Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Detroit Tigers off season: These should be the priorities

The first Las Vegas odds are out and have the Tigers as a 6-1 favorite to win next year's World Series.
Their starting pitching, even if they can't re-sign Anibal Sanchez, will be among the best in baseball. They'll have Justin Verlander, Max Scherzer and Doug Fister leading the rotation. Rick Porcello and Drew Smyly are young and have an upside. Austin Jackson, Prince Fielder and Miguel Cabrera will be leading the lineup. Victor Martinez will be back at DH, and Omar Infante will be at second base from the beginning of the season. But there are issues.
Torii Hunter: Would fit in perfectly with Tigers
 - The Tigers need corner outfielders. I see Andy Dirks as an every day player, but ideally he has a right-handed counterpart. Avisail Garcia needs more minor league at bats. The Tigers need a regular for one corner outfield spot, ideally a right-handed hitter. Torii Hunter will be 37 next season, but he had an excellent season with the Angels. He would buy the Tigers time until Garcia and/or Nick Castellanos are ready. B.J. Upton is another free agent possibility, although the Rays will try to re-sign him. He had an off season (on base percentage below .300), but he is in prime and the ability is there. Cody Ross, an underrated player. I believe the Tigers will take a run a run Josh Hamilton in free agency.
 - Bruce Rondon should be given first crack at the closer's role. He has an off-the-charts upside. I thought he should have been in the major leagues this season,  but the Tigers need more bullpen depth, and better options should Rondon falter than Brayan Villarreal, Al Alburquerque, Joaquin Benoit and Phil Coke. The list of free agent relievers is long, varied and treacherous. The best reliever in baseball this past season was former Tiger disaster Fernando Rodney, who is now a free agent. It's a position that comes and goes and clubs who bite on long-term closers usually regret it (Heath Bell).
- The Tigers do have pieces to trade, The best are Brennan Boesch, who some scouts will like because he does have a live bat, and Porcello, who at 23 likely hasn't come close to tapping his ultimate potential. Tiger fans have lost patience with both these players, but they could do well elsewhere. There is some risk involved. Also, if the Tigers augment their outfield via free agency, where does Castellanos fit? Has he been passed on the Tigers depth chart by Garcia? Cabrera and Fielder will be at third and first for years.
The Tigers would be wise to hold onto Castellanos for an in-season deal. They will need viable trading chips at the deadline.


Blogger Barry said...

Pat, if you took a poll Torii Hunter would be the OF the fans want followed by M Bourne. I could live with B J Upton too. I wonder if Cody Ross is more of a DH than a RF. I would not go after J Hamilton because we don't need help winning the division, we need guys that perform in the post season. Hamilton's career post season batting average is 227. Brennan Boesch is one of the few Tigers that can hit the fastball. He should have been on the WS roster for PH duties. I would put back in LF if he can beat out Dirks. He gets a late jump on the ball in RF. He also has two options left and probably make just over a million this year. Your right Pat, Procello has the potential to be a middle rotation guy. I think the key for him is his secondary pitches. He cannot throw, although a good pitch, 75% of the time.

12:56 PM 
Blogger Fred Brill said...

I don't know about Hunter -another past 35 big name - we took some time to get the last crew of those off the roster.

And I didn't see any shortstops.

And you can see it coming from a mile away - here comes Rodney back to the D.

Please ... no ... please no.

4:33 PM 
Blogger Pat Caputo said...

Fred Brill,
Hunter had a terrific year in 2012, but I agree with you from the standpoint you never know when a player is going to hit the wall because of age. Rodney is going to get a lot of money because he throws hard, but he does represent a huge gamble. My educated guess is the Tigers aren't one of the clubs that will be willing to take the risk.

10:46 PM 
Blogger Pat Caputo said...

Bourn has great speed, and it would be wasted if he were in a corner outfield spot. Tigers will be looking for someone with more power, I believe. Tigers fans have soured on Porcello, but he could have a breakout season.

10:49 PM 
Blogger Barry said...

Pat, your right Bourn will require a long term contract. But, if he is still around in January why not. One RF not mention is Irhico if he goes on the market. He plays RF, hit lefties okay and has play well in the post season. I still to have Torii.

11:23 PM 
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