Retro Blog - Tigers 2007 Preview
by, 06-07-2009 at 11:44 AM (611 Views)
One more Myspace oldie:
Detroit Tigers 2007 Preview
It may be a bit early for this, but here's an overview of what we can expect from the 2007 Detroit Tigers. Without a doubt, the Tigers enjoyed a tremendous turnaround season, the World Series loss notwithstanding. Can the Tigers make another run in 2007? Let's examine next year's roster ....
Identified recently as a position that needed an experienced player. At least for now, the Tigers have decided to give Sean Casey another crack at the job, re-signing him to a low-cost one year contract (about $4 million).
Casey doesn't have much home run power, but when healthy, he gets his share of singles, walks, and gap doubles. He is a rapidly aging 32, with poor speed and deteriorating defense. If he can avoid injury, he could possibly hit .300 to .310 and be a decent #6 or #7 batter in the lineup.
Another option at first? Chris Shelton is still around, but after a terrible second-year slump, he ended up in the minors, and saw no playing time in the post-season. Unless he goes on a real hitting rampage at Spring Training, he will probably start the year in Toledo.
Backups: Looks like Carlos Guillen and Pudge Rodriguez will again see a lot of time at first. Makes sense, since their usual fielding positions are very demanding, and playing first is almost like a day off for them. Also, the Tigers may look at converting outfielder Marcus Thames into a first baseman, to give him more playing time.
Placido Polanco returns to man second, after a sub-par and injury-plagued 2006. When he's right, Polanco is one of the peskier offensive players at his position. He provides solid defense, but could stand to draw more walks since he usually bats second in Leyland's lineup.
Backups: The Tigers suddenly have a surplus of middle infielders, including Omar Infante, Neifi Perez, and Ramon Santiago. Expect only two of those three to make the 2007 roster. Infante is the most versatile of the three, since he can play the outfield in a pinch. Infante also has shown surprising power at times. Santiago and Perez can't hit, but are good with their gloves.
Carlos Guillen was clearly the Tigers MVP in 2006, and is one of baseball's better kept secrets. His bat rivals both Jeter's and Tejada's. Guillen's defense took a step backward, as he committed an un-usual number of throwing errors. His knees stayed healthy last year, and he still displayed decent range at short.
Backups: Primary backup could be Santiago or Perez, as Infante garnered very little playing time at short in 2006.
Brandon Inge has shown steady improvement with both bat and glove. He still strikes out a lot and doesn't have a high on-base percentage. However, Inge has become one of the better home run threats on the club. His defense can be spectacular at times, and he has unsurpassed range and throwing arm at his position. Inge is a human highlight reel with his arcobatic dives and laser-like throws, but his glove can be stiff at times. Inge is clearly the most athletic player on the Tigers.
Backups: Infante will likely play third on Inge's rare days off
The DH spot was occupied by what seemed a cast of thousands in 2006. The most successful of the group was Marcus Thames, who had a huge first half, but slumped badly late. Thames now appears to be trade bait. The Tigers jettisoned Dmitri Young before season's end, and will probably not bring Matt Stairs back.
So the Tigers wasted no time this fall in bringing a proven hitter to Motown, trading for 38-year-old Gary Sheffield, one of the best right-handed hitters of our generation. Ex-Yankee Sheffield did not enjoy his time in the Bronx Zoo, and appears pleased to be reunited with manager Leyland and GM Dombrowski. Sheff should be a lock for 30 HR's and 100+ RBI, even if he is a bit past his prime.
Pudge Rodriguez returns behind the dish, and is still a tremendous defensive force. His offense has declined, but is still above average for his position. Vance Wilson has proven to be a highly capable backup with occasional offensive pop.
Magglio Ordonez had a good return to form offensively, and avoided any major health problems, unlike previous years. His range in right field has become limited, but at the plate he should benefit from having Guillen and Sheffield being on base on a regular basis.
Outfield backups: Thames appears to be on the trading block, and youngsters Brent Clevlen and Cam Maybin will likely need another year in the minors. Alexis Gomez provided acceptable defense at all three spots, and contributed some timely base hits. Gomez should stick on the roster come April. Infante can play a decent CF or LF in spot duty.
Curtis Granderson, in his first full season, fared well in the cavernous Comerica outfield, and showed the ability to draw walks and hit with power. He struggled with curveballs down and in, and challenged Cecil Fielder's team record for strikeouts. Granderson has great intelligence and makeup, and will continue to refine his game in coming years. He also gets a few stolen bases, but is not skilled at stealing. His power potential continues to intrigue, however.
Craig Monroe got off to his usual slow start, but one of the Tigers' best power threats in the second half of 2006. He still struggles to get on base and doesn't walk enough, but contributes an important home run now and then. Defensively he is average at best. Monroe may some become trade bait, as young phenom Cameron Maybin could debut in Detroit by season's end.
The Tigers had a decent lineup in 2006, but they were led to the World Series by an elite starting rotation. Rookie Of The Year Justin Verlander, wily lefty Kenny Rogers, young Jeremy Bonderman, and lefty Nate Robertson were all dominant at times.
The fifth rotation spot is still to be determined. Mike Maroth, who missed most of 2006 after an elbow operation, will get the spot if he's healthy. Other candidates include Zach Miner, Chad Durbin, and Wil Ledezma.
The Detroit relief corps was an above-average group last year. Aged closer Todd Jones started slowly, but racked up the saves on a consistent basis. Jones does not have classic "closer stuff", but does mix and spot his pitches well.
The true star of the bullpen was fire-balling rookie Joel Zumaya. His pitches clocked at fast as 103 MPH, and despite a few bouts of wildness, put together a dominating season as the "setup man" to Jones.
Fernando Rodney also contributed some important innings, featuring a good fastball and a devastating changeup that fools even left-handed batters.
Lefty Jamie Walker has signed with Baltimore, so the Tigers may try to acquire a replacement for him. Wil Ledezma showed some promise last year, and may become the first lefty out of the bullpen in crucial game situations.
The rest of the bullpen will be selected from these candidates: Jason Grilli, Roman Colon, Ed Campusano, Corey Hamman, Chad Durbin, Craig Dingman, and Zach Miner.