Detroit — Piecing together perhaps the most-intimidating starting rotation in all of baseball did not come without sacrifice for the Tigers.
Most notably, they gave up their starting center fielder, Austin Jackson, a guy who was absolutely scorching at the plate at a time when much of the rest of the lineup has struggled.
It’s why Dave Dombrowski, the Tigers president and general manager, was asked after the trade for David Price on Thursday afternoon if the club was making a significant gamble taking away from the offense.
Dombrowski isn’t as concerned as the fans.
“I think you have some falloff,” Dombrowski conceded. “Is there a risk? Somewhat. But I wouldn’t put it as a big risk.”
Others, however, might not agree.
After all, the Tigers now will count on Ezequiel Carrera, unproven in the major leagues, to help replace Jackson in center field.
The Tigers already are pinning their World Series hopes on an all-rookie left side of the infield, in Nick Castellanos and Eugenio Suarez. They also are counting on J.D. Martinez to keep playing at a high level, albeit nobody can expect him to continue up his torrid pace.
Alex Avila also continues to struggle, Ian Kinsler has fallen off, and even Miguel Cabrera isn’t the home-run threat he’s used to being.
So it’s no surprise Dombrowski was asked why he didn’t add offense ahead of baseball’s 4 p.m. Thursday trade deadline, particularly from the left side. Truth is, there weren’t many offensive options available. As Dombrowski pointed out, there were very few impact bats moved to a contender, and almost none from the left side — unless you still consider Stephen Drew an impact bat. Most don’t.
“A lot of times, people mention names, and they don’t add up to the people that are available,” Dombrowski said. “I don’t think that type of guy was even out there.”
So, the Tigers are hoping the return of Andy Dirks later this month will be the extra bat they need.
The news conference Thursday was rather interesting, and not just because it detailed just how the Tigers pulled off their latest coup in getting a pitcher of Price’s caliber when few in baseball believed they had the pieces to get it done.
Perhaps even more intriguing, Dombrowski acknowledged the first-place Tigers haven’t played as well as they can, or are swinging the bats as they’re capable.
That said, the Tigers remain among the league leaders in offense. They’re fourth in the American League in runs, first in average, first in slugging percentage and second in on-base percentage.
And all that’s during a time when overall offense in baseball is down.
So it’s no wonder when given the opportunity, two of the biggest World Series threats — the A’s and Tigers — both sacrificed offense for additional starting pitching Thursday.
“In reality, the game today is a tough game to score runs,” Dombrowski said.
“I think we’ll score enough runs.”