6 Moves the Detroit Tigers Should Make by the Trade Deadline
With the Twins and White Sox trying to make up for lost ground in the AL Central, the Tigers have a chance to put themselves far ahead of the pack. They still have some holes to address if they want to claim the division and make a good postseason run.
Fortunately, a lot of the risks that were taken in the offseason have paid off. Unfortunately not all of them did, so Dombrowski has some work to do to keep the team atop the AL Central and avoid another second-half collapse.
Get a Real Second Baseman
Since Placido Polanco left, Detroit has not had a reliable second baseman. Scott Sizemore was never able to fill the promise he had, Will Rhymes put up good numbers in the last few months of 2010 but couldn’t handle it in 2011, and Ramon Santiago is not a starter.
What's worst is that the current starter, Ryan Raburn, was kept on the roster when Brandon Inge was brought back from the DL while Danny Worth was sent back to Toledo. Not only is Worth better defensively, he is not a black hole in the lineup.
The Tigers don’t necessarily need a .300 hitter with great defense like Polanco—just someone who has a bat or a glove and isn’t a liability with the other. Worth is deserving of a shot but I think that Dombrowski needs to look outside the organization.
Suggestions: Danny Worth, Kelly Johnson
Decide on an Outfield
The only player getting consistent starts in the outfield this year is Austin Jackson. With Brennan Boesch starting to look like he’s coming together to be a solid player and average with the glove, that leaves one spot for a real starter to be brought in.
Comerica has a huge outfield and putting Raburn or (God forbid) Carlos Guillen in left field is not going to help. With Jackson and Boesch hitting for average and power, respectively, some offense can be sacrificed to put a defense first outfielder in.
Casper Wells is my first choice to be put in. This would move Boesch over to left, which makes the most sense since he has the worst defense of the three and left field is the smallest area to cover in Comerica. If it doesn’t work, then the team should look to the trade market.
Suggestions: Casper Wells, Ryan Ludwick, Hunter Pence
Put Magglio on the Bench
I know it’s hard. Not only did Magglio put the Tigers into the 2006 World Series with one swing of the bat and earn the hearts of Tigers fans everywhere, he has a $10 million contract. That’s almost 10 percent of the team’s payroll. It’s very hard to just have that sit on the bench.
Magglio is only hurting the team right now. His ankle is still not fully healed and keeping him playing everyday is not helping it. Putting him in at DH only takes away at bats from Victor Martinez and Alex Avila.
Ordonez right now is most valuable as a role player. This way his ankle can (maybe) heal and he won’t kill Detroit’s playoff hopes by trying to prove he can still do it.
Shore Up the Pitching Staff
The team has been a roller coaster all year. When one aspect excels (starters, bullpen, lineup), another seems to fail.
Justin Verlander has been incredible this year but the guys behind him have been iffy. Max Scherzer had one great and one decent outing after a few starts in which he gave up 19 runs in 13.2 innings, good for a 12.51 ERA and raised his cumulative ERA from 2.98 to 4.68. But let’s say he is pulling out of it and does about what he did last season, post-demotion.
That still leaves Rick Porcello, Phil Coke and Brad Penny.
Porcello has looked great this year but still gets hit around every now and then. His fastball is about 90 MPH and peaks at about 92. When you aren’t a flamethrower and you rely on groundballs, you need to hit your spots and you can definitely tell whether or not Porcello is doing so.
Coke was a guy that I was hoping would pull an Adam Wainwright. Obviously that didn’t happen but he is not doing as bad as some people thought he would have. He also battles control problems but he was able to go seven innings at Boston, giving up three hits and walking one. If anyone new is brought in, Coke should be moved to the bullpen.
At one point, Penny looked completely unhittable. There are two starts off the top of my head that he looked dominant: in Toronto and against the White Sox. Penny has definitely been a groundball pitcher this year, sporting a 1.52 GO/FO ratio. However, he is a No. 5 guy and his performance has been respectable for one.
Suggestions: Charlie Furbush, Paul Maholm, Erik Bedard
Get a Power Bat on the Bench
It’s been a while since Detroit has had a great offense. It’s the same case this year, but they still have a good offense. The problem is that when it’s late in the game, they are down a few runs and Miguel Cabrera doesn’t look to be getting anymore at-bats, there are no bats to put up to tie it up.
Casper Wells, Ramon Santiago, Don Kelly, Danny Worth. That’s the Tigers bench on a regular night. None of them are a guy that can put the ball in the seats on a normal basis and that’s what Detroit needs to go far, someone like Marcus Thames once was. Whomever the Tigers may bring in does not have to be a .300 hitter or even .250, just someone who can crush the ball if the pitcher makes the slightest mistake.
Suggestions: Russell Branyan, Jim Thome, Jason Giambi
End the Brandon Inge Era
There are people who would love me for writing this. There are also plenty who would hate my guts. Love me or hate me for it, Brandon Inge is done and he has been since mid-2009. The guy cannot hit, and his defense that was keeping him around has diminished.
On the topic of 2009, fans can blame Jim Leyland for the collapse, but I believe a lot of the blame should be put on Inge. Yes, Leyland put him at third with his weak knees game after game, but Inge is not a team player. He insists on being in the lineup and only hurts the team.
Don Kelly has even played better than Inge. He is not the best choice but with a good defensive third baseman being hard to find right now and no one in Toledo, he may be the only choice.
Suggestions: Don Kelly, Wilson Betemit, David Wright