I'll need time to digest this trade between the Tigers and Marlins. At first blush, I'm not as excited as many people seem to be. Cabrera is a talented hitter, no doubt, who seems to put up .320-30-115 annually. It's hard to be upset with those numbers.
This trade will hinge on a few factors. First, can Willis rebound and regain his form of a couple years ago? It seems Willis' ERA was probably a bit inflated by the Marlins' defense, so Willis should benefit from coming to Detroit. The ballpark should help him, too. One plus, Willis won't have to be the ace in Motown; in fact, he could be the No. 3 starter in the rotation and that might be fine. Perhaps the change of scenery and the fact he no longer has to be the face of an organization helps. Of course, he'll still face scrutiny because of the pitching prospects the Tigers parted with.
Second, the Tigers will need to lock up Cabrera and Willis, both in their mid-20s, for the long term. Third, Detroit will need to make sure Cabrera doesn't eat himself into being Mo Vaughn.
Detroit has now traded away 10 prospects to get Sheffield, Renteria, Cabrera and Willis. There is no question Dombrowski has moved all in. The Tigers must win now.
A few random thoughts: Perhaps the Tigers were falling out of love with Andrew Miller and wanted to trade him while he still had value. Where does Cabrera play? If it's third, what do the Tigers do with Brandon Inge? If it's left field, what does that mean for Marcus Thames and newcomer Jacque Jones? I'm guessing another trade for pitching help, particularly in the bullpen, could be made. This move also might be for insurance in case Sheffield doesn't return to form after shoulder surgery; Cabrera certainly should make up for the loss of offense.
In any event, this trade hinges on Willis in my mind. If he flops, the Tigers gave up six players for Cabrera, and one of those players -- Cameron Maybin -- is being touted as an Eric Davis-type talent. I've always agreed with the philosophy that prospects should be dealt to get proven big league talent, but this price seemed high because of my fears regarding Willis.
What moves are made next could be most important. We might have to see how the rest of the offseason plays out to get a better handle on how this trade truly affects the Tigers.