Monday, May 31, 2010

Jettisoning Willis proves results matter more than money to Tigers

    It took six weeks of film study and self-examination, but Max Scherzer finally figured out what he was doing wrong.
    In two years and two months of tinkering, Dontrelle Willis never did.
    That's why Scherzer is back in the Tigers' starting rotation in spectacular strikeout fashion, and Willis is suddenly unemployed at age 28 -- albeit with an $8.5 million severance package.
    In the Tigers' clubhouse, players will shrug and tell you baseball is a business. That's true. But it is a results-oriented business even more than it is a money business. If that wasn't true, Willis would still be wearing the Olde English D.
    Willis was on the final year of that silly, spendthrift three-year, $29 million contract the Tigers bestowed on him before he ever threw a pitch here. The Tigers still owed him $8.5 million for the remainder of this season, whether he earned it or not.
    Meanwhile, Scherzer was making a mere $1.5 million. And Armando Galarraga, who makes just $440,000, has an option left and could have easily and justifiably been sent to Toledo to make room for Scherzer.
    But instead of taking the easy way out, the Tigers opted to bite the bullet, admit their mistake, and jettison Willis.
    Why? Because Jim Leyland and Dave Dombrowski believe that move gives them the best chance of reaching the postseason this year.
    You can lambaste Dombrowski for giving Willis that ludicrous contract in the first place. Dontrelle, after all, was coming off the worst year of his career in Florida. That should have raised a red flag right there.
    But you also have to credit the Tigers president/GM for having the guts now to do what was best for the ballclub, regardless of the cost -- even though he knows Willis could resurrect his career elsewhere.
    Leyland said Sunday he doesn't believe Willis' career is over. Dontrelle's best shot at a comeback would probably be in the National League.  And, according to, Dontrelle has told friends he "would love to play on the West Coast."
    The Arizona Diamondbacks might be his best bet.
    Interested teams can either wait for the Tigers to release Willis, then hope to entice him with a modest offer, or try to work out a trade with the Tigers now, offering a minor league prospect in return. If the Tigers are able to trade Dontrelle, they would be responsible for almost all of the $8.5 million remaining on his contract for the rest of this season.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

With all eyes on their rookies, it's time for Tigers to make their move

    It is time for the Tigers to make their move.
    From now until the All-Star break, the Tigers will face only one team, the American league Central rival Minnesota Twins, that was more than two games over .500 as of Thursday. The rest -- the A's, Indians. Royals, ChiSox, Pirates, Nationals  (I still want to call them the Senators), Diamondbacks, Mets, Braves, Mariners, and Orioles -- stood a combined 64 games under .500!
    Baseball doesn't get much easier than that.
    Jim Leyland has maintained all along that the Tigers will go as far this season as their veteran sluggers -- Miguel Cabrera, Magglio Ordonez, Johnny Damon, and Carlos Guillen -- can carry them.
    But it is the kids who have crashed the lineup, most notably May sensation Brennan Boesch and April's darling, Austin Jackson, who have everyone talking.
    Boesch is batting .343. Seventeen of his 35 big league base hits have gone for extra bases. After only 27 games, he is tied for third on the team with 22 RBI.  
    One writer at recently named Boesch the best rookie in the AL and ranked Jackson second. Another placed Boesch third, behind pitchers Neftali Feliz of the Rangers and Wade Davis of the Rays -- and just ahead of Jackson.
    Jackson, who batted .364 in April and who suffered that frightening beaning against the Dodgers, is hitting .335. Kudos to Tigers' scout Jeff Wetherby who stuck his neck way out in strongly recommending Jackson last fall when trade talks with the Yankees began.
    Danny Worth, who was once supposed to be the Tigers' shortstop of the future, has demonstrated he can play second base, too. Whatsmore, after eight games, the kid is hitting .333. If Scott Sizemore fails to get himself turned around at Toledo, Worth could have Sizemore's job next year. Or Adam Everett's.
    Outfielder Casper Wells has been sent back to Toledo -- but not before he gave management something to think about. In his brief big league cameo, Wells collected two hits, including a double, and knocked in two runs in nine at-bats. Mark my words: We haven't heard the last of Casper Wells.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

I shudder to think where Tigers would be without AL's best bullpen

    On any pitching staff, the starters are the stars. They get all the glory. With the exception of a  rare closer like the Yankees' Mariano Rivera, the guys in the bullpen are usually role players at best -- and scapegoats at worst. Remember Fernando Rodney?
    Well, it is time we give the Tigers' current crew of relievers their just due.
    When Bobby Seay and Zach Miner, two key veteran cogs in the Tigers' bullpen, were sidelined indefinitely, maybe forever, with arm injuries late in spring training, the relief corps suddenly became one of Jim Leyland's biggest concerns.
    Not to worry.
    So far, along with top half of the batting order and the performance of the rookies, that bullpen has been one of the Tigers' biggest surprises -- and one of their biggest strengths.
    Where would the Tigers be right now without Jose Valverde, Joel Zumaya, Phil Coke, Ryan Perry, Fu-Te Ni, Eddie Bonine, and Brad Thomas?
    Not a close second in the American League Central, that's for sure.
    Instead of battling the Twins for the division lead, they would be sparring with the Royals and  Indians to stay out of the cellar.
    Together, the bullpen has gotten credit for 11 of the Tigers' first 25 wins. Given the loss of Seay and Miner, and the supposed strength of the starting rotation, that is a remarkable stat.
    Bonine, Coke, Zumaya and Thomas are a combined 9-0. I can assure you, nobody -- NOBODY -- expected that.
    With the exception of Coke, none of those guys figured prominently in Leyland's plans when spring training began. Zumaya was a continuing question-mark and there was no guarantee Bonine or Thomas would even make the team.
    Valverde, the new closer who was something of a question-mark himself coming over from the National League, has 11 saves and a nearly spotless 0.46 ERA. He served up a home run in his first outing, back on April 7, setting off alarms all across Tiger Nation. But nobody has scored on him in 19 trips to the mound since then. In fact, in those 19 appearances, the animated right hander has allowed just five hits -- all of them singles.
    Bottom line: Going into Tuesday night's game in Seattle the Tigers were a flawless 16-0 when leading a game after six innings.
    The website recently rated the best and worst bullpens in baseball.
    Not surprisingly, the Tigers ranked first in the AL, ahead of the Texas Rangers and New York Yankees.
    Who ranked the worst?   The California Angels, Baltimore Orioles and Cleveland Indians, who come back to Comerica Park next week.

Monday, May 24, 2010

Wherever he went, when Jose was around it was always "Lima Time"

I happened to be in the Tigers' clubhouse last Tuesday when Ramon Santiago walked in, appropriately dressed for the team's upcoming trip to the West Coast, wearing a snazzy dark suit.
"Jose Lima bought this suit for me," Santiago explained proudly, after I had extended my compliments on his outfit.
"He told me I had to dress like a big leaguer.
"When we went on a road trip (in 2002), he bought me five suits. He was like a father to me," Santiago added.
Lima, I should point out, was a fading veteran making $7.25 million in '02. He was the second-highest paid Tiger behind Dean Palmer ($8 million). Santiago, meanwhile, was a rookie making the major league minimum $200,000
I didn't think much more about it at the time-- except for the fact that suit now has to be eight years old. And it still looks brand new. Obviously, Santiago doesn't get dressed up a lot.
Then on Sunday I heard the news: Jose Lima was dead at age 37.
Along with Santiago and everyone else whose paths crossed Lima's overt the years, I was stunned.
Lima was always so full of life.
It was always "Lima Time" when Jose was around.
I remember the night Lima strutted into the Tigers' Comerica Park clubhouse for the start of his second tour of duty in Detroit. It was June 24, 2001.
" 'Lima Time' is back on track," he announced, as if trumpeting the triumphant return of a conquering hero.
In truth, the Houston Astros, the Tigers' trading partner in the deal for pitcher Dave Mlicki, had been so happy to rid themselves of Lima (1-2, 7.30 ERA), they agreed to throw in a million bucks to make up the difference in the two pitchers' salaries so that the trade wouldn't cost then budget-minded owner Mike Ilitch a dime.
In my column in The Oakland Press the next morning, I noted the fact that, while most of the other Tigers showed up for work dressed in T-shirts and blue jeans, Lima arrived wearing a wheat-colored three-piece designer suit.
"Hey, it's Versace!" the effervescent pitcher declared.
"I can't spell it, but it looks good."
Ironically, days earlier, manager Phil Garner had tried to bribe the struggling Tigers to play better by revising the team's dress code on the road to blue jeans, T-shirts, shorts and sneakers.
Lima didn't care. He always did dance to the sounds of a different drummer.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Expecting Guillen to play second base may be asking too much

    Carlos Guillen has gone down to Toledo to get back into game shape -- and get reacquainted with second base.
    I believe the former will be easier for him to do than the latter.
    As usual, Guillen, ever the trouper, will give it his all. But this time the Tigers may be asking too much of their versatile veteran.
    The Tigers want Guillen's bat back in the lineup as soon as possible. But Brennan Boesch, who was summoned to take Guillen's place for a couple of weeks, isn't going anywhere -- not the way he's hitting. So, to make room on the roster -- and in the lineup -- they have sent rookie Scott Sizemore back to the minors for more seasoning.
    Guillen's return, probably May 28 when the Tigers return home from West Coast, will further bolster their already formidable batting order.
    But I have my doubts about how long -- or how well -- Guillen will be able to handle second base, especially on an everyday basis.
    It is true Guillen broke into the big leagues as a second baseman with Seattle in 1998. But he has only played 12 games there -- and none since 1999.
    Mark my words,  second base is no place for an injury-plagued 34-year-old with two bad knees and a tender hamstring.
    Fielding ground balls won't be a problem. But I think turning double plays may be.
    "This game is all about results," said Guillen.
    But expecting a player to move from shortstop to first base to third base to left field to designated hitter to second base without missing a beat may be asking too much.
    In other words, don't be surprised to see Sizemore back in the big leagues before long. The Tigers haven't given up on him by any means.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Some Tigers take pride in "Mohawk epidemic" sweeping Motown

Wives may cringe and mothers may shudder, but the Mohawk craze that swept through the Tigers'  clubhouse a week ago is catching on elsewhere.

"We've kind of created a Mohawk epidemic,"  declared Phil Coke with undisguised pride.

"Nothing wrong with that," insisted Coke, whose spiked hairdo is easily the most outrageous and provocative on the team. 

"It's just hair."

Now, copy-cats are popping up all over town, especially among the young generation.

Magglio Ordonez's 14-year-old son, Magglio Jr., showed up in the locker room over the weekend, wearing what Coke described as "a shaggy Mohawk" _ and a big grin.

"The other day, when we were in the bullpen, one fan, a random person, leaned over out of the stands and asked if I would give him a Mohawk," recalled Coke, who spends a couple of minutes each morning sharpening the strip of hair along the top of his head with gel until he looks like a prehistoric creature.

"I told him, 'Go get one.'

"And he says to me, 'Do you think they'll let me back in the ballpark if I go out and get one?' "

What would have happened, Coke was asked, if he had shown up at the last year, when he was playing for the clean-cut Yankees, wearing a Mohawk?

"They would have threatened me with termination,"  said Coke.

"Can you picture the headlines? 'Released Because of Mohawk.' "

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Rookie sensation Boesch reminds Don Zimmer of Yogi Berra

Jim Leyland spent Saturday night sleeping on the couch in his Comerica Park office. When the Tigers' manager  woke up Sunday morning, he phoned his good friend, long-time major league player, manager and coach Don Zimmer in Florida. 

        Zimmer complained that he was tired because he had stayed up until midnight Saturday watching the Tigers' 7-6 12-inning win over the Boston Red Sox on TV.

He got quite an eyeful.

"That (Brennan) Boesch kid is kind of like Yogi (Berra)," raved Zimmer, obviously impressed.

"They throw and he swings. I like that."

"So do I," Leyland responded.

"He'll be all right as long as he doesn't start thinking," Leyland joked later.

"If I catch him looking at (video) tape, I'm going to send him down."

Boesch, who has collected a hit in 13 of his last 14 games,  is leading all American League rookies with a .380  batting average and 19 RBI. He is second with 27 hits and three home runs.

He is the first Tiger since at least 1920 to collect at least one RBI in 12 of his first 19 big league games. He is also the first Tiger since at least 1920 to deliver at least one extra-base hit in 10 of his first 19 games.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Mohawk haircuts bring entire Tigers team closer together

Brandon Inge, the usual instigator, proclaimed his innocence. Having said that, he was one of the first to jump on the bandwagon. "If it looks like fun, I'll do it," he admitted. Johnny Damon, the role model,  disavowed any involvement in the caper. "Their loved ones cannot be upset with me," he declared.

Actually, the harebrained scheme for half of the Tigers' team to get Mohawk haircuts was hatched in the bullpen and executed between halves of Wednesday's doubleheader against the Yankees. Now the stunt still has the whole clubhouse laughing. "That's what happens when you have too much time on your hands," said first base coach Tom Brookens.

The impromptu shearing was supposed to increase solidarity among the boys in the league-leading bullpen. It appears to have brought the entire team closer together.

"We sit out there in the bullpen and during the first two or three innings it's a little loose," explained Joel Zumaya, one of the provocateurs. "Me, (Eddie) Bonine, (Phil) Coke, (Ryan) Perry _ we were all for it. It was all our idea. It's pretty sweet.

"I think it's cool. It's the whole bullpen. We're going to see how long we can keep it up. It would be pretty cool if we could get the whole team to do it."

"I had a little to do with it, but it was really a whole bullpen stunt," said Coke, who wins the award for Most Outlandish Haircut, hands down. 

"Fu-Te Ni called his mom and dad in Taiwan, probably woke them up out of a dead sleep, to ask if it was OK," revealed Coke. 

"Not true," Ni insisted, through his translator.

But how would your parents react if they knew, Ni was asked?

"Probably go crazy," he replied with a smile.

In his native Taiwan, Ni explained, nobody wears hairstyles like that. "Unless they're models or rock stars," he added.

Australian Brad Thomas admitted he now gets "lots of funny looks." 

"People are giving me a wide berth when they see me."

"It's not the brightest idea we've ever had," Perry confessed.

"We have every position on the roster represented," Inge explained. "We got the whole bullpen, I represent the infielders, Johnny (Damon) is the outfield, Alex (Avila) is the catchers and (Jeremy) Bonderman is the starting pitchers.

"That's my excuse and I'm sticking to it," Inge added.

"Maybe it'll change my luck," muttered Bonderman, who has pitched better than his 1-2 record indicates.

I asked Inge what his wife, Shani, thinks of his new hairstyle.

"I don't know, she hasn't spoken to me yet," he said.

Perry  invited Leyland to join the club. But the 65-year-old manager declined.

"I ain't got enough hair," Leyland growled.

"Besides, I've got my son's graduation to go to."

The lone holdout in the bullpen is closer Jose Valverde, who, according to informed sources, kept encouraging his teammates to get their hair cut, then chickened out when his own turn came.

"I'll do it if you do it," Valverde chided me.

"You first," I said.

He laughed and walked away.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Burden on Tigers' bullpen costs Raburn his spot in big leagues

Baseball can be a cruel business.

Ryan Raburn found that out again, first hand, when he arrived at the ballpark on Wednesday morning for the Tigers' day-night doubleheader against the Yankees.

If you'll remember, for the first time in his career Ryan reported to training camp this spring knowing that he had a job in the big leagues, that he was on the team.

That good feeling lasted five weeks.

On Wednesday, upon arriving at Comerica Park, Raburn was summoned to Jim Leyland's office and ordered to report to Toledo.

Raburn's only crime? Having an option left --  which meant the Tigers could demote him to the minor leagues for 10 days without fear of losing him forever.

So Raburn became the fall guy, a victim of circumstances, temporarily lopped off the roster to make room for relief pitcher Alfredo Figaro.

He looked devastated as he changed out of his uniform back into street clothes and departed, before most of his teammates arrived at the ballpark.

"I'm not happy about it either," Leyland admitted. "I feel terrible. It's nobody's fault. This is one of those circumstances where a guy who doesn't deserve to go down has to go down

"Somebody gets screwed. It's a shame. It's a crying shame. But that's the way it works. We did what we had to do."

The blame belongs with the Tigers' starting pitchers. Their repeated failure to last the desired six or seven innings has put a tremendous burden on the bullpen.

"We had to have pitchers," Leyland said. 

"If we don't, our bullpen will be at the Detroit Medical Center by June 15, if things don't change."

The downside of Wednesday's decision, in addition to Raburn's disappointment, is the fact that the Tigers now have just three reserves, Ramon Santiago, Don Kelly, and back-up catcher Alex Avila, on the bench.

Leyland said, in all likelihood, Raburn will be recalled in 10 days. "That's not etched in stone, but it looks like he definitely deserves to be the guy coming back," the manager said.

To make it easier on Raburn, he was told he doesn't have to report to Toledo until Friday or Saturday. "Hopefully, he will have a very short stint down there," Leyland said.

Not that that made Raburn feel any better Wednesday.

Monday, May 10, 2010

Jackson, Coke make Tigers early winner in three-team swap

So, who won last December's  three-team, seven-player swap that turned Austin Jackson, Max Scherzer and Phil Coke into Tigers?

At this admittedly early juncture, I would have to say Detroit did, hands down.

Jackson's performance alone these first five weeks, tilts the trade decidedly in the Tigers' favor.

Going into Monday night's series opener against the Yankees, Jackson, the Tigers' early-season sensation, is leading the American League in both batting average (.371) and base hits (49).

I guarantee you, neither the Tigers or the Yankees expected that.

Coke, who was briefly considered for the Tigers' starting rotation during spring training, has replaced Bobby Seay as the leading lefty in the bullpen. Coke is a surprising 3-0 with a 1.76 ERA and has yet to yield a home run this year. He is one of main reasons why the bullpen has been able to repeatedly bail out the starters.

Max Scherzer, billed as the No. 3 man in the rotation, is having a tough time adjusting to AL hitters. He is 0-3 in his last three starts, allowing 21 earned runs in his last 13 innings, to elevate his ERA to an unsightly 6.81. Scherzer is 1-3 overall.

And don't forget Daniel Schlereth, the fourth player the Tigers picked up in the trade. He has a 1.13 ERA pitching in relief at Triple A Toledo. Do not be surprised if you see him in the Tigers' bullpen before this season is over.

Meanwhile, Granderson, the Yankees' only acquisition in the deal, is on the disabled list with a strained  groin. Granderson was batting a disappointing .225 with two HRs for New York before he got hurt.

Edwin Jackson has picked up right where he left off at the end of last season for the Tigers -- which does not bode well for the Diamondbacks.  Jackson, who pitched like an All-Star during the first half of last season before fading during the second half, is 1-4 with a 7.32 ERA in Arizona.

The seventh player to change teams in the trade was pitcher Ian Kennedy, who went from the Yankees to the Tigers and immediately to the Diamondbacks in the three-cornered deal. In seven starts for Arizona, Kennedy is 2-2 with a 3.48 ERA.

Bottom line: Dave Dombrowski and his front office staff, including scout Jeff Wetherby, who recommended Jackson, can take another bow.

Thursday, May 6, 2010

The sad story of Ernie and Bo

Ernie Harwell and Bo Schembechler are both gone now so I feel free to tell this story.

Suffice to say, the two men, both icons in the state of Michigan, did not part company the best of friends.

In 1994, after Schembechler had been fired by the Tigers, I spent a day with Bo at his office in Ann Arbor and I asked him how he felt about the way he had been lambasted by the public and the press after he fired Ernie in 1991.

Bo clenched his teeth. His voice rose.

As unthinkable as this may sound today, Schembechler snarled:

"If I had been 10 years older, or he had been 10 years younger, I would have kicked his ass."

Harwell, I should point out, was nearing 73 in December of 1990 when the shocking decision to dump him as the Tigers' play-by-play broadcaster was announced. Schembechler was 61 at the time.

Bo had been made the scapegoat for Harwell's firing following the 1991 season. And Schembechler blamed Ernie, in part, for that.

But first, a little background:

When Harwell signed a five-year contract with the Tigers prior to the 1986 season, he indicated that would be his final contract.

However, by 1990, Ernie, who was still in good health and loving his job, had changed his mind.

Meanwhile, unbeknownst to Harwell, the Tigers and radio station WJR, the ballclub's flagship, had been secretly talking about going in another direction in the broadcast booth. Ratings had slipped and the station was reportedly anxious to try to attract a younger audience with a younger broadcast team.

Furthermore, WJR, as well as some in the Tigers' front office, were irked because Harwell insisted on doing play-by-play and nothing more. Ernie balked at suggestions he should do more in his spare time to promote the ballclub and the radio station -- without any additional compensation, of course.

Schembechler later told me that the radio station wanted to let Harwell go immediately after the 1990 season. But according to Bo, he insisted, "We will let Ernie work one more season, give him a farewell tour around the league, with the biggest raise in pay he has ever gotten in his life."

Schembechler thought he was being generous. In Bo's mind, he had Ernie's back.

After the 1990 season ended, Harwell, unaware that his future as the Tigers' broadcaster had already been discussed and decided behind closed doors, went to the ballpark with his agent/attorney Gary Spicer to negotiate a new contract.

Reportedly, Spicer asked the Tigers for another five-year deal and a raise in pay for his client.

But Schembechler refused to budge.

So, reluctantly, on December 18, 1990, Harwell signed the one-year contract for 1991 that Schembechler offered.

Ernie also asked the Tigers to schedule a press conference at the corner of Michigan and Trumbull the next day.

The Tigers assumed Harwell wanted to announce his own retirement, following the '91 season, and the ballclub was happy to oblige. WJR, unaware of how Harwell felt, even agreed to broadcast the press conference.

But Ernie was far from happy. He felt was being discriminated against because of his age.

Harwell didn't graciously say good-bye. Instead, he told his adoring public that he was, in fact, being fired.

"The radio station, WJR, and the Detroit Baseball Club have decided that 1991 will be the last year that I will broadcast play-by-play for the Detroit Tigers," Harwell declared in the bowels of Tiger Stadium, before a standing-room-only throng of writers, radio microphones and TV cameras.

A firestorm of protest erupted across the state and Harwell was eventually rehired by new Tigers' owner Mike Ilitch, after he purchased the team in August of 1992.

But the blame that was unfairly heaped on Schembechler for firing Ernie, the beloved voice of the Tigers, haunted Bo until the day he died.

Monday, May 3, 2010

Jackson, Willis, Coke, Zumaya: Tigers' season full of surprises

Neither of their catchers is hitting his weight. Gerald Laird is officially listed at 225 pounds, although that is probably giving him the benefit of the doubt. He is batting .155. Rookie Alex Avila weighs 210. He is hitting .147.

Their defense has, at times, been brutal, committing 24 errors -- by far the worst in the American League

Their five starting pitchers, supposedly one of the strengths of the team when the season began,  won a total of seven games during the first four weeks. Justin Verlander, Rick Porcello, Max Scherzer, Dontrelle Willis and Jeremy Bonderman boast a combined ERA of 5.18.

Incredibly, Willis, who has battled back from anxiety issues and an alarming loss of control, is easily the best of the bunch at 3.75. What kind of odds could you have gotten against that if you had gone to Las Vegas and placed a bet on Opening Day?

Yet the Tigers are off to one of the best starts in years.

Yes, it has been a strange season so far -- in a very pleasing sort of way.

Even Jim Leyland has been surprised at some of the things he has seen.

The offense -- the Tigers are leading the league in hitting -- and the revamped bullpen have been carrying the load.

Going into Monday night's game against the Twins in Minnesota, early-season sensation Austin Jackson was leading the AL in base hits with 40 and was second in the league in batting at .367.

Curtis who?

Miguel Cabrera, third in hits, was seventh in the league in hitting at .340. And Johnny Damon was batting .326. Nobody is doubting the wisdom of that signing these days.

Jackson ranked third in the league in runs scored with 21 and Damon was right behind him with 20. Magglio Ordonez, who is determined to demonstrate he deserved to return this year, was tied for 6th with 19.

Cabrera, who came into this season with something to prove, too, was leading the league in RBI with 27 and, surprisingly, ranked second in doubles with 11. That shows you what the young man can do when he puts his mind to it.

Then there is the bullpen.

Joel Zumaya (2-0, 1.23 ERA, 16 strikeouts in 14 2/3 innings) is again throwing the ball like he did in 2006. His return to form has given the whole team a lift. And workhorse Phil Coke was tied for third in the league with three wins --  as many as Scherzer, Willis and Bonderman, combined.

New closer Jose Valverde was tied for the league lead with 14 appearances, seven of which have resulted in saves.

It is still way, way too early to start thinking about October.

But, so far, this season is not shaping up to be the throw-away many envisioned during the offseason when the Tigers, to save money, jettisoned Curtis Granderson, Placido Polanco, Edwin Jackson, and Fernando Rodney.