Indians Can Learn From Tigers on Field and in Deadline Deals

If anything has been learned or proven in the first three games with the Detroit Tigers this weekend, it’s that the Cleveland Indians need another starting pitcher, and maybe more than one.

The Tigers, the American League Central Division’s alpha dog since 2008, have demonstrated how the Tribe needs a starting pitcher in the short term and the long term if they wish to seriously challenge for the top spot in 2013 and beyond. Despite Sunday’s 9-6 victory, Detroit has had better starting pitching for most of the weekend. Rick Porcello, Detroit’s weakest starter, carved up the Tribe, allowing just five hits over seven innings. The same was true on Saturday when Anibal Sanchez walked off the disabled list and scattered three hits and one run in five innings.

Yesterday, the Tribe was able to score six runs—five of them early—on Doug Fister. Even then, Fister settled down and gave the Tigers six innings, battling their way back into the game. When Fister was unable to supply a quality start, he still supplied enough to give the Tigers’ big bats a chance to hit their way back into the game.

The problem with that picture for the Cleveland Indians is that they can’t match up. Sadly, not even close. Porcello, Sanchez and Fister are Detroit’s third, fourth and fifth pitchers in their rotation, respectively. Max Scherzer, who is 13-0, with a 3.09 ERA and starting tonight, or two-time Cy Young Award winner Justin Verlander haven’t entered the discussion yet. Any of Detroit’s bottom three in their rotation would be the Indians second best starter. Porcello proved how close the Tigers’ bottom is to the Indians top on Friday when he outshined Masterson.

Indians general manager Chris Antonetti could learn a thing or two from Detroit’s Dave Dombrowski. Two seasons ago the Tigers dealt for Fister from the Seattle Mariners. A year ago they landed Sanchez from the Miami Marlins. Each were signed long term, helping Detroit in their current pennant race, but in future seasons.

Antonetti needs to find a starting pitcher. In the larger picture, beyond 2013, he probably needs to find more than one. With a farm system that has talent, but not a plethora of depth, Antonetti needs to use his trade pieces wisely because he doesn’t have an abundance of them. If the Indians are going to trade their youth, it has to be for someone who can provide help to the rotation in the present and the future.

This week, ESPN’s Buster Olney reported that the Indians were one of five teams in heavy conversation with the Chicago Cubs for right-handed starting pitcher, Matt Garza. Garza is 4-1, with a 3.45 ERA in nine starts this season. He had a late start to the 2013 season due to injury and is a free agent at year’s end. He’s the kind of pitcher the Indians need, a consistent proven winner for the last eight seasons, but not the contract.

Whoever acquires Garza will only have his services for the rest of the season. In a, “win now,” attitude, it’s easy to worry about next season when come winter, but Antonetti needs to have an eye on both the short and long term chances of the Tribe’s contention. Trading for Garza would be solely a short-sighted move and one the Detroit Tigers likely would not make over the past few seasons.

Presently, it’s one of the reasons they are better than the Indians right now.

Photo: Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images

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This Post Has 4 Comments

  1. It’s a great point, however another reason that the Tigers are better is that they spend obscene amounts of money (albeit wisely).

  2. I’m a little bit confused here. “Trading for Garza would be solely a short-sighted move and one the Detroit Tigers likely would not make over the past few seasons.”

    That’s in fact exactly the move the made last year when they traded for Sanchez who was at the end of his contract and then re-signed him for 65 million over 4 years?

    Granted they hit the jackpot with Fister in 2011as he went 8-1 down the stretch, but the Sanchez trade wasn’t that good. In fact the re-signing of Sanchez was probably an ever worse move, since Drew Smyly finished 2012 with a better WAR and actually had pitched better as a starter (not counting Sanchez’s run in the playoffs).

  3. Remind me what the Tigers have won???? A weak central Division??? And a shot at getting blown away in the WS???.

    1. I don’t think anyone said the Tigers were the Yankees of the late-90s or Reds of the mid-70s. My point is that they are the team to beat in this division and have had much better success than any Central Division team in the last five years and they wouldn’t go after a 2 month rental. They’d go after a player they still had control over for at least next season.

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