Monday, July 30, 2012

Here's the type of player who would help the Tigers the last two months of the season

Here's a player who would help the Tigers the final two months of the season: Reed Johnson.
He is not a star. He is not a big name. He is a right-handed hitting outfielder who is having a respectable season for a team that is clearly among baseball's sellers, the Chicago Cubs. His OPS against left-handed pitching is over .900. Although he is a 35, he is still a pretty good athlete in a corner outfield spot, who has actually played a lot of center field the last two years.
The White Sox have been very aggressive in competing against the Tigers in the AL Central. They have picked up a third baseman (Kevin Youkilis), a versatile relief pitcher (Brett Myers) and a left-handed starting pitcher (Francisco Liriano).
The White Sox are a much better club now than at the beginning of the season. They aren't going away. Also, the idea of getting in as a wild card isn't that appealing anymore. Yes. There is an extra spot, but any wild card spot is just for a Game 163.
The Tigers have made their big move, getting Omar Infante to fill the hole at second base, and Anibal Sanchez to plug the vacancy in the starting pitching rotation. Theoretically, the Tigers don't have a lot of holes. You can debate the merits of the often-slumping duo of Jhonny Peralta and Delmon Young, but they will be in their positions the rest of the season, and did perform well down the stretch last season. The Tigers need a right-handed hitting outfielder (Young has to stay at DH because he is such a liability in the field), but strangely the Tigers have been beating left-handed starters anyway (two of the best in baseball, the Angels' C.J. Wilson and White Sox Chris Sale on the last homestand), and winning against the only left-hander they saw (Toronto's Brett Cecil) on what has been a shaky road trip so far. The Tigers can mix and match with Andy Dirks, Quintin Berry and Brennan Boesch in the two outfield spots with left-handed hitters against right-handed pitchers. It's not such a good lineup when there is a left-hander in there and Ryan Raburn is in left and Boesch in right. I know Boesch had huge, clutch hits off Wilson and Sale on the homestand, and his career numbers against lefties is pretty good, but he will hit anybody when he is hot. His bat has cooled lately (He struck out three times Sunday).
The Tigers have seven games remaining with the White Sox., who have three left-handed starters currently in their rotation (Sale, Jose Quintana and Liriano - and there is an outside chance John Danks will be back in late August).
The Tigers are living on borrowed time with their corner outfield situation against left-handed pitching. It doesn't necessarily need to be a blockbuster move (they paid next to nothing for Young last season, who was 10th in AL MVP voting in 2010), but they need to find a Reed Johnson type. Another option would be calling up Nick Castellanos, who is hammering left-handed pitching at Double ERA (1.083 OPS). But they can call up Castellanos in September anyway - and there is certainly wiggle room at the end of the roster to make a deal.


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