Cabrera and Wills Make Tigers Team to Beat, By Max DeMara

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Tigers General Manager Dave Dombrowski is a regular Curtis Granderson.  After all, he pulled off a momentum changing steal at the annual winter meetings.

 

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The vibe had been that the Tigers were done this off season. They had re-signed Todd Jones and Kenny Rogers and made a few swaps for players at key positions that were targeted. But then came Tuesday afternoon and the rumors of a possible trade with Florida, a blockbuster that would send Detroit’s two top prospects labeled as “untouchable” packing for perennial all stars Miguel Cabrera and Dontrelle Willis.

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By sometime in the early evening, the deal had been rapidly done. Immediately after, shockwaves rippled through baseball in fear of the new Tigers batting order. Fans jaws dropped as they realized who they had given up, but also what they were getting in return.

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After the dust has settled, let’s assess the trade. The Tigers gave up two players in Cameron Maybin and Andrew Miller who were considered super talents, the best the farm system has seen in a long time. They gave up solid backup catcher Mike Rabelo and a slew of other potential talents from the minors. In return, they get 25 year-old Miguel Cabrera, a young talent in his own right. Offensively, he is an immediate upgrade over Brandon Inge. He packs a powerful bat and is thought to be one of the game’s true professional hitters. Cabrera may end up being one of the cornerstones of the Tigers for a long time. Also coming to D-Town is the “D- Train” Dontrelle Willis. His massive leg kick and sweeping delivery make him a tough pitcher on any night. Willis struggled last season with the Marlins, but he still features dominating stuff. He will become a key part of a Tiger pitching staff which was riddled with inconsistencies and injuries last season.

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The Tigers had to make this move and Dombrowski knew it. With the resurgence of the Cleveland Indians in the Central Division and the perennial powers in the A.L. East and West, Detroit had to keep pace. In the process they became the immediate favorites in their division. The Tigers gave up a ton, but they also got young talent back that will make an immediate impact for years in the future. They add Cabrera who will be a power hitter and tough out in the lineup, but the wild card may end up being Dontrelle Willis. If Willis can harness the dominating power he featured just two seasons ago in 2005, the Tigers will have a very formidable staff. Willis will be under less pressure to win and carry the pitching staff in Detroit. He will also come in with a sizeable chip on his shoulder, with many believing that his best years are behind him though he is still young.

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With Boston and New York in a catfight for Johan Santana that is going nowhere, Tigers fans can be thankful that Dombrowski had the guts to pull off the deal. Nothing is gained in baseball by sitting around and standing pat while other teams talk trade. The Tigers knew they had a chance at something special, and they jumped at it. Kudos to Mr. I and the rest of the front office for giving Tiger fans everywhere their first gift of the holiday season.

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Is it time for spring training yet? Though winter has just begun, I’m already longing for the boys of summer!

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