Patrick Hayes' prescription for the Tigers? Trade for Milton Bradley, and give him the right-field job. Sign free agent Justin Duchscherer. Oh, and give a couple of Gerald Laird's plate appearances to prospect Alex Avila.
Wait, what? Milton Bradley in right field? Really? Yes, really:
- Right Field: The outfield needs a makeover, and it's going to start here. Trade Jeremy Bonderman to the Cubs for Milton Bradley. Both make roughly $10 million per year. Bradley is signed for one more year than Bonderman, but the Cubs are desperate to get rid of him, so it's conceivable they'd pay that final year if the Tigers take him.
Jim Leyland is known for working well with head cases. Gary Sheffield didn't produce in Detroit, but he didn't make waves either. So what you say? Well, in NY he was calling Derek Jeter "not all the way black" and Joe Torre a slave master. He's had nothing negative to say about his Detroit tenure. Bradley is not as crazy as Sheff, this can work.
Before signing with the Cubs, Bradley had a career-year in Texas, with a .999 OPS. Once he escapes the racism in Wrigleyville and comes to the more laid back environment in Detroit, he'll be just fine.
Maybe that "racism in Wrigleyville" link is supposed to be sarcastic, but if you actually read the story you'll find that nobody's got any evidence for any sort of racial abuse being heaped on Bradley at Wrigley Field. Leaving aside the intangibles, though, I'm fascinated by this notion that Milton Bradley might be someone's every-day right fielder for some extended stretch of time.
He's been in the majors for 10 seasons. He's started more than 110 games in the outfield exactly once. Players don't generally get healthier as they age; in fact, they generally get less healthy. Which doesn't mean the Tigers couldn't use Bradley. Hayes has slotted Magglio Ordonez as the Tigers' DH, but he's not a terrible outfielder and could simply continue playing right field.
Would adding Bradley and Duchscherer really make a difference next season? Probably not. Even if Bradley stays healthy enough -- physically and emotionally -- to play 140 games and the Duke gives the Tigers 175 good innings, the Tigers would still need a bit of luck to reach the 90 wins it will likely take to capture the AL Central. The basic problem is that in 2010 the Tigers will spend $50 million on Ordonez, Jeremy Bonderman, Dontrelle Willis, and Nate Robertson ... and only one of those fellows is likely to be more than just moderately useful.
It's not easy to win that way, particularly without a great deal of creativity. Maybe Dave Dombrowski will surprise us.