Our guest bloggers is Matt Seybold of the Sporting Hippeau and Joe D from Fan Sided Podcast.
Question 1 – Who will lead off since Granderson was traded?
Chad: Brandon Inge since he does everything else for the team.
Tom: I assumed Johnny Damon. Damon should still be a good lead-off hitter even without playing in a stadium where he can bunt balls over the right field fence.
Matt: I agree. Damon’s still got a solid OBP and although he doesn’t run as much as he used to, he was still 12-for-12 in steals last year. Inge’s .305 OBP makes him an unlikely candidate. His power will be more useful batting sixth or seventh. I expect the other top of the order hitter will be one of youngsters who’re fighting for spots: Scott Sizemore, Ryan Raburn, Clete Thomas, or Austin Jackson.
Eugene: I also think Damon will be the lead off hitter. He can still hit fairly well and is better than most other options on the team.
Question 2 – How will Detroit’s starting pitching do this year?
Matt: Well, Justin Verlander will be good. After that, who knows? The Tigers are clearly putting a ton of faith in Rick Porcello and Max Scherzer. Both pitchers have talent, but they are very young and they both saw an significant spike in their innings last season (Scherzer threw about 60 more than he did in ’08, Porcello about 45). Increased workloads like that can often have repercussions on young pitchers the following season. The backend, on the other hand, will be filled with guys who, at the very least, aren’t fatigued. Jeremy Bonderman, Nate Robertson, and Dontrelle Willis will combine to make about $35 Million this season, so it would be nice if Detroit could get more than the three wins they posted in ’09. The wild card is Armando Galarraga, who was dreadful in ’09, but very good in ’08. Clearly, what Detroit does have is options. None of them are really reliable options, but I think from among this mess there will emerge at least two or three quality starters, which would be enough to keep Detroit in the hunt for the AL Central. If Porcello, Scherzer, Bonderman, and Willis were all suddenly able to perform up to expectations, they might have the best rotation in their division, but that seems like a lot to expect.
Daniels: I’d like to thank Justin Verlander for having a bad season the one year I kept him as a keeper. I honestly don’t know enough about the Diamonback pitchers they received to intelligently say who will make the rotation or how they’ll perform in the AL Central. I also haven’t heard if anything was on the radar regarding Dontrelle Willis.
Matt: Oh, also, in response to Daniels on D-Train. A couple days ago I read one of those Spring Training profiles characterizing Willis as “in the best shape of his life,” “putting the past behind him,” “willing to do whatever is asked of him,” etc., etc. Obviously, I take such articles, so popular this time of year, with a grain of salt, but I do believe, based on what I read, that Willis is in camp, throwing pain-free, and Leyland considers him at least in competition for a spot on the roster. We’ll see.
Jeff: It was my understanding that Willis’s issues were between the ears, not physical — did that article also say he was no longer cuckoo for cocoa puffs??
Matt: Willis had both physical and mental ailments last season, but the article did indeed stress how “loose and carefree” he was this spring, and how “he was just having fun with his teammates.” Again, grain of salt recommended.
Daniels: Zack Greinke last year proved the effectiveness of Prozac as a performance-enhancing drug, right?
Question 3 – Did the Tigers receive enough for Curtis Granderson?
Daniels: I think the Diamondbacks got the best pitcher out of that deal, and since that’s the case then no, I don’t feel like the Tigers got enough for Granderson. Much of that will depend on Austin Jackson. The Yankees (specifically YES) spoke of Austin Jackson as the system’s next Derek Jeter for nearly two years. Upon his trade, his “projections” suddenly became middling CF and not nearly as good as Curtis Granderson. If Jackson is what they said he was originally (which I tend to believe more than the post-trade spin control) then the Tigers got Curtis Granderson and some arms for Curtis Granderson. In that case… good trade.
Matt: Let’s not forget that the Tigers also gave up Edwin Jackson, who was an All-Star in ’09 and is still very young (26) himself. Also, I think it should be noted that Curtis Granderson was already the “Derek Jeter” of Detroit. Tigers’ fans lost more than just a productive centerfielder.
That said, Detroit got four quality young players in return, all of which are likely to make a major-league impact this season, and two of whom are potentially future All-Stars (A-Jax & Scherzer). Schlereth may even develop into a high quality closer in a couple years. That’s a decent package for Grandy and E-Jax. By no means a swindle, but decent.
Eugene: I liked the package they got, before signing Jose Valverde. They got 2 potential closers, a replacement for Granderson, a potential 2-3 starter, and payroll flexibility for a solid centerfielder and a solid starter. Now, with signing Valverde, Schlereth and Coke both have less value as set up guys than potential closers. Jackson probably won’t be as good as Granderson, but he’ll be above replacement level and cheap. I like Scherzer over Jackson and think the park move will will have a nice impact; Scherzer should see his ERA dip a little and better run support than he had in Arizona.
Overall, I like the deal but they could have done better with the extra money than Valverde.
Question 4 – What place will the Tigers finish in?
Matt: I’ve got the Tigers slated for second place, but the top three spots in the AL Central are pretty fungible. I could totally see them falling behind the Twins or leap-frogging the White Sox. My objectivity this morning, however, may be compromised by the fact that the first player I brought home in the BBA BLOGZKRIEG! Auction was Miguel Cabrera, who I now project to have an MVP-caliber season.
Daniels: Hat tip for use of the word “fungible.” I actually think the Tigers are going to win this division with the Twins finishing a close second as per usual. I just don’t think the White Sox have quite enough to compete with the other two.
Eugene: I think the Tigers will end up second, but they’ll be in it right down to the last game. The season hinges on the pitching.
Tags: 30 Teams in 30 Days, Baseball, Baseball Preview, Detroit Tigers, Johnny Damon, Justin Verlander, Roundtable