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Dave Dombrowski strikes again with Jose Veras acquisition but bullpen is still a concern for the Tigers

by Colin Windecker

For the fourth year in a row, Dombrowski has made a big splash to the Tigers roster around the trade deadline. In 2010 he brought in Jhonny Peralta from Cleveland for next to nothing. The following year, Doug Fister was stolen from Seattle for four players, only one of which is currently on the Mariners’ roster. Last year it was Anibal Sanchez and Omar Infante and while the Tigers had to part with their top prospect Jacob Turner, the Tigers would make the move with Miami again with no hesitation. And now with Monday’s trade with Houston for Jose Veras, the Tigers biggest weakness is a little less concerning.

Veras was 0-4 with a 2.93 ERA with 19 saves in 22 chances as the closer with the Astros, but he is expected to fill the 8th inning setup role with Joaquin Benoit remaining the closer. While the win-loss record isn’t spectacular, the last two months for Veras has been. Since May 31st Veras has 11 saves and has allowed only two earned runs in 20 innings. And now that he is out of one of the best hitter’s parks in baseball, I would expect his recent trend of success to continue. (3.58 ERA at home, 1.76 on the road).

The Tigers did however have to pay a dear price to acquire Veras for three months. At just 19 years old, Danry Vasquez was already the Tigers' 4th ranked prospect according to MLB.com.  He had been with Single-A West Michigan all season and was hitting .281 with five home runs and 39 RBIs and is projected to be a potential .300 hitter who can hit 12-15 home runs a year. But with the future outfield most likely consisting of Austin Jackson, Avisail Garcia and Nick Castellanos, Vasquez was expendable and the exact type of prospect the Astros are looking for as they continue to rebuild. A player to be named later was also part of the deal and must be named on or before September 15th, so we are yet to see who the final piece of this trade involves.

Does the move for Veras ease all of my concerns about the bullpen? No. The Tigers still need a lefty specialist with Darin Downs on the DL and Phil Coke being, well, Phil Coke. Al Alburquerque’s inability to consistently locate the strike zone and Bruce Rondon allowing runs in each of his last three appearances has me worried as well. But the Tigers’ bullpen has depth now and is in much better shape today than it was yesterday.