I hope you didn't get all excited when the Tigers made that big trade last week. The Tigers acquired second baseman Omar Infante and starting pitcher Anibal Sanchez from the Marlins for top pitching prospect Jacob Turner and minor leaguers Rob Brantly and Brian Flynn.
Omar Infante is a really nice pickup. He gives the Tigers stability at second base, a position for which they've had no one remotely resembling a Major Leaguer all season. Ryan Raburn, Ramon Santiago, Brandon Inge and Danny Worth have been either a slight step above, or below, awful. That goes for both offense and defense. Infante, even if he hits .275, will be a massive upgrade.
As for Sanchez, let's face it, he's never been very good. For his career, he is 44-46 with an ERA of 3.78. That's not awful, it just isn't very good. In his rookie season of 2006, in which he threw a no-hitter, Sanchez went 10-3. Since then, he's 34-43. That's not very good. He's had exactly two full, healthy, seasons in the Majors.
Everything about Sanchez suggests he is average. He has an okay fastball, unlike a lot of the pitchers Dave Dombrowski covets. None of his other pitches are particularly devastating.
Sanchez is coming from the National League, which is almost like getting a call up from AAA. National League pitchers frequently have a tough time making the transition to the DH league. There's no pitcher in the lineup. These lineups are also deeper and more talented, top to bottom. He had a 3.94 ERA this season with the Marlins. Add about a run to that.
Sanchez is 28. He's a free agent after the season. The progress, or lack thereof, of Drew Smyly, will probably determine whether Dombrowski wants him back. He was essentially a throw-in in this trade with Detroit. He's making $8 million. The Marlins wanted to unload the salary. They've done this before, several times. The Marlins made the Tigers take Dontrelle Willis in the deal for Miguel Cabrera. Willis didn't do so well here, obviously. They also made Boston take Mike Lowell in the trade for Josh Beckett (a deal that sent Sanchez and Hanley Ramirez to Florida). Lowell worked out well for Boston. He made an All-Star team and batted .400 in the 2007 World Series.
While Sanchez might be average, he still might be an upgrade over what the Tigers have in the fifth spot in the rotation. Smyly has been inconsistent, and injury-prone. We didn't know what we would get with Turner. If Sanchez can come here and go 5-5 with an ERA of 4.50, he might help this team. The Tigers have to continue to hit. Sanchez can provide a bit of stability in the back of the rotation. But if you're looking for Sanchez to be this year's version of Doug Fister, you're going to be extremely disappointed.