Since there is no team named the Lions in Major League Baseball, I think the next best team that demands the greatest respect is the Tigers, who will be king of the jungle in Detroit.
The Tigers leaped like a leopard in catching two who will prey on the rest of the sorry safari teams this year. Miguel Cabrera will be the man! He will strike more fear this year in the middle of an order that will make a jungle off-night seem safe for the opposition. This guy can hit as pure as any Tiger can pounce on a ball with a bat. Last year, he was the talk of all those who stalk a World Series trophy. Why? His statistics, .320 BA, 34 HR, 119 RBIs of last year are leading to legendary. There is little doubt that he will earn his Tiger stripes this year, with hope for a long time run in Detroit, which on Monday we'll see for sure!
Dontrelle Willis will be a snake hanging on to the ball until his windup strikes fear in hunters hoping to hit him. From his crooked cap to his breaking curve or change up, opposing batters will go to sit down thinking, “Why did we come? Willis will kill us!" (Willis is killing us right now in spring training, but we still have high hopes for him to cause others to swing through the jungle and miss once the season starts!)
If Willis dons a new skin this year that reminisces of his past statistics of pitching past hitters, (1.149 WHIP two years ago) to himself hitting past pitchers (.261 BA!), he will help cause the Tigers to be can’t misses in the October hunt.
Who will have enough ammunition and the perfect aim to hit the highest honor in 2008? I predict pictures of pitchers will be taken of Justin Verlander holding the opposition with a smile and his fastball. Fans will be smiling ear to ear if Jeremy Bonderman really bags his potential to dominate all the lineups in the jungle. After those two and Willis, Robertson, and Rogers must pitch without going on R and R.
If you listen carefully this year, you may hear some noises from the Tigers that will frighten any and all opposition. Many teams will wonder if that is the sound of an unknown Tiger, like Ryan Raburn, or Denny Bautista that they thought they saw in the middle of the game, or was it a nightmare in the middle of their sleep at night. Might they and other newer, as well as older Tigers, the Jones’s, Renteria, or Santiago show themselves clearly to be a threat day or night? Safe in Comerica? The Tiger fans seem to have a sure hope!
Injuries in the jungle can be devastating to a team on the hunt, but whenever Joel Zumaya and Fernando Rodney regain their regal Tiger forms, watch out, because there won’t be much worse than the bite they will take away from at bats. If a Tiger is wounded, they can still be dangerous, for you never quite know if what comes out of their bushed bullpen, might start to keep up with the Jones, and that would take the sting out of any of their arm injuries, and put them on the opposition. That being said, look to a future of Lopez, Seay, and Porcello.
Other teams, like the Indians and the Twins may try growl and prowl their way to the top, but they won’t remain king of this jungle, not this year! The Tigers will separate all other men from this "beast in the East." Just look at their lineup! If they pitch half as good as they can hit, the Tigers will separate themselves from the Indians and Twins by 10 games or more!
“Lions, and Tigers, and Bears, oh, my!” For this kind of lineup, Leland would die! He doesn’t even know who to put where, the whole bunch’s bats can chatter and scare. But juggling in jungles is this manager’s forte. He knows that each and every one of them has it in them to play. Granderson, Guillen, Sheffield, Ordonez, plus Cabrera, Polanco, Rodriguez, Renteria, and Jones…we’re “Inge’n” closer to catching the greatest catch of 2008! This lineup is coming together so well, it will have pictures of teams just falling apart in fear of the Tigers.
The biggest and best to weigh in this year will be Cabrera unfolding his potential power climb to his prime. Rodriguez has been hitting the ball like he’s a reborn Tiger cub, with the mother instinct and influence to lead this team to the top. Like trophies on the wall, Verlander and Bonderman should become familiar All-Star names in Detroit, as now they circle the cages of spring training, just waiting to prey and pounce on their vulnerable opponents. Marcus Thames will fill in for players, to receive their needed day’s rests, while he flames on his power to do the job of several men. Inge will make us wish baseball played 10 men instead of nine at a time, unless he is traded for someone sublime. Who might that be, a pitcher, a prospect, we don’t rightly know.
But, as for who will be king of the jungle this year…it seems to be the year of the Tiger. Just look at that golf guy in the Woods, or perhaps peek just in the jungle of Major League Baseball.
To catch these 2008 Tigers, you won’t want to miss a the call from the other wild fans at Comerica. This team is a safe bet, and won’t make you “safari” you saw them. (Bad pun for a team that's not bad!)
My journal in the jungle,Paul Hauser