The Detroit Tigers are in great shape to make a run in the A.L. Central. The bullpen has been dominant, the rotation has been great at points, and the lineup can come alive at any time. Recently the Tigers have made several roster adjustments that will help, yet there is more to be done if they are going to win the division. The Tigers are a team that can make a run to the World Series if they make the playoffs, they just need to get there. Here is what still needs to happen now for the Tigers to win the division.
Austin Jackson is a good leadoff hitter; Jose Reyes is the best. The Tigers have a huge hole on the left side of their infield. Brandon Inge is a bum. While Jhonny Peralta has been a revelation at shortstop, the third base position has been a bloodbath. The Tigers have a lot of young talent to trade, both at the Major League level and in the Minors. Dombrowski is notorious for for trading for guys then signing them to long term deals. There is nobody in MLB that I think is a better fit in the Motor City. If they were able to swing a trade for Jose Reyes, Peralta would shift back to third and Austin Jackson could be moved to the two hole or placed at the bottom of the order.
Rick Porcello has great potential; don't get me wrong. I think he is going to be a big winner in the Major League someday. Unfortunately that day is not today. The Tigers rushed him to the Bigs and though he pitched well early, he was not ready. Now they are paying the price. He spent some time in Toledo last season and came back with a vengeance. I think that a repeat of this would be tremendous and not unattainable. If he spent the month of July and part of August in Toledo, he could provide useful innings in September.
Jacob Turner has posted a 2-2 record with a 3.01 ERA at AA Erie. In 86.2 innings pitched, he has struck 72 batters. He is only 20 years old and while I think that rushing him into the fire is not a good idea, he may be lightning in a bottle for the Tigers for a couple starts if Porcello continues to struggle or gets sent down. Pitching Coach Rick Knapp could definitely prepare him to contribute in the starting rotation.
Second base has been a weak spot for the Tigers all season. Will Rhymes started the year there, then Scott Sizemore tried his hand at it, and finally Ryan Raburn currently plays there everyday. The Tigers have gotten virtually zero production from the spot all season and that needs to change. Carlos Guillen is set to return from the disabled list after the All Star Break. If he is healthy and good to go, it would be huge for the club. He is a smart veteran who is a professional hitter. If Guillen is not ready to contribute they may need to give Rhymes another chance or give Ramon Santiago a chance to play everyday.
Andy Dirks is a ballplayer. There is no better way to describe him. He's gritty, smart, and a talented hitter. With the return of Magglio Ordonez, Dirks has been the odd man out in the outfield equation and its a huge mistake. Casper Wells needs to hit the pine, he is a good defensive replacement, but when an outfielder needs a day off, Dirks needs to be the one to get the call. He can play all three outfield positions so he should receive regular at-bats without being a regular player.
Have I mentioned that Brandon Inge is a bum? He is currently hitting below the Mendoza Line with only one homer. Granted he has spent some time on the disable list, he has made absolutely no impact since his return. He is a fan favorite in the Motor City for some reason, but that wasn't enough to save Curtis Granderson was it? His defense is not enough to save him this year. 2011 is the year to make a move, and that will not happen with Inge at third. If the Tigers trade for Reyes then Peralta will play third and if not, it should be Don Kelly. Kelly is versatile and has a nice bat.
I realize that this will not happen, but that doesn't mean it shouldn't. I disagree with the way he manages his pitching staff. I think he leaves relievers in way too long, yet has a short leash for some of the starters at the back end of the rotation.
He can't be much of a motivator because he never speaks, he only mumbles. My biggest complaint with Leyland is the excessive amount of off days that he gives his regulars. The starters are the starters for a reason; they give the team the best chance to win, yet he continually finds a way to keep a key piece out of the lineup every single night. The core of the team is very young, and they do not need a day off once a week. He is a washed up manager that is out of touch.
With these changes, the Detroit Tigers would be in great shape to win the AL Central. If they can win the division, the sky is the limit for this talented club.
Agree with me? Disagree? Let me know.