They’re up, they’re down, they’re all around. A team that always fails to impress me, or to disappoint me. They just are. They finished .500, but they shouldn’t have. I thought they would finish second and make it close, but not cigar. Hitting is good, but the pitching isn’t getting them anywhere. Except when the pitch well and then don’t hit. Who knows what to expect.
Alex Avila. Not a bad choice. He’s good with the glove, but won’t hit much. His bat isn’t that important, as there is plenty of offense to go around. As long as he can help the pitching staff and at least maintain what he did last year, he’ll be fine. The important thing is to catch and hit well enough to keep Victor Martinez from behind the plate.
Upside: starts to develop more as a hitter to go with the glove
Downside: defense drops
Miguel Cabrera. Albert Pujols is keeping this guy from being the best hitter in the game. A lot of people will think Cabrera will be distracted, but I don’t see it. The guy just hits. I think the only issue is how much time he misses if he goes into rehab. If he goes now, he won’t miss more than a week or two, because this guy at his worst is better than almost anyone else.
Upside: realizes what he has to lose
Downside: the distractions play out
Score: + 2
Carlos Guillen. The career this guy could have had, if not for the injuries. A complete shame. Another position switch, and at his age, not an easy one. If he hits like he’s healthy, they’ll live with the lack of defense. If he can’t stay healthy, it won’t matter. He’s more valuable to this line up than people think he is. Too many DH types will make it a difficult year.
Upside: stays healthy
Brandon Inge. A ‘scrappy’ player who hits just well enough to avoid the tag, he’s not really a great hitter. All or none power, and no walks, leaves him lacking at the plate. What he does bring is good defense, the ability and desire to play every day, and flexibility if there are any issues. A long-term Tiger, and the face of the franchise right now, he’s getting older. His glove won’t keep him a regular, but it will keep him employed.
Upside: one last big year --- for him
Downside: starts his utility career this season
Jhonny Peralta. A durable guy who can play every day, he’s on the down slope with this bat. He’s young enough to return to form, but won’t here. He’s got some power, but it will be wasted in Comerica. He doesn’t walk, and he doesn’t run, so he’ll have to play defense, and he can do that. Inge will help him squeeze second, which should help out Guillen. A return to a few seasons ago would really help the team.
Upside: loses the power and tries to get on base
Downside: swings for the fences
Ryan Rayburn. A good player for the team, he’ll be a help down in the order. Average defense, but he is versatile. Gets on base, and adequate power, he won’t be the MVP, but he won’t embarrass himself. Could end up at second base if Guillen can’t go. He has a couple of more years as a full time player before he becomes Jim Wohlford.
Upside: continues to get better.
Downside: ends up out of position and hurts the defense
Austin Jackson. Maybe I’m reading this wrong, but I seem to hear lots of comments about Jackson not being good enough. I don’t know why, because he is. He had a good rookie year, and should only get better. A lot of people are too concerned that home runs are the most important part of the game, but I disagree. Jackson does a lot of other things well. Speed, gets on base, some walks (he’ll draw more), and extra base power. The big problem is the strikeouts and less than average defense. He’ll get better.
Upside: makes people forget about Curtis Granderson
Downside: a sophomore slump
Magglio Ordonez. Still an outstanding hitter regardless of all the injuries. Losing his power, but still gets on base. Doesn’t run well, but he’ll be okay with the other hitters on the team. He’s not there to score runs, he’s there to knock other guys in. He should do a lot of that. Defensively, he should be a designated hitter, but can’t fill that role on this team. He’ll hit, but get a lot of days off.
Upside: can stay healthy for a full season and hit the way he does
Downside: his defense keeps him out of the line up
Score: + 1
Victor Martinez. A man without a position, he’ll keep others from getting a rest because he can’t play their positions. Comerica will drop his home run totals, but increase his doubles. A full season without catching could bring some big numbers. If he could learn to play right field, he’d help the team even more. He gets on base and provides versatility at catcher and first base, if needed.
Upside: not catching turns him into Joe Mauer
Downside: has to catch and the numbers dropped
Score: + 1
Victor Martinez. Should be okay. He’s not a terrible catcher, and we know he can hit. The only issue is how many games he has to catch, as the offense will suffer. If Avila can go 140 games, it won’t hurt Martinez to catch and give roster flexibility. With Inge on the team, there is good depth on the team for catching.
Upside: doesn’t get into too many games
Downside: Avila can’t make it every day
Score: + 1
Backup first baseman:
Says Don Kelly on the depth chart, but I don’t see this either. It will be Martinez, or maybe even Ordonez on occasion. No reason to carry a guy to only get into 15 games when there are others already available. The only way I see Kelly doing this is if Cabrera isn’t ready to go, and that will only be temporary. When Miggy needs a day off, Martinez will do it.
Upside: Cabrera gets it worked out and doesn’t miss more than a week or two
Downside: Kelly becomes the starter here or designated hitter
Score: + 1
Ramon Santiago. He’ll do exactly what he needs to do. Provide some defense and give the regulars a day off. He won’t hit much, but he never has. He might not get much time at third, but Rayburn can fill in there. If Guillen can’t go full time, Santiago could put in some games at short stop while Peralta moves over. Extra time will help the defense, and shouldn’t be an issue with the offense, as there is plenty of it.
Upside: fills the role and doesn’t have to bat too many times
Downside: has to go full time for one of the starters
Brandon Boesch. Mostly a starter last year, due to injuries, he should take on a fourth outfielder role this year, or possibly a platoon with Rayburn. Hits okay, and plays good defense. It was his first season, so the jury is still out on what he can do. This won’t leave a true center fielder for back up, but they shouldn’t need much. The flexibility at other positions could let them carry an extra player, if wanted. Good shape here, as Boesch could start for a lot of team.
Upside: gets lots of playing time
Downside: doesn’t like sitting and doesn’t play as well
Score: + 1
Rotation (front 3):
Justin Verlander, Max Scherzer, and Rick Porcello. Verlander is the stud, and Scherzer is pretty good, also. Porcello is the weak link, but that was his sophomore slump. If he rebounds back to his rookie year, and there is no reason to think he won’t, then the staff is even better. He’s only 21, so there is a big upside. Good strikeouts and low walks for the first two, Porcello should get better. They need more innings from the young guys.
Upside: Verlander justifies his Cy Young votes and the others are good
Downside: they’ve all peaked
Score: + 1
Rotation (back end):
Brad Penny and Phil Coke. Coke is converting to a starter after three years as a short man, which is unusual at his age. Penny was good last year, when healthy, but he hasn’t been for a full season in a while. No expectations from them, as the front three should do all the work, but anything will be a help. This doesn’t seem like the way to go for a staff that could help the team contend, so let’s hope it works out.
Upside: Penny stays healthy and Coke can go the innings
Downside: can’t get any innings out of them
Score: - 1
Joaquin Benoit, Joel Zumaya, Ryan Perry, Daniel Schlereth, and Brad Thomas. If you like strikeouts, this is the bullpen for you. If you don’t like walks, then don’t watch. It won’t be pretty. Nothing to impress here, except how hard they throw. They won’t give up a lot of home runs, but that’s due to the park. The starters are going to have to go a lot of innings. Zumaya being healthy will help, but that’s a big gamble.
Upside: everyone stops throwing balls and they keep throwing strikes
Downside: just aren’t good enough to get the job done
Score: - 2
Jose Valverde. A down year, as he walked more than he usually does, and stuck out fewer than normal. It could be the adjustment to a new league, and probably is. He’s still a quality closer, but has to hope the bullpen can hold the lead for him. Closers have a short shelf-life, and Valverde has been going for awhile. The bullpen isn’t going to provide a lot of help, so he’ll have to go back to form.
Upside: works out his control issues
Downside: can’t adjust to the league
Score: + 1
Team speed (which includes base running):
Okay. Jackson can run, but there isn’t a lot of speed with the rest of the team. Lots of doubles and triples, but that’s the size of the outfield, not the players. With a park like Comerica, more speed would help the team. They have a lot of sluggers and won’t have a problem scoring run, so this might not hurt. But it won’t help, either.
Upside: anything is an improvement
Downside: its not there when they need it
Score: - 1
Should be good. A little weak on the right side, but good on the left. Jackson should get better as he learns the park. Ordonez will hurt in right, and Martinez won’t help when he catches, but they’ll have to live with it. The big park and the good gloves should help the staff, and that might help overcome all the walks. Should help with the run differential.
Upside: none really. Any upgrade to the defense hurts the offense
Downside: Ordonez can’t get the job done and leaves a hole
Score: + 1
Should be really good. Lots of power, they all get on base, and they can score runs. The only issue is that they go station to station. They’ll be on base, but might not score as many runs as they should because of the lack of speed. But it won’t be for lack of effort. It will be the best offense in the division, and they’ll be in line for several Silver Slugger awards.
Upside: more homeruns than expected make the lack of speed irrelevant
Downside: Cabrera’s issues tear the offense apart
Score: + 1
The good, the bad, and nothing really too ugly. Good starting pitching, poor bullpen effort, and a good closer. The starter will have to go a lot of innings, and the bullpen will walk a lot of guys. They’ll strike out a lot, and not give up too many home runs at home. If the bull pen can’t get the job done, it will be a long summer, but they should have their innings reduced.
Upside: the bullpen learns the strike zone
Downside: no one improves
Total score: + 7