Diving into the depths: Detroit Tigers

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This is part of a 30-article series looking at each team’s depth chart headed into spring training.
Detroit Tigers
Rotation
1. Justin Verlander
2. Rick Porcello
3. Max Scherzer
4. Jeremy Bonderman
5. Nate Robertson
6. Armando Galarraga
7. Dontrelle Willis
8. Zach Miner
9. Phil Coke
10. Eddie Bonine
11. Alfredo Figaro
12. Phil Dumatrait
13. Brooks Brown
14. Luis Marte
15. Casey Crosby
While there’s an ace at the top of the rotation and a new stud closer in the pen, the Tigers still have plenty of uncertainty when it comes to their pitching staff. Bonderman will enter camp as the clear favorite for the fourth spot in the rotation if he shows his arm is sound. Robertson and Galarraga would seem to be the chief competitors for the fifth spot, but the door will be open in case Willis surprises. Miner should be the fallback if everyone else struggles.
Bullpen
1. Jose Valverde
2. Joel Zumaya
3. Ryan Perry
4. Phil Coke
5. Bobby Seay
6. Fu-Te Ni
7. Zach Miner
8. Armando Galarraga
9. Nate Robertson
10. Brad Thomas
11. Dontrelle Willis
12. Eddie Bonine
13. Daniel Schlereth
14. Casey Fien
15. Robbie Weinhardt
16. Jay Sborz
17. Enrique Gonzalez
18. Phil Dumatrait
19. Zach Simons
20. Luis Marte
21. Josh Rainwater
The Tigers will have more pitchers than roster spots if everyone gets through camp healthy. That could result in a return to Triple-A for Galarraga and walking papers for Willis. There are an awful lot of health question marks here, though. If Zumaya breaks down or Perry pitches his way back to the minors, then Galarraga might get a look as a setup man. Schlereth and Weinhardt are two others who could climb the list in a hurry.


Catcher
1. Gerald Laird
2. Alex Avila
3. Robinzon Diaz
4. Mike Rabelo
First base
1. Miguel Cabrera
2. Jeff Larish
3. Ryan Strieby
4. Kory Casto
Second base
1. Scott Sizemore
2. Ramon Santiago
3. Ryan Raburn
Third base
1. Brandon Inge
2. Ramon Santiago
3. Ryan Raburn
4. Jeff Larish
5. Don Kelly
Shortstop
1. Adam Everett
2. Ramon Santiago
3. Brent Dlugach
The Tigers appear to be leaning towards keeping the 23-year-old Avila as a part-time catcher, but they do have the option of letting him play regularly in Triple-A and going with Diaz as the backup to Laird. It could well come down to how Laird performs offensively this spring.
Left field
1. Ryan Raburn
2. Carlos Guillen
3. Wilkin Ramirez
4. Clete Thomas
5. Don Kelly
Center field
1. Austin Jackson
2. Casper Wells
3. Clete Thomas
4. Ryan Raburn
Right field
1. Magglio Ordonez
2. Clete Thomas
3. Wilkin Ramirez
4. Ryan Raburn
5. Don Kelly
Designated hitter
1. Carlos Guillen
2. Magglio Ordonez
3. Jeff Larish
4. Ryan Strieby
I considered holding off on the Tigers until the very end just to see if the Johnny Damon deal would get done. Damon would top the depth chart in left field and push Raburn back into a utility role, which would seem to be for the best. Raburn hit like a regular last year, but the Tigers need another hitter they can rely on. With two rookies and the injury-prone Guillen in the lineup, Raburn would still be set to play a major role.

Kevin Kiermaier on Rays’ recent moves: “I am 100 percent frustrated and very upset.”

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On Sunday, we heard from former Ray and current Giants third baseman Evan Longoria. The Rays recently traded pitcher Jake Odorizzi to the Twins for a prospect and designated All-Star outfielder Corey Dickerson for assignment, which didn’t make a whole lot of sense outside of a cost-cutting perspective. Longoria said, “I just kind of feel sorry for the Rays fan base.”

Today, we’re hearing from a current Ray: center fielder Kevin Kiermaier, who is set to enter his fifth full season with the club. Via Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times, Kiermaier said, “I am 100 percent frustrated and very upset with the moves. No beating around the bush. It’s one of those things that makes you scratch your head, you don’t know the reasoning why. And then you see the team’s explanation and still it’s just like, okay, well, so be it.”

Longoria — formerly the face of the franchise — was traded to the Giants in December and the Rays continued to subtract with their recent moves involving Odorizzi and Dickerson. Odorizzi has a career 3.83 ERA in what has been a solid, if unspectacular, career. Dickerson put up an All-Star season, posting an .815 OPS with 27 home runs in 150 games. Moving either player was not done to fix a positional log jam. In fact, with Odorizzi out of the picture, the Rays are planning to use a four-man starting rotation for the first six-plus weeks of the season, Topkin reported on Sunday. Dickerson’s ouster simply opens the door for Mallex Smith, who posted a .684 OPS last year, to start every day in the outfield.

The Rays got markedly worse after going 80-82 last season. They saved a few million bucks jettisoning Odorizzi and Dickerson. And Rays ownership still wants the public to foot most of the bill for their new stadium.

When it was just one small market team pinching pennies, it was fine. But now that more than half of the league has adopted penny-pinching principles popularized by Moneyball and Sabermetrics (with the Rays among the chief offenders), the game of baseball has become markedly less fan- and player-friendly. This offseason has been less about players signing contracts and changing teams in trades — which helps build excitement and intrigue for the coming year — and more about front offices doing math problems concerning the $197 million competitive balance tax threshold and other self-imposed monetary restraints. Fun. Kiermaier is right to be upset and he’s very likely not alone in feeling that way.