Tag Archives: Jordan Zimmermann

Phillies need a sweep as they set to meet Tigers in series finale

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Vince Velasquez takes the mound on Wednesday afternoon

The Philadelphia Phillies (53-48) will try to accomplish their goal when this quick two-game series began, putting the finishing touches on a sweep of the Detroit Tigers (30-66) with a win on Tuesday afternoon at Comerica Park.

Last night, the two teams battled through 16 long, arduous, frustrating innings before it finally ended with a 3-2 Phillies victory in the early morning hours of Wednesday.
The Phillies will also be attempting to move to six games over the .500 mark for the first time since a seven-game losing skid nearly knocked the rails off their season back in late June.
Following this game, the Phillies will have their second off-day of the week. It will be a travel day, with the club returning to Citizens Bank Park.
This weekend, the NL East-leading Atlanta Braves will roll into South Philly at the start of what will be a pivotal nine game home stand for the Phillies, one that will carry the club up to and through the July 31 trade deadline.


TUESDAY STARTING LINEUPS

PHILLIES

  1. Cesar Hernandez 2B
  2. Scott Kingery SS
  3. Rhys Hoskins DH
  4. J.T. Realmuto 1B
  5. Adam Haseley RF
  6. Maikel Franco 3B
  7. Nick Williams LF
  8. Andrew Knapp C
  9. Roman Quinn CF

TIGERS

  1. JaCoby Jones CF
  2. Harold Castro LF
  3. Nicholas Castellanos RF
  4. Brandon Dixon 1B
  5. Jeimer Candelario 3B
  6. Christin Stewart DH
  7. Niko Goodrum SS
  8. Bobby Wilson C
  9. Gordon Beckham 2B
A day off for Bryce Harper, and Phillies manager Gabe Kapler gets Realmuto out from behind the plate, playing him at 1B for just the second time this season. Hoskins will appear at a position other than 1B for the first time this season, serving as the DH. He appeared four times as a DH a year ago, his only career Designated Hitter appearances. Kingery will appear in his 10th game at shortstop this season. He has played in 39 games in center field, 13 at third base, nine in left field, and just five at his natural position of second base.

SHIBE VINTAGE SPORTS STARTING PITCHING MATCHUP

Phillies – Vince Velasquez (27/RH): 2-5, 4.87 ERA, 1.393 WHIP, 61 hits over 61 IP across 21 games (11 starts) with a 70/24 K:BB
Tigers – Jordan Zimmermann (33/RH): 0-7, 7.51 ERA, 1.686 WHIP, 76 hits over 56.1 IP across 12 starts with a 40/19 K:BB

PHILLIES NUGGETS PREGAME NOTES

  • Realmuto leads all big-league catchers in hits, runs and doubles. Is 3rd in AVG, 5th in RBIs/OBP/OPS.
  • Hoskins is 2nd in OBP, 6th in OPS, 8th in HR, 9th in RBIs among all MLB first basemen.
  • Harper is 2nd in doubles, 4th in RBIs, 5th in OBP among all big-league right fielders. He is 4th in doubles among all MLB players.
  • Zimmermann has not faced the Phillies since September 25, 2015, when he was still a member of the Washington Nationals rotation. He has pitched in 44 games, 43 as a starter, in his career at Comerica Park, compiling a 14-22 record with a 6.26 ERA over 233 IP with 161 strikeouts. In six home starts this season, Zimmermann is 0-5 with an 8.16 ERA over 28.2 IP with 21 strikeouts.
  • Cabrera now has 2,765 career hits, four shy of Johnny Damon for 54th place all-time in MLB. He has 470 home runs, three shy of tying Carlos Delgado for 33rd all-time. His 1,672 RBIs are four short of Gary Sheffield for 26th all-time.
  • Castellanos drilled a pair of doubles in Tuesday night’s ball game, giving him 36 doubles, most in Major League Baseball this season.
  •  Beckham played in the 1,000th game of his MLB career in late April, becoming the 78th active player in the big-leagues to appear in 1,000 career games. This season marks his 11th in MLB, and he has played in 1,041 career games. He is nine hits shy of 800 for his big-league career.

TICKET IQ PROGRAMMING INFORMATION


Tigers need to be used as a doormat by the Phillies in quick two-game series

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Phillies hope there won’t be too much partying this week in Motown

The Philadelphia Phillies (52-48) have won five of their seven Interleague contests thus far in the 2019 MLB regular season.

The club will try to add to that winning record over the next two nights at Comerica Park as they take on the host Detroit Tigers (30-65) in Motown for a quick two-game set.
Back on April 30 and May 1, the Phillies and Tigers split another two-gamer. That one was held at Citizens Bank Park in what may have been a perfect microcosm of this 2019 Phillies season to date.
Four Detroit hurlers held the Phillies to just four hits as the Tigers won that opener by a 3-1 score. The very next night, the Phillies offense exploded for 15 hits in a 7-3 victory. It has been that kind of roller coaster year for a team that is now involved with a half-dozen other clubs in a chase for an NL Wildcard playoff berth.
The Tigers are not chasing anything, other than the top pick in the 2020 MLB Draft. Their record is the second-worst in all of Major League Baseball, just a few percentage points better than the Baltimore Orioles 31-68 mark.
The Tigers offensive attack and pitching staff both rank as next-to-last in baseball in key categories. Their hitters have produced just 3.65 runs per game. The pitchers have a combined .273 batting average against.
Frankly, this is a series that the Phillies need to sweep. The Tigers are down and out, already playing out the string with more than two months left on the schedule. However, as our look below at the starting pitchers who they will be throwing at the Phillies in this series shows, it won’t necessarily be an easy task.


DETROIT TIGERS

TOP LINEUP THREATS

Nicholas Castellanos (27/RF): .284/.342/.480, 11 HR, 48 extra-base hits, 36 RBIs, 56 runs
JaCoby Jones (27/CF): .252/.317/.458, 20 HR, 27 extra-base hits, 24 RBIs, 31 runs, 6 steals
Brandon Dixon (27/1B): .255/.289/.476, 12 HR, 23 extra-base hits, 38 RBIs, 26 runs
Harold Castro (25/2B): .302/.315/.424, 2 HR, 10 extra-base hits, 15 RBIs, 13 runs (42 games, 147 plate appearances)
Niko Goodrum (27/UT): .245/.318/.407, 9 HR, 31 extra-base hits, 33 RBIs, 49 runs
Jeimer Candelario (25/3B): .218/.306/.371, 7 HR, 20 extra-base hits, 23 RBIs, 26 runs

SPOTLIGHT PLAYER

Miguel Cabrera: The great Miggy has become somewhat a shell of his former MVP self as he ages with a losing ball club. Cabrera is slashing .283/.346/.373 with 18 extra-base hits and 37 RBIs. Basically, Cabrera can still hit, but he seems to have lost his power almost completely.
Cabrera has enjoyed a storied 17-year big-league career since debuting as a 20-year-old third baseman with the Florida (now Miami) Marlins back in June 2003. The young Miggy helped lead the Fish to their second World Series crown that year as a rookie, finishing fifth in the NL Rookie of the Year voting.
Cabrera would go on to five consecutive NL All-Star Game appearances with the Marlins, winning a pair of Silver Slugger Awards at the hot corner and finishing 5th in NL MVP voting twice.
Then in December 2007, Cabrera was traded away to the Detroit Tigers along with pitcher Dontrelle Willis in exchange for a six-prospect package that included outfielder Cameron Maybin and pitcher Andrew Miller.
With Detroit, Cabrera would elevate his game to another level. He was an AL All-Star for seven consecutive seasons, and won five more Silver Sluggers. Cabrera was the American League Most Valuable Player in back-to-back seasons, edging out Mike Trout in both 2012 and 2013. In that 2012 campaign, Cabrera became the first AL triple crown winner in 45 years when he led the league in home runs, RBIs and batting average.
Now age 36, Cabrera still has four years and $124 million guaranteed on a contract that runs through the 2023 season.  It’s a deal that likely makes him untradeable. That is especially so now that he has been diagnosed with chronic knee issues that will limit him almost exclusively to the Designated Hitter position.

SCHEDULED STARTING PITCHERS

TUESDAY – Matthew Boyd (28/LH): 6-8, 4.13 ERA, 3.56 FIP, 1.133 WHIP, 112 hits over 120 IP across 20 starts with a 160/24 K:BB. Boyd has become the subject of intense rumors as the trade deadline approaches. With three seasons of team control remaining, the southpaw would not come cheap. The Tigers would be looking for multiple young pieces to help in their rebuild. The Phillies have been seriously linked, and this appearance makes for an interesting showcase.
WEDNESDAY – Jordan Zimmermann (33/RH): 0-7, 7.51 ERA, 4.59 FIP, 1.686 WHIP, 76 hits over 56.1 IP across 12 starts with a 40/19 K:BB ratio. Zimmermann, who missed the bulk of the 2009-10 seasons while with the Washington Nationals after undergoing Tommy John surgery, had elbow pain earlier this year. That condition drove him to the IL, causing him to miss the entire month of May and much of June. Since returning he has not been good. Over his last three starts, the veteran has allowed 28 hits over just 11 innings with a 9/4 K:BB. His season results say that he won’t last long, won’t register many strikeouts, and is likely to be hit hard. He has faced the Phillies 16 times in his career, most of those with the Nationals, with a career 4.17 ERA and 1.316 WHIP in those outings. The Phillies have to hope that he doesn’t somehow turn back the clock to his 2013-14 NL All-Star past in this one.

THE SKIPPER

Ron Gardenhire: The 61-year-old is a native of Germany, born to a U.S. military family stationed at Butzbach in what was then West Germany back in October 1957. He became a 6th round choice of the New York Mets in the 1978 MLB Draft out of the University of Texas, and played for the Mets over parts of five seasons from 1981-85, spending 1982 as their starting shortstop.
After his retirement, ‘Gardy’ was hired as a manager in the minor league system of the Minnesota Twins, serving there from 1988-90. He then served for 11 years as the Twins third base coach, after which Gardenhire was given his first shot as a big-league skipper by Minnesota in 2002.
Over 13 seasons he guided Minnesota to a 1,068-1,039 record and six division championships. It was nearly seven, as his 2008 club lost a one-game playoff to the Chicago White Sox after the two clubs finished the regular season in a tie for first. His first 2002 team lost the ALCS to the Angels in five games.
In April of 2014, Gardenhire became the 60th skipper in big-league history to win 1,000 games, just the 10th to do it with one team. However, over his final four seasons the team deteriorated to big losing campaigns, finishing in last place three times and ending his tenure.
Gardenhire spent the 2017 season as bench coach with the Arizona Diamondbacks, and during the season also underwent prostate cancer surgery. After the season was over he was hired to guide the Tigers rebuilding program in October 2017.
Gardnehire’s son, Toby, was drafted by the Twins in 2005 and rose through their system to the Triple-A level. After his retirement as a player, Toby Gardenhire was given an opportunity at managing. He is now skipper of the Low-A Cedar Rapids Kernels in the Minnesota farm system.

THE BALLPARK

Comerica Park: Opened in April 2000 to replace historic Tiger Stadium, the team’s previous home from its own 1912 opening, Comerica Park has a seating capacity of just over 41,000 fans. Tigers are everywhere you look. Not just talking about the players here. There are no fewer than nine statues of the animal spread around the ballpark, including a giant 15-foot tall cat at the main entrance and a pair of Tigers on the left field scoreboard whose eyes light up when a Detroit player cranks a home run.
In the left-center concourse, more statues are found in the Tigers Hall of Fame, including of legendary great players such as Ty CobbAl Kaline and Hank Greenberg.
Field dimensions are 345 and 330 feet down the left and right field lines respectively. It is a deep 420 feet out to dead-center field, 370 to left-center, and 365 to right-center field.
Nick Castellanos, a pending free agent who is a hot trade target as the deadline approaches, recently called the ballpark a “joke“:
This park is a joke,” Castellanos said, per the Detroit News. “It’s to the point where how are we going to be compared to the rest of the people in the league in terms of power numbers, OPS, slugging and all that stuff when we got a yard out here that’s 420 feet straight across center field? I mean, they can move in center and right-center field. There’s no reason I hit a ball 434 feet off (Nationals right-hander) Anibal Sanchez and it goes in the first row.

SERIES WEATHER REPORT

TUESDAY: There is a 30% chance of isolated thunderstorms at the 7:10 PM EDT first pitch, but this will not be a rainout, nor should there be any significant delays, if any at all. Winds will be almost non-existent, and temps will drop from the low-70’s into the upper-60’s during the game.
WEDNESDAY: Mostly sunny for the 1:10 PM EDT scheduled first pitch and throughout the game. Winds will remain light, and temps will range from the mid-upper 70’s.
Detroit, Michigan forecast from The Weather Channel

MLB Draft first rounders not guaranteed success

Last night’s first round of the 2017 MLB Amateur Draft was full of excitement and anticipation for the teams and families involved. 
However, history shows that most of those selected will prove to be forgettable choices.
As an example, a look back at the draft from exactly a decade ago reveals such varied results. There were a couple of superstars in that 2007 MLB Draft, and a few other star-caliber players. There were also some who carved out a small niche for themselves in the big leagues.
But there were also a bunch of never-weres mixed into the selection process. Each one of those misses was considered to be a strong prospect at the time they were drafted.
The Tampa Bay Rays held the first overall pick in 2007, and there really wasn’t much of a choice. Left-handed pitcher David Price from Vanderbilt had been considered a near lock for that top selection for months.
With the second pick, the Kansas City Royals chose a left-side infielder from Chatsworth High School in California. The surprise was that the Royals selection was Mike Moustakas rather than Chris Dominguez. ‘Moose’ had put on a big time power display that spring to pass his more heavily scouted teammate.

TOP TWO PICKS IN 2007 WERE HITS

Price and Moustakas represent the possibilities at the top of the draft. Price was perceived as a can’t miss prospect. Over the next decade, he would live up to the hype.
Now with the Boston Red Sox, Price has a 122-66 record over 175 appearances, 170 of those as a starter. He was the 2012 AL Cy Young Award winner, and was runner-up for the honor on two other occasions. He is a five-time American League all-star.
Moustakas was the Royals starter at third base for the better part of five seasons, culminating with an AL all-star selection in 2015 as the Royals won the World Series.
His career on an individual basis doesn’t equal Price’s. But Moustakas’s contributions to a championship team certainly mean that Kansas City will never regret his selection.

FIRST ROUND 2007 BUSTS

If Price and Moustakas reveal the upside possibilities of players picked at the top of a draft, the next two players show the opposite. Both players are largely forgotten, never having made a mark in the big leagues.
Selected at third overall by the Chicago Cubs was a California high school third baseman named Josh Vitters. Over the next five years, Vitters seemed to be progressing on schedule as he rose through the Cubs system.
In August of 2012, Vitters received his first big league promotion. He would spend most of the final six weeks of the season as the Cubs starting third baseman. Vitters hit for just a .121/.193/.202 slash line. He had just two home runs and five RBI, and never again appeared in a big league uniform.
The fourth overall pick by the Pittsburgh Pirates was a pitcher named Daniel Moskos. The lefty out of Clemson University in South Carolina would similarly see action in just one big league season.
Moskos appeared in 31 games over two separate stints with the Pirates in the 2011 season. He had a 1-1 record with a favorable 2.96 ERA mark. But Moskos also allowed 29 hits over 24.1 innings with just an 11/9 K:BB ratio.
Released by the Bucs in July of 2012, Moskos has bounced through four other MLB organizations since. While a free agent in June of 2015, Moskos was suspended for 50 games after a second positive test for a drug of abuse.

OTHER 2007 DRAFT BIG HITS

A big winner in that 2007 first round were the San Francisco Giants. With the 10th overall selection, the Giants chose a North Carolina high school lefty pitcher named Madison Bumgarner. The rest is history.
Bumgarner would help the Giants to World Series crowns in 2010, 2012, and 2014. He is a four-time NL all-star, and has two Silver Sluggers in his trophy case. In 2014 he was selected as the Sports Illustrated Sportsman of the Year as well as the AP Male Athlete of the Year.
MLB
Aug 11, 2015; San Francisco, CA, USA; Bumgarner was the Giants first round pick at 10th overall in the 2007 MLB Amateur Draft. Mandatory Credit: Kelley L Cox-USA TODAY Sports
There were other “hits” in that 2007 MLB Amateur Draft first round. Four-time all-star and two-time Gold Glove catcher Matt Wieters was selected fifth by the Baltimore Orioles. And four-time Gold Glover Jason Heyward was selected 14th overall by the Atlanta Braves.
And all the way down at 27th overall, the Detroit Tigers chose Rick Porcello. A New Jersey right-handed pitcher, Porcello would finish third in the 2009 AL Rookie of the Year voting. It was the first of his six consecutive seasons as an innings-eater in a contending Tigers rotation.
In December 2014, Detroit shipped Porcello off to the Boston Red Sox for a package that included a star rental outfielder in Yoenis Cespedes.
Porcello would finally put it all together in Boston a year ago. He won 22 games in 2016, and was honored with the AL Cy Young Award.

PLAYERS FROM LOWER ROUNDS WILL RISE

There will be more than a thousand players selected over the course of three days in the 2017 MLB Amateur Draft. A number of the players chosen after the first round are sure to make an impact far greater than most of the first rounders.
MLB
Jun 9, 2017; Pittsburgh, PA, USA; As “Mike” Stanton, the Marlins outfielder was a big hit as the club’s second round pick in the 2007 MLB Amateur Draft.  Mandatory Credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports
The Florida (now Miami) Marlins chase Dominguez with their first round pick at 12th overall. He would appear in parts of five big league seasons, but just one in south Florida.
However, the Fish are certainly happy with their second round selection that season. At 76th overall, the Marlins selected outfielder “Mike” Giancarlo Stanton that year.
Other pitchers selected after the first round in the 2007 MLB Amateur Draft include Jordan Zimmermann (67), Corey Kluber (134), Jake Arrieta (159), Chris Sale (642), and Craig Kimbrel who was the 1,006th player chosen.
The 2007 Draft also included Freddie Freeman (78), Jonathan Lucroy (101). Anthony Rizzo (204), and Brandon Belt (348) as position players taken after the first round.

MOST FIRST ROUNDERS WON’T MAKE IT

But aside from that handful of strong picks, the vast majority of the other two dozen players chosen in that 2007 first round were closer to Vitters and Moskos.
MLB
Feb 14, 2017; Goodyear, AZ, USA; the Cincinnati Reds first rounder at 15th overall, Mesoraco was a 2014 NL all-star, but is now a backup catcher. Mandatory Credit: Kareem Elgazzar/Cincinnati Enquirer via USA TODAY Sports
Others chose in the top ten that year included players who have tasted the big leagues, such as Ross DetwilerMatt LaPortaCasey Weathers, and Jarrod Parker.
Scattered throughout the rest of the first round were players who never even reached the big leagues, led by Beau Mills, a pitcher selected at 13th overall by the Cleveland Indians.
Devin Mesoraco probably represents a mid-level outcome for a first round draftee. The catcher was selected at 15th overall by the Cincinnati Reds.
Now in his seventh season, he was a 2014 NL all-star. But that was Mesoraco’s only real big season, and he is now relegated to backup duties.

THEY WON’T ALL MAKE IT, BUT THEY’RE ALL RICH

History shows that, despite all the excitement surrounding the young men selected last night, most of them will never make even one appearance in Major League Baseball.
Every first rounder will be a millionaire. The slot value for the 30th overall pick, which is the final pick of that first round, has been assigned by MLB at more than two million dollars.
Hopefully the players and their families make some wise financial decisions in the coming weeks and months, because most are never going to see another huge payday from the game of baseball.
However, each now has a chance, which is more than most youngsters who have ever played the game have ever received. They will get first-class coaching and medical treatment, and as a first round pick, they will get at least a few years to prove their worth on the diamond.

2016 Winter Meetings: Detroit Tigers

There are few teams in as interesting a position as the Detroit Tigers find themselves in during this off-season. 
Al Avila, the EVP of Baseball Operations and the team’s GM has to decide whether to rebuild, or retool for another big 2017 run.
The Tigers were just short this past season, finishing at 86-75. That record left the club eight games in back of the division-winning Cleveland Indians. But Detroit was only 2.5 games off the AL Wildcard pace.
This is a club with most of its key performers already past age 30, a few well into those 30’s. The decision to be made is whether to cash in on those players while they still have real value, or add to that core and make another playoff push.
There are heavy rumors that Detroit is looking to slash payroll. The club has been big spenders and steady contenders for years. While they would like to keep contending while also getting rid of some big salaries, that usually proves a difficult tightrope to walk.

VERLANDER AND MIGGY

The biggest problem in making a move might not be the players themselves, but those salaries. Their two signature players, first baseman Miguel Cabrera and starting pitcher Justin Verlander, could find themselves on the move if the right deal is presented.
Verlander will turn 34 years old as spring training gets underway. He is owed $84 million over the next three years, with a 2020 vesting option. That would require a top five Cy Young finish in his age 37 season, which is unlikely.
Cabrera will turn 34 just after the 2017 season gets underway. He has a $28 million salary for next season, and then another $184 million guaranteed over the following six years.
There are also a pair of vesting options with Miggy for 2024 and 2025 at $30 million each. Those are unlikely, as they would require him to finish among the top ten in MVP voting during his ages 41 and 42 seasons.

POSITION PLAYERS WHO COULD GO IN A FIRE SALE

Whether or not the Tigers can move either of their marquee veterans, they will likely listen on a number of similarly aging, high-salaried, but talented players.
Second baseman Ian Kinsler just won his first career Gold Glove Award at age 34. He is coming off one of the best offensive seasons of his 11-year big league career as well.
Kinsler could be very attractive to another team. He will be entering the final guaranteed season of his contract at $11 million, with a $12 team option for 2018. So the dollars are reasonable, and the commitment is short-term only.
J.D. Martinez can play either corner outfield spot, and spends most of next season at age 29. He will then be a free agent. His salary is $11.75 million, but again, it’s only a one-year commitment for an acquiring club.
Left fielder Justin Upton also plays most of next season at age 29. He is owed another $110+ million guaranteed over the next five years, though he can opt out of the deal after the coming season.
Based on Upton’s recent seasons and the fact that he will be aging into his 30’s, it is probably a longshot that he takes the opt out. That is, unless he has a monster 2017 season.
DH Victor Martinez turns 39 years old just before Christmas. He is still owed a guaranteed $18 million for each of the next two seasons. Martinez has played just 15 games at first base over the last two seasons combined, so trade partners are surely limited to the American League.

TIGERS PITCHERS WHO COULD GO

Starting pitchers Mike Pelfrey and Anibal Sanchez will each turn 33 years old in January and February respectively. Each will become a free agent after next season.
Sanchez has a $16.8 million salary with a 2018 team option at the same level. Pelfrey is a far more attractive $8 million.
Closer Francisco Rodriguez is another arm who will be a free agent after the 2017 season. ‘KRod’ will turn 35 years old in January. The 15-year veteran was brought back for one more go-around at just $6 million.
Jordan Zimmermann just signed a big free agent deal with Detroit last off-season. But if the club decides on a full rebuild, he could be moved. He turns 31 years old in May, and is guaranteed another $92 million over the next four years.

DETROIT AS BUYERS?

Nothing would surprise me with Detroit, frankly. If the Tigers decide to buy, they could be in on someone like Chris Archer, for instance.
However, they could still try to move a couple of big salaries while also trying to swing that kind of deal. At the GM meetings a few weeks back, Avila addressed the Tigers situation.
I think there’s going to be interest in several of our players, I do,” said Avila per Anthony Fenech with the Detroit Free Press“It’s just going to be a matter of where we go with those talks. But, yes, there is interest, and we expect there to be interest.”
One thing that appears certain is that Avila’s cell phone will be ringing off the hook down at National Harbor next week. In fact, it has probably already been ringing for weeks. Keep an eye on the Tigers this winter.

Tigers Facing Buy or Rebuild Decision

The Detroit Tigers could become one of the most interesting teams in Major League Baseball this off-season as they decide whether to go for it again, or deal stars and rebuild.

For most of the last 11 seasons the Detroit Tigers have been a legitimate contending team in the American League Central Division.
In those years the Tigers have registered eight winning campaigns and one .500 season. They have been to the MLB postseason five times, including the World Series twice and the ALCS on two other occasions.
The 2016 Tigers finished 86-75, good for second place in the division to the eventual AL champion Cleveland Indians. The club finished just 2.5 games out of an AL Wildcard playoff berth.
The Tigers may, however, have a looming problem on their hands. More than a handful of their key players are now on the wrong side of 30 years of age, many approaching or in their mid-30’s.
Team management is now approaching a crossroads with the franchise.
Do they tweak the roster a bit and try to squeeze another winning, possibly contending, season out of this core of players? 
Or should they take a more difficult course, one that might result in a couple of losing seasons? Deal away a number of these veterans for strong prospects who could become the core of the next generation of Tigers contenders?

In a recent Fangraphs piece “Grading the Trade Value of Miguel Cabarera, Justin Verlander” this very question was visited by Craig Edwards.
“If they aren’t going all in next year — and it appears they aren’t — the quickest route to the playoffs is to tear it all down. To do that, the team needs to move Miguel Cabrera, and that might best be done by packaging him with Justin Verlander.”
Edwards reported that the Tigers are committed to approximately $175 million in contract obligations for the 2017 season.
He also notes that ESPN’s MLB insider Buster Olney has reported that the Tigers do not want to completely tear down their roster, instead preferring to contend once again next year.
Is that reality? Can the Tigers contend once again in 2017 in what should again be one of the toughest divisions in baseball?
Verlander had a strong bounce-back season this year, one that has made him a very legitimate contender for a second career AL Cy Young Award.
But in the two previous seasons, Verlander seemed to be in decline. He will be 34-years old as spring training opens.
For a possible recent comparison, that was the exact age at which Philadelphia Phillies aces Roy Halladay and Cliff Lee each experienced their final strong seasons.
Miguel Cabrera turns that same 34 years of age just two weeks into the regular season. He stayed healthy this year, continuing a phenomenal career of consistent production that is sure to culminate with a Hall of Fame induction sometime in the next decade.
Ian Kinsler experienced a power spike, but will turn 35 years old next June. Victor Martinez continued as one of the AL’s best hitters, but will turn 38 years old next month.
Anibal Sanchez slipped in performance for a third consecutive season. He turns 34 years of age in February. During his first season in Detroit, Mike Pelfrey was terrible. He turns 33 in January.
Closer Francisco Rodriguez will turn 34 years of age in January. “KRod” just had his contract picked up, so he’ll be back. But his performance slipped slightly from back-to-back AL All-Star campaigns.
Jordan Zimmermann will be 31 years old in May. In his first go-around in Detroit after signing a big free agent contract last off-season, Zimmermann lost most of the final three months to injury.
Is everybody old? No. Talented third baseman Nick Castellanos will play at 25 next year.
Right fielder J.D. Martinez will be 28 for most of the year, and catcher James McCannturns 27 halfway through the season.
Still in his prime, left fielder Justin Upton will play almost the entire season at age 28 years.
Aside from Miggy, he has the second-longest contract coming from the team, owed more than $110 million over the next five years.
On the mound, righty starter Michael Fulmer is perhaps the leading AL Rookie of the Year contender.
Fulmer will turn 24 in spring training. His young lefty counterpart, Daniel Norris, turns that same 24 years old a month later.
In the bullpen, Bruce Rondon turns 26 years of age next month. The fireballer has closer-of-the-future written all over him.
The Tigers top prospects are not likely to help next year. Pitchers Beau Burrows and Matt Manning will be 20 and 19 respectively.
Outfielders Christin Stewart and Derek Hill, the club’s top position player prospects, will be turning 23 and 21 respectively next month.
Detroit has already made an early move this off-season to lop off some salary. This past week, the club dealt outfielder Cameron Maybin to the Los Angeles Angels in exchange for prospect pitcher Victor Alcantara.
The Tigers could have paid Maybin $9 million to return, or paid him a $1 million buyout and said goodbye.
By dealing him away they get the best of both worlds, shedding salary while actually getting a potential future piece in return.
The contracts of Kinsler, Sanchez and Pelfrey will all run their final years in 2017, not counting modest buyouts for the first two.
Losing those salaries will more than off-set increases elsewhere over the ensuing couple of seasons.
There is a valid argument to be made that the trade value on the stars will never be higher than it is right now. Deep pocketed teams with plenty of young talent could step up with nice packages.
However, if the Tigers really believe that they can get two more strong seasons out of Verlander and Cabrera, then I say they are better served keeping them.
The Tigers can still go for it in the 2017 season, and continue building more young talent through the draft and through lesser yet astute trades.
The decision on which way to go makes the Detroit Tigers one of the most compelling organizations this winter. Their own fans and all of baseball will be watching to see how they choose to move forward.