The First Jaw-Dropper of the Off-Season.

The Detroit Tigers would like to muscle up with the Cleveland Indians and challenge the Tribe for the division title in a more serious way next season, because they are the team that finally pried Miguel Cabrera and Dontrelle Willis loose from the penny-pinching clutches of Jeffrey Loria and the Florida Marlins. Detroit sent starter Andrew Miller, outfielder Cameron Maybin, three relief pitches, and a back-up catcher to Florida in exchange, and will look to dump current 3B Brandon Inge and OF Marcus Thames to cut some salary.

This trade works for obvious reasons: Cabrera is in his prime at 24, and an absolutely dynamite hitter. Provided the rumors of his weight loss are true, he’ll be ready to go and may be even better now that he’s on a team that’s competing.  The knock on Dontrelle Willis is that he’s a first half pitcher only, and he may not fare so well coming over to the American League and dealing with thee DH — valid concerns, both, but this is not a team where he’ll be asked to be an ace.  He’ll be either the third or fourth starter, I’m guessing, with Justin Verlander, Jeremy Bonderman, Kenny Rogers, and Nate Robertson around him (also a nice thing to have three lefties in your starting rotation), so that will take some of the pressure off.

Who loses here due to Detroit’s success?  Both teams in the Los Angeles area. The Angels were probably likely to make a more serious offer than the Dodgers, but both teams needed an impact corner infielder badly, and Cabrera was the only one available after A-Rod went crawling back to the Yankees.

The Tigers have created a line-up right now that may rival Boston for the most destructive offense on paper right now — Curtis Granderson, Placido Polanco, Cabrera, Magglio Ordonez, Gary Sheffield, Carlos Guillen, Ivan Rodriguez, and Jacque Jones….but there is one question left for the Tigers to answer — how are they gonna get the ball to Todd Jones with Joel Zumaya out after being injured while trying to move stuff during the California wildfires?

That may be the last thing to address.

Photo: AP/Luis M. Alvarez

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