Would Tigers sniff at second helping of Big Potato?

Scott Boras called it a “philosophical cliff” for a team to put a minor-league prospect in a prominent big-league position and know what to expect. That phrase came during the Winter Meetings, and though Boras didn’t mention Bruce Rondon or the Tigers by name, he sure alluded to the situation.

“The evidence says that there are many young players in our game that are 20, 21 that can hit 30 home runs and drive in 100 runs and they’re extraordinary talents. Or win 15 games. But there have never been closers that can come in and get 30 saves,” Boras told reporters back then. “I think you count on one hand the number of closers under the age of 23 that have ever gone to the big leagues and at a young age put together 30 saves, let alone pitch in the postseason and be effective.”

Now that Rondon is headed to Triple-A Toledo to open the season, Boras isn’t gloating, at least not publicly. He still has a closer he’s trying to line up with a job. It isn’t the closer Boras was trying to market when he made those remarks (that was Rafael Soriano), but it’s the same closer the Tigers let walk as a free agent to give Rondon a chance to compete for the closer’s job in Spring Training.

“Our plan was to wait and see what closer options availed themselves at this time,” Boras said of Jose Valverde, who is currently throwing bullpen sessions for teams in his native Dominican Republic.

Would the Tigers now be one of those options? Boras isn’t mentioning specific teams, and the Tigers aren’t talking about options outside the organization.

At this point, a match is looking unlikely, even with Detroit staring at a closer by committee that does not include the closer of the future. However, it wouldn’t be a surprise if Boras tried to re-engage Tigers officials and maybe ownership, given the history both Valverde and Boras have with the organization.

Boras said Thursday that Valverde has thrown for multiple teams so far, and has a couple more teams lined up in the coming days. He would not say which teams, but he said he has had more contact with teams as roster decisions have unfolded.

Boras said Valverde’s fastball is registering at 93-94 mph, according to scouts’ radar guns. That echoes what Boras has told others over the past couple weeks. He also said Valverde is open to a one-year contract. Once Valverde wraps up these workouts, Boras said he expects a decision and a deal to come together with a team fairly soon.

Meanwhile, team president/general manager Dave Dombrowski said Thursday morning that the Rondon decision doesn’t change the Tigers’ approach to the market. He also said he had nothing going on as of Thursday morning.

Though the Tigers have been rumored to be interested in potential trades for relievers, such as San Diego’s Huston Street and Luke Gregerson, Dombrowski told the Detroit News last week he has not made a trade proposal.

Dombrowski has said all spring that he believes they have options in camp to fill the closer role, whether Rondon made the team or not. Now that Rondon isn’t on the team, Dombrowski said they have options to close games, even if they don’t have a closer.

“We have guys that we feel very comfortable can close games,” Dombrowski said. “We may not have a closer anointed, but we have many guys that we think can close games. And so [manager] Jim [Leyland] will, kind of like he did in the postseason at times last year, mix and match.”

Even if Valverde does sign somewhere in the next few days, he would not be ready to open the season in the big leagues. He’ll need some appearances against live hitting, either in extended Spring Training or the minor leagues. He probably wouldn’t be far off.

17 Comments

Big Potato would be Big Mistake.

Im on the fence on this one. Yes valverde totally stunk last october. But he did an okay job most of the year.could we sign him and get rondon ready in toledo by allstar break send him north?

Second guessing? That the”national pastime”
The local traditionalist media will criticize Leyland and ESPN will support him for being modern if he goes with closer by committee.
He probably wont , he will use Coke . There is no other reason to carry Downs

Can a team go to the WS without a closer? Yes, the Tigers did it last year. And they did not need one in the WS

ESPN showed this during the game:
Tigers in the AL :Saves 9th . IP: 10th ERA : 10th. The whole bullpen, the same of this year was the 5th or 4th worst in the AL. So basically they went into the WS thanks to the starters going deep into the games.

Didn’t need a closer in th world series because we never had a lead except for a brief moment in the 4 th game. I’m on record as saying we need someone, I don’t know if it’s Valverde, but I have series questions about this staff……..1-11.

Serious question that is

Excellent analysis.

Screwed up. Meant this as a reply to ElTigre. GK… counterpoint well taken.

Well, it depends on how he’s throwing. Has his arm come back to life? I wouldn’t be surprised if they are snooping around for a trade.

My belief is that Valverde had an arm injury last year which prevented him from throwing the splitter like he did the previous two years. Without the splitter, he relied on his fastball which wasn’t enough. I would only take him back if he could reliably throw the split on a regular basis once again.

Well….this is certainly a topic worth discussing. The fact that Valverde is throwing fastballs at 93-94 mph means nothing. He was doing that last year. As Tom here points out, he needs the splitter. I also think he had some kind of injury, but not sure if it was the arm or his back that caused the problems. I suspect the latter, and doubt that it would be any better this year. He’s also horrible at holding baserunners and has proven to be somewhat on the unreliable side overall. On the plus side, he has a ton of experience closing games and that can create the guile it takes to get through, as Todd Jones proved. He’s also a known commodity in the clubhouse.
One could go either way on this, so it seems to come down to a gut decision. I think……….no. Too risky. There should be other options at least as good if not better. I’m in favor of starting the season and seeing what shakes out. Besides, this isn’t the only problem this club will encounter. More on that closer to opening day.
Now back to basketball.

Hopefully Rondon will flourish at Toledo. I think he would be better off with a little weight loss and conditioning program as well.

Nothing annoys me more than guys doing the macho thing trying to play thru an injury. Sure, try a few times but you don’t need Einstein to recognize it only takes a small drop in performance to turn your value into a team liability.
If your that big a dummy you can’t look yourself in the mirror and own up, we are all better for moving on.
Continuing the rant, will never understand why the players don’t regularly see a good chiropractor.

Spot on. Very good point. If the Big Potato was as described, then BR must be Potato XXL. And when he gets under control with good location, he will be fun to watch.

@BBritten_Tigers
“Tigers rotation: Verlander (4/1), Sanchez (4/3), Porcello (4/4), Fister (4/5) & Scherzer (4/6).”
Scherzer with long rest
Fister in a park friendly for him
Avoiding the Yankees with Porcello
Verlander with 5 days of rest for the last game vs the Yankees
The full rotation the first time

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