In October of 2006, Huston Street‘s name would forever be cemented into the memories of Detroit Tigers fans when he gave up a walk-off home run to Magglio Ordonez in Game 4 of the ALCS, which propelled the Tigers to their first World Series in 22 years. Nearly eight years later, his name is being floated as a possible solution to the Tigers’ bullpen woes.
Street, who is now 30 years old and pitching for the San Diego Padres, has gone 1-0 with a 1.08 ERA this season while converting 18 saves for the fourth-place Padres. On the surface, trading for Street seems like it would be a pretty good idea, but there are a few reasons why the Tigers should not rush to do so.
For starters, there is still time for Joe Nathan to turn it around. Yes, he has a 7.04 ERA and has blown four saves already, but this is also a guy who has racked up 354 saves in his career. He has earned the respect to be given a chance to work through it, and he is not that far removed from a stretch where he was a perfect 10-for-10 in save opportunities this year. Going forward, there is still a flicker of hope that Nathan will be able to pitch as well for the Tigers as he did against them.
If Nathan cannot make a comeback, the Tigers still have Joba Chamberlain. Although Chamberlain blew a save Sunday night against the Boston Red Sox, he gave up a home run to one of the greatest clutch hitters of the generation in David Ortiz. Chamberlain is hardly the only pitcher that Ortiz has won a battle against in the late innings, and he should not be ruled out as a potential answer to the Tigers’ closer problem merely because of that outing.
Most importantly, the Padres would almost certainly be looking to sell high on Street, and the Tigers simply do not have the talent to spare. The Tigers do have a couple of quality pitching prospects as well as a few very intriguing outfield prospects, but they are going to need those pieces in the very near future. The Tigers might have a couple of middle infield prospects in Hernan Perez and Devon Travis they could part ways with since they have Ian Kinsler at second and Eugenio Suarez impressing at shortstop with Jose Iglesias set to return in 2015, but it would most likely take a lot more than Perez or Travis to get Street.
There is also the issue of Street not being a particularly hard thrower, but that is largely irrelevant. Obviously many Tigers fans are fed up with closers who give up too many hits, constantly pitch in heavy traffic and do not have the heat to burn hitters down, but Street has 26 strikeouts in 25 innings pitched with a 0.76 WHIP despite the fact that his fastball is only hovering around the 90 mph mark these days.
That said, though, there are real reasons the Tigers should stand pat — at least for the time being — and not go out and impulsively trade away the future for Street. If Nathan and Chamberlain continue to struggle in the closer’s role, then trading for Street might make more sense further down the road. But as long as there is not an imminent danger of losing him to another team, the Tigers should give it time and thought.