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Keep An Eye On—Maxwell Leon, Shortstop—Erie Seawolves (AA)
(April 23—April 29)
.375, 2 HR, 10 RBI
Drive-By Argument: Should Leyland Move Inge Up In The Order?
DOMINICK: Jimmy Leyland should elevate Inge to the five spot, especially with perennially slow-starting Carlos Guillen up to his old ways.
Hitting .319, Inge leads the team with seven homers, but has collected just nine RBIs from them. All, but two, were solo shots. Inge deserves a temporary promotion so he can plate a few more runners each week.
Only seven Tigers have slugged home runs this season and Inge has unexpectedly been the main power source.
Inge (seven), Granderson (six) and Cabrera (four) are the only Tigers with more than two home runs. With this reduced amount of power, Inge should temporarily supplant Guillen.
If Inge starts to fade, bring him back to the bottom third of the order. Until then, maximize and enjoy his productivity.
This offseason brought vast changes to the Tigers, but what future maneuvers will be needed to keep Detroit competitive?
Josh Anderson’s performance this year may have a heavy impact on the 2010 roster.
He replaced Gary Sheffield, who was released on the verge of his milestone 500th home run. Though Sheffield will still collect $14 million from Detroit, the transaction proved to be a necessary cost of business—his limitations weighed down a team two years removed from the World Series.
Defensively, Anderson's speed allows him to reach balls Magglio Ordonez, Carlos Guillen and Marcus Thames could only dream about. At the plate, his speed and quality left-handed bat addressed two things the 2008 lineup sorely lacked.
If he proves to be a legitimate long-term option in left field, general manager Dave Dombrowski may desire a cheaper, younger player in right field. For now, the acquisition has helped Detroit snuggle into a first-place tie with Chicago through 21 games.
The partial youth movement's success will induce an uncomfortable question next offseason:
Should the Tigers part ways with pricey Magglio Ordonez?
Stack Anderson's $400,000 salary against Sheffield's $14 million and you are left feeling optimistic about favoring youth over declining veterans.
In 2010, Ordonez is due $18 million dollars with a $3 million buyout. He is slated to collect $15 million in 2011.
Is Magglio's bat worth $33 million over two seasons or should Detroit distribute his money to other areas of need?
At 35-years-old, his power numbers declined from 28 home runs in 2007 to 21 home runs in 2008. He still offers a high batting average and run production, but leaves much to be desired in the field and on the base paths. His greatly decreased range creates extra-base opportunities for the opposition and Detroit pitchers continue to suffer as a result.
The Tigers may look to re-negotiate his contract or buy him out in 2010.
Considering Jeff Larish's experience, Wilkin Ramirez performing well at Triple-A Toledo, and Casper Wells at Double-A Erie, homegrown talent appears ready to step in and contribute.
A fan favorite, Magglio's popularity can be gauged in one pan of a Comerica Park crowd. His name appears on countless jerseys and shirts. Magglio wigs attached to ball caps dot the crowd and his dark, curly locks make him especially popular with the women. Wise move or not, fans may demonstrate disapproval upon his release and it may show up in the attendance numbers.
On the other side, a buyout could allow Detroit to attack positions of need with full force, improving their team and drawing more fans into Comerica.
They could acquire an elite-level starting pitcher or closer by way of free agency. If the Tigers so chose, they could solidify a few positions and subtract marginal major leaguers from a team that appears just a few players away from a division title.
Hitting .241, with two homers and nine runs batted in, the Tigers may try to avoid having another Sheffield on their hands. While the microscope beams heavily, the Tigers may also swap Ordonez for prospects before the deadline if they are out of the playoff hunt, though this is much less likely.
With Sheffield getting the axe in Spring Training, Detroit veterans may be in for a turbulent winter if they evade the postseason.
May 1: DET Armando Galarraga vs. CLE Jhonny Peralta (1-for-14, 3Ks).
May 3: DET Magglio Ordonez vs. CLE Cliff Lee (13-for-37, .419 OBP).
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