Paul Wezner, Executive Editor
Gerald Laird passes the "good enough" test for what the Tigers needed. The Tigers feel very comfortable that the top six players in their lineup will produce plenty of offense, and now they just need to fill in the rest of the lineup with solid defensive players that can hold their own at the plate. That is basically the definition of Laird brings to the table. Laird also will give the Tigers more time to evaluate Dusty Ryan over the course of a full season. If the Tigers believe Dusty could be their catcher of the future, they need him to actually get the opportunity to show that. Laird is good enough that he can be a starting catcher on most days, but not good enough where manager Jim Leyland would feel like he's hurting the ball club by taking him out of the lineup. For what the Tigers need in 2009, Laird fits the bill.
Mark Anderson, Managing Editor
The Laird acquisition at least addresses the need in part for the Tigers. There was no logical way the organization could enter the 2009 season banking on Dusty Ryan to be the everyday catcher; it simply wasn't possible. That's not to say Ryan isn't a nice prospect, but after just one partial season of impressive performance, and several years of offensive ineptness, it's difficult to definitively say we can expect a significant offensive contribution from him (not to mention his showing in Puerto Rico so far). Brining aboard Laird at least provides a player that has performed adequately at the MLB level. He's been a nice defensive player, and there's enough stick there that he isn't a complete liability. The problem arises in that there is no assurance that Laird can actually handle the duties of a full time catcher. Can he truly go out and play 100+ games at a fair enough level, particularly without his performance deteriorating late in the season? If not, and if the Tigers are committed to allowing Ryan to develop full time in Toledo as they discussed in passing during yesterday's press conference, then the Tigers are still left searching for another viable Major League catcher -- and no, Dane Sardinha is not a viable Major League catcher.
Jason Avery, Associate Editor, Amateur Baseball
I think Gerald Laird will be fine behind the plate, and with him here for at least the next two years, the Tigers can continue to be patient with Dusty Ryan. If Ryan continues to build on a terrific 2008 season, he could be ready to handle the catching duties on a full-time basis rather quickly. The other aspect to this is with Laird and Ryan handling the catching duties for the foreseeable future is the Tigers can also be patient with Alex Avila and not rush him through the system to fill a potential need (not to mention James Skelton if he isn't taken in this week's Rule 5 draft). The Tigers certainly are in need of pitching help, and losing Guillermo Moscoso hurts in the sense that he could've been a contributor for the Tigers next year, but with the catching market being rather abysmal, they needed someone who could fill the role and not be a burden on the payroll, and Laird fits that bill.
Bill Ferris, Blogger/Publisher, Detroit Tigers Weblog
Gerald Laird will partially address the needs, and the price was certainly palatable. He's an average hitter as far as catchers go, and he is solid enough defensively. But he's only topped 100 games once in his career, and he struggled when he did. It would seem to be the perfect scenario for a time share with Dusty Ryan, but it sounds as if Ryan may start at AAA meaning the Tigers still need a back-up catcher. And there is no way barring injury that Dane Sardinha should be that guy.
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