Tigers Deal Farnsworth to Braves at Deadline

At the last minute, the Tigers decided to jump into the trade deadline waters, dealing closer Kyle Farnsworth to the Atlanta Braves for two pitching prospects. Farnsworth and a player to be named later (to be named some time in August) were acquired from the Chicago Cubs in February in exchange for three prospects, including third baseman Scott Moore.

Slated to be the setup man for Detroit this season, Kyle Farnsworth excelled in that role, and was pitching well as the closer after assuming the role when high-priced free agent Troy Percival went down with a season-ending arm injury.

In 46 appearances, Kyle had posted a 1-1 record with 15 holds and 6 saves, and had notched a 2.32 ERA while striking out more than a batter per inning. Since moving to the closer's role, Farnsworth appeared to be quelling the myth that had plagued him since his days with the Cubs; that he cracked under the pressure of closing games.

The Braves have struggled to find consistent, late-inning relief all season long. Starting the year with Danny Kolb as their closer, he was quickly demoted after an abysmal start, and the team has failed to find that "go to" person at the end of games since.

If Farnsworth, who attended junior college in Georgia, can build upon his success with the Tigers, it is likely the Braves have solidified their ‘pen such that they can make yet another playoff run. Over the course of the last decade, John Schuerholz's acquisition of the right player down the stretch has often been the difference for the Braves in extending their impressive 13-year run atop the National League East.

In return, the Tigers received 25-year old reliever Roman Colon, and 23-year old righty Zach Miner.

Colon has been rated as highly as the Top 10 in the Braves organization in recent seasons, but has failed to capitalize on the promise that got him there. Since becoming a full-time reliever in 2004, Colon has excelled, nearly breaking camp with the Braves in 2005. So far this season, Roman has posted an ERA well below 2.00 in 5 minor league starts and a 5.28 ERA in 44+ innings with Atlanta. Home runs have plagued Colon this season, a problem that has not been present in the past.

The potential is certainly there for Colon to become a dominant Major League reliever with the combination of a mid-90s fastball, and above-average slider and splitter. Look for Colon to jump right into the Tigers bullpen, helping to fill the void left by the departing Farnsworth.

Zach Miner was a highly touted prospect prior to signing with the Braves rather than attending the University of Miami on scholarship. A starting pitcher, Miner possesses a low-90s fastball with very good sinking action, a slider with very good bite, and a developing change-up. Zach's overall ceiling was nearly unmatched in the Atlanta organization; unfortunately his unwillingness to challenge hitters had hindered him from even approaching those lofty expectations.

With AAA-Richmond so far this season, Miner had posted a 4.23 ERA in 17 starts and 89.1 innings. Walks and a generally high batting average against have been Miner's major problems this season. If the Tigers instructors can convince Zach to consistently challenge hitters with his above average arsenal, he could be a sleeper in the Tiger system.

Overall, the appearance on the surface is that the Tigers may not have capitalized on Farnsworth's perceived high value. However, the two players received from the Braves have tremendous potential, and could yet prove to be very good Major League pitchers.

The trade market in 2005 was noticeably depressed, lessening the value the Tigers were likely to receive in a trade for a relief pitcher. It may not become apparent until next year, but the possibility is there that the Tigers received two key pieces to their future in return for a soon-to-be free agent reliever.

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