Desperate times call for desperate measures

The immediate goal for Detroit is to avoid 100 losses and to reclaim the trust of the Tigers' fans.

Updated: January 30, 2004, 9:16 AM ET
By Jim Baker | MLB Insider
I normally don't advocate signing free agents or trading for players for purposes of public relations. I'm a firm believer that making a show for the fans is usually a fool's errand and style over substance is transparent and easily sussed out by savvy rooters. For the Detroit Tigers, though, I'll make an exception. When you've pushed the bottom of the envelope the way they did in 2003, something needs to be done and if that something means overpaying for an aging superstar catcher, than so be it.

For those who are thinking the addition of Pudge is going to turn the Tigers into something like a .500 team with a stroke of the pen, forget it. That is not the purpose of this exercise. Detractors of the deal point out that Rodriguez was teamed with the best player in the game in Texas and that team still managed to finish in last place on both occasions. True enough. Alex Rodriguez showed up for work every day in 2001 and 2002 and the Rangers still lost 34 more games than they won in that span. For the record, Pudge was out of the lineup a total of 101 games during which the team's winning percentage was .396. They played at a more respectable .471 when both Rodriguezes were in the lineup. The Tigers have nobody near the talent level of A-Rod (few do), so hoping for a miracle-level turnaround in 2004 is out of the question.

Ivan Rodriguez
Ivan Rodriguez would be a dose of fresh air for the Tigers.
No, as I've written before, the immediate goal is to avoid 100 losses and to reclaim the trust of the Tiger fans, beaten down and driven away by a decade of losing seasons. In a vacuum, you would never give Rodriguez the kind of money and the number of years the Tigers are willing to. This is no vacuum, however, but a space containing a century-old team that managed to out-lose all but one expansion team from baseball's past.
Jim Baker is an author at Baseball Prospectus and a frequent contributor to Page 2. You can e-mail Jim at