Bigger Roar: Detroit Tigers Need Muscle For Stretch Run
Championships are built with pitching and defense: Case in point World Series Champions the Philadelphia Phillies and the Boston Red Sox. Both teams exemplified team defense and had several stud pitching arms in their championship runs.
The Tigers resemble one of these teams that have both good pitching (second-best in the American League behind Seattle) and solid defense (fourth best in the AL), however there is one thing that they lack as they head towards the final two months of the season. What is it? Offense.
The Phillies had plenty of that last year with Chase Utley, Shane Victorino, Jimmy Rollins and Ryan Howard leading the way. Boston also had Manny Ramirez, David Ortiz, Dustin Pedroia and others in their banner year.
The Tigers have some perennial bats like All-Star Curtis Granderson, 2008's home run champion Miguel Cabrera and former batting champion, Magglio Ordonez.
After that, well, the line-up looks rather thin.
Sure, third baseman and defensive stalwart Brandon Inge has muscled up and sent home runs over the wall this year at a career-best pace.
Carlos Guillen is back and hit a homer in his first game off the disabled list, but he's not 100 percent yet and many wonder if he'll ever regain his .300 batting average and 100 RBI form ever again.
Marcus Thames provides nice power outbursts, but could be considered a liability defensively. Just as he is known for his hot streaks, he also has been known to dry up at the wrong times.
Ordonez has dropped off so much that he's now not even playing full-time, merely platooning when a left-handed pitcher is on the mound or when the match-up calls. He's even dropped in the line-up and has batted all the way in the seventh spot a few times this season behind Ryan Raburn, Inge and even recently-demoted Josh Anderson.
Not to be forgotten, Placido Polanco is batting way below his career average and hasn't been the catalyst in the two spot in the batting order that he thrived in the last few seasons.
So, the question remains.
Where will the offense come from?
The Tigers will no doubt need it if they are to make the playoffs and win the pennant like they did back in 2006. That year, they had the arms and the bats, they led the league in runs, and were a worthy contender to win it all for the first time since 1984.
There is less than one week until the trade deadline and with perhaps the biggest bat on the market already gone with Matt Holliday, the Tigers must look elsewhere for some pop.
Guillen's return is intriguing and many experts have called for his return as the move they needed. I'm still not convinced, though.
I've heard Toronto's Marco Scutaro's name in a couple different discussions and I like what he brings to the table. He's a solid defender first that just so happens to be having the best offensive season of his career. He could spell Inge, who is having knee troubles, at third, play shortstop and also could give the veteran Polanco a rest once and awhile.
Washington's Adam Dunn is another name that has been tossed into the ring by a few, but he just signed a big contract and I'm not sure Detroit has enough or is willing to trade enough prospects. His bat and power from the left side would be welcomed and he could easily fill that role in the clean-up spot behind Cabrera. Dunn, perhaps more than anyone else, is someone who just seems destined for the AL and the designated hitter role.
Some have even mentioned Cubs outfielder Milton Bradley as being the right fit in Detroit because manager Jim Leyland could control Bradley's temperament. Plus, I think Bradley and the Cubs could use a change of scenery.
We all saw how well Bradley played in the AL last season as he was an all-star for the Texas Rangers.
Maybe the offense will come from within the organization.
The Tigers have several young hitters who could come up in September and provide a nice spark like Jacoby Ellsbury did for the Red Sox when he first was called up. I'm pretty sure the Tigers don't have anyone of Ellsbury's stature, but outfielder Wilkin Ramirez could raise a few eyebrows.
Some muscle definitely won't hurt the Tigers as they make the final push at making the playoffs again.
Maybe before long the Tigers will be able to brag about a trio that can compare with their rivals and divisional opponents.
Hopefully, they'll be able to brag long after those other two squads are sent packing for the 2009 season.
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