Max would be mad to sign before free agency

By Rob Parker - Sports Columnist
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DETROIT - Max Scherzer would be, well mad, to sign with the Tigers. Well, at least, before he hits the free-agent market after the 2014 season.

At Tigers Fest 2014 on Saturday at Comerica Park, Scherzer and the Tigers played nice and both said the things fans want to hear.

Both sides talked that there's a chance they could come to an agreement on a long term deal that would keep the stud right-hander in Motown for years to come.

"Every player wants to be a free agent," Scherzer told the media recently. "At the same time, you realize you have a good thing in Detroit."

Sounds like Scherzer would be willing to give the Tigers the hometown discount to stay in Detroit.

Don't buy it.

It just wouldn't make dollars or sense for Scherzer, who won the American League Cy Young this past season with a 21-3 record and a 2.90 ERA.

The Tigers, of course, would love to get a deal done before he would be opened up to all bidders. The Tigers would definitely get a discounted rate if they were the only ones bidding for Scherzer's services.

Scherzer - who agreed to a $15.525 million deal for the coming season to avoid arbitration - would definitely make more money if the bidding was open and all 30 teams could get involved.

With the amount of loot given out to pitchers this offseason - including the Dodgers' Clayton Kershaw ($215 million) and the Yankees' Masahiro Tanaka ($155 million) - Scherzer could break the bank with another super season.

In fact, Mad Max could make as much as Justin Verlander and perhaps even more than the Tigers' ace.

Great starting pitching is at premium in the majors. Hence, teams are willing to pay for it.

 "Owners are making more money and therefore players are going to make more money," Scherzer said. "You have new TV money coming in.

"That's good for everyone involved. It's a win-win for the owners and the players."

That's especially true for players of Scherzer's caliber.

The bottom line for the Tigers is to try and work out a deal before the season starts. It's really their only hope of keeping him.

After spring training, Scherzer said there will be no contract talks. The Tigers only options after that will be to trade him midseason or wait until the next offseason and get in line with all the other teams who will want him as well.

"We are hopeful that we'd like to have him in our organization for an extended time," Tigers' GM Dave Dombrowski said. "I know he's expressed a desire that he'd like to stay here.

"Hopefully, that leads to a position where something can happen."

After the Tigers dumped Prince Fielder's contract this offseason, you got the feeling this franchise is trying to save money, not win at any cost.

It's hard to imagine they will have enough money for Scherzer. Don't forget that Miguel Cabrera will need a new deal after the 2015 season.

Pistons perplexingly bad

Obviously, the Pistons have talent. We saw that earlier in the season when they beat Miami and Indiana on the road in the same week.

But they have truly hit hard times. On Sunday night, they lost to the Mavericks in Dallas.

Detroit has now lost four in a row, five of six and 17 of their last 24 games after starting the season 10-10.

 Despite the landslide, the Pistons aren't out of the playoff hunt in the Eastern Conference at the midway point of the season. Because of the weak play in the east, they are just on the outside looking in at the postseason.

Granted, the Pistons are a young team. They have the youngest starting five in the league. Still, it makes no sense why they are underperforming so badly.

It definitely could be a case of young players trying to find themselves, carve out an identity. Coach Mo Cheeks gets some blame, too.

 Still, it looks as if GM Joe Dumars will be forced to swing a trade at the deadline to get this core group of players headed in the right direction.

This team has to make the postseason. There's too much young talent here, starting with Andre Drummond.

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