2012 Prediction Series: Middle Relief and Bench Player Capsules

While we want to respect the fact that every single man on a major league roster is an exceptional baseball player, a prediction series is not the place to give certain ones, specifically role players, their due.

In the rest of the series, we look at specific issues each play faces, how they can improve, and ultimately what they will do this season, but with this collective post that profiles 20 players that’s a bit of a ridiculous proposal.

Instead a brief paragraph will explain that players best attributes and how significant their 2012 role will be rather than a detailed profile and projected statistics. So, if you were looking for a prediction of Brandon Inge hitting 30 home runs, you will have to click here instead.

Middle relievers:

Phil Coke | LHP | 2011: 3-9 4.47ERA | 48G | 14GS | 108.2IP | 118H | 40BB | 69SO

Phil Coke was experimented on a bit last year, and caused a riff in his numbers. In reality, he’s a solid lefty out of the bullpen. That basically means he’s going to have a job in baseball until he’s 50 years old if he wants. He’s probably the Tigers fifth best reliever behind Valverde, Benoit, Dotel, and Alburquerque. That doesn’t matter since his brain has the best twitter account on the internets.

Octavio Dotel | RHP | 2011 (2 TMS): 5-4 3.50ERA | 65G | 54IP | 36H | 17BB | 62SO

Dotel was signed this winter to bolster a pen that failed in the post season. He’s aging, with his 13th major league baseball team and he’ll do just what they want him to do. Let’s face it, the guy is pretty boring other than that unlucky 13 number associated with the signing, but he, we all know baseball players aren’t superstitious or anything.

Daniel Schlereth | LHP | 2011: 2-2 3.49ERA | 49G | 49IP | 36H | 31BB | 44SO

Schlereth has shown flashes of being really good, but has yet to corral them and truly dominate the competition. His fastball has looked really, really good this spring, which is very encouraging. In the past his ability to simply implode after a simple walk or hit was his specialist. That’s what he needs to fix in order to keep making this team year in and year out

Al Alburquerque | RHP | 2011: 6-1 1.87ERA | 41G | 43.1IP | 21H | 29BB | 67SO

AlAl quietly arrived and had one of the best half seasons of any Tigers reliever in a very long time. The fact that he was a rookie is beside the point (and only makes it more impressive). This year he will be pitching (hopefully) a half a year again, this time because of injury.

James Jahnke of the Detroit Free Press reported back in December that Alburquerque “had a screw inserted into his olecranon to stabilize a non-displaced stress fracture in his right elbow” and won’t be cleared to begin throwing for at least 12 weeks.

If you didn’t connect the dots, it’s why Dotel was signed.

Collin Balester | RHP | 2011 (WAS): 1-4 4.54ERA | 23G | 36IP | 38H | 14BB | 34SO

Balester arrived this offseason as well, this time in a trade from the Washington Nationals for Ryan Perry. Perry was once a Tigers first round draft pick who was destined to become the closer someday. Obviously control and consistency play a role in that too, and Perry just didn’t have either in Detroit. Balester needed a change of scenery himself, and therefore a swap was made. I have no idea how he’ll do or, frankly, how Leyland plans to use him, although it appears he can start if needed.

Other probable relievers: Note, all minor league pitchers who have played well this spring and will probably get a look at some point during the year.

Luis Marte | RHP |

Brayan Villarreal | RHP |

Chris Bootcheck | RHP |

Matt Hoffman | LHP |

5th Starter Competitors: One of these guys will win the job, another may go to the bullpen. No one knows. We’re not going to indulge the drama right now, simply respond to it once the decision is finally made.

Duane Below | LHP |

Drew Smyly | LHP |

Andy Oliver | LHP |

Jacob Turner | RHP |

Bench Players:

Gerald Laird | C | 2011 (STL): 108PA | 11R | 22H | 9XBH | 12RBI | .232/.302/.358

Laird is back in Detroit after a year in St. Louis, Missouri. No, he didn’t play too much thanks to Yadier Molina, but he did win a World Series, and came away with photo shop gold. Laird is a good backup catcher, he works well with the pitchers in Detroit, and while there are times where he could stand two feet away from a barn, throw a bat at it, and actually miss, he is still worth keeping around. I just hope we can see a blue and orange Leaping Laird this October.

Ramon Santiago | INF | 2011: 294PA | 29R | 67H | 19XBH | 30RBI | .260/.311/.384

Man, Santi has been around as long as Brandon Inge. I bet you didn’t know that, but it’s true. They are the only two players left in uniform who played on the 2003 team. If you need to know who the 2003 team is, I suggest you don’t look, since it will only cause you unnecessary pain and agony. Of course, if you like that sort of thing, click here.

Danny Worth | INF | 2011: 39PA | 6R | 10H | 2XBH | 3RBI | .270/.38/.324

It seems that Danny Worth is going to make the team only if Brandon Inge doesn’t, and there’ll be so much going on that Worth will be completely forgot of until he gets a key pinch hit in the eighth inning of some random game, and everyone will be like, this guys is awesome, why wasn’t he talked about sooner?

Brandon Inge | 2B/3B | 2011: 303PA | 29R | 53H | 15XBH | 23RBI | .197/.265/.283

I’ve said enough on this matter already.

Don Kelly | UTIL | 2011: 281PA | 35R | 63H | 18XBH | 28RBI | .245/.291/.381

Kelly is actually turning into a very good utility player, the kind that isn’t super annoying. It would be interesting to see what he would do with 500 at bats, but I don’t want to appear serious, so I’ll laugh out loud, scream “derpville!” and go streaking down the hallway.

Andy Dirks | OF | 2011: 235PA | 34R | 55H | 20XBH | 28RBI | .251/.296/.406

Dirks is a celebrity in the Dominican Republic. Kind of like Kim Kardashian, except not. In a serious note, Dirks should make this team and get 300 at bats this year. He’s got a good bat and decent speed. His glove is a bit “meh” but, who on the Tigers besides Austin Jackson has a glove that isn’t?

Clete Thomas | OF | 2011 MiLB: 406PA | 92H | 29XBH | 53RBI | .261/.314/.401

A lot of people think he is going to make the roster above Dirks because he’s out of options and will therefore have to be exposed to the waiver wire if he’s optioned to triple-A. I think it’ll happen and I think he’ll pass through waivers with no problems. He is a good fielder, but his bat is inconsistent and the fourth outfielder could see a half season’s worth of plate appearances and that may be too much for Thomas to handle.

Quintin Berry | OF | 2011 MiLB: 42 of 49 SB, .383 OBP

If he figured out how to hit consistently he would be a real nice option off the bench, but that remains to be seen. Having said that, he had a very nice season last year in AA Cincinnati, although at 27 years old, the reality of him ever doing anything worthwhile is slim to none.

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