Blogs > Out of Left Field

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.

Sunday, February 5, 2012

Penny won't be back, but fans shouldn't dance about it quite so much

Brad Penny, the Tigers' fifth starter a season ago, has reportedly signed a contract with the Softbank Hawks in Japan's Pacific League for next season.

It's a deal according to's Ken Rosenthal that's worth $4 million in base salary — up a bit from the $3M that the 33-year-old Penny earned in Detroit — but could be worth up to $7.5M if he reaches certain performance bonuses. Rosenthal also reported that it's the largest contract ever given to an American pitcher in his first deal to play in Japan.

Penny said on Twitter that he "had offers here, but offer much better in japan."

Good for Brad, right?

If you ask a lot of Tigers fans, it's more like good riddance.

And my question is — why?

Why the hate for a guy that was 11-11 for a team that won 95 games last season, and advanced to the ALCS. He threw 182 innings. After a couple of injury-plagued seasons, he didn't miss a start in 2010.

As Jim Leyland said near the end of the season, "Pretty good for a fifth starter."

Yes he was slow. Yes he gave up 24 home runs in 31 starts.

But he battled.

Like father, like son, Tigers minor league catcher Patrick Leyland (@pleyland1013) said on Twitter Sunday: "Brad Penny wins 11 games as a fifth on a playoff team and nobody gives him a shot? There are a lot of teams that could use 11 as a fifth. ... People hate on brad but look up how many fifths won 11 and pitched 180 some innings saved the bullpen kept them in most games."

At this point, having made no move to replace Penny's rotation spot with a veteran hurler, the Tigers seem as if they are more than likely willing to let a handful of their pitching prospects — Jacob Turner, Duane Below, Andy Oliver, Adam Wilk, Drew Smyly — battle it out for the No. 5 spot in spring training.

Will the Tigers get a performance like Penny's from whomever wins the job?

Given their collective inexperience, I think they'd be ecstatic if they did.

All the more reason the Tigers went into the offseason looking for a low-cost insurance option they could plug in if those kids aren't ready.

And along the way, they've flirted with the idea of trading for guys like Gio Gonzalez or Matt Garza.

They still may be in the market. But that doesn't guarantee they'll get someone who performs better, even if they get a bigger name, or pay more money.

Put it this way: One of the guys that Tigers fans have been hoping they'd sign for the job, Roy Oswalt (who reportedly turned down a one-year, $10 million offer from the club) cost $16 million to post a 9-10 record with the Phillies last year. And he threw only 139 innings because of a balky back, which may or may not be better this year.

Not exactly bang for the buck.

I'm not insinuating that the Tigers have lost an irreplaceable cog, or that they'll be worse without Penny. May not make a whit of difference.

But fans might want to be careful what they wish for: You CAN do worse than what the Tigers got out of Brad Penny last season.

Labels: , , , ,


Post a Comment

Subscribe to Post Comments [Atom]

<< Home