Tackling the Roster

Originally published in The Tigers Den Blog | 03 January 2011

Brandon_Inge_and_Miguel_CabreraI’ve been thinking about a way to do this for about a month now, and even though the 25 man roster is nowhere near being set, the Lions just played their last game, which means that the next great thing in Detroit Sports (besides watching the Redwings a couple times a week) will be March 31st when the Tigers go to the Bronx and face Curtis Granderson and Company at one. I’ve already filed my day off so I can sit back and fully enjoy the game.

This means that we can begin to overanalyze the roster, and try to find improvements so we don’t have to dread another late season collapse, such as that have happened over the last two years (seriously, the last week collapse of the 2009 season was horrible, but the four game collapse after the all-star break last year against the Indians was almost as bad because it was against such an abysmal team. After they were swept, I heard countless people say that it was the defeating blow to the season, and honestly, it was).

And without, without further ado (or parenthesizing) here are the top 25 Detroit Tigers and what we really think about them.

Alex Avila

I’m not sure if he’s the starter or the backup, and to be quite honest, I’m not sure if Leyland and Dombrowski know either. Although, I’m just going to be flat out honest and say that I am so unbelievably happy that Gerald Laird has signed somewhere else that I don’t care who catches the bulk of the games next year. You could not find a more boring or predictable position player on the team. Even when he got a hit, you were like; man couldn’t someone else have raised their batting average instead? (This is a big bone I have to pick with a lot of Tigers personnel…they are just flat out boring characters).

Victor Martinez

I’m not going to blast Martinez. I don’t care if he’s a bad defensive catcher, I don’t care if he’s paid too much. The guy is going to hit the tar out of the ball and make opposing pitchers actually give Cabrera stuff to hit. Although, if I’m am going to criticize anything, I’ll just say it now: I hope he doesn’t catch very much, because if he gets hurt catching, everyone’s going to start complaining that we signed him for his offense and putting him behind home plate was a disaster waiting to happen.

Miguel Cabrera

Offensive Juggernaut. ‘Nuff Said. Let’s just hope he can keep control of his drinking off the field.

Carlos Guillen

The guy won’t be ready for opening day. Everyone keeps saying he will be, but knowing his history, I will be surprised (pleasantly!) if he’s scribbled in Leyland’s opening day roster. I think we can expect to see him around June or so. He’s one of those boring players no one really cares about, but he is a productive professional player who doesn’t get the respect he deserves on the offensive side.

Will_RhymesWill Rhymes

I really think this guy will start the year at second, and I think he’ll stick, more because Guillen is so injury prone. He’s not great by any shakes, but he’s exciting, he has a will to learn. He’s going to be 28 on April 1st, so time isn’t really on his side, but he came up and looked really polished. I also like the stat that he’s the first Tigers rookie in 70 year to hit .300 with over 200 at bats. That’s cool. Plus, he’s fun to follow on twitter.

Jhonny Peralta

I don’t know where to start with this one. Jay-honny borders on boring, but his name is clever, so it gets him some looks. If only he were born in Venezuela.

Brandon Inge

He’s a Detroit sports figure staple. He’s scrappy, he’s crappy. Every team has one. Just look it up.

Magglio Ordonez

When the offseason started, I thought, hmmm it would be interesting to see them chase after Jayson Werth, but when it became obvious that Werth’s price tag was just not…um…worth it, I wondered how much they could fetch Magglio back for. Sure, he’s aging (he’s 37!), sure he has injury concerns, but man, can the guy hit when he is healthy, and his 2011 cost is not a steep price at all. I’ll take it.

Austin_Jackson_2Austin Jackson

The guy doesn’t have much power, but he has everything else. He would have won the rookie of the year if it hadn’t been a Neftali Feliz year. I’d just like to see him strike out less and walk more. If he does that next year, I’ll really be convinced that he’s going to be a good player for a long time.

Ryan Raburn

These next three players will all compete for the left field job. I’ll tell you right now, Raburn will win it by default out of camp unless Boesch or Wells has an amazing spring (and Boesch is probably the most likely too if that happens), but he will lose it in May, then win it back again in August, to once again prove he is one of the most frustrating players in the organization. He can hit like crazy, just without any consistency.

Brennan Boesch

All this kid needs is an offseason where he sat back, took a look at his game, and calmed himself down. He has a ton of talent. He has a great natural swing, he is very patient at the plate. I’d personally love to see him win the job and keep it all year (Rayburn’s defense is almost Manny-Like. His bat the same, so they cancel each other out. Boesch can be more valuable), spring training will tell us a lot.

Casper Wells

The least likely of the three to win the job, but if anyone gets hurt (Guillen, Ordonez, even Martinez) we will probably see his bat in the lineup. It’s not the most ideal thing in the world to see him because if it’s because he won the job, it means that Rayburn AND Boesch were just awful, and if it’s because of injury for a length of time, then the Tigers need to consider obtaining a bat via trade.

Jacob Turner

I’ve decided to throw two prospects in the middle of this list, because a) they’re interesting and b) they actually could help this team this year. Starting with Turner. At the winter meetings every trade conversation that Dombrowski fielded had Turner involved. Clubs see a lot in him, and so do the Tigers…they wouldn’t consider trading him. Props go to Scott Pleis and his team of scouts. They’ve drafted quite a few good pitchers in the last few drafts, and three or four of them can line the rotation as early as 2012.

Andy Oliver

Oliver may have had trouble when he came up last year, but the kid has good control, a blazing fastball, and, well, he’s left-handed. He will compete for a spot in the rotation in the spring. It’s a long shot that he will make it, but it’s a possibility.

Jose Valverde

No closer has more spunk than Valverde, and he had a great first half, followed by a disastrous second. That can’t happen next year, especially if the Tigers are in a position to compete for the division. His misfortunes fell by the wayside last year because there was no lead to covet.

Joel Zumaya

If he can recover fully from his injury last year, he will be the foundation of a very dangerous relief core.

Joaquin Benoit

He may be expensive, but if he can repeat his performance last year, it will be worth it…I’ll leave it at that.

Ryan Perry

He improves every year. I can see closer material in this kid, and when Valverde’s contract expires after this year, they have him as a strong option.

Daniel Schlereth

Left-handed specialists are rare to find in baseball. This makes Schlereth a very valuable arm out of the bullpen. Now, if only he would be used correctly.

Robbie Weinhardt

He has the potential to be an outstanding reliever. He just needs to learn to throw his breaking pitches with more consistency. I think he’s a reliever that will stick with the big club by next year.

Phil_CokePhil Coke

I really like the fact that Dombrowski and Leyland are proactively seeking Coke to be in the rotation. They see him experiencing the same success as C.J. Wilson did in Texas, which was simply transferring that short burst of energy he had as a reliever, into a longer, more steady stream of vigor. Of, course, that’s why most relievers are relievers. But, I can see Coke as an outlier.

Armando Galarraga

Mr. Perfect. If he can harness those breaking pitches like he did much of the second half last year, he could win 14-15 games.

Rick Porcello

What can I say? A disappointment last year, but after he came back from Triple-A, he looked like he had mastered his sophomore slump (and the control of his breaking stuff). It’ll be exciting to see what he can do next year.

Max Scherzer

The same goes for Scherzer, who struggled himself in the first part of the year, but was brilliant after his arrival in the 14K game on May 30th. I can see him breaking 200K’s and 200 innings next year.

Justin Verlander

Of course we saved the best for last. I think Verlander has sort of tapped out all he can in the game of regular season accomplishments (well, not 20 wins, but that will come), and while we can’t take him for granted, he’s pretty much a sure bet for 17+ wins and 200K’s. However, the Tigers need to make the postseason again, so he can lower that 5.82 ERA that he had in the 2006 playoffs (and more importantly he needs to avenge those losses in the World Series). But other than that, this guy is gravy.

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