Even with word coming back that Placido Polanco should return in time for the playoffs, the Tigers needed to make this move just to be safe. The nature of Polanco's injury is one that may cause problems over an extended stretch of time, even after being cleared by doctors to resume play. With that, the Tigers were proactive in their search for replacement.
With that, bring on the Neifi Perez era in Detroit! Well, I guess I shouldn't sound quite so enthusiastic. Neifi has long been heralded for his glove, arm, and general defensive wizardry. However, over that same stretch of time, he has long been infamous for his incredible offensive ineptitude.
Perez' glove is the single reason the Tigers brought him aboard; there's no doubt about that. He can pick it with the best of them, and that should prove valuable down the stretch. At the plate, Neifi often seems quite clueless. He hacks away with no remorse (which should allow him to fit right in on this Tiger team), and generally provides no offensive value. His speed has diminished with age, leaving him with one rather inconsequential offensive tool; his ability to bunt.
Neifi carries value as an experienced player, with the ability to play both premium infield positions, and a willingness to play sparingly if necessary. Only being due $2.5 million in 2007, the Tigers could easily cut bait and move forward with Guillen, Polanco, and Infante as their primary middle infielders.
In exchange, the Cubs pulled catcher Chris Robinson away from the Tigers' farm system. On the surface, dealing away a 3rd round pick, only a year removed from draft day, that plays a position of need for the organization, may seem odd. However, keep in mind that Robinson has really done very little to establish himself as a viable catching prospect. His bat was suspect coming out of Illinois, and .288/.338/.367 line at Lakeland this season has done little to change that impression.
Much like Perez, Robinson's calling card was supposed to be his otherworldly defensive abilities behind the plate. However, those skills have not been flashed with any regularity this year; leaving many to wonder how he went in the 3rd round. While the Tigers may need catching help in the near future, it was very unlikely Robinson would have filled a role at the Major League level.
Overall, I don't see any huge success or failure potential for this trade. The only way the deal turns out bad for the Tigers, is if Jim Leyland suddenly decides that Neifi's veteran presence and slick fielding reputation are more valuable than handing regular playing time to Omar Infante.
Provided Perez only sees limited duty throughout the remainder of the baseball season, the Tigers should see no ill effects from this deal, and should benefit from some late inning defensive gems, and a little extra rest for the starters down the stretch.