Detroit Tigers: 6 Players Who Have Overstayed Their Welcome
The Detroit Tigers have played good ball so far this season, beginning whispers of a shot at the division title. This is due in large part to stellar performances from starters like ace Justin Verlander, sluggers Alex Avila and Victor Martinez, as well as perennial All-Star Miguel Cabrera.
However, the Tigers seem carry a lot of dead weight in their organization, putting up with players and staff members who continually disappoint or fail to adjust in order to win games. Here's a list of six Tigers who have overstayed their welcome in the Motor City.
As a lifelong Tigers fan, I can honestly admit that there was a time not so long ago when I considered Carlos Guillen one of my favorite players in Detroit.
Coming from the Seattle Mariners, Guillen possessed a good arm and began to be a serious threat at the plate. His first five seasons with the Tigers, Guillen hit for a combined .308, 75 HRs and 361 RBIs, all while making three All-Star appearances and playing a big role in Detroit's 2006 pennant.
After the 2008 season, his numbers dropped when he switched to play left field, but that wasn't the biggest problem: Guillen couldn't seem to stay healthy, suffering shoulder and knee injuries that have kept him from playing his best.
With Brandon Inge envying most pitchers batting averages, the Tigers need Guillen to score runs and it just doesn't seem as if he's going to regain his status as a fearsome hitter.
Injuries are part of the game and that's understandable, but Guillen makes a significant amount of money, second on the team to only Miguel Cabrera. When one of your highest paid players is only good for half the season, you know it's time to move on.
Guillen's contract expires after this year and there doesn't seem to be any reason to think he'll be wearing orange and blue in 2012.
Much like Guillen, Magglio Ordonez has been one of my favorite Tigers and baseball players in general.
He was brought in from the White Sox as a huge free agent signing and lived up to his contract. He's made two All-Star rosters since joining the Tigers in 2005 and had an absolutely monster year in 2007, hitting .363, smashing 28 HRs and driving in 139 RBIs. Ordonez generated serious MVP buzz that season, eventually finishing second to Alex Rodriguez.
However, the issue with Ordonez is not that he hasn't been great for the Tigers, but that he should've been gone last year.
After a respectable 2010 campaign, Ordonez was rewarded with a one year, $10-million contract. So far, he's played only 31 games due to an ankle injury, cranked just one ball out of Comerica and is hitting .177—a number more often associated with my blood pressure than with a batting average.
The Tigers could've gotten any number of outfielders for that kind of money, most notably Lance Berkman, who signed a one year, $8,000,000 contract with St.Louis. So far Berkman's had a fine offensive year, hitting just above .300 and belting out 17 homers. I love Ordonez and will always have fond memories of him sporting the Olde English D, but it's time to seek talent elsewhere and let him walk come 2012.
Where to start with this guy?
The first time I witnessed a Joel Zumaya fastball at Comerica Park, I was convinced one of his birth parents had to have been half grenade launcher. His greatest season was his first, sporting a 1.94 ERA, whipping 97 strikeouts and helping a struggling Tigers bullpen reach the playoffs.
That's when the trouble started.
Zumaya was plagued by wrist injuries throughout the 2006 ALCS, an affliction caused by excessive playing of Guitar Hero.
I don't know what's more sad—that Zumaya got hurt playing a video game or that the following year he separated the shoulder of his pitching arm while helping his father move boxes.
Since then, his performance has been as lame as the reasoning for his injuries, being virtually useless when called upon, if he's even healthy enough to do so. The hopes were incredibly high for Zumaya, and frankly, the fact the team has put up with him this long should be a testament to just how weak Detroit's bullpen has been the last few years.
This pick has less to do with my disappointment in Ryan Raburn's performance and more to do with the fact that he never molded into the solid, everyday outfielder Tigers fans hoped he would become.
Raburn had an excellent rookie campaign, hitting a smidgen over .300 and 25 RBIs—enough to earn Detroit Tigers rookie of the year. This set the level of expectation high, as the Tigers desperately needed to fill the hole in left field and Raburn seemed to be the man for the job.
He's by no means had a disastrous career to date (unless you count the Miguel Olivo incident), but it hasn't been noteworthy either. He continues to split time with both Andy Dirks and Don Kelly in the outfield and can't seem to find a way to raise his batting average.
At this point, one has to wonder if Raburn has done everything he can in Detroit.
Every Tigers fan must have known this was coming sooner or later.
Brandon Inge has had a great career in Detroit, continually playing excellent defense at third base, making an All-Star appearance in 2009 and easily becoming one of the most beloved Tigers in the history of the franchise.
That being said, the man couldn't hit water if he fell out of a boat.
Say what you will about his acrobatic play in the field, Inge has never broke the .300 mark over the span of a season, strikes out far too often and doesn't drive in nearly as many runs as he should. His lack of offense has been a concern for the Tigers for a few years now, and the problem doesn't seem to be solving itself.
This pains me to say—mainly because Inge is one of my favorite players and truly a class act. But baseball isn't about being a great guy. It's about winning ball games. The way to accomplish that is to score runs, and right now the Tigers look better with Inge out of the lineup.
Third base, for the most part, is a power hitting position and it's time to start looking at other options. No Tigers fan could tell me they wouldn't want to see David Wright standing out at third. It could be the difference between another late season collapse and playing in October.
Granted, Jim Leyland is not a player but he still belongs on this list. He's done some great things in Detroit, but he's no longer the man for the job.
Throughout his career, he's won a World Series in Florida, two NL Manager of the Year Awards and AL Manager of the Year when he brought the pennant to the Motor City.
In the early 2000s, the Tigers records were absolutely garbage and nothing seemed to be working for the franchise. In came Leyland, clinching a wild card berth in the first season and drove the Tigers to the World Series, only to be dismantled by Albert Pujols and the St.Louis Cardinals.
With all of the success comes a series of haunting mistakes under Leyland's reign, from finishing dead last in the division in 2008 to choking in epic fashion in 2009, giving up a three-game division lead with four games left to play and eventually surrendering a playoff berth to the Minnesota Twins in a one-game playoff.
The Tigers need a new direction and that comes with new management.
Make no mistake, Jim Leyland's days in Detroit are numbered.