Teams missing boat on Guerrero

Detroit must create the impression they are aggressively trying to improve the team.

Updated: January 6, 2004, 9:35 AM ET
By Jim Baker | MLB Insider
Tigers rounding up usual suspects
My ballplaying friends, I ask you: are you a drifter, an underachiever, a never was, a should-have-been, an injury waiting to happen? Do you feel like nobody in your sport wants to give you a chance? Are you tired of watching your colleagues bring home 50 grand a week and more while you struggle by with half that? You say you've been a free agent for two months and your agent won't return your calls? Well have we got the place for you: Detroit, Michigan. Yes, Detroit, baseball's version of hobo heaven.

Well, at least they were up front about it. At the outset of the free agent season, the Tigers admitted that they were prepared to overpay for free agents in order to entice them to the not-so-friendly confines of Comerica Park and that is exactly what they have done. Fernando Vina and Rondell White have been afforded contracts that no other team would have touched and now Jason Johnson, late of the Orioles, has joined them beneath the big money tree in Detroit reports Tom Gage of the Detroit News.

Johnson is a 30-year old pitcher who has never cracked the top ten in anything positive. He has, however, made one or more appearances in the top ten lists of the following happy categories: Hit Batsmen, Bases on Balls allowed, Home Runs allowed, Losses and Wild Pitches thrown. His strike out-to-walk ratios are especially unimpressive and his ERAs are, when at his very best, just above league average. Given all that, he still represents a step up from many of the pitchers the Tigers trotted out in 2003. Is this step up worth the $3.5 million per season for two years the Tigers gave Johnson? Not in this market.

Jim Baker is an author at Baseball Prospectus and a frequent contributor to Page 2. You can e-mail Jim at