The Hammer Toss has returned from an extended absence borne of computer-less-ness. No time to waste, let's churn up the Detroit baseball scene.
It has been leaked via Twitter that outfielder Casper Wells is slated to be promoted to Detroit from the Toledo Mud Hens of the International League.
No official announcement was made Thursday, but expect it to be made prior to Friday's series opener against Boston.
Wells is regarded as one of the top prospects in the Tigers' organization. He stuck in major league camp during spring training, in the running for a spot on the opening day roster.
Wells did not fail to impress in spring camp, either, hitting .385. Had Johnny Damon not been signed, he may have been the opening day left fielder.
Alas, Wells was assigned to Toledo to begin the season. He has struggled at Toledo, hitting only .203. He has 5 HR and 12 runs driven in, but 37 Ks to only 24 hits. However, he appears to be set to join the Tigers for a weekend series against the Red Sox.
So why Wells? If he has not been performing at Toledo, why bring him up?
A few reasons exist, actually.
Foremost, the need for an additional position player since the need for an extra pitcher has (somewhat) expired.
With Dontrelle Willis missing Monday's start, Brad Thomas was forced into a spot start of three excruciatingly inefficient innings. Eddie Bonine was left to pick up the pieces. Coupled together with a doubleheader on Wednesday, the bullpen was taxed.
Alfredo Figaro was summoned from Toledo as reinforcement, at the cost of Ryan Raburn. The need for a 13th pitcher has passed, but MLB rules cite that Raburn cannot be recalled from Toledo until 10 days after he has been sent down. Ergo, it has to be someone else.
Undoubtedly, Detroit manager Jim Leyland wants to get a look at Wells in a few regular season games.
Wells is also getting the nod because he bats right-handed. The other bench options in Detroit are two lefties and a switch hitter (Don Kelly, Alex Avila, Ramon Santiago).
Finally, his call-up will probably be short lived anyway. Because of the doubleheader, Willis is getting moved up to starting Saturday. This leaves a hole in the rotation for Sunday's finale against the Red Sox.
Presumably Wells will be sent back down in place of Sunday's spot starter. My best guess is Armando Galarraga.
However, we have now entered the section of the story where The Hammer Toss takes a right turn for a wild speculation.
What if Wells's promotion is permanent?
Could the Tigers be preparing to sever ties to oft-injured "slugger" Carlos Guillen? It is possible. After all, a year ago the Tigers ate almost $14 million to send Gary Sheffield packing. Perhaps the front office has tired of his inability to stay on the field and contribute. All he contributes now are medical bills while collecting a high salary. Sound familiar, Dean Palmer?
Part of the future of the Tiger outfield has already become the present, in the body of Austin Jackson. Are the Tigers ready to take the next step?
This whole crazy notion was borne from the calendar date.
By waiting more than 20 days into the season to promote Wells, the Tigers could then keep him on the major league roster the rest of the season without him accruing a year of major league service time.
Therefore, he would still have to play another three seasons before becoming eligible for salary arbitration. This simple delay can save a club millions of dollars in first time salary arbitration. However, there is one caveat that goes with it; the Super 2 rule.
The top 17 percent of second year players are awarded a third year of service time and become eligible for salary arbitration.
While not exact, it has been determined over the years that keeping a player in the minors until around May 15-20 will prevent him from achieving top 17 percent status, thus circumventing the Super 2 rule and saving the club millions of dollars in arbitration.
This is why Stephen Strasburg of the Washington Nationals is not on the major league roster right now, and probably will not get called up until around June 1.
Could the Tigers be doing the same thing with Wells? It is a possibility that has to be taken into account. The Tigers already know they are going to pay good money to Jackson after the 2011 season. He'll achieve Super 2 status.
Why not wait for Wells, and do some house cleaning at the same time?