Monday, August 26, 2013

Phil Coke, Jhonny Peralta, Detroit Tigers - what to do in the postseason?

The most underrated aspect about the Tigers is how much change there actually has been since they were swept in the World Series by the Giants.
Quintin Berry, Avisail Garcia, Jhonny Peralta and Delmon Young all started World Series games. Phil Coke was the Tigers' closer.

Phil Coke: Worth a playoff roster spot or should Tigers move on?
Berry was cut in spring training and is no longer in the Tigers' organization, Young was allowed to leave as a free agent. Both, who played significant roles in 2012, Young especially in the postseason as ALCS MVP, have had dreadful years in 2013. Berry was released by the Tigers and has hit below .200 in the minor leagues (he was picked up the Royals and is at Triple-A). Young was released by the Phillies and recently signed by Tampa Bay.
The Tigers traded Garcia to the White Sox as part of a three-way deal to get shortstop Jose Iglesias from Boston. He has followed the M.O. he established in Detroit by hitting for high average and little power for the White Sox, both in the minors and majors. Peralta, who surprisingly and inexplicably, played outstanding defensively in the '12 postseason for the Tigers, is suspended from MLB. He can still return to the Tigers. As can Coke, who was sent to Toledo to work out his issues after a disappointing season.
My gut instinct about this is the change is good for the Tigers. They weren't, honestly, that stellar last season. They won only 88 games. If it weren't for a collapse by the White Sox, they might not have even reached the playoffs. They eked by the A's in the ALDS and the their sweep in the ALCS might have been as much because the Yankees were so bad rather than the Tigers being so good.
The free agent signing of Torii Hunter has helped the Tigers immensely. The return of Victor Martinez has been a huge upgrade from Young. The Tigers made the right decision by picking Don Kelly, who has played well lately, over Berry for the extra outfield spot in spring training. I'm not so sure, with the Tigers' overall hitting firepower, whether they aren't better off with the slick-fielding Iglesias at SS instead of the range-challenged Peralta, who is the far superior hitter.
Even if Joaquin Benoit falters at closer, Jose Veras has been acquired for insurance. The Tigers could use a situational left-handed and there is no other option than Coke, really. He hasn't give up a run in four appearances and four innings at Toledo. He has retired three of the four left-handed hitters he's faced. Is he better?
Tigers general manager Dave Dombrowski is very calculated in these circumstances. He won't rule out Peralta's return, and certainly Coke is still very much in play for the postseason.
But a roster spot in the postseason isn't something to waste. It's not an easy decision, but there is still time.

My piece for our preseason high school football section on Birmingham Brother Rice football coaching legend Al Fracassa as he approaches his final season:

My column: Max Scherzer, Miguel Cabrera have a lot of company when it comes to special Detroit sports seasons:

Replay of our live chat Monday on Lions' as preseason winds down, the state of football with concussion issue, Michigan and Michigan State football and Max Scherzer's season in context for Tigers. We do this every Monday at 1 p.m.


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