Gerald Laird won’t sell many tickets. I understand that. The Tigers marketing department can probably take its time getting jerseys with “LAIRD” on the back into stores. Doubtful they’ll be missed this holiday season. There won’t be some splashy press conference held, with GM Dave Dombrowski smilingly handing Laird his brand new, creamy white Tigers home blouse.
That’s OK. The Tigers just filled a hole, and so now move on to the next one.
The Tigers have pried Laird from the Texas Rangers for a couple of pitching prospects, only these aren’t the kind of prospects that were needed to extricate Miguel Cabrera and Dontrelle Willis from Florida, or Edgar Renteria from Atlanta (Jair Jurrjens, anyone?). These were middle-of-the-roaders, it’s guessed, and that’s fair, because Laird is pretty much a middle-of-the-road catcher.
But Laird, 29, has some experience, and he can throw the odd runner out trying to steal. And the Tigers feel a whole lot better with Laird as their starting backstop, rather than the unproven Dusty Ryan. As well they should.
Laird had 24 doubles in just 344 at-bats last year with the Rangers. That’s a little bit of pop — and the kind of spray hitting that should play well in Comerica Park.
When I found out that Laird was on the Tigers’ radar, I was quite OK with it. I knew Laird was a guy who would fit in well in Detroit: tough, blue collar, not flashy. An old school catcher. And there’s that 40% success rate in throwing out base stealers, which isn’t bad. At all.
So catcher is taken care of. Now time to move on to shortstop and pitching help.
This is an old-fashioned kind of winter meetings trade. Nothing dramatic, but one that addresses a need, and one that both teams can live with. The Rangers have a trove of catching prospects, and needed pitching. The Tigers were kind of the negative image of that. So the soil was fertile for a trade. If this was weather, you could have labeled it a “winter trade watch”; the conditions were right for a deal.
The “watch” turned into a “warning”, then turned into the real deal. It’s not a tornado, this Gerald Laird trade. Maybe not even a winter storm. Perhaps just a windy thunderstorm. But we all know how sunny it can get after those things pass through town.