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The impact: Trickle-down effect hits many Tigers

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BY MICHAEL ROSENBERG

FREE PRESS COLUMNIST

Welcome to the future of the Tigers.

Cameron Maybin and Ramon Santiago are in, Craig Monroe and Omar Infante are out. Maybin, the team's best prospect, is reputed to be a mix of Ken Griffey Jr., Willie Mays and the guys from "Angels in the Outfield," though I really want everybody to understand that I never saw that movie.

If Maybin is as good as his hype, Friday might turn out to be a landmark day in Tigers history. Alas, my ability to predict the future is limited to the near future. I can't tell you whether Maybin is heading to the Hall of Fame, but I can tell you what Friday's moves mean for a few Tigers, starting with ...

Craig Monroe. He is finished as a Tiger. This has been coming for a while. Monroe has power, but he also has a long swing that leads to strikeouts and slumps, and I think he has always suspected the Tigers were only playing him until they found somebody better.

I don't think Monroe would have been surprised if he had been traded after last season, and I know he wouldn't have been surprised if he had been traded last month.

Monroe had some wonderful moments as a Tiger, and he should rebound with a better year in 2008. But it won't be in Detroit. The obvious question is why the Tigers couldn't just replace him with ...

Marcus Thames. Fans have been asking this question for at least a year, and with my usual timeliness, I am answering it now. The problem with Thames is not ability. It's durability. There are questions about whether his body can hold up as an everyday outfielder. And speaking of health, Friday's news was just as big for ...

Carlos Guillen. Guillen was in Friday's lineup at shortstop, but it is clear now that his future is at first base. The only question is whether he moves there this season or next.

Guillen's knee problems have turned him into an awful defensive shortstop. These days, Guillen plays defense like an inept politician -- if he tries to move a little to the left or the right, everything falls apart.

How do we know Guillen will spend more time at first? Why else would the Tigers call up Santiago and send down Infante?

Infante hits well enough to play shortstop, but the Tigers think his fielding is a weakness there. (That's why they held the immensely popular Neifi Perez Traveling Roadshow last year, even though Perez could not hit a beach ball off a tee.)

Santiago is the opposite of Infante: good field, no hit. He has a lifetime on-base percentage of .292 and a lifetime slugging percentage of .299 -- numbers so bad that Perez probably wouldn't let Santiago touch one of his bats for fear of a jinx.

But Santiago is a solid defensive shortstop. And we have seen that Jim Leyland often is willing to sacrifice offense for defense at key positions, especially in the short term.

Of course, whenever Guillen moves to first on a regular basis, it will be trouble for ...

Sean Casey. Casey's problem is that it is technically illegal to have two guys play first base at the same time. But I really think Bud Selig should make an exception here. The Tigers should be allowed to split their first-base duties: Guillen would catch and throw, and Casey would chat with guys who reach first.

Ideally, the Tigers would rather have a healthy Guillen at short and Casey at first. But their second choice is ... not Infante. It's not Santiago, either. It is ...

Jack Wilson. Wilson, the Pirates' shortstop, is not much of a hitter, either. But he is better than Santiago and an excellent fielder, by most accounts. The Tigers have been pursuing him for a month.

And considering Leyland and all of his lieutenants have Pirates ties, it's safe to assume this was not just idle trade talk. They want him. The only question is whether they can get him.

If the Tigers pick up Wilson, they will have a more balanced roster than they had Friday morning.

When Leyland wants offense, he can put Guillen at short, Casey at first and Thames in leftfield. When he wants defense, he can put Santiago at short and Maybin in left, with either Guillen or Casey at first.

I don't know whether Friday was the start of a legendary career. But it was an important day for an old National League manager who is trying to win his second straight American League pennant.

http://www.freep.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20070818/COL22/708180362/1050/SPORTS02

From the "Story That Just Wouldn't Die" bin, I have a sick feeling that the Tigers are going to acquire Wilson, sooner rather than later. This story has had more "life" than a Brittany Spears crotch shot. :ermm::disappnt:

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Casey has a .732 OPS, and Guillen's is .879

Casey ranks 21st out of the 24 league qualifiers at first base.

Guillen would rank 8th, right between Derrick Lee and Justin Morneau.

So I don't see a big deal with shifting Guillen to 1B and playing a glove guy at SS, even if it has to be Wilson, or even Vizquel.

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Casey has a .732 OPS, and Guillen's is .879

Casey ranks 21st out of the 24 league qualifiers at first base.

Guillen would rank 8th, right between Derrick Lee and Justin Morneau.

So I don't see a big deal with shifting Guillen to 1B and playing a glove guy at SS, even if it has to be Wilson, or even Vizquel.

Where Guillen ranks isn't really important since he's in the lineup regardless. To estimate how much offense the Tigers will lose, where should compare Casey with whoever replaces Guillen at short.

If the Tigers feel like they have to play Guillen at first to get to the playoffs this year, then I guess that's fine. If they intend to play him at first for the next four years, they wasted $48 million by resigning him.

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Originally posted by Michael Rosenberg

There are questions about whether his body can hold up as an everyday outfielder.

Is this really true? Before the recent hamstring pull, I can't recall Thames having a sigificant injury since joining the Tigers' organization.

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