Tigers May be AL Central Favorites

December 10, 2007 at 8:20 pm 7 comments

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The Detroit Tigers have made a huge splash this offseason. Making trades, re-signing players, and putting themselves in position for more moves. The Tigers aren’t strangers to the playoffs and they aren’t strangers to 119 loss seasons. This offseason has shown that they are dedicated to being the former.

Just in case you missed what the Detroit Tigers have done this offseason here is a little rundown. They added 3B/DH Miguel Cabrera and Dontrelle Willis in the biggest trade of the offseason, giving up Cameron Maybin, Andrew Miller, and prospects. They also added Edgar Renteria to be the everyday shortstop and they added Jacque Jones to be a much needed left handed bat and an upgrade on defense. They also re-signed closer Todd Jones and starter Kenny Rogers.

Miguel Cabrera could be an MVP candidate in this lineup and away from that LF wall in Miami. Cabrera is a star and well on his way to a Hall-of-Fame career as a hitter. He is only going to be 25 on opening day and already has a career line of .313/.388/.542 and 138 homers. He could easily top 40 homers in the next year or two with a .320 average. His defense can’t get much worse and it might make sense to move him to 1B and put Carlos Guillen at 3B.

Dontrelle Willis is a capable 5th, maybe 4th starter in the AL. His stuff is diminishing and he has absolutely zero command of his fastball. His delivery isn’t fooling anyone anymore and it is very hard to repeat, hence the reason the poor command. But Willis will give the Tigers 200+ innings and that will keep the bullpen, the teams current weakness, rested. Willis could win 15 games with this lineup.

The addition of Edgar Renteria is even more important with Cabrera sharing the left side with him. To read more about Renteria see http://www.3guysandasportspage.com/?p=172#more-172.

Jacque Jones is a fine defensive leftfielder and can play center or right if needed. To read more on Jones see http://www.3guysandasportspage.com/?p=187#more-187.

The Tigers re-signed two well known veterans in Rogers and Jones. Jones can get the job done and Rogers is a competitor that knows how to pitch. Rogers can be relied upon to give the Tigers 180-210 innings.

The Tigers aren’t done either. Brandon Inge wants out. But if they can find a way to get him 400-450 at-bats as a super utility guy that would only improve the team. He can play 3B, CF, LF, RF, and possibly be an emergency catcher. If not then they have a trade chip. They can also look at possibly dealing Marcus Thames for some bullpen help.

The Tigers aren’t done shopping either. Look for them to add another arm, possibly an Octavio Dotel or an aging vet in Bob Wickman or Antonio Alfonseca.

The Tigers are stacked with a lineup that should look a little like this:

1. Granderson – CF
2. Polanco – 2B
3. Sheffield – DH
4. Cabrera – 3B
5. Ordonez – RF
6. Guillen – 1B
7. Renteria – SS
8. Jones – LF
9. Rodriguez – C

Bench

Inge – 3B/CF/LF
Thames – LF/RF/1B
Rayburn – UTIL
Santiago – INF

That is one heck of a lineup! They finished 2nd in the AL in runs scored with 887 and the additions of Cabrera and Renteria make me believe 950-1000 could be very possible for 2008.

The pitching staff isn’t too shabby either.

1. Verlander – RHP
2. Rogers – LHP
3. Bonderman – RHP
4. Willis – LHP
5. Robertson – LHP

Bullpen

Jones – CL
Rodney – SU
Zumaya – SU/CL (if healthy)
Seay – LHP
Bazardo – RHP

Not too bad. The key in my opinion is Jeremy Bonderman. If healthy he can post 180-200 strikeouts and 15-18 wins with a low 4s ERA, possibly high 3s. Joel Zumaya‘s health is key for the bullpen but I want you to keep your eye on Yorman Bazardo. He can be a spot starter, a long reliever, or even a set-up man with his stuff. His stuff isn’t overpowering but he has good movement and keeps hitters off balance with offspeed stuff.

To me the Tigers are the favorites in the AL Central now. They added Renteria and Cabrera to the 2nd most potent offense in the AL. The defense is better with the addition of Jacque Jones and Renteria and Carlos Guillen moving to 1B but worse with Cabrera so overall it’s better. The Tigers will miss Inge’s defense and his bat is better than last year so hopefully they can get a capable arm for him.

I know it may be early and the Clevelnad Indians are the defending AL Central champions but I’m going to say that the Tigers are now the team to beat in the AL Central. They are also one of the two best teams with the Red Sox being the only team I’d rank above them right now. Look for the Tigers to grab a playoff spot next season and possibly make it back to the World Series.

-Jonathan C. Mitchell

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7 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Aaron Boynton  |  December 10, 2007 at 8:29 pm

    They are definitely the AL Central favorite but still not the overall AL favorite.

    Also, Inge is going to be traded. He told Tigers management that he will not serve as a backup to Miguel Cabrera.

    Reply
  • 2. Jonathan C. Mitchell  |  December 10, 2007 at 8:59 pm

    I don’t blame Inge. The Phillies should take a shot at him. His bat is good for that park and his defense is above average at 3B.

    Reply
  • 3. Erik  |  December 11, 2007 at 3:31 am

    I don’t think the Phillies like Inge. I think they will sign Mike Lamb and have a late inning defensive replacement.

    The Tigers are the team to beat in the AL Central Dombrowski is definitely making his team better! They fixed all the holes he had and upgraded with Cabrera.

    The rest of the AL central the only team that did anything remotely in improving their team was Kansas City hiring Trey Hillman and signing Jose Guillen.

    Reply
  • 4. Jonathan C. Mitchell  |  December 11, 2007 at 1:02 pm

    The rest of the AL Central has done jack! Jose Guillen will miss 15 games and isn’t worth $12M per season but it’s homeruns the Royals sorely need. Jamey Carrol for Cleveland? Haha! The White Sox need to rebuild and the Twins could be contenders if they keep Johan. The Tigers are the most improved and they have a legitimate shot at taking the division from the Indians.

    Reply
  • 5. Nick  |  December 11, 2007 at 2:20 pm

    I think if they move cabrera to first, guillen to third, and they can land one more bull pen arms they easily will be as good if not better than the Red Sox. Dave Dombrowski has done wonders for this club and city, all GM’s need to look at him cause he is a top notch GM.

    Reply
  • 6. Jonathan C. Mitchell  |  December 11, 2007 at 2:25 pm

    Dombrowski has been the key to their success. I love how he goes against Bud Selig’s “slot system” for the draft. If he did that he would never have gotten Andrew Miller, Cameron Maybin, Rick Porcello, and others. Which means he would never have gotten Miguel Cabrera and Dontrelle Willis. Dombrowski is in it to win it and that’s the type of GM I want for my team.

    Reply
  • 7. Erik  |  December 11, 2007 at 3:48 pm

    Cabrera’s hitting will keep him at 3rd. Cabrera has shed 15lbs and was adament about not moving to LF which is why Inge is requesting a trade. Cabrera will not move to first either reason Guillen is moving is cause he had too many injuries and first base is the only position he can play and not have to worry about range. While SS is a position where range is very important he can basically play normally at First.

    Dombrowski is able to be in it to win it cause the owner is starting to do what Steinbrenner (George) did for years and that is reinvest in his team. Mind you what I feel is most impressive is he is doing it through trade and not Free Agency as much. Dombrowski is a master trader. Rentaria, Cabrera, Willis, Sheffield, Guillen, Polanco, Jones all acquired on Dombrowski’s watch via trades. Pudge, Ordonez, Rogers, Jones all via Free Agency. And they have some home grown talent mixed in… Thames was acquired via trade under another GM’s watch in the Cecil Fielder deal.

    Reply

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