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A sometimes-irreverent look at Detroit's Boys of Summer, the Tigers, as they try to return to the top of the American League Central.

Friday, December 9, 2011

Tigers make bullpen swap, trading former first-rounder Perry to Nats for Balester

Once thought to be the Detroit Tigers' "closer-in-waiting," it became clear that the franchise became tired of waiting for former first-round pick Ryan Perry.

The Tigers shipped the enigmatic reliever — picked 21st overall in the 2008 draft — to the Nationals on Friday, getting right-handed reliever Collin Balester in return. A former fourth-round pick of the Expos in 2004, Balester has only been a reliever for two seasons, after starting 22 games over his first two years in Washington.

"We felt Ryan Perry could benefit from a change of scenery," Tigers GM Dave Dombrowski told's Jason Beck on Friday. "Ryan did not have a guaranteed spot on the club at this time. But he also didn't really fit this three-inning type of role."

Perry finished the 2011 season with a 5.35 ERA, a WHIP of 1.622, and almost as many walks (21) as strikeouts (24) in 37 innings. The 24-year-old was sent to Toledo three times in 2011, once for rehab after an eye injury put him on the disabled list in May, and twice more to work on mechanical issues, trying to get his delivery more repeatable.

"He's at the point where he needs to step it up for us. I mean, he's got a lot of ability," Dombrowski said at the start of the offseason, before reiterating his 'value' to the team at the Winter Meetings. "His arm speaks for itself. He's an upper 90s guy and his slider's pretty good at times. When he goes down to the minors, his change-up is very good too. He very seldom throws it here. But we haven't been able to get him over the hump at the big league level, and we need to do that. He needs to do that. Kind of a combination. He's in one of those areas right now where you send him down to Triple-A and he dominates. And then you bring him back and he has a hard time getting over that. We think he can do that, but he does need to prove it."

In Balester, the Tigers get a right-handed reliever who throws nearly as hard as Perry, but posted better strikeout numbers (62 in 56.2 innings of relief over the last two seasons). The Tigers will use him in a long relief role, with the seventh- (recent signee Octavio Dotel and Phil Coke), eighth- (Joaquin Benoit) and ninth-inning (Jose Valverde) roles already taken.

“Acquiring Collin Balester from the Nationals today adds another good arm to our organization,” Dombrowski said in a press release Friday. “He has shown the ability to pitch multiple innings out of the bullpen in the past, a role we are looking for him to fill for our club in 2012.”

Of note for fans, Balester has a Twitter account (@ballystar40), as well as a web site (

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