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Tigers thriving despite roster of ex-stars

 Passion runs deep in the roots of
Detroit fans, and the Tigers are a blue-collar, hard-working team
reflective of their city. So it goes without saying that there is
excitement surrounding the baseball team in the Motor City this year,
as they have surged to just one game back of the Cleveland Indians
after trailing by as many as eight at the beginning of May.

But it has to be a little bit
disheartening to Tigers supporters that a bevvy of former players are
making splashes with other squads. Among the biggest contributing
ex-Tigers this year are position players, namely a pair of
outfielders wreaking havoc in the American League East. The Yankees’
Curtis Granderson is second in the AL with 19 home runs, while the
Rays’ Matt Joyce is second in the Junior Circuit with a .338 batting
average.

Granderson and Joyce were moved in
trades for a pair of Jacksons – Austin and Edwin, with the latter
having since departed and joined the divisional rival White Sox. The
Granderson deal also netted the club pitchers Max Scherzer and Phil
Coke. But perhaps one that hurts even more is Placido Polanco, one of
the game’s most consistent hitters who is a key cog in the
Philadelphia Phillies’ lineup.

And then there is Jair Jurrjens, the
ace pitcher that was traded away for short-term rental Edgar
Renteria, with the shortstop lasting just one season in Detroit.
Jurrjens has emerged in 2011 as one of the game’s top young pitchers,
leading the majors with 1.82 ERA to go along with an 8-2 record.

Other impactful players that once
donned a Tigers uniform include outfielders Cameron Maybin (.254, 5,
15) and Johnny Damon (.275, 7, 31), starting pitcher Colby Lewis, who
helped lead the Rangers to the World Series last season, closer Kyle
Farnsworth (13 saves, 1.17 ERA), and infielder Omar Infante (an
All-Star with the Braves last year).

This is not to rip on Tigers
management for letting so much talent find stardom elsewhere; Detroit
boasts a couple of marquee players and a number of budding young
stars. Justin Verlander, the 2006 Rookie of the Year, already has two
no-hitters under his belt. Miguel Cabrera has averaged over 36 home
runs in his first three full seasons in Detroit and last season led
the American League with 126 RBI. And outfielder Brennan Boesch
(.280, 8, 34) and catcher Alex Avila (.291, 9, 33) have also made
significant contributions.

The fact of the matter is, player
movement is heavy in sports, and big names tend to draw heavy
interest from many teams. The Joyce and Jurrjens trades certainly
weren’t GM Dave Dombrowski’s finest moments, although the Granderson
deal brought in a solid haul. The Tigers are still competitive in the
lukewarm AL Central, and that is a credit to Dombrowski because many
teams that let such good players go find themselves on a sinking
ship.

But it can’t help but be just a tad
bit painful to see so many old flames sizzling elsewhere.

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