really pull one paragrah out of this story from David Manel, who talks to players, coaches and front-office types about the effects of defensive shifting -- why the results aren't necessarily intuitive, and how the Pirates' shifting system is more malleable than one might think.