Thursday, February 17, 2011

Do the Tigers have "dead weight"? They might...

In an article yesterday in the Free Press, beat writer John Lowe points out that unlike last season, where the Tigers were carrying dead weight, specifically in the form of members of the pitching staff. Three days into spring training, the word out of Lakeland is; that is not the case this season.

Last year the Tigers paid over $20 Million for the performances of Dontrelle Willis, Jeremy Bonderman and Nate Robertson, who combined for 60 appearances 315.2 IP, 15-20 with a 5.59 ERA and 1.52 WHIP in the Majors during the 2010 season. The details of the various contracts are listed at the bottom of this article for those of you who are interested.

I think that the Tigers have a couple of players that can either contribute or end up being “dead weight”, and hopefully for Detroit’s sake they end up being able to contribute.

I hope the Tigers get a good contribution out of Carlos Guillen this season, but if he can’t recover fully from micro-fracture surgery, he could VERY well end up being $13 Million worth of dead weight.

Another potential “dead weight” player, in my opinion, is reliever Joaquin Benoit. Pitcher performances can fluctuate radically from season to season, and while Benoit last year in Tampa Bay, appeared to be perfectly healthy after having rotator cuff surgery in 2008, the possibility exists that he could struggle in his first season in Detroit.

With the breaking news out of Florida this morning, Miguel Cabrera could end up having a very rocky year as he struggles with his sobriety, and while you can’t say that a potential MVP candidate (when sober) like Cabrera will end up being dead weight, if he has to miss time to get sober and struggles with it, his $20 Million contract will be VERY hard to live-up to.

So I ask you, Tiger Tizzy followers, do the 2011 Tigers have dead weight on the roster? If so, who?

Here are the details of how much the Tigers paid of Robertson and Willis's contracts for last year, as well as where Willis, Bonderman and Robertson are now.

Robertson was traded to the Marlins at the end of March, with Detroit paying $9.6 Million of his contract. He was then designated for assignment on July 21 and released on July 27, and pitched for two other NL teams and in the minors.

Willis was traded to Arizona in June, with the Tigers picking up all of Willis salary except for a pro-rated portion of the $400,000 MLB minimum, and he too spent time pitching in the minor leagues.

Of course, Bonderman spent all of 2010 in the Tiger organization, and they let his contract expire and he remains a free agent at this point of spring training. Robertson signed a minor-league deal with the Mariners while Willis signed a minor-league deal with the Reds.

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