For the first time since he was traded back in 2007, former Marlin Miguel Cabrera will make his return to Miami. He, along with Dontrelle Willis, were traded to the Detroit Tigers on December 5th 2007 for two of MLB’s top prospects and four other players.
Marlins fans all know how that trade has worked for the Marlins franchise, not too well.
This series will mark the final one of the 2013 season for the Miami Marlins. The Tigers after this series will head to the post-season, something the Marlins franchise hasn’t even sniffed in a decade.
To preview the final series of the season between the Tigers and Marlins, I had an email chat with Matt Snyder, the Editor of Motor City Bengals. MCB is the Fansided site for the Detroit Tigers, on which, Matt and his staff do an amazing job of covering the Tigers on a daily basis.
Ehsan Kassim: In retrospect, what were your initial thoughts on the Cabrera/Willis trade from 7 years ago? Do you feel the same about the trade now?
Matt Snyder: I was ecstatic even though at the time I thought the Tigers were getting two All-Star players. Dontrelle Willis obviously didn’t work out, but Miguel Cabrera has become such a tremendous player that everyone in Detroit feels even better about the Trade now. It helps, of course, that neither Cameron Maybin nor Andrew Miller turned out the way we thought they would at the time.
EK: Former Marlins manager Jim Leyland is not happy playing against the Marlins in Miami for the final series of the season, does he have a legitimate beef?
MS: I think he understands why it has to happen, but I think his gripe is legitimate to a degree. The Tigers are trying to get their guys ready for the playoffs, but now they’re being forced to play a different style of game than they’ll see (unless they make it all the way to the World Series). They’re going to have to find ways for Victor Martinez to get some at-bats without the DH spot, and AL teams are always deathly afraid of their pitchers getting hurt trying to bat and/or run the bases. That being said, I think he’d be even more unhappy if the Tigers were still trying to lock up their playoff spot.
EK: How do you view the Anibal Sanchez trade of last season? I have called Anibal one of the most underrated pitchers in baseball, would you agree to that?
MS: I ended up really liking the trade. Omar Infante has had a really good year-and-a-half to solidify the second base position that had been a question mark since Placido Polanco left, but yeah, Sanchez has been a true gem for Detroit. I remember shortly after the trade looking at some numbers and concluding that Sanchez had very similar numbers to Cole Hamels (who had just received a $144 million extension with the Phillies). I didn’t see Sanchez coming in and performing quite this well, but he’s been fantastic, and I think the Tigers got a tremendous deal on the $80 million extension.
EK: What has been the strength of the 2013 Tigers: the pitching or hitting? What is the teams Achilles heel?
MS: The offense has been really good, but I think I’ll go with the starting pitching. They had easily the best rotation ERA in the American League at 3.46, and they don’t have a below average pitcher in the bunch. Rick Porcello will head to the bullpen for the playoffs, but the guys remaining: Scherzer, Sanchez, Verlander, and Fister are all in the Top 12 in WAR for pitchers (according to FanGraphs).
The Achilles heel has been the bullpen. Joaquin Benoit has solidified the ninth inning when he took over the closer’s spot from Jose Valverde, but they’ve had some trouble in the middle innings. Porcello in the bullpen will help solidify things, but Tigers fans will not be sitting comfortably with leads in the postseason.
EK: Did Brian McCann end up calling the Tigers last night to bark about excessive celebration for their clinching the division?
MS: Not that I know of, but I’m sure he would have blocked their exit from the ballpark if he thought they crossed the unwritten line. I have no doubt he had someone monitoring the situation.
EK: Can you give us a quick scouting report on the pitchers the Marlins will face this series? Are any of the pitchers going to be restricted in their final starts?
MS: It sounds like Jose Alvarez will start on Friday so that Porcello can start his transition to the bullpen. Sanchez and Verlander will follow the next two days. I’m guessing that Jim Leyland will be looking for his guys to throw about 100 pitches. Enough to keep them in the flow, but not overly taxing. Verlander hasn’t been his usual dominating self this year, but he’s been very good in September and will be looking to keep things rolling into October.
EK: Predictions for the series?
MS: I’ll say the Tigers take two of three. They’re going to be walking the fine line between competing has hard as they can and staying healthy and rotating guys through the lineup, but I think they have enough talent to win the series even if they’re not going full-out to that end.
A big thank you to Matt for taking his timeout to talk to us. We at Marlin Maniac wish all Tigers fans the best of luck for the upcoming of the series. If you get a chance, do check out some of the great content over on Motor City Bengals.
My bold prediction for the series: The Marlins past superstar meets the Marlins current and future superstars. Cabrera hits a huge homer off of Koehler, leading the Tigers to a win on Friday night. On Saturday, Giancarlo Stanton flexes his muscle, hitting two home runs and driving in four runs in a Marlins victory. The finale goes to the Tigers, but Christian Yelich comes through with a three hit day, including a double and triple.