As fast as it entered, the month of June is suddenly winding to a close. Baseball’s midway point is quickly approaching, meaning trade rumors will become as hot as the weather. The Detroit Tigers, in need of definite upgrades, are now said to be in on Matt Garza and Jed Lowrie. Each could be the perfect improvement at the key positions the Tigers need.
For a while, Dave Dombrowski seems to have had an obsession with Garza. Before he was dealt to the Cubs, the Tigers were trying to snag him in the 2011 offseason. Now that he’s avalible again, it makes sense Detroit is interested. Garza has experience with the A.L. Central from pitching with Minnesota. He’s also contended with some of the best teams in baseball when he pitched in the A.L. East with Tampa Bay. If Dombrowski is set on upgrading the starting rotation, they’red be no better choice. The only question? Price. Theo Epstein is in full rebuild mode in Chicago, meaning he’d likely want arms, legs and a torso for his one major chip. Perhaps Dombrowski could get creative and try to wriggle another solid second baseman, Darwin Barney, away in a Garza deal as well.
Lowrie would also come with some organizational familiarity. David Chadd, once a scout for the Boston Red Sox and now in Detroit, presided over the 2005 draft which saw Lowrie selected. Though he won’t wow you with a high batting average or star power, he’s exactly the kind of solid player the Tigers could plug in at second base to get the steady results they’ve craved. In addition to hitting for a bit of consistent power this season (14 home runs, .270 average), Lowrie is a lockdown defender with a tidy .972 fielding percentage in 2012. That’s not flashy, but outside Robinson Cano and Dustin Pedroia, second basemen rarely are.
Neither Garza nor Lowrie would provide fans with the huge name they always crave this time of year, but both could be the missing link towards helping the Tigers solidify their roster and reeling in the competition. Pitching wise, Drew Smyly has been solid early. A recent ugly start against Texas does leave some concerns, however, about his readiness to pitch in big games against good lineups during the second half. Garza has no such question marks, routinely being forced to perform against top competition. As the season winds down and division races intensify, you’d always rather have a battle tested pitcher like Garza to throw at your competition than a rookie. As serviceable as Smyly and the youngsters have been, the Tigers’ rotation has been searching for consistency and needs a midseason shot in the arm to really get things going.
Lowrie’s biggest advantage is simply his steady, consistent play. Nobody is pretending he’d mimic the production of Chase Utley circa 2007, but for a Tigers’ team who has struggled mightily with fundamentals like defense and timely hitting from the middle infield positions this year, he wouldn’t need to. Detroit has enough big hitting star power to rely on with Miguel Cabrera and Prince Fielder. Should Delmon Young and Brennan Boesch get going, they’ll have even more. Lowrie is a good baseball player who can consistently hit above .260 while providing excellent defense. Coming into the season, Tigers’ fans would have quickly taken those results out of either Ryan Raburn or Danny Worth at second base, making Lowrie a perfect fit. He probably wouldn’t cost as much as his highly regarded teammate Jose Altuve might, either.
Either one of these players on their own would likely not be enough to cure all woes. The Tigers certainly need some tweaking this July, and the two areas they need it most are in the form of a veteran starter and a solid, consistent second baseman. Garza and Lowrie, two strong players, could powerfully provide this combination and help the Tigers overcome their biggest problems so far in 2012.