I understand the Detroit Tigers have a lot of money to spend this offseason. But there are both smart and moronic ways to spend it.

Spending over $15 million on a 33-year-old middle reliever who didn’t even pitch in 2009 is moronic.

The Tigers signed RHP Joaquin Benoit on Wednesday to a three-year, $16.5 million contract. Benoit can earn another $one million a year if he reaches certain incentives.

This is the type of contract that gets a GM fired.

Benoit was a ham ‘n’ egger up until last year and he missed the entire 2009 season recovering from rotator cuff surgery. Then out of nowhere, Benoit had a spectacular 2010 season for the Tampa Bay Rays.

He tossed to a 1.34 ERA, 0.68 WHIP, 11.2 Ks/9, 1.6 BB/9 and 38.9 percent groundball rate in 60.1 IP. Those are some impressive numbers by anyone’s standards.

However, if you look deeper into his numbers, I don’t think there is anyway Benoit can repeat his 2010 season in 2011 and beyond.

First, he had an unsustainable .201 BABIP. The .201 BABIP was the lowest in baseball in 2010. The law of averages say that number will increase in 2011.

Second, I look at Benoit’s Left on Base Percentage in 2010. He led baseball in that category, as well. Benoit stranded a ridiculous 95 percent of his runners on base in 2010.

I don’t think there is any chance he maintains that in 2011.

You take Benoit doing worse in those categories and combine it with him being on the wrong side of 30 when this contract ends, and this signing has disaster written all over it.

The Tigers definitely needed a more reliable right-handed setup man than Joel Zumaya. They also need a right-handed compliment to Phil Coke.

So in that sense, I don’t mind the Benoit signing as a pitcher. I just can’t, for the life of me, believe that the Tigers would give him a $16.5 million contract.

It’s amazing how the numbers of the contract dictate how we, as fans, view the signing.

If the Tigers signed Benoit to a one or two-year deal for $two or three million a year, I don’t think anyone would have blinked, and I think we would be saying positive things about the signing. Instead, Tigers’ GM Dave Dombrowski hands out a $16.5 million contract to Benoit and he is getting blasted by everyone, including myself.

I also questioned Dombrowski on his re-signing of Brandon Inge. So far, it hasn’t been that great of an offseason for the Tigers.

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