This winter, there seems to have been no end to the Rick Porcello trade rumor mill. One week, he’s staying with the Detroit Tigers as the team’s fifth starter. The next, he’s getting dealt for a bundle of different minor league prospects, a few of which are outfielders and infielders.
Today, it was revealed that the Tigers have even been sniffing around the market offering Porcello up for potential closers. ESPN’s Jim Bowden claims the San Diego Padres turned down two separate deals for Porcello centered around Huston Street and late inning setup man Luke Gregerson.
It’s still March 22, meaning the Tigers have more than enough time to work all their roster question marks out ahead of April 1, but for team chemistry sake, they should seek a resolution to these particular fiascos sooner rather than later. This parade of endless trade rumors certainly isn’t helping anybody feel better about themselves, be it Porcello, young closer candidate Bruce Rondon, shortstop Jhonny Peralta or anyone trying to crack the roster as a potential extra outfielder.
All these issues, be it the fifth starter battle or closer competition, need to be settled as soon as possible. The 2013 Tigers don’t need any additional drama hanging over their clubhouse prior to first pitch on opening day. After all, we’ve seen this drama play out before on contending teams, and it isn’t pretty. In 2008, a squad expected to contend for the World Series fell flat in April during the midst of positional uncertainty during spring training. Miguel Cabrera was taking over third base and Brandon Inge wasn’t happy. Inge stayed on the roster. It was no coincidence the Tigers started a disorganized 0-10.
If Porcello feels slighted and stays on the roster amid these rumors, that might affect him mentally in whatever role the Tigers decide to use him. A bigger issue that certainly relates? Rondon’s confidence. The Tigers have allowed him to twist in the wind for weeks. They’ll use him in spring training games and say they’re prepared to enter the season with him as the closer, but in the meantime, constant trade rumors swirl. Imagine how that must feel. It’d be like a company telling you they’re perfectly pleased with your performance as water cooler rumors claim you’re on the chopping block next week. Good luck performing. Those personal problems have the ability to manifest themselves and drag down a team as a whole.
A team with as many expectations as the Tigers doesn’t need these avoidable distractions overshadowing the goals at hand. Lest everyone forget, Detroit was whitewashed last fall in the World Series for the second time in seven years. The expectation has become that the Tigers will not just make it back to the fall classic in 2013, but this time, actually win it. That’s not happening with distractions from spring training which linger into April and perhaps even May.
So, as the saying (sort of) goes, it’s time for the Tigers to either use the toilet or get off it with regards to their lingering roster situations. Whether they keep Porcello or not, add other pieces or eventually name Rondon the closer, the moves had better happen before the season starts so everyone can move on from watching the hot stove and get to work.
In 2013, a season of baseball redemption in Detroit, that should be the only important thing to worry about.
Max DeMara is a senior editor at The Detroit Sports Site. You can find him on Twitter @SportsGuyTheMax