November 15th, 2010

Jackson finishes second in AL Rookie balloting

Austin Jackson will have to settle for the respect of his peers among American League rookies. The Tigers center fielder finished as the runner-up to Rangers closer Neftali Feliz in balloting for the AL Rookie of the Year award.

Jackson did not respond Monday to an email from MLB.com seeking comment.
The results, released Monday, came after Jackson topped Feliz last month for AL rookie honors among The Sporting News and MLB Players Choice awards. Both awards were based on player balloting.

In the end, though, members of the Baseball Writers Association of America valued Feliz’s contribution to on a division champion over Jackson’s all-around game for the .500 Tigers. Feliz took 20 of the 28 first-place votes, with Jackson taking the rest along with 19 second-place votes and one third-place nod.

Fellow Tigers outfielder Brennan Boesch, a strong contender at midseason before he fell into a second-half slump, garnered three second third-place votes to finish tied for fifth.

Jackson still ended up with the best finish by a Tigers position player since Lou Whitaker won the award in 1978. Justin Verlander remains the last Tiger to win the award in 2006.

In a year when few American League teams had rookies last the entire season in meaningful roles — remember when another Tigers outfielder, Brennan Boesch, was a midseason sensation — the choice essentially came down to Jackson or Feliz. While Jackson’s supporters could argue he had more of an impact as an everyday player, Feliz had the advantage of tangible results for a contending team.

GM meetings begin this week

The early start to free agency has allowed plenty of time for that market to percolate. This is the week when we might find out a little more about the trade market, with general managers and other front-office folks gathering in Orlando for the annual GM meetings (general managers, not general motors).

It was at last year’s meetings that the buzz emerged that the Tigers were very much open to trading Curtis Granderson as well as Edwin Jackson. That, of course, sparked the bigger-picture buzz that the Tigers were looking to slash payroll, which led to rumors about everyone from Justin Verlander to Miguel Cabrera getting dealt. Amazing to look back at that now.

The Dan Uggla rumors will no doubt be a part of this week’s buzz, but we’ll see about who else. What makes this year’s meetings interesting is that unlike past offseasons, we’ve had a week for teams to talk to all free agents. That means clubs have had a better chance to get a read on their chances at signing some of these guys. Teams that don’t like their odds at getting a top bat in free agency might start getting serious about trades, starting the groundwork for trades that end up completed around next month’s larger-scale winter meetings. That was the timetable on the Granderson talks.

With plenty of payroll off the books and a lot of spots to fill, the tables are turned this year for the Tigers, and teams are eyeing Detroit’s young pitching when the Tigers come calling. How much of that pitching the Tigers are willing to give up is going to be a question. Is Andy Oliver untouchable at this point, when he’s on the cusp of sticking in the big leagues but not quite ready to be handed a rotation spot? How about Jacob Turner, who’s still a couple years away? After that, I’m not sure how much the Tigers can offer that will appeal for a team to trade an established guy. Opinions are mixed on Charlie Furbush and Brayan Villarreal.

The Tigers’ position prospects tend to get valued more by the Tigers than by other clubs looking at the system. But Brennan Boesch’s first half and Casper Wells’ stretch run earned some respect.

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