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.

If the Tigers are sub-.500 at the end of June it’ll be fire sale time

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Jon Morosi reports that that the Detroit Tigers will make all veterans available via trade if they’re still under .500 by the end of June.

This was the position they entered the offseason with — everyone is available! — but they ended up gearing up for one more push with the core of veterans they currently employ. It was not a bad move, I don’t think. With the exception of the Indians, the AL Central is mostly down, or at least appeared to be over the winter, with the Royals in decline and the Twins and White Sox seemingly a few years away from contention. The Twins, however, have been fantastic and the Tigers have mostly underachieved.

So we’re back to this. Which veterans the Tigers can reasonably unload, however, is an open question. J.D. Martinez is in his walk year, so while tradable, he may not bring back a big return. Guys like Justin Upton, Justin Verlander and Miguel Cabrera either have very large contracts or no-trade protection.

The end of June is still a while from now, of course, and while the Tigers are under .500, they’re only 4.5 games behind the Twins. But they had better turn it around or else it sounds like the front office is going to turn the page.

Must-Click Link: Remembering Eddie Grant the first major leaguer to die in combat

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As you get ready for Memorial Day weekend and whatever it entails for you and yours, take some time to read an excellent article from Mike Bates over at The Hardball Times.

The article is about Eddie Grant. You probably never heard of him. He was a journeyman infielder — often a backup — from 1905 through 1915. If you have heard of him, it was likely not for his baseball exploits, however: it was because he was the first active baseball player to die in combat, killed in the Battle of the Argonne Forest in October 1915.

Michael tells us about more than Grant’s death, however. He provides a great overview of his life and career. And notes that Grant didn’t even have to go to war if he didn’t want to. He was 34, had the chance to coach or manage and had a law degree and the potential to make a lot of money following his baseball career. He volunteered, however, for both patriotic and personal reasons. And it cost him his life.

Must-read stuff indeed. Especially this weekend.