Bargains For The Bullpen, Please.

Hmmmmmm.

The headline references bringing in an experienced closer, but Dave Dombrowski’s words don’t use the dreaded E word, which has me a little more hopeful for PROJECT BULLPEN: REBUILD.

From Chris Iott at MLive.com

“We’re going to have a closer,” Dombrowski said. “We’re going to pursue somebody to pitch the back end of the bullpen. Joaquin is in that group, but there are a lot of closers out there. That’s the one area where there are a lot of guys. That is one area I think we need to address with him or someone else and then we’ll look at the rest of our club.”

The names mentioned as potential Tigers are all ones we’re familiar with; Balfour, Nathan, Rodney, Wilson and resigning Benoit. 

Each of those will likely cost at least $8 million dollars for 2014. And it’s unlikely any of them will accept a 1 year deal at that price. Over the last decade, only the greatest closer in history has been more reliable and dominant than Nathan. Based on talent and potential to do the job, I rank them like this.

1. Nathan

2. Benoit.

3. Balfour

4. Wilson

5. Rodney

But contracts – money AND years – disrupts the simply clarity of who’s the best. 

I understand that the Tigers and their fans feel like they need a veritable, proven closer because of the shaky state of the entire bullpen during these postseason runs, but I’d like to assure you it’s not necessary.

Please name the closers of the LCS participants.

Uehara, Benoit, Rosenthal and Jansen.

NONE were closers to start the year. 

I think they may wind up paying a closer $10 million for 2014, but let’s say it’s 8 instead.

If the proper vetting and diligence are accomplished, mixed with a touch of good fortune, it’s very possible for the Tigers to have an entirely rebuilt bullpen in the 8 to 10 million dollar range. 

Remember, the headline said the E word, but Dombrowski did not. Though I AM skeptical that they’ll follow my inexpensive blueprint for bullpen success. 

As I wrote Friday, the Tigers, in my opinion, have NO bullpen right now. My suggestion is to find the bullpen bargain aisle and start picking through it. Or, with Ausmus coming from San Diego, maybe it’s FINALLY time the Tigers acquire one of their relievers, I’m sure Porcello would do quite fine in the vastness of Petco Park. 

Mark Melancon was on his 4th team in 5 years and coming off an ERA in Boston of over 6. He became an All Star for the Pirates at $520,000 dollars. 

Other names that were among the MLB leaders in holds.

Joel Peralta, David Robertson, Tyler Clippard, Rosenthal, Jake McGee, Brandon Kintzler, Tanner Schneppers, Luis Avila, Jared Burton…and, no need to continue on. 

Many of those guys were arms that moved through their parent organizations and are closers-in-waiting, some, even starters-to-be. Drew Smyly is that now for the Tigers. 

How about a LOOGY or two. They’re usually greying, and cheap too. 

There’s no need to remind me that Mr. Ilitch is will go on a financial rampage to win a World Series. I know MLB teams are enriched by TV millions, but still…

Two things to petrify you.

The Angels. They’re a terrifying harbinger. 

The Dodgers spent like crazy too, but they had already internal talent, Hanley Ramirez got healthy and rediscovered his greatness and then the whole Puig phenomenon. 

The other warning is that while Ilitch just may empower Dombrowski to buy all the right pieces to buy a title – I wouldn’t rule out Cano-as-a-Tiger – but what happens after he passes? 

The next owner may not want a payroll with a sizeable luxury tax. There’s also little hopeful talent in the Tigers farm system at this point. 

The Angels are one painful lesson, but where the Phillies and Yankees are now another. An exorbitant payroll with players quickly descending from their prime years is a giant iceberg no team wants to flirt with, and the Tigers could make moves this year that bring Detroit a World Series, but the price they pay may wind up being a historic sunken ship. 

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