The Tigers were sort of in a no win situation. Three of their candidates for the starting rotation came in to camp as big question marks. Dontrelle Willis and his problems have been well documented. But the Tigers are on the hook with him for a huge paycheck this year regardless of what he does. Nate Robertson was once a great prospect who in the past showed signs of brilliance. But then his WHIP started expanding quicker than a former Cheers actress and last year missed most of the season. Jeremy Bonderman also had a bright future before struggling with performance and ultimately with injury. The Tigers were in hopes that one or two of those guys would make the rotation. The feeling here is because of his cost, Willis was given every opportunity to make it. Now the Tigers have traded away Robertson to the Marlins in basically a cash dump and that makes the Tigers vulnerable.
While any regular reader of this site knows the Fan's longing for Willis to succeed, it is with some fear that he has actually made the team and the rotation. His last two spring starts started to show the wildness that has plagued him the last couple of years. He walked three in four innings just yesterday. So good spring regardless, the last two starts haven't been moving in the right direction.
Robertson, on the other hand, was having a very good and consistent spring and it looked that he was poised to overcome and pitch effectively in the major leagues again. Jim Leyland was quoted as saying that the move frees up some of the logjam in the rotation. But is it ever a bad thing to have too many starting pitchers? The Red Sox don't think so and stockpile them like end-of-the-world survivalists. The Red Sox are pretty smart people.
Jeremy Bonderman was once a stud with a big arm and a high strikeout rate. Think of Verlander without the success. But despite all that, he's only had one year in his career where he had an ERA+ over 100. So even if he IS healthy this year, what will he be able to achieve? He's still only 28 years old and it's possible for him to still succeed, but it seems like a long shot.
In fact, the entire result of the spring competition seems like a long shot. Will Dontrelle Willis be effective? As much as the Fan hopes it so, it seems unlikely. Will Bonderman be effective? Even before his injury, that seemed to be the never ending question. Trading away Robertson makes the Tigers way too vulnerable and they have taken a huge risk. In fact, don't call it a risk, call it one of the biggest gambles in recent memory.