Friday, February 15, 2008

My Top Five Tiger Spring Training Question Marks

OK, here we go:

1. How will the Brandon Inge saga play out?
I found it interesting Jim Leyland talked this week about it being a strong possibility Inge will be traded. That is a totally different tone than was set at Tigerfest last month. That, to me, indicates there must be interest in Inge from other clubs. There was none before.

2. Who will emerge out of the bullpen?
The Tigers are counting on Denny Bautista and/or Francisco Cruceta to come through. Both have great arms. Bautista hits triple digits on the radar gun at times, and Cruceta has a nasty sinking fastball he throws in the low to mid-90s. I have heard promising things about young relievers before, though, only to have it turn out to be fool’s gold. Don’t know what it will be this time.

3. How healthy is Gary Sheffield?
With Sheffield at the top of his game, the Tigers’ lineup is unbelievably strong. But if Sheffield isn’t himself, it won’t be nearly as fearsome.

4. Does Kenny Rogers have anything left in the tank?
This will be difficult to discern during spring training. Rogers’ radar gun readings don’t mean much. But if he suffers a setback with his shoulder, it can’t merely be dismissed as "spring training arm." It would be a major cause for concern.

5. How much zip does Dontrelle Willis have on his fastball?
If the gun says in the mid-90s, the Tigers have really got something. If it is lower, it could mean Willis is not as good as advertised.


Blogger Eric Chase said...

Pat I agree with you on young arms. So many MPH's, but equally as many questions. But two young fireballers that stick out in my mind are Rodney and Zumaya. Except for Rodney's frequency for injuries, and Zumaya's Xbox issues their talent on the mound id unquestioned.

And here's to tearing my heart in half to a Phils/Tigers mid October matchup.

2:23 PM 
Anonymous Danny said...

Great set of question marks! Right on the money with all of them.

I guess with Bonderman, there is no "tell" until the first inning of a regular season game.

Interesting Leyland would say that about Inge. He never says stuff like that on the record. Maybe showcasing Inge as a catcher is good bait.

Wish I was in Lakeland...


4:34 PM 
Anonymous Andrew Winkle said...

Pat the Book,

So the Song of the Turtle is in the Air? I'm wondering when you and the F-bomb are going to go wall-to-wall baseball in the evening? Station management isn't going to prevent you from indulging the seam heads are they?

Pitchers and catchers have reported. Before you know it Verlander will be throwing the first pitch of a new season on Opening Day. Hooray!

My belief is that Brandon Inge will be on the Opening Day roster. If Vance Wilson doesn't return to form, Inge may be on the post-season roster. But I'm getting the cart before the horse.

I hope not, but I think that Sheffield's and Rogers' health is going to be a weekly, if not a daily, soap opera. I do believe that Bonderman and Willis are going to be discussed often and at length by all the Metro Detroit talking heads. These two starters will be the team's barometer from the first spring training exhibition until the last pitch of the season.

Better days are near at hand.

4:59 PM 
Blogger Dennis said...

What about Zumaya and Rodney's health? Does that concern you less than Cruceta or Bautista filling a spot?

5:26 PM 
Blogger Barry said...

Hey Pat, I would not be all that disappointed if Inge did not get traded especially if he catches and is still good at it. With Raburn having an option left there is no rush. Actually I would try to trade Thames over Inge if possible, and I am a big Thames fan(remembering the broken bat homerun). If Rogers or Sheffield do not come all the way back the Tigers have enough depth to still challenge for a playoff spot. Nice to here that Cruceta's fastball sinks instead of being flat. You once call the bullpen a disaster waiting to happen, what would call the bullpen if Rodney or Jones get injury?

9:55 PM 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Pat, Did it make any sense to take a big chance on Kenny Rogers, pay him big bucks, when they could have spent that money on someone without health issues? , Dave

4:22 AM 
Blogger Pat Caputo said...

Eric Chase,
I agree about Rodney. His contribution in 2006 was underrated and I think he pitched hurt for much of last season. When he sat out for awhile, he pitched a lot better upon return. I do, however, believe the Tigers are better with Rodney working the seventh and Zumaya the eighth. That's where Zumaya's injury really hurts.

3:14 PM 
Blogger Pat Caputo said...

You're right about Leyland. He has something under his sleeve regarding Inge. Bonderman is more of a puzzle than a mere question mark.

3:15 PM 
Blogger Pat Caputo said...

Andrew Winkle,
I know this is simplistic, but you could make a case that as Willis and Bonderman go, so will the Tigers.

3:17 PM 
Blogger Pat Caputo said...

Rodney should be fine, but anything the Tigers get from Zumaya will be gravy.

3:18 PM 
Blogger Pat Caputo said...

I, too, am among those who feels the Tigers can't get equal value in a trade for Inge. That's why I think he will be with the Tigers this season, at least at the start.

3:20 PM 
Blogger Pat Caputo said...

I hear you, except what the Tigers gave Rogers isn't considered big bucks anymore.

3:21 PM 
Anonymous Anonymous said...


This Inge thing is really bad. Who does he think he is kiding? He stuck out 150 times last year, was a better then average fielder but Detroit Tigers have given him alot 6.25 million a year..Inge you better look into the mirror. You are a very lucky man.

Please tell his wife to shut up..she knows nothing about baseball and all she is doing is making her hubby look bad.

Keith in Clarkston

11:21 AM 

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