With Miguel Cabrera missing what will amount to six weeks, here’s a look at the Tigers upcoming schedule over those six weeks.
(RELATED: Miguel Cabrera Replacements).
After taking two of three against the Blue Jays, the Tigers travel to Seattle to face the Mariners. Here’s the rest of the schedule.
3 games at Seattle (the M’s are six games below .500 and nine games out of first place in the American League West).
3 games at Minnesota (Detroit is 7-2 versus their American League Central rivals this season).
4 home games against Baltimore (Entering Monday, the O’s are 44-39 and a game back of the Yankees for first in the American League East).
4 home games against Seattle.
3 games at Boston (Boston is last in the AL East and only one win better than the M’s).
3 games at Tampa Bay (the Rays are two games above .500, but also field one of the worst offenses in baseball).
4 games at Baltimore.
3 home games against Kansas City (Detroit is only 3-4 against the Royals this year, but given the rivalry between the two, you can expect the Tigers to come out swinging).
3 home games against Boston.
3 games at Kansas City.
3 games at Houston (the Tigers are 2-2 against Houston this season, and will look to claim the series against the young Astros).
Verdict: The Tigers certainly have a manageable schedule without Miggy. They’ve been afforded a few breaks with series against teams the Tigers excel against, teams with poor records, and teams with equally poor offenses.
It won’t be easy. This is, after all, Major League Baseball, but the Tigers have the chance to put up a winning record without their star player.
The Detroit Tigers earned a vital win on Friday to break out of a slump, but they may have sustained a potentially crippling injury. The key word here is “crippling,” because while Miguel Cabrera’s likely six-week absence might be detrimental to the Tigers hopes this year, it also might rally the team together until Cabrera returns.
The unlucky part of the situation is the severity of the injury. It will keep Miggy out longer than a quick trip to the disabled list, meaning the Tigers can’t just can cobble together internal replacements to bridge the gap. The injury is short enough from a time standpoint that it prohibits the team from moving for a replacement that brings a similar skillset— like when Prince Fielder was signed to make up for the loss of Victor Martinez.
Detroit can’t acquire a player of Cabrera’s ilk who plays first base, because they won’t have anywhere to put him when Miggy returns. A bench/platoon power hitter would be ideal. That way the player can shift to the bench as pinch-hitting option number one.
Finding that player is the tricky bit. Internal options are scarce and the trade market isn’t exactly swimming with loads of options either.
Jefry Marte was called up from Triple-A as the corresponding move when Cabrera hit the DL. Marte hit .277 with Toledo this season. He isn’t necessarily a prolific power hitter, with 13 being his career high. Those 13 bombs have come this year, in only 77 games. Still, Marte is a third baseman and doesn’t play first. You get the feeling he’d be the first one heading back to the minors once another addition is made.
So who would that addition be? It remains to be seen.
Mike Hessman is a phone call away in Toledo. However, while he has plenty of power, he’s a career .233 hitter in the minors and is 37.
Other than Marte and Hessman, the internal options include playing other hitters out of position at first. Alex Avila and his sudden defensive wizardry could receive more starts, especially if James McCann continues to play well behind the dish. Another player that could be shoehorned into the slot is Andrew Romine, who is quietly hitting .314 in 53 games.
Outside of those underwhelming (compared to Cabrera of course), options, there’s always the trade market.
There aren’t that many enticing options on the market, but the upside to that is the team won’t have to sacrifice too much to bring in a replacement.
Adam Lind may be the most expensive in terms of what it would cost to acquire. The former Blue Jay and current Brewer is hitting .295 this season, mainly against right handed pitching. Lind destroys/mashes/obliterates (you get the point) righties to the tune of a .308 batting average and a .927 OPS. If the Brewers were in the American League, they’d have the league’s worst record. Only the Rockies, Marlins and Phillies have fewer wins in the National League. To put it plainly, the Brew Crew are putrid this year. Dealing a 31-year-old who belongs at designated hitter in the AL may be the best move for Milwaukee.
For as much flack as the Tigers’ minor league system takes, they have a number of catching prospects and relief pitching prospects who could be moved. A rebuilding team like Milwaukee can use all the young pieces it can get. They’ve already reaped the benefits of bringing in former Tiger Hernan Perez, who’s hitting .362 in 26 games. Perhaps they’d be open to acquiring more Tigers players.
Coincidentally, the other first baseman on the market come from the NL’s other cellar dwellers. The Phillies’ Ryan Howard and the Rockies’ Justin Morneau could both be moved. However, Howard is a .220 hitter this year and led the league in strikeouts in 2014. Did I mention he also has a monstrous contract? The Phills would probably eat a considerable amount of Howard’s salary, but Detroit can likely find better production elsewhere—minus the salary commitment.
If healthy, Morneau would provide a solid addition. He’s experienced a career renaissance in Colorado, hitting .319 last season and .290 this year. Morneau isn’t the MVP candidate he once was, but he’ll more than likely give you a high batting average, 20 home runs and 80 RBI over the course of a full season. Adding Morneau would continue the Tigers’ recent trend of bringing in former Minnesota All-Stars to bolster their team. Morneau would join Torii Hunter and Joe Nathan as recent former Twins to suit up for the Tigers.
There’s also the wild card factor to consider with general manager Dave Dombrowski and the Tigers. No one really tabbed Detroit as front runners, or even contenders to trade for Cabrera or David Price. Going purely on that, Dombrowski might pull the unexpected.
Regardless of what route the Tigers take in attempting to replace Miguel Cabrera, it won’t be easy. The team isn’t stocked with trade chips, thus making the task tougher.
There are few positives to be had. Victor Martinez is beginning to regain his hitting stroke while J.D. Martinez continues to mash home runs. Victor and J.D. aren’t alone. Anthony Gose, Romine and Josh Wilson are all providing above-average production for hitters generally confined to the bottom of the lineup.
Still, Cabrera is the league’s best hitter and one of the best hitters of the century. He’s impossible to replace. The Tigers will certainly be tested with their best player out, but they have enough talent to stay in contention and make a run.
All stats courtesy of Baseball-Reference.com unless otherwise noted.
It’s official folks. Dave Dombrowski has won yet another trade. While not the as one-sided as the Miguel Cabrera fleecing, the Tigers general manager has made another team look foolish. That team would be the Boston Red Sox.
The Tigers acquired Yoenis Cespedes (#VoteCespedes!) from the Red Sox along with reliever Alex Wilson and prospect Gabe Speier. At first, the trade left the Tigers lacking in the starting pitching department. And while this is still somewhat of an issue, you can’t argue with the return Detroit has received.
Cespedes has provided the Tigers with a more than satisfactory replacement for Torii Hunter. Since arriving in Motown, all Cespedes has done is mash. He has 10 home runs to go along with 42 RBI and a stellar .294 batting average that is well above his usual displays. He’s certainly playing at an All-Star level and can always be counted on to make an outstanding/jaw dropping/awe inducing defensive play in the outfield, whether it be robbing a home run or throwing a baserunner out at the plate.
In addition to his defensive heroics, Cespedes also helped the Tigers offense when Victor Martinez went down for an extended amount of time. The outfielder moved up in the batting order to hit behind Miguel Cabrera and made sure there was no shortage of power in the middle of the Detroit order.
While Cespedes is the name that stands out in the transaction, the most import player in the transaction may be Wilson. Most probably viewed the reliever as a throw in not likely to amount to much, but Wilson has impressed. Over 26 appearances, he has a miniscule ERA of 1.26. The former Red Sox pitcher has worked his way into manager Brad Ausmus’ preferred grouping of relievers when the Tigers have the lead and are looking to bridge the gap to Joakim Soria. Moving forward, Wilson and Bruce Rondon will likely be the front runners for pitching the eighth inning.
At worst, the Tigers have found in Wilson a pitcher who is a shutdown reliever in the seventh or eighth inning. Thanks Boston!
Throw in a prospect who could be a contributor at some point down the road and the Tigers got a pretty screaming deal for trading Porcello. What did the Red Sox receive for an All-Star outfielder, a shutdown reliever and a prospect? Rick Porcello, the proud owner of a 5.54 ERA, eight losses (in 15 starts) and a hefty new contract.
Dave Dombrowski 1, Red Sox 0.
The Detroit Tigers haven’t been themselves offensively. Sure, they still possess one of the deepest lineups in the league, not to mention the game’s best hitter (Miguel Cabrera), but the team hasn’t shown the offensive firepower that has been a hallmark of years past.
A lot of this has to do with Victor Martinez struggles. Not that its V-Mart’s fault, but he hasn’t been himself since offseason surgery. The Tigers haven’t been themselves either. They entered Sunday with the Majors’ 12th best offense in terms of runs scored. Not a particularly bad distinction, but it looks worse when as a team, the Tigers have consistently been one of baseball’s best offensive units in seasons past.
To give you an idea of how Martinez hasn’t been himself, here are two different players.
Player A: Two home runs, 22 RBI, .321 OBP, .319 slugging percentage.
Player B: One home run, 19 RBI, .330 OBP, .383 slugging percentage.
Player A is Martinez. Player B is Ben Revere, a player with three career home runs and little power (extra base hits included).
Never the most prolific power hitter, Martinez only has the two home runs this season. Still, his other numbers are more troubling. The Tigers DH’s .243 batting average and .321 on-base percentage are a far cry from his statistical output from last season when he lead the league in on-bae percentage and finished second in MVP voting.
However, things seem to be turning around for Martinez, and this can only mean good things for the Tigers.
In eight games since returning from injury, Martinez is hitting a very characteristic .333 with seven RBI (including one home run). During that span, he has collected three hits on two occasions, while chipping in with two during another game.
In his first 34, pre-injury games, V-Mart put up seven multi-hit games. In eight games since returning, he already has three.
Martinez’ hot streak doesn’t necessarily mean he’s back to his old self, his on-base and slugging percentages over the tear aren’t close to his usual numbers, but the hot streak can only be positive for the Tigers as they look to catapult themselves back into the American League Central race.
The number of runs allowed by the Tigers bullpen. Bruce Rondon and Joakim Soria threw scoreless innings. Rondon pitched a perfect inning, striking out one batter. Soria was a tad more dicey, allowing two hits while striking out one in the ninth to close out the game. It was Soria’s 17th save.
The number of hits by second baseman Ian Kinsler. The infielder has been in a bit of a slump, so the fact that he collected two hits and scored a run across four plate appearances can only be viewed as a positive. Hopefully this is the beginning of the end of his slump.
The number of strikeouts by Anibal Sanchez over seven innings. The former Miami Marlin allowed six hits, four runs (all earned), two walks and three home runs. He earned a no decision as Rondon picked up the win.
The number of strikeouts by Tigers reliever Bruce Rondon in his first appearance of the year. The flame-throwing reliever struck out both batters that he faced. He’ll play a vital role in the Detroit ‘pen moving forward.
The number of runs allowed by Rondon, Blaine Hardy, Alex Wilson and Joakim Soria. This seems to be part of, if not all of manager Brad Ausmus’ preferred group when the game is on the line. Joba Chamberlain lost the game for the team by allowing three runs in the tenth.
The number of hits by both Jose Iglesias and Victor Martinez. It’s business as usual for Iglesias this season, but a positive sign for V-Mart, as he seems to be turning a corner.
The number of hits by the Mariners. Austin Jackson and Robinson Cano were the only M’s with hits. This offensive output simply isn’t going to cut it, even against minor league opposition, much less Major League opposition.
The number of hits allowed by Seattle ace Felix Hernandez. King Felix threw 6.2 innings and allowed nine hits, four runs (all earned) and a walk. He struck out five.
The number of strikeouts by Seattle hitters. Again, not going to cut it, especially when you only have one walk and two hits.
The number of at-bats by Tigers first baseman Miguel Cabrera. Miggy received a rare day off.
The number of strikeouts by Tigers outfielder Yoenis Cespedes. With Cabrera getting the day off, everyone moved up a spot in terms of the usual middle of the order. This meant Cespedes hitting cleanup behind Victor Martinez. The outfielder had a single hit in four at-bats, striking out three times.
The number of strikeouts by starting pitcher Buck Farmer. Farmer, making a spot start, allowed eight hits and two walks to go along with the five runs (all of which were earned). On the bright side, the youngster did strike out seven Cleveland batters.
The number of walks by Tigers starter David Price. The Detroit ace fanned seven batters, allowed one run and nine hits while handing out a grand total of zero free passes. He moved to 7-2 on the season with the win.
The number of RBI by the middle of the Detroit order not named Miguel Cabrera. Victor Martinez, Yoenis Cespedes and Nick Castellanos combined to go five-for-twelve at the plate with five RBI and two runs scored.
The total number of pitches thrown by the Tigers. Included in the total number of pitches was 1.1 combined innings of relief from Al Alburquerque and Tom Gorzelanny. The duo didn’t allow a base runner and struck out one batter between them. Alex Wilson allowed three hits and two runs (both unearned) in one inning of relief.