Tigers Are Rumored To Be Searching For A Closer: Papelbon Is High On The Hit List
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By Matthew Lafave (Tigers Correspondent) Follow @MatthewLafave
During the off-season Tigers GM Dave Dombrowski prematurely appointed rookie Bruce Rondon as the closer. It’s a lot of weight on a pitcher who has never thrown a pitch in the majors before that.
No surprise to anyone, it did not pan out and Rondon started the season with Triple-A affiliate Toledo Mud Hens.
The ‘closer by committee’ began the season but after 3 blown saves and Octavio Dotel to the disabled list, it was time for a certified closer to come to Detroit.
So in an act of desperation the Tigers signed Jose Valverde to a major league deal on April 23rd.
Shocking to most fans he was still cheered when he made his first appearance of the season and actually got the close. But his success came to an abrupt end and currently has 3 blown saves, a 5.59 ERA, and has given up 6 home runs.
Jose Valverde Blows A Save
Rumors have really taken off the past few weeks, especially centered on Phillies closer Jonathan Papelbon. The Phillies have been rumored to want to move him to clear up some cap space. He is under contract until 2015 with a vesting option for 2016, all at $13 million a year.
The Tigers are among three teams to be looking into Papelbon – the Red Sox and Cardinals the others. His contract is heavy but Papelbon is one of the most dominant closers in the league and he could even need a change of scenery.
Coming off his second blown save on Wednesday night, Papelbon seemed to question the fundamentals of the Philadephia Phillies:
“This is a game of fundamentals and we’ve got to do fundamentals right and keep grinding,” he said. “It’s a game of who grinds the most and who plays the best fundamental baseball. That’s pretty much it.”
He went on to say, “I’m not pointing fingers at anyone. It’s a team effort here. To be able to win and be in the forefront of the playoff race, you have to play good fundamental baseball and do the little things, and the little things are before the pitches are thrown.”
Nothing too major to read into but it does seem to signal that he may be unhappy in the City of Brotherly Love. It was only a season ago he was questioning the lack of leadership within the Phillies organization.
He isn’t the only choice at closer though as other names have been circulating, even including a few A.L. Central teams.
The Indians Chris Perez is a big name that is almost running himself out of Cleveland. However, he wouldn’t exactly be welcomed in Detroit due to his comments he made about the team last season:
“You look over there and you’ve got Cabrera and Fielder and Verlander and Valverde. But that doesn’t win baseball games. Good teams win baseball games.”
With the Indians being so close behind the Tigers in the standings, a trade like this is pretty unlikely unless they completely unravel by the trade deadline.
The Twins Glen Perkins is a name floating around but Twins GM recently said he’d rather see Perkins pitch for them instead of against them.
Other options are naming 8th inning man Joaquin Benoit the closer or even Drew Smyly. Either option is not exactly a long-term fix. Benoit has problems giving up home runs every now and then but is having a very impressive year thus far.
Smyly seems to be the fan favorite in closing games but does have problems against right handed hitters.
The closer by committee seems to be the way to go in recent games – Benoit and Smyly have each earned a save in the past week.
But the Tigers need a certified closer that they can trust to close out those tight games at the end of the season and more importantly in the postseason.
Would you want Benoit closing out a 1-run game in the 9th in a game 7? How about Smyly, the 24-year-old, doing the same?
The Tigers and the fans need someone who won’t make them bite their nails off when they enter the game.
Either way you look at it, they will be buyers at the trade deadline and Jose Valverde may just see his time running out in Detroit (again).
The final piece of the puzzle is out there somewhere but he’s not a Detroit Tiger just yet.
*** The views and opinions expressed in this report are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of mlbreports.com and their partners***
A big thank-you goes out to Our ‘Tigers Correspondent’ Matthew LaFave for preparing today’s featured article. Matthew was born and raised outside of Detroit, Michigan. Growing up watching all of the Detroit sports with his father, he began to enjoy writing about them in high school.
At first started out as e-mails between his father turned into a Detroit Lions blog website titled ‘Hear Me Roar’. Matthew would go on to get a job as ‘Detroit Tigers Writer’ at the website http://www.examiner.com.
He has been writing for them for over two seasons and regularly attends games as a credentialed media member. Be sure to follow him on Twitter Follow @MatthewLafave
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Posted on June 21, 2013, in The Rest: Everything Baseball and tagged 2012 ALCS, 2012 ALDS, 2012 world series, @matthewlafave on twitter, Bobby Parnell, bruce rondon, dave dombrowski, Detroit Tigers pitching staff, Drew Smyly, huston street, Jim Leyland, jonathan papelbon, matthew lafave, octavio dotel, phil coke, philadelphia phillies, rafael betancourt, steve cishek, toledo mudhens, tom wilhelmsen, www.detroitexaminer.com. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.