Tigers at the deadline: Jacob Turner for Ubaldo Jimenez?

Would you trade Jacob Turner?

Ah, the trade deadline. When grown men and women spend hours talking/writing/swearing about things that will never come to pass.

Sort of like Congress, but without the tax consequences.

In my experience, the week before the trade deadline is full of conversations (arguments) that seem to improve (escalate) with beer (whiskey). I’ve heard/read/dreamt a few classic trade ideas lately, but the one I overheard at a barbecue last weekend was far and away my favorite: “I would trade Miguel Cabrera for some pitching prospects right about now.” Oh you would, would you? Why do I somehow feel better about having Dave Dombrowski at the helm “right about now.”

Conjecture. What ifs. Why nots. Guesses – some educated, most not. Welcome to the week before the trade deadline. Who will end up with Carlos Beltran? B.J. Upton? Will Hiroki Kuroda waive his no-trade clause for the Tigers? Would you work a deal for Jason Vargas? Doug Fister? Will Brennan Boesch still be wearing the Old English D next week?

And then there’s the real debate: Jacob Turner … untouchable?

Nothing seems to spark an instant argument like suggesting the Tigers offer up Turner – a 20-year-old pitcher most fans have never even seen – in return for established pitching. Sight unseen, the consensus seems to be that Tigers fans would fight to the death to keep Jacob Turner, who’s currently playing double-A ball in Erie. Of course, sight unseen, a lot of teams would take him.

A week ago, ESPN predicted the Tigers’ 2009 first-round draft pick would be called up to start against the A’s. But instead of Turner, Duane Below got the call. Last night, Chance Ruffin – a 2010 draft pick – made his major league debut against the White Sox. He came in with the bases loaded. In a tie game. A game we needed to win. Like every game from here on out. Last night, the Tigers lost. So, what exactly is going on? Are Ruffin and Below trade bait? Is this a pitching exhibition?

Or is this the new model – our fifth starter as an ever-changing experiment. Which is fine in a rebuilding year. Or for Houston. But the Tigers are in first place – by one game. And, based on the combined records of Justin Verlander, Max Scherzer, Brad Penny and Rick Porcello at 41-23, that one-game lead could be a whole lot bigger, if we had a fifth starter hovering around the .500 mark. Or a four-man rotation. Either way.

Dombrowski has gone so far as to say they’re looking for a starter at the trade deadline. So, keeping the faith, here are my three-word evaluations of some recent Tigers trade speculations, in no particular order:

James Shields. Big Game Jackpot.
Erik Bedard. Wait until Saturday.
Ubaldo Jimenez. Goodbye Jacob Turner?
Derek Lowe. Age – 38.
Jason Vargas. Let’s make deal.
Carlos Beltran. Not a pitcher.
Doug Fister. See Jason Vargas.
Aaron Harang. Possibly, but no.
Hiroki Kuroda. Probably – not cheap.

Who do I like? Shields, of course, but it doesn’t sound like he’s going anywhere. Harang either. Signs seem to be pointing in the Kuroda direction, and that’s a decent, but not long-term, solution.

Jimenez, however … as of yesterday afternoon, the reported odds of that happening have gone up. The Rockies might be looking to trade him, and, at 27, with a 4.20 ERA and 1.34 WHIP, Jimenez would be a solid add to the rotation. Those might not be incredibly impressive numbers, but in 2010, he finished third in the NL Cy Young voting and was 19-8 with a 2.88 ERA and 1.16 WHIP. He’s in his prime. And the Yankees and Red Sox are interested. That cannot happen. If the Rockies are truly going to deal Ubaldo Jimenez, I don’t want to see him anywhere other than here.

Of course, it’s all up for grabs, isn’t it? So drink up. The trade deadline is Sunday. Only a few more days to tell me how you’d trade away Cabrera.

The only conversations I enjoy more than the ones this week are the ones next week, after the dust settles.

When you tell me how you totally called that trade.

Before the season even started.

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