Deal for Doug Fister and David Pauley a Smart Move for Tigers

pitcher Doug Fister throws against the Toronto Blue Jays during the first inning of their MLB American League baseball game in Toronto July 21, 2011. REUTERS/Mike Cassese (CANADA – Tags: SPORT BASEBALL)

Usually, the weeks leading up to the baseball trade deadline are full of conjecture regarding rental players. Fans are forced to worry about depleting a farm system for talent which could break down or depart at the end of the season.

This year, Tigers fans have no reason to be concerned with all of that. The team made the right deadline move in acquiring starter Doug Fister and reliever from Seattle. The cost was moderate, especially considering Fister will be under team control for the next several seasons — he’s arbitration eligible in 2013.

In other words, get used to seeing Fister as a regular part of the Tigers rotation.

Besides the fact that Fister and Pauley are both affordable, they are young. Fister is 27 and started his professional career with the Mariners in 2009. His 2011 ERA of 3.33 will place him second on the Tigers’ staff behind only Justin Verlander. Pauley is 28 and has been a dependable right-handed reliever for Seattle this season, posting a 2.15 ERA with 34 strikeouts. Seems a little more consistent than say, David Purcey, wouldn’t you agree?

Of course there will still be panic. Folks naturally will fear that Charlie Furbush, Casper Wells or prospect Fransisco Martinez will become a star for the Mariners. They will fret about Fister’s 3-10 record and overall 12-30 career mark. Some might even think this is a Jerrod Washburn deal all over again, simply because it was done with Seattle.

Sadly, there is nothing which can be said to help those believing this deal is Washburn reincarnated. That notion is not even worth a response.

However, what can be said is Fister’s poor record is deceiving. He has received next to nothing for run support goes in Seattle. If the Tigers manage to score him four or five runs in a start, he will likely be shocked and amazed, given he is used to pitching with the pressure of maintaining one- or two-run leads.

The Mariners did get a nice group of prospects — Wells, Furbush and Martinez all may have nice careers in Seattle eventually. But as general managers know, you have to give something to get something. Maybe both teams got a fair haul. Perhaps Fister will solve the problem at the back end of the Tigers rotation, and get some wins with a scenery change and some run support. Pauley could become a critical reliever in the middle innings to protect leads.

It’s not always a case of “what if” for the future, but “what now” for the present.

Right now, the Tigers made the second-best pitching move they could make outside wildly selling the farm for Ubaldo Jimenez. This move beats trading a similar haul to the Dodgers for two months of Hiroki Kuroda (who is closer to being Washburn than Fister is, simply given age and contract status), and it more than slightly beats dealing for an average arm like Jason Marquis or Jeremy Guthrie.

As deadline deals go, this was a savvy move for a team that has gotten burned by going for the midseason rental in the past.

28, 27, 22, 27. Those numbers represent the ages of the four men who will be considered the stalwarts of the Tigers rotation for the next several years. Fister could become the solution towards finally capturing the elusive division title this season, and can be counted on to be around to solidify the back end of the rotation into the future

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