Offensive left tackle must be a priority for the Lions in this draft
There has been this angst among Lions fans whether they will be able to re-sign potential free agent defensive end Cliff Avril. But the Lions would really be in trouble if left tackle Jeff Backus, another unrestricted free agent, departed. Backus has played very well the last couple years. The Lions don't have an heir apparent at left tackle to replace him. He is also a player many fans have railed against for more than a decade. Unfairly, I might add. Backus is far more irreplaceable than Avril. It's been this given the Lions will re-sign Backus. All indications point that way. But if there weren't those indications, and the Lions were pressed to re-sign Backus, they'd up a creek without a paddle. That's why it is imperative they address the offensive tackle in this draft. Not right tackle. Left tackle. They can't be a point, when their quarterback Matthew Stafford is essentially their franchise player, that they don't have a decent left tackle to replace Backus, who is not getting any younger. The fact Ohio State offensive tackle Mike Adams did not perform well at the combine is not necessarily a bad thing if the Lions are eyeballing a tackle in the second round or beyond. He only did 19 reps on the bench press at 225, but he is also 6-7 and has long arms. He ran OK for his size and is reasonably athletic otherwise. He also played well at left tackle in the Senior Bowl. And that's what matters. How well does the guy play. If the Lions re-sign Backus as anticipated, they don't need a player who is necessarily going to step in this season. Backus has never missed a game in his career. Adams might fit that need. He does a big upside that could pay off down the road if given time to develop in the right system.
Suddenly, the Red Wings find themselves in a difficult situation
Nicklas Lidstrom is not going to play tonight at Columbus because of an injury. Pavel Datsyuk was already out because of knee surgery. The Red Wings have lost three games in a row and have dropped to the fourth-seed in the Western Conference for the playoffs - with Nashville just two points behind them. The trade deadline passed Monday and the Red Wings didn't deal for a forward, which many had anticipated. What's happening here? The euphoria of the Red Wings' NHL record 23-game home winning streak has vanished in just a few days. Panic? Don't know about that. But make no mistake, while the Blue Jackets are a horrible hockey team, the Red Wings, who are 15-16 on the road this season, desperately need a win tonight. And it's not all on Joey MacDonald rising to the moment in goal. Johan Franzen hasn't played well recently. He needs to tonight. Henrik Zetterberg is the lone Red Wings' resident superstar who is dressing tonight. He must be productive. The Red Wings' called up Brendan Smith. He is potential star. He has been kept "overly ripe" as general manager Ken Holland likes to refer to the Red Wings letting their players develop at Grand Rapids. Well, they need him now. Not just as a sixth defenseman, but to show his considerable skill with Lidstrom out. This shouldn't be a tough game for the Red Wings to win tonight, regardless, but they have not responded well to Datysuk being sidelined, and they haven't in the past when Lidstrom hasn't played. For example, when he didn't play against Montreal earlier this season because of the flu, the Red Wings were blown out 7-2. If the Red Wings don't win tonight, especially if they don't get any points, panic might be in order. Ever other top contender in the Western Conference is playing well. The Red Wings have gone from having the best record in the league to having home ice advantage in the first round of the playoffs be put in jeopardy with remarkable swiftness.
Why the Lions don't have to be desperate in regard to Cliff Avril
Cliff Avril is a very good player. On the free agent market, he would get a huge contract. He is a young pass rusher, who is coming off a season in which his playmaking numbers (sacks, forced fumbles, etc) were really good. The question about him, though, is would he be able to display that same production in a different system? Avril wasn't getting double-teamed often with the Lions early last season. Opposing offenses focus incredibly much on Ndamukong Suh, and there is a solid end on the other side in Kyle Vanden Bosch, Avril is often left one-on-one. When he gets attention, he gets held in check. In three of the Lions last five regular season games, Avril didn't register as much as a tackle. He did have half a sack in the playoff game, but wasn't a force. Would he be that effective if it weren't for the overall strength of the Lions' defensive line? Unlikely. It means two things. Teams signing Avril have to understand that. He will always be good, but his production likely won't be the same. And it also means the Lions can put players in his spot who might be surprisingly productive given their surroundings. That doesn't mean the Lions should just let Avril walk. It does mean that if he does walk, it wouldn't be as hindering as if one of their big three players - Matthew Stafford, Calvin Johnson or Suh were to depart. I expect them to franchise tag Avril, but I'm sure they should. The should offer him a really good contract. If he doesn't take it, they will likely still thrive.
- I know it is a cliche, but it was a wake up call for the Red Wings. They faced some tough games during their NHL-record 23-game home winning streak, but the Canucks were by far the best team to come to Joe Louis Arena. They not only match the Red Wings skill, but they may surpass it. It should have been a 6- or 7-3 game. The only reason the Red Wings were even in it was because of the Helm-Abdelkader-Miller line (The HAM line) and Jimmy Howard. The Red Wings must tighten up defensively considerably if they are to beat Vancouver in the playoffs.
- Johan Franzen's inconsistency is maddening. He played poorly Thursday. One shot on goal and minus-3 for the Red Wings' top goal scorer. Not good.
- The icing call that set up the game-tying goal was weak. There was no actual effort to play the puck. Only the illusion.
- The Sedins went nuts without Pavel Datsyuk around to contain them. Not a coincidence.
- Alex Burrows "snapping the streak" gesture with his stick after scoring the winner in the shootout was incredibly bush.
Holland corrects perhaps his biggest mistake by re-acquiring Kyle Quincey
It never did seem quite right Kyle Quincey left the Red Wings. General manager Ken Holland hasn't made too many glaring mistakes down through the years, but one of them was keeping an aging Chris Chelios over Quincey near the beginning of the 2008-2009 season. Salary cap and waiver rules forced the decision. The Red Wings had to either release Chelios or risk putting Quincey through waivers before sending him to Grand Rapids. There was no way Quincey was going to clear waivers. He had played too well for the Red Wings in a pinch during the playoffs in 2007, and the only reason he wasn't playing regularly after that was because they had a glut of veteran defensemen. Chelios' career hit a wall that season, while Quincey immediately played effectively with the Kings. He's been a very good player since for Los Angeles and Colorado. So it is fitting the Red Wings got Quincey back Friday. He had been traded to Tampa Bay from Colorado earlier in the day - and subsequently moved to the Red Wings. The cost is steep - a first round draft choice, but Quincey is worth it. He is big, reasonably physical and can move the puck. He is also familiar with the Red Wings' system. The Red Wings didn't desperately need a sixth defenseman, but they don't desperately need anything. Quincey is a clear upgrade from Jakub Kindl and Mike Commodore. He is a restricted free agent this summer, and will draw a lot of interest. But it was a calculated gamble for the Red Wings. They already had arguably the best defensive corps in the NHL. This move only accents the point. And if there is any team that should be concerned only with winning now, it's the Red Wings.
Given a choice between Draymond Green, Jared Sullinger and Trey Burke, I'd pick....
There isn't much question Ohio State's Jared Sullinger will be named Big Ten Player of the Year. If there is any question, it's about whether Michigan State Draymond Green deserves the award instead. Michigan's Trey Burke is going to be Freshman of the Year. That is understood. But if you were starting a team right now, and not for the future, but for the next couple weeks, and had your pick of any of the above-mentioned players, who would you take? I'd take Burke. It's been a long time since I've seen a player come into a conference and control games at the point the way Burke does. That not meant to dismiss the qualities of a big man. Sullinger is a terrific player. It's just you saw how Burke was better able to impose his will on the game Saturday night when the Wolverines beat Ohio State. What a great performance. Now, Green provides a little bit of both. The ball does go through him a lot. He is a brilliant leader with a certain calming aspect that transfers to his teammates. But with a game on the line, and the ball in his hands, I feel Burke would be better able to break a defense down and create a shot, if not for himself, then for one of his teammates.
And so Brandon Inge wants to take a shot at second base for the Tigers...
It's bizarre, but I guess predictable, there is outrage in some quarters Brandon Inge would ask to try to play second base this coming season - and the Tigers will actually let him make the attempt. Anything Inge does gets his supporters and growing number of detractors barking. Yet, why wouldn't he try? Second base isn't a strength for the Tigers. Ramon Santiago has displayed continually he is a backup player who plays exceptionally well only in short spans, but gets exposed when played on an every day basis for extended periods. I can't imagine Inge will have much range at second base, but neither does Ryan Raburn, whose inconsistency defensively, regardless the position, is maddening. Raburn is also the ultimate streak hitter. If Inge can do OK at second, it would give manager Jim Leyland another option at a position the Tigers are considerably behind most of the other top American League pennant contenders (the Yankees have Robinson Cano, the Red Sox Dustin Pedroia, the Rangers Ian Kinsler and the Angels Howie Kendricks). And while Inge was awful overall last season at the plate, he did show some promise late in the year after spending time in the minor leagues. He hit .324 in September and his OPS was .899. He was the Tigers' second leading hitter in the postseason with a .318 batting average, and an OPS of .923. He hit left-handers particularly well after his stint in Toledo. Whether he will be able to pull it off defensively is a different story. He is going to be 35 in May and has had knee issues. I always found it curious that Inge was a somewhat celebrated shortstop in college, but has never played middle infield during his professional career. There is something baseball people detected that dismissed him as a middle infielder at the major league level very early on - even if he is a smaller player with some athleticism. There is another factor, too. It's the barking that surrounds Inge. Fans have turned on him. Even though he has morphed into a decidedly struggling player later in his career, his issues always move to the forefront of public opinion. People just can't stop talking about the guy. But the bottom line is the Tigers are paying Inge more than $5 million this coming season, and they are going to try to play Miguel Cabrera at third base as much as possible. So what is there to lose by giving Inge at shot at second? Nothing.
It makes for interesting conversation when a former NFL player of note doesn't just praise the players of today and becomes critical. I have no issue with it. It's a good thing in the sense you're getting honest commentary from from former athletes, where before they often came across as making excuses for players regardless. Present day players are particularly sensitive to such criticism, especially when it comes from figures who are viewed as iconic in their sport. I've heard this expression many times in such instances: "They forgot how difficult it is to play this game." While I defend Marshall Faulk's right to make his recent statements basically dismissing Matthew Stafford's 5,000-yard passing season in 2011, he couldn't have been more wrong. He made it sound like any QB could do it. Absurd. It has only been done five times in NFL history, and Stafford was only one of three QBs to accomplish it this season. And that Stafford was merely a product of Calvin Johnson. If that's the case, then I guess Jon Kitna and Dan Orlovsky were merely products of Calvin Johnson when he had a similar season statistically in 2008 and the Lions were 0-16 rather than 10-6. All-time great wide receiver Cris Carter made similar-style comments about Johnson early this past season. They were just as ill-conceived and equally not compelling. Ex-All Pro defensive tackle Warren Sapp also criticized Nadamukong Suh recently, but there seemed to be more merit to it, and thought behind it. Stafford and Johnson were brilliant this season, while Suh wasn't nearly as effective as his first season in his second, and had other well-documented issues, as well. But what interests people about former greats such as Faulk, Carter and Sapp is their actual opinion. Not cushioning it because they are in the so-called fraternity of players. If they are doing that, I'm fine with it. If they are just stirring the hornet's nest to get attention, that's another issue.
Ben Wallace has stated this will be his final season. He is playing about 14 minutes a game. He is averaging just more than a point per game. He isn't among the NBA's leading rebounders. Long ago, he stopped being the best off-the-ball defender in the league and a true force guarding the rim. Considering the current state of the Pistons and NBA overall following the lockout (other than Linsanity), it ultimate winding down of a career. But Wallace's recent milestone - playing the most NBA games ever for an undrafted player - brought back reminders of just what a unique player Wallace was during his prime. He was the best defensive player in the NBA for a number of years. A great rebounder. Sometime he'd struggle in the post with the NBA bigger centers (Chris Webber, for example, gave him fits), but his "help" defense was second to none. Offensively, he was a disaster much of the time. And it wasn't pleasant when he'd whine about not getting the ball enough. Some of the attitude issues shocked people near the end of his first stint with the Pistons - it had been perceived he was the quintessential team player - and it didn't go nearly well in other NBA stops. But this much is clear: No Ben Wallace, no NBA title for the Pistons in 2004. No reaching the finals and pushing the Spurs to seven games another year. It's doubtful the Pistons would have reached the Eastern Conference as many years in a row as they did (six). I think he was the most important "Going to Work" Piston. No. 1. Even though he never averaged double digits scoring in a season, I still believe Ben Wallace was a truly great and unique player. And I hope, as time goes on, people will remember just how great.
Dismissing the Red Wings record home winning streak as not "pure" isn't fair
The Red Wings will be going for their 21st straight home victory tonight against Dallas, which would break the NHL record. They currently share the record with the 1930 Boston Bruins and 1976 Philadelphia Flyers at 20. The Flyers record is considered somehow more "pure" by many because there was no overtime, nor shootout rule, at the time. The Flyers won all 20 of those games in regulation time. There was overtime during the regular season in 1930, and a couple of the Bruins' wins during the streak were in overtime. There was no shootout that season. To some, this has tainted the Red Wings' share of the current record, or if they were to break it tonight. I don't feel that way. The fact it has only been twice in league history makes it an incredible accomplishment. Secondly, it has not been done since overtime was brought back to the NHL in the 1983-84 season. Nor since the shootout was added in 2005-06. The Flyers were a great team coming off back-to-back Stanley Cup titles, but the separation between the best and the worst teams was much wider then. The Red Wings won their 19th straight at home Friday night in a shootout over an Anaheim team that, while ranked near the bottom of the Western Conference standings, has the reigning Hart Trophy winner in Corey Perry, a future Hall of Famer in Teemu Selanne, a solid goalie in Jonas Hiller - and other stars such as Bobby Ryan, Ryan Getzlaf and Farmington's Cam Fowler. Although there were only NHL 18 teams back then, the talent base was still thinner. The college feeder program wasn't nearly as developed. There were few Europeans in the league. Americans, for that matter. The NHL was watered down because of the WHA, which robbed teh NHL of many of the top players. It was just a much different game. It is far more difficult to dominate during this era.
Under the circimstances, Cespedes might have been worth the risk for the Tigers
There is a major difference between what the Tigers did by signing Prince Fielder to a nine-year, $214 million contract, compared to if they had signed Yoenis Cespedes, the free agent Cuban outfielder, to the type of deal (reportedly $9 million per year) he is going to ink with Oakland. Fielder is a proven commodity. The Tigers, like many franchises, have already benefited greatly from their local cable television deal. The Tigers get a reported $40 million per season for that deal with FOX, and figure to get a lot more by 2018. Baseball on TV is attracting more money now because it is less likely to be recorded as a live event, and advertisers see the value of people, especially in the male demographic, not flipping by the commercials. Fielder is 27 years old and has put together stats so far which suggest he is going to the Hall of Fame. It's extremely unlikely his production will decline. Cespedes is as much an urban legend as a ballplayer at this stage. It's all about his measurables. Strength, speed, power- yet nobody knows if he can actually hit major league pitching. It's not my money, but I do see where the Tigers could have afforded him. With the nucleus they have signed deep into the future - Fielder, Miguel Cabrera and Justin Verlander - they should be contenders for years. Tney will fill the seats at Comerica Park. Their television revenue will vault in the future, too. Cespedes is 26. Theoretically, he would have helped the Tigers now. Is Delmon Young, the player he would have replaced in the lineup, part of their long-term future? Doesn't appear that way at this point. Certainly, signing Cespedes would have made more sense for the Tigers than Oakland, which unloaded pitchers Gio Gonzalez, Trevor Cahill and Andrew Bailey because of monetary concerns this off season. Replay of my live video chat today on Red Wings, Lions draft and MSU and Michigan basketball:
Not just the Norris, Nicklas Lidstrom should be up for the Hart Trophy this season
The Red Wings won their 20th straight home game Sunday, tying the NHL record. They had two plus players, one was Nicklas Lidstrom, who assisted on Johan Franzen's game-winning goal in the third period against the Flyers. He also keys the power play, which got untracked with two goals, which set everything rolling. Lidstrom played nearly 25 minutes of an intense, tight game. He was utterly brilliant. He is remains easily the best defenseman in the NHL - and the best player. The Red Wings wouldn't be anywhere near what they are without him. With all this talk earlier about Jimmy Howard as a Hart Trophy candidate, and Pavel Datsyuk, too, what about Lidstrom? He is playing better this season than last. And it should be acknowledged. Name a better player in the league. Defense. Forward. Goalie. With all due respect to Howard and Datsyuk and others, I can't think of one. Doesn't matter if he is 40 something. He is defying time, and it is amazing.
It was an ugly win. But isn't that what Michigan State does best? Win ugly? Commando basketball is Spartans' speciality and winning at No. 3 Ohio State Saturday was the biggest sign yet that MSU coach Tom Izzo has gotten his program back on track after last season went so horribly wrong. The Spartans certainly didn't look pretty in the process, but they made their point. It's about controling tempo and hindering the flow of the opposition offensively. Coming up with the loose balls. And scoring when necessary. It's the same fashion the Spartans beat Michigan at home on Super Bowl Sunday. This is not a great team. It's a young team that is developing around the consummate senior leader in the Draymond Green. But Izzo's best teams, the ones that have gone to the Final Four, have been decidedly flawed in certain ways. It's always been about mental toughness. The Spartans lost that last season. They've gotten it back.
The Super Bowl is the ultimate all-or-nothing game. A team either wins it, or they won't - period. It's not a building block for the team that gets there and loses. At least it hasn't been for a long, long time. Since the advent of the Super Bowl following the 1966 season, only one Super Bowl losing team won it the following year. Miami was crushed by Dallas following the 1971 season and then put together a perfect season on the way to the Super Bowl title in 1972. There have been a number of teams that have gone to the Super Bowl on multiple occasions and then lost again. Minnesota in the 1970s, Denver in the 1980s, Buffalo in the 1990s. The last 17 losers of the Super did not even return the following season.
Maple Leafs vs. Red Wings at Michigan Stadium equals hockey perfection
Perfect. That was my initial reaction to the thought of the Winter Classic, featuring the Red Wings and the Maple Leafs at Michigan Stadium in Ann Arbor, when it became apparent it was going occur months ago. So it's official now with Michigan's Board of Regents giving its final approval. At $3 million, it's a bargain for the NHL. And it's a dream come true I've talking about for years. It will be the hottest ticket imaginable for an NHL game. Not only because is it huge here, but it will pull in countless people from Canada. We are a border state, and an Original Six town. Nothing could celebrate that more than this. Comerica Park would have been fine for the game, but the Big House just adds magnitude to the event. Especially with the renovation of Michigan Stadium, it can even match Comerica Park in terms of luxury boxes. A couple things to ponder: - Can't wait to see the Red Wings preparing for the event on HBO's 24/7 series. I enjoy that as much as the game itself now. - There is plenty of time to prepare for the parking issues in the winter near Michigan Stadium. Snow/rain could take the golf course and Ann Arbor Pioneer out of the equation, but there is a lot of time to plan for it, and Michigan has been through this before with a game against Michigan State. - What if the Wolverines are playing in a bowl game that day. Talk about divided attention. But it will be so much fun. We've forgotten about just what a great rivalry the Red Wings and Maple Leafs have for years. It is literally as close as it can be. Toronto leads the all-time series in the regular season 276-275. In Toronto has won 13 of its 25 playoff series against the Red Wings.
Time is now for the Red Wings to trade for Evgeni Nabokov
Count me among those who feel the Red Wings would be wise to cover their tracks at goalie. It's been a couple years since Ty Conklin has played well, and he has precious little playoff experience. Joey MacDonald is fine in a pinch, but he is the goaltending/hockey version of a 4-A player in baseball. Sure, Jimmy Howard is the Red Wings goalie. He's earned that. Also, count me among those who feel he is capable to backstopping the Red Wings to a Stanley Cup championship this spring. And he will come back from his broken finger. Thing is, the Red Wings can't waste the opportunity to get the top-seed in the Western Conference while Howard is out for a month or so. It hurt them badly the last two seasons in the playoffs not to have the home-ice edge in just the second series, each time against San Jose. Also, what if Howard were to get injured in the playoffs? Last year, the Red Wings couldn't get Evgeni Nabokov. He was claimed on waivers by the Islanders. This year, it is different. He has a cap-friendly salary, is playing well this season, his team is going nowhere and he is eligible for free agency this summer. The Red Wings have depth to trade to get Nabokov, and still plenty of cap space to add to their team otherwise at the trade deadline for Cup run. Time couldn't be better to move on a deal.
Disappointed in his son? Cecil Fielder should be disappointed in himself
Cecil Fielder indicated at the time his son, Prince, signed a nine-year, $214 million contract with the Tigers, the widely-reported strained relationship between the two had improved. That has changed. At his induction into the Ted Williams Hitters Hall of Fame in Tampa on Friday, Cecil said of his son, in comments that appear on the Tampa Bay Times website: "As a father, of course you're proud of what your son's been able to accomplish on the field. But as a father, you also worry about how he is growing as a man. How - and I want to say this correctly - he is communicating with everybody that had something to do with how he got to where he is. As for that part of my son, I think we're all disappointed." Cecil said he will not attend Tiger games because when he went to a game in Atlanta to see Prince a few years ago he was asked to leave by security. Prince Fielder dodged questions about his relationship with his father at the news conference announcing his signing with the Tigers. This is the ultimate case of sour grapes. Cecil Fielder signed a six-year, $35 million contract with the Tigers in the 1990s. It was the biggest contract in the history of baseball at the time. It's been well-documented how he squandered all the money away. Included in those reports is he took a big piece of Prince Fielder's original signing bonus with the Brewers. It's not a secret Prince isn't exactly, well, a prince when it comes to his demeanor, but it's not like that makes him unusual for a premier ball player. Seems Cecil made his bed here, and his son is making him sleep in it. This following comment by Cecil about Prince is especially absurd: "We all knew the kid was obese. He had a hard time running to first base without getting tired. You don't transform your body by yourself. You've got to have trainers. You've got to have people cooking for yourself..." Yeah, like Cecil set a good example in that regard. He was constantly overweight and out of shape as a player. It was a consistent bone of contention for Tiger fans. Equally as ridiculous is this statement by Cecil: "I know what I did for my son and he knows what I did for him. I'm going to take the high road and stay away from it and not cause any friction." High road? Stay away from it? Cecil's comments Friday were the complete opposite. He ripped Prince. His kid took the high road. He's stayed away from it. Prince Fielder's silence about his father at the news conference spoke volumes about how he really feels. And now we understand why. Tigers fate depends on younger players. My column in Sunday's Oakland Press: http://bit.ly/zpbu0m
When it comes to the Pistons future, think Anthony Davis
At the beginning of this season, I couldn't have been more wrong about the Pistons. I actually thought they would be contending for a playoff spot in the weakened Eastern Conference. And would benefit from it. Kind of the winning breeds winning and losing breeds losing sort of idea. Oooops. They do have veteran players who are relatively high-priced in Tayshaun Prince, Ben Gordon, Charlie Villanueva and Rodney Stuckey. They do have a core of younger players who are talented in Brandon Knight, Greg Monroe and Jonas Jerebko. Lawrence Frank is a better coach than his predecessors. Yet, rather than progress, the Pistons have been dreadful. The veteran nucleus has been a disaster. Money thrown down the drain. The younger players have made progress, but it's not nearly enough for respectability. The Pistons will have a shot at getting a very early pick in the draft. I was lukewarm to that idea a month or two ago. I just didn't see that potential differencemaker. Not anymore. I do believe the Pistons can get an impact player, who could star in the league for a long time: Anthony Davis from Kentucky. He's 6-10 with a long wing span and is a shot blocking machine (nearly 5 per game) His offensive skills are relatively raw, but he is a freshman. He does shoot for a high percentage (65 percent from the floor) and he isn't one of these big guys who can't make a free throw (70 percent). Davis is better every time I see him. The Pistons need athleticism badly. They also need somebody, above all else, who can guard the rim. I think this kid will be a better NBA player than Andre Drummond from UConn and especially Perry Jones from Baylor, who has not taken the expected step forward this season.
Can you imagine if the Tigers did sign Yoenis Cespedes?
For all the hype surrounding defecting Cuban outfielder Yoenis Cespedes, the one question that hasn't gotten answered is what type of impact he will have immediately. Will he step into the major leagues and star right away? Or will it take him awhile to adjust to major league pitching? Or will he become one of those "great athletes, but can't hit big league pitching" stories? There is uncertainty about it from both Cespedes' supporters and detractors. Anybody who thinks they "know" is fooling themselves. It's the ultimate "best guess" scenario. And that, right there, defines a gamble. I have a sense signing Cespedes would only further cloud an already murky situation in regard to how the Tigers fit together. Cespedes isn't going to hit leadoff. It's doubtful he is a better fielder than Austin Jackson. And he's older than Jackson, who is still developing. The Tigers have committed to Delmon Young for this season. Brennan Boesch is the right fielder. There are plenty of DH candidates. Honestly, the puzzle fits best with either Prince Fielder or Miguel Cabrera at DH. The unknown is the intriguing part. There are plenty of baseball people who feel Cespedes will immediately star. That his tools are superior. That he will hit for tremendous power even against major league pitching. That he is, well, Bo Jackson. If the Tigers are going for it, he could very well be the final piece to a puzzle that would, indeed, put them far above every other club. We've already seen the gambling nature of owner Mike Ilitch when it comes to "names." Would he roll the dice on Cespedes? Hmmm. Is Scott Boras his agent?
Pat Caputo is a sports columnist for The Oakland Press. Caputo covered the Tigers from 1986-98, and Lions from 1998-2002 for The Oakland Press before becoming a columnist. Caputo was raised in Birmingham and played baseball and football at Groves High School. His photograph playing high school sports appeared in The Oakland Press. He has won numerous writing awards, including first place in column writing from the Michigan Associated Press and the Michigan Press Association, and from the Detroit Chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists. He has been named among the Top Ten sports columnists in the nation by the Associated Press Sports Editors (APSE), and has won honors in four of the APSE's six national award categories. He has garnered top national honors for his column writing and sports writing from the Local Media Association. Caputo, who has resided in Oakland County since he was nine years old, currently lives in Lake Orion. Caputo has a radio show weeknights and weekends on 97.1 FM, The Ticket, which is the flagship station for the Tigers, Lions and Red Wings. He also appears regularly on FOX 2 television on "SportsWorks."