Archive for the ‘Detroit Tigers’ Category

Too much starting pitching is never a bad problem. It is, in fact, not a problem at all. Very, very few teams make it through a full season using as few as six starters, so having more on hand the nominal five man rotation is probably a good idea.

That said, there are starters and there are starters. The waiver wire often bulges with guys who can stand in as starters, while young pitchers with upside and team control remaining offer any team a great deal of value on the trade market in the rare case of an organization with an extra guy like that just lying around.

The Detroit Tigers are just such a team to have extra starters. They have their homegrown ace in Justin Verlander, then two number two starters acquired via trades (Doug Fister and Max Scherzer), and finally the free agent splash Anibal Sanchez. After that very impressive top four, the Tigers have some options.

Drew Smyly and Rick Porcello are both young and cheap and not bad at all. Either player stands to net a tidy return should they be offered up in a trade. The Tigers don’t have to trade either player but Detroit doesn’t appear married to the idea of Jhonny Peralta as their shortstop, either. According to “reports”, Porcello might be the piece the Tigers dangle to upgrade at that position.

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World Series - Detroit Tigers v San Francisco Giants - Game 1

The Detroit Tigers may have interest in bringing back former closer Jose Valverde.

The three-time All-Star has failed to attract much interest from teams so far this off-season, after recording 35 saves last season for the Tigers. Valverde was coming off a 2011 campaign, going 49-for-49 in save opportunities, but his well documented struggles in 2012, especially during the playoffs, parlayed with a high-asking price after making $9 million in 2012, have left him unsigned to date.

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2012 SiriusXM All-Star Futures Game

The more we read about prospects, the more often little provisos about defense pop up. While approximately 109% of professional baseball players played some combination of shortstop/starting pitcher in their Little League/high school days, very few players have the skills to stick at short as the game speeds up.

The defensive spectrum is a wondrous thing to watch in action. It almost never fails – once a player begins his tumble down towards DH ignominy, it is nearly impossible to reverse course.

Nick Castellanos is the Tigers top prospect, a fine offensive player who the Tigers took with their first pick in the 2010 draft. Detroit moved Castellanos aggresively through their system, rushing the 21-year old to Double-A in 2012.

Though he struggled at this advanced level, there is a lot of belief in Castellanos bat. Baseball America voted him the best hitter for average in the Tigers system, as well as giving him the nod for best strike zone discipline in Detroit’s (admittedly bereft) system.

The Baseball Prospectus scouting staff called him a very, very good offensive prospect with a quick bat with power lurking inside. Keith Law called him the best pure hitter in the minor leagues (pure being scout code for “in spite of his better judgement”, as evidenced by the above swing).

None of these evaluators make much mention of Castellanos’ defensive impact because, well, it looks like he won’t have any. Though still listed as a third baseman (BA thinks he will play third for the 2016 Tigers), Castellanos is well on his way to the outfield.

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Detroit Tigers v New York Yankees - Game 5

2012 Record: 88-74, 1st AL Central
2012 Pythagorean Record: 87-75
Impact Player: 3B Miguel Cabrera
Impact Pitcher: RHP Justin Verlander
Top Prospect: 3B Nick Castellanos

Significant Acquisitions: RF Torii Hunter, C Brayan Pena

Significant Departures: DH Delmon Young, UT Ryan Raburn, C Gerald Laird, RHP Jose Valverde

The Tigers were one of the least active teams this winter, making only one significant acquisition in new rightfielder Torii Hunter. They re-signed Anibal Sanchez and cut some of the fat letting Delmon Young and Jose Valverde walk, but ostensibly, this is mostly the same team that won the American League pennant for the second time in seven years.

The Tigers struggled for much of the year in 2012. They were under .500 as late as July 5th and although they were much better in the second half, they still won only 88 games—the lowest of any division winner—and needed the White Sox to stumble in September to squeeze into the playoffs. The addition of Anibal Sanchez, the health of Doug Fister and a more consistent lineup led to a 47-32 record after July 5th and with addition of Hunter and an otherwise weak division, the Tigers are poised to win a lot of games in 2013.

Depth will again be a concern for Detroit. There’s little question that the Major League roster is loaded with talent, but should injuries strike, there’s not a lot of farm system depth to speak of and the bench doesn’t have much in the way of above-replacement-level players.

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The Detroit Tigers certainly know a little something about urgency. With their competitive window closing by the pound day, the Tigers realize their best chance to get over the hump and win a World Series title lies in the here and now.

An ageing team just got a little older, as the Tigers reportedly sign Torii Hunter to a two-year contract, according to Ken Rosenthal.

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Despite inserting Quintin Berry into the lineup to bat second during the World Series, and thereby make a mockery of baseball, the Detroit Tigers have decided to bring back Jim Leyland for another season. I half-jest about his World Series decision-making, but the flip side of that is that the 67-year-old, who doesn’t look a day over 75, has taken the Tigers to the playoffs three times in the seven years that he’s been in charge, twice going all the way to the World Series.

Obviously, it’s difficult to measure how much of that success is due to Leyland, and how much is due to the rosters that have been compiled for him to use. However, I suppose it’s understandable that a team wouldn’t want to “fix” something that isn’t broken. And despite some glaring holes in the lineup and bullpen, the Detroit Tigers made it all the way to the World Series this season. That’s the type of result that one would assume doesn’t need fixing.

The deal, which will be announced later on Tuesday is most likely for one year, as Danny Knobbler of CBS Sports explains:

Leyland has operated under one-year deals for the last few seasons, in large part because he hasn’t wanted to make a long-term commitment himself.

With the corpse of the 2012 baseball season still warm, the stand-up individuals at Bodog realize it is time to focus on the future. Why delay publishing the odds for the 2013 World Series? Heaven forbid a few scant moments in time go by without the ability to throw one’s hard earned wages at a total and complete shot-in-the-dark guess before a single off-season transaction even takes place.

Looking to capitalize on the eager scorn of jilted Tigers fans, the tall foreheads at BoDog install your Detroit Tigers as the early favorite to capture the 2013 crown, paying out at 6/1. The expected return of Victor Martinez is enough to assure the odds-makers that maybe next year will be the season defense truly counts for nothing. The defending champs go out at 10/1, showing not everyone is a bandwagon fan of the Giants.

Full odds below the jump.

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