Detroit Tigers Remaining Schedule Without Miguel Cabrera

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.

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Detroit Tigers Have Officially Won the Yoenis Cespedes/Rick Porcello Trade

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.

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5 Stats from the Detroit Tigers 6-5 Win vs the Houston Astros

  • One

The number of runs and hits allowed by Tigers closer Joakim Soria, it was his blown first save of the season.

  • 12

The number of strikeouts by Tigers’ ace David Price. Price also allowed five hits, three runs (two earned) and a walk over 6.2 innings pitched.

  • 50

Reliever Alex Wilson’s ERA after the game. The former Boston Red Sox pitcher threw two innings while allowing one hit. He struck out two batters.

  • Four

The number of Tigers batters with multiple hits. Anthony Gose, Miguel Cabrera, Yoenis Cespedes and James McCann all had more than one hit. Gose and Cespedes had three each while Cabrera and McCann added two apiece.

  • 11

The number of innings the game lasted. McCann clinched the win with a walk-off home run in the bottom of the eleventh.

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Why We Love Seattle: Mariners Fans Chant “Brady Cheated” During Mariners/Red Sox Game

Detroit Tigers: Statistical Impacts of New Additions

  • Yoenis Cespedes

Acquired via: Trade, with Gabe Speier and Alex Wilson for Rick Porcello

Maybe the biggest name brought in by the Tigers this offseason, Cespedes has come out of the gates swinging for Detroit. Entering Friday he was hitting .308 with four doubles, three RBI and a triple in 40 plate appearances. He hit his first home run against Jeff Samardzija on Friday and while his 9-1 strikeout-to-walk ratio isn’t pretty, he’ll be a constant threat in a middle-of-the-lineup that also features Miguel Cabrera, Victor Martinez and J.D. Martinez.

  • Shane Greene

Acquired via: Trade, for Robbie Ray and Domingo Leyba

Acquired in a three-team trade with the Yankees and Diamondbacks that also saw the Tigers relinquish prospects Robbie Ray and Domingo Leyba, Greene has been one of, if not the best pitcher for the Tigers (which is saying something considering David Price’s fantastic start to the season).

The 26-year-old has two wins in two starts while allowing a grand total of one run. That run was unearned. The former Yankee has shown great promise, only allowing one walk while lasting eight innings in both starts. His ERA won’t be 0.00 at the end of the season, but it looks like Dave Dombrowski found yet another gem.

  • Anthony Gose

Acquired via: Trade for Deon Travis

Yet another under-the-radar acquisition by Dombrowski, Gose has added a plus defender to the Tigers outfield while showing improved signs with the bat. The former Blue Jay entered the season as a career .234 hitter but has shown flashes of immense promise thanks to a .391 batting average. He’s also contributed two doubles, a triple, a home run, a stolen base and five RBI.

  • Alfredo Simon

Acquired via: Trade for Eugenio Suarez and Johnathon Crawford

Acquired in a trade with Cincinnati for shortstop Eugenio Suarez and relief prospect Johnathon Crawford, Simon has turned in nearly as impressive as a start as his fellow-rotation mate Greene. The former reliever has a sparkling 2.03 ERA over two starts (both wins). He’s struck out five and walked zero batters. There were questions about Simon coming into the season and whether he could replicate the form that made him an All-Star last season, but so far Simon is thriving.

  • Tom Gorzelanny

Acquired via: Free Agency

Signed as a free agent to fill a need in the bullpen, Gorzelanny has been solid in his two appearances, allowing only two hits in 2.2 innings pitched. He has a strikeout and has yet to walk a batter. He’ll get more work as the season progresses, so expect to see more of the former Pirates starter. He posted a 0.86 ERA in 23 appearances for Milwaukee last season.

(RELATED: Should the Tigers Sign Rafael Soriano?)

Continue to check back this season for updates on the newest Tigers and how they’re faring in their first season in Detroit.

All stats courtesy of Baseball-Reference.com unless otherwise noted.

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Detroit Tigers: Don’t Count the Tigers Out of the Playoffs

Thanks to the Kansas City Royals being reigning American League Champions and the Chicago White Sox and Cleveland Indians making significant improvements in the offseason, the trendy pick is to not pick the Tigers to win their fifth consecutive AL Central crown. Another trendy pick, thanks to a vastly improved Central division, is to leave the Tigers out of the playoffs completely.

This may not be the most prudent of selections.

Everything comes to an end at some point, but do you really think the Tigers are going to let an unprecedented fifth straight division title slip away? Granted there have been some close calls in the past, but this year’s team has the mental advantage of having something to prove. Manager Brad Ausmus was still ticked that they got swept in January and says the team can be “successful and widely respected” and “still have that proverbial chip on its shoulder.”

So there’s the fact that they got swept in the first round as a rallying point after making three straight American League Championship Series. That run included a trip to the World Series and another October dream that came up just short thanks to other-worldly, clutch hitting from the Boston Red Sox. There’s also some of the whole “everyone says were through” business floating around as well.

The Tigers may be the best team not to win a World Series in the last decade. Since 2006, the Tigers have won at least 86 games every season with the exception of anomalies in 2008 and 2010. One of those seasons’ high draft pick that came as a result of a poor record netted the team Jacob Turner, who was used as the centerpiece of the Anibal Sanchez trade. Sanchez is one of the Tigers’ best pitchers and one of the most underrated hurlers in the league. He’s been one of the catalysts of Detroit’s recent success.

(RELATED: My ancient reaction “column” on the Sanchez/Omar Infante Trade).

Detroit’s baseball team wants a World Series title, leaving them out of playoff predictions is foolish. Obviously the predictions don’t really mean anything in the grand scheme of things, but the point is you shouldn’t be counting out the Tigers.

Detroit’s main competition for the division crown will come from Kansas City, Chicago and Cleveland. I’m sorry Minnesota, but even before being obliterated over the first two games of the season, you weren’t close to the pack.

The Royals essentially replaced James Shields, Nori Aoki and Billy Butler with Edinson Volquez, Alex Rios and Kendrys Morales. That’s secret code for a step down. Kansas City still has a good defense and bullpen, but they won’t be the same team. The fact that the Royals only managed six wins in 18 games against the Tigers doesn’t bode well for KC’s chances.

Chicago added some exciting pieces over the offseason in Melky Cabrera, Jeff Samardzija, David Robertson, Zach Duke and Adam LaRoche. Add those to a core that features Chris Sale and Jose Abreu and you have the makings of a playoff team—however the team was swept by Kansas City to start the year and lost the series by a cumulative score of 21-6.

It’s still extremely early, but the White Sox are going take time to mesh. Given how competitive the Central is, they may be too far behind once they mesh to make a run at the division title. It would surprise no one if the Sox made the playoffs, but right now they aren’t the well-oiled machine that Detroit, Kansas City or even Cleveland is.

Speaking of Cleveland, the Indians added Brandon Moss to fill a need offensively. Cleveland essentially swapped out Jason Giambi for Moss. This trade off will help the team, but the Indians have holes just like everyone else. Shortstop Jose Ramirez isn’t exactly a world-beater offensively while the Tribe’s outfield is hit and miss. Michael Brantly was an All Star last season, but outside of him there are definite question marks.

Michael Bourn arrived in Cleveland as a career .272 hitter who averaged 39 stolen bases a season. His best season came in 2011 when he hit .294 with 61 stolen bases for Houston and Atlanta. From 2009 to 2011 the speedster averaged 58 swipes a season. Last season Bourn led the league in triples with 10, but hit .257, drove in a measly 28 runs and posted a strikeout-to-walk ratio of 114/32. He only stole 10 bases.  

Bourn isn’t alone in the outfield in terms of seeing his numbers dip upon arrival in Ohio. David Murphy was able to rebound from a down season in Texas during his first year with the Indians, but was unable to replicate the success he’d found earlier in his career when he hit .283 from 2008 to 2012. He averaged 14 home runs and 61 runs driven in per season over that span while swiping 10 bags a season. Murphy only managed 8 bombs, 58 RBI and a .262 average last season.

Like Bourn, Nick Swisher entered the Tribe as a quality hitter. He hit .272 in his last season in New York and made the All Star team in 2010 with a .288 batting average. In his first season in Cleveland (2013), Swisher hit .246. His RBI numbers went from 93 in his last season with the Yankees to 63 in his first season with the Indians. That’s right, his RBI total dropped by thirty. Swisher struggled mightily in 2014, posting a mere 8 home runs and 42 RBI. He was limited to only 97 games, but he only hit .208 and posted an ugly 111/36 strikeout-to-walk ratio.

Cleveland’s other two outfielders, Ryan Raburn and Mike Aviles, hit .200 and .247 respectively last season.

The heart of the Indians’ order (Brantly, Yan Gomes, Moss and Carlos Santana) can holds its own against most teams, but the Tribe will need other positions to step up offensively if they’re going to seriously contend. Based on the outfield’s struggles last season, it wouldn’t be surprising to see Cleveland fall short again.

Counting the Tigers out of playoffs probably isn’t a smart thing to do. Kansas City isn’t what they once were while the White Sox have yet to mesh and the Tribe have holes on offense. Expect another American League Central Title and another playoff berth for the Tigers this season. Did I mention they haven’t allowed an earned run yet this season?

All stats courtesy of Baseball-Reference.com unless otherwise noted.

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Detroit Tigers Links: Spring Training Cuts, Miguel Cabrera, Luke Putkonen

The Tigers have been busy trimming their roster down ahead of Opening Day. Detroit has optioned and cut players who either played a role last season or were thought to me in the mix for a big-league roster spot before Spring Training began.

  • Kyle Lobstein was sent to Triple-A due to a dearth of starting opportunities and will likely be the first name called upon should something happen to one of Detroit’s starters. Joining him in Toledo are relievers Josh Zeid and Alex Wilson, who failed to make the team.

Zeid was claimed off waivers from Houston and was part of the deal that sent Hunter Pence to Philadelphia and Jarred Cosart and John Singleton to Houston. Wilson has also been involved in a blockbuster trade. He came to Detroit in the Rick Porcello/Yoenis Cespedes swap.

  • A previous round of cuts saw the departure of pitchers Drew VerHagen and Jose Valdez. Outfielder Daniel Fields and shortstop Dixon Machado joined the two pitchers in Triple-A.
  • Steven Moya will also start the season in Triple-A.
  • Two significant bench players were optioned to Toledo this morning with outfielder Tyler Collins and last season’s backup catcher Bryan Holaday being sent down. Former O’s outfielder Xavier Avery was sent to minor league camp.

In other news,MLB.com’s Jason Beck passed along news that reliever Luke Putkonen has been released. Putkonen posted solid numbers in 2012 and 2013 with a cumulative 3.35 ERA in 45.2 innings pitched. However he hasn’t found the same success of late and was cut.

And finally, when not stealing the Phillie Phanatic’s keys, Miguel Cabrera is back in the field. The team hopes he and Victor Martinez will be ready for Opening Day.

All stats courtesy of Baseball-Reference.com unless otherwise noted.

Kingdome Crossover: Players the Seattle Mariners Could Have Drafted Instead of Danny Hultzen

The Seattle Mariners have made their fair share of blunders over the years, namely letting numerous players leave for little-to-no return.

This long, illustrious list includes the likes of Carlos Guillen, Jason Varitek, Rafael Soriano, Alex Rodriguez—you get the point.

The M’s missed a big opportunity in the first round of the 2011 draft.

Danny Hultzen was drafted third overall by Seattle and immediately became part of the “Big Three” pitching prospects along with James Paxton and Taijuan Walker. Hultzen showed immense potential, but has seen his career derailed by injuries.

The former first-round pick could still achieve the success he was projected to reach, but it will take time.

Hindsight is obviously 20-20 (stop me if you’ve heard that before), but the 2011 draft produced numerous first-round gems that the Mariners could have taken. Here are some of those players in order of draft position.

Dylan Bundy, Starting Pitcher: Baltimore Orioles, 4th Overall Pick

Bundy, only 22, made his major league debut in 2012. He made two relief appearances for the O’s, totaling an inning and two thirds.

However, the former fourth-overall shows the potential to be a front-line pitcher, if not an ace in the major leagues.

If nothing else, Bundy’s name appearing in trade rumors should speak to his value. According to Eduardo A. Encina of the Baltimore Sun, Los Angeles wanted Bundy in a trade for Matt Kemp while Roch Kubatko of MASN Sports reported in July that Boston was interested in Bundy in a potential Jon Lester trade.

Anthony Rendon, Third Baseman: Washington Nationals, 6th Overall Pick

In a draft class loaded with talented hitters, Rendon has shown the most polish early.

The third baseman, who has also experience at second base, hit .287 in 153 games. The infielder also scored a major-league high 111 runs. In addition, he swatted 23 home runs, drove in 83 runs and swiped 17 bases.

He would have trouble finding at-bats with Robinson Cano and Kyle Seager manning second and third, but teams can always use extra bats—especially quality ones like Rendon.

Archie Bradley, Starting Pitcher: Arizona Diamondbacks, 7th Overall Pick

Similar to Bundy, Bradley has future ace/front-line starter written all over him.

He’s been routinely ranked in the top ten prospects in the league and is probably on equal, and while his minor league numbers haven’t been overly impressive (4.45 ERA and a 1.506 WHIP in 18 minor league starts across three minor league levels) he still has a bright future.

Bradley is on similar or better footing than Taijuan Walker or James Paxton in terms of potential.

Francisco Lindor, Shortstop: Cleveland Indians, 8th Overall Pick

Lindor has skyrocketed through the minors and could be in Cleveland in the near future.

One of the top prospects in the game, Lindor is regarded as a top-notch defensive shortstop. He also managed a .273 batting average in 38 Triple-A, showing the potential to be more than simply a defensive wizard at the major league level.

His impending arrival also forced two-time All Star Asdrubal Cabrera out of Cleveland at the trade deadline. Incumbent shortstop Jose Ramirez could meet the same fate as Cabrera.

Javier Baez, Infielder: Chicago Cubs, 9th Overall Pick

Part of the Cubs’ first wave of impact prospects to make the majors, Baez shows tremendous upside. He has outstanding power and will drive in plenty of runs when he reaches his potential.

Baez can play either middle infield position and is part of a talented group of Cubs’ infielders that include Kris Bryant, Addison Russell, Starlin Castro and Anthony Rizzo among others.

The infielder wouldn’t unseat Robinson Cano at second (duh), but he’d provide an upgrade over Chris Taylor and Brad Miller at shortstop.

Baez mashed 37 homers and drove in 111 runs in across multiple levels in the minor leagues in 2013.

George Springer, Outfielder: Houston Astros, 11th Overall Pick

While Rendon would have been blocked at multiple positions by the Cano and Seager, George Springer wouldn’t have been blocked in the outfield.

Part of the Astros’ next great team, Springer is a slugger in every sense of the word.

The outfielder swatted 20 home runs in a mere 78 games. He only hit .231 and struck out 114 games, but his power is undeniable.

Springer has a .303 career batting average in the minor leagues—or, in other words, he won’t be a .231 hitter forever. He’ll improve.

But instead of hitting bombs in Safeco Field as a member of the M’s, Springer will be hitting for the division rival Astros.

Jose Fernandez, Starting Pitcher: Miami Marlins, 14th Overall Pick

Jose Fernandez is one of the best starting pitchers in all of baseball—a fantastic accomplishment considering he was only drafted in 2011.

The 22-year-old Cuban took home Rookie of the Year and All-Star honors in his first season in 2013. Only Clayton Kershaw and Adam Wainwright finished ahead of Fernandez in Cy Young voting that year.

The Marlins ace is one of the many exiting, young talents in Miami that have prompted the team to give Giancarlo Stanton a big contract and accelerate the rebuilding process so as to win as soon as possible.

Coming off of an injury shortened 2014, Fernandez will undoubtedly be Miami’s ace when he returns in 2015 and beyond.

Seattle is blessed in the pitching department with the likes of Felix Hernandez, Hisashi Iwakuma and Taijuan Walker, but adding Fernandez certainly wouldn’t have hurt.

C.J. Cron, First Baseman: Los Angeles Angels Anaheim, 17th Overall Pick

Cron can flat out hit. He may not be as dynamic as teammate Mike Trout, but he provides the Angels with another young player to build around.

The first baseman owns a .290 career minor-league batting average and can drive the ball out of the park. He slugged 11 bombs in only 79 games in 2014 and has the potential to do much more.

With Albert Pujols and Josh Hamilton in decline, Cron will be counted on to help carry the Angels into the future. Don’t be surprised if Cron gets close to 40 home runs in a season at some point.

He would have been a nice fit at first base for the M’s.

Sonny Gray, Starting Pitcher: Oakland Athletics, 18th Overall Pick

While Bundy and Bradley are future aces, Gray (like Fernandez) is already there.

Gray has a 2.99 ERA in 283 innings pitched and posted a 3.2 WAR in 2014. That 3.2 WAR was higher than the likes of Yu Darvish, Hisashi Iwakuma and Anibal Sanchez.

Gray stepped in during his rookie season and started two playoff games for the A’s. Both times he went toe-to-toe with vintage Justin Verlander and didn’t blink, arguably pitching as well as the former Cy Young MVP.

Also like Fernandez, Gray would have been a nice addition to the M’s, but Seattle will have to settle for seeing him pitch against them a few times a year with Oakland.

Other Notable Names

In addition to the big names like Fernandez, Springer and Rendon, there were a plethora of players available later in the first round of the draft.

The Cardinals and Giants respective second baseman (Kolten Wong and Joe Panik) were taken 22nd and 29th overall. Jackie Bradley Jr. was taken with the 40th pick while fellow Red Sox youngsters, and current farmhands, Matt Barnes (19th), Henry Owens (36th) and Blake Swihart (26th) were also first-round picks.

While Danny Hultzen hasn’t reached the big leagues yet, the M’s clearly could have received more value out of all these players.

All stats courtesy of Baseball-Reference.comunless otherwise noted.

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Detroit Tigers: Center Field Alternatives After Missing Out on Rusney Castillo

Regardless of how far the Detroit Tigers came in their pursuit of Cuban prospect Rusney Castillo, they missed out on adding the highly regarded center fielder. Castillo is heading to Boston. With Austin Jackson shipped out as part of the David Price trade, the Tigers are in need of a center fielder, if they don’t go after one to help their postseason run, then they will almost surely try to acquire one in the offseason. Here are some options.

Options for Right Now

The Internal Guys: Rajai Davis and Ezequiel Carrera

Detroit got spoiled by Austin Jackson—a superb fielding, centrally based outfielder who hit for some pop. Sure, he struck out a ton, but at least he contributed in other categories. The Tigers now face reality without their once-longtime center fielder. Any disapproval of his replacements’ play has been answered with the question “Well, would you rather have David Price or not have David Price?” and while’s it’s fantastic to have Price, the team could use a center fielder. I’m not saying the trade shouldn’t have happened, but Detroit need a center fielder, and his name isn’t Rajai Davis or Ezequiel Carrera. Both can cover miles of ground, but aren’t close to the defensive player that Jackson was for the Tigers.

Davis has filled in admirably in center, but his best position remains in left field. This gives Brad Ausmus flexibility in picking his lineup—flexibility that Detroit has relied on and will need to continue to rely on.

While Carrera isn’t as strong defensively as Jackson, he isn’t good offensively as Jackson or Davis. Yes, he brings speed, but his hitting hasn’t been on par with the rest of the lineup. A .220 hitting center fielder with speed might play on a young team auditioning players, but on a team with championship aspirations like the Tigers, it simply isn’t good enough.

In 24 games, Carrera has a total of three extra base hits—two doubles and a triple. Jackson accumulated four extra base hits alone over the course of three games against Diamondbacks.

*Note: I probably wouldn’t be writing this piece if the Tigers were still in first place in the division, but new additions or better play is needed to pass the Royals. It’s also nearing panic mode in “Tigerland.”

The Current Trade Market: Various

With the non-waiver trade deadline come and gone, players must now pass through waivers before being dealt. The bad teams get first crack at players, so because of that and other factors, it’s unlikely that a player would fall through the cracks. However a number of players have passed through waivers with no teams claiming them, and are available to be dealt anywhere. According to MLB Trade Rumors, these players include outfielders such as Shin-Soo Choo, Curtis Granderson, Alex Rios, Matt Kemp, Brett Gardner, Carl Crawford and Andre Ethier. Each is a unique player, but all of them have one thing in common—they’re owed a lot of money.

In addition to being owed a collective 164 million dollars over the next six years, Choo and Granderson just signed deals with their respective teams this offseason. It would look bad for future free agents assessing their options to see that a team traded a player just months after signing him to a long contract. Choo has also played exclusively in both left and right field this year while Granderson has predominantly played right. Granderson has extensive experience in center; just ask any long-term Tigers’ fan, but his salary makes it hard to justify a reunion.

Rios falls in a similar boat defensively seeing as he hasn’t played centerfield since 2011. Plus, he’ll be 34 at this time next year and doesn’t have the power he once possessed.

The Dodgers’ trio of representatives on the list are harder to quantify trading. They aren’t exactly hitting the cover off the ball with batting averages of .247 (Ethier) .271 (Crawford) and .277 (Kemp). Ethier has played center field this year, but his batting line and hefty contract make a move unlikely. Crawford, on the other hand, isn’t a centerfielder. He never played the position extensively, as evidenced by the last time he was in center field—seven innings of a game six years ago while he was with the Rays.

Kemp may be the closest thing to a “goldilocks” fit. Not only does he play center (he’s won two Gold Gloves there), but if he can get his production near where it was during his accolade filled year of 2011, the Tigers would have another elite bat to hit in a lineup that features a handful of them. The red flag is that Kemp hasn’t played a full season since 2011 and is owed north of 100 million dollars over the next five seasons.

The Dodgers are also in the thick of a pennant race of their own, and with Yasiel Puig as the only other starting caliber outfielder on the team, it seems unlikely that LA would part with any of their three contractual albatrosses.

Finally, there’s Gardner. From a skillset standpoint, the Yankee outfielder would fit perfectly in Detroit. He has played 333 games in center field over the course of his career. He is a threat on the base baths with 179 steals over nearly 750 games—and, to top it all off, he hits for power. Albeit power closer to that of Rajai Davis as opposed to Miguel Cabrera, but it would be an upgrade. But similar to Kemp, Gardner’s contract calls for a lot of money. The Yankee outfielder is owed close to 50 million over the next four years, not including a 12.5 million team option for 2019. The money and the fact that the Yankees trail Detroit in the wild card standings may make a trade near impossible.

Splurging cash on one of these previously mentioned outfielders would seem counterproductive—especially after trading Prince Fielder and Doug Fister in cost-cutting moves. It would also seem odd considering the team will likely hand one/both of David Price and Max Scherzer a massive contract extension.

It’s unclear what Dave Dombrowski will do with the Tigers center field situation. Maybe Rajai Davis will prove he can play there full time. Maybe Ezequiel Carrera will hit. Who knows. But reinforcements via trade or Cuba are unlikely this season. If nothing is done, expect the Tigers’ GM to make a move for a center fielder this winter.

 

All stats courtesy of http://www.baseball-reference.com/ unless otherwise noted.

 

Detroit Tigers: Why Justin Verlander will be the Tigers’ Key to Reaching the World Series

Thanks to the Detroit Tigers’ recent acquisition of David Price, many pundits and fans alike are earmarking the team for the World Series. However, it won’t be Price, reigning Cy Young winner Max Scherzer or superstar Miguel Cabrera who will be the key to Detroit reaching baseball’s biggest stage. Granted, those players will play their part, but Verlander will be the most important.

David Price gives Detroit five premium starters—himself, Scherzer, Verlander, Anibal Sanchez and Rick Porcello. In the playoffs, teams generally use only four starters and use their fifth starter in relief. This situation falls firmly under the “good problem to have” banner. Regardless, the idea has been floated that Verlander should be the fifth starter and moved to the bullpen.

This would be foolish. Admittedly, Verlander’s numbers are down this year, as they were last season, but he brings it in the playoffs. Last season the former MVP went 13-12 with a 3.46 ERA across 218+ innings and 34 starts. Decent numbers for most pitchers, but for the seemingly super-human Verlander, that was a down year. Despite the pedestrian showings, the Tigers’ ace turned it on for the playoffs. In three postseason starts, he threw 23 innings, allowing one run on ten hits while posting an absurd 31/3 strikeout-to-walk ratio. If you like translating ERAs, you would know that Verlander’s would equate to 0.39 in last year’s playoffs. It’s not just the flashy stats that made Verlander a strong performer for the Tigers last year, he also went deep into games, often protecting a shaky bullpen that ended up being the team’s undoing.

The Tigers’ longest tenured player will not only be important because of his past success in the playoffs, but also because of the teams Detroit will be playing. Verlander dominates the A’s in the playoffs. He eats them for breakfast. He wipes the floor with them. He uses their jerseys as dish rags. Ok, one of those examples isn’t true, but the fact is that Justin Verlander is Oakland’s playoff kryptonite. In the last two years, the Detroit pitcher has made four postseason starts against the Athletics. Here are his results against them.

(* indicates deciding game)

2012 ALDS Game 1- Tigers win 3-1. Verlander: 7 innings pitched, 3 hits, 1 earned run, 4 walks, 11 strikeouts.

*2012 ALDS Game 5- Tigers win 6-0. Verlander: 9 innings pitched, 4 hits, 0 runs, 1 walk, 11 strikeouts.

2013 ALDS Game 2- Oakland wins 1-0. Verlander: 7 innings pitched, 4 hits, 0 runs, 1 walk, 11 strikeouts.

*2013 ALDS Game 5- Tigers win 3-0. Verlander: 8 innings pitched, 2 hits, 0 runs, 1 walk, 10 strikeouts.

Oakland has scored one run off of Verlander in 31 innings. Over that same span, Oakland batters have struck out 43 times compared to a paltry seven walks.

If you’re Brad Ausmus, you want this guy at the top of the rotation for October—if not for Game One, then at the very least Game Two so he can pitch the deciding game should the series get there.

And it’s not just Oakland that Verlander excels against; he owns a 9-2 all-time record against playoff contender Baltimore while also posting dominant numbers against New York and Boston in the last two postseasons. He went at least eight innings in each game, held both teams to a run each and walked a cumulative one batter across both starts.

Despite Justin Verlander’s struggles (by his own high standards) in the last two years, he still brings it in the playoffs. He did it last year, and there’s no reason to think he won’t do it again this year. That, and his overall dominance of Detroit’s biggest rival for the AL crown, Oakland, make him a lock to be the Tigers’ most important player in reaching the World Series.

 

All stats courtesy of http://www.baseball-reference.com/ unless otherwise noted.