The Detroit Tigers have brought back their former closer, Jose Valverde, and signed him to a minor-league contract, according to Fox Sports Detroit analyst Mario Impemba.
Valverde is most recently remembered for his epic collapse during the 2012 postseason, when he blew back-to-back saves, and left Detroit without a viable closer option.
Leading into the season, the Tigers’ ninth-inning situation was up in the air, as was heavily reported by national media, and with Phil Coke‘s blown save against the Minnesota Twins in only the second game of the season, many see the signing as a panic move.
Perhaps it is.
Let’s get one thing straight: the Detroit Tigers are an incredibly stubborn organization. They’re run by a stubborn old man in the aging Mike Ilitch (see Prince Fielder signing), headed up by a stubborn GM in David Dombrowski, and managed by perhaps the most stubborn, crotchety old man in baseball, Jim Leyland.
This stubbornness has led them to success in the recent past, including two AL Central championships, and two World Series appearances over the past six seasons.
The stubbornness has also led to situations like the one last year, when the Tigers repeatedly trotted Ryan Raburn out to different positions on the field, only to fail miserably at the plate. Leyland admitted he was wrong about the Raburn situation, which tells us that he was indeed too stubborn to cut Raburn from the lineup.
It was this stubbornness on behalf of the organization that led David Dombrowski to force the issue with Bruce Rondon, the 22 year-old reliever who Dombrowski believed would be the Tigers future closer. After a poor spring outing, Rondon was sent back to the minors, and the Tigers left camp without a closer.
Now, only two games into the season, the Tigers appear willing to give Valverde a shot to move up through the minor league system.
If the culture of stubbornness continues, Valverde will find himself on the Tigers active roster if he shows even a glimmer of hope in the minors, because as Dombrowski has shown in the past, he doesn’t make moves without the intention of seeing them through until the bitter end.