Archive for December, 2011


Gio Gonzalez would be a good fit at the Tigers, but only at the right price. The left-hander ranked ninth in the AL in strikeouts and 10th in ERA in 2011. (Google image)

The Oakland A’s are willing to part with Gio Gonzalez, and the Tigers have been rumored to be one of the teams interested in acquiring the 26-year old left-handed pitcher.

Gonzalez would no doubt be a good acquisition for the Tigers. He would give them a much-needed lefty for their rotation and would also address their need for a fifth starter. Gonzalez has had a strong past couple of seasons for the Athletics. He ranked 16-12 and ranked ninth in the American League with 197 strikeouts and 10th with a 3.12 ERA and was an All-Star last season. Gonzalez was better pitcher at home last season with an ERA that was almost a run better at the Oakland Coliseum than on the road. Still he has a 38-32 career record and a 3.93 ERA in four seasons.

Nick Castellanos appears to be the long-term solution for the Tigers at third base and Detroit shouldn't include him in a deal to acquire Gio Gonzalez. (B. Calloway photo)

Oakland will definitely require a good package in dealing Gonzalez, and it is rumored the Tigers would have to part with top prospects right-handed pitcher Jacob Turner and third baseman Nick Castellanos and a few other pieces to acquire him. If the Tigers could entice the Athletics without including Castellanos would and should be the only way they make such a deal.

After trading third baseman Francisco Martinez, who appeared in the 2011 Futures Game, to Seattle in the deal that landed Doug Fister, the Tigers pretty much determined Castellanos would be their guy at third base when he was ready – which could be sometime in 2013 or 14. Third base is a current position of need for the Tigers and the 19-year old Castellanos seems as if he could be a long-term solution when he is ready.

I don’t blame the Athletics for wanting both of the Tigers top prospects, but Turner would be a lot easier to part with considering the depth of pitching Detroit has in the upper portion of its system. Detroit also has Andrew Oliver, Casey Crosby, Drew Smyly, Duane Below and Adam Wilk and could maybe part with Turner and another pitcher among with something else in a deal. Detroit also has great depth at catcher (Rob Brantly, Jeff Kunkel) that they could deal as well.

With wide interest in Gonzalez, the price will understandingly be high, but the Tigers shouldn’t give up Castellanos in a deal to acquire the lefty.

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Will Rhymes, who opened the 2011 season as the Tigers starting second baseman, is now a free agent after the Tigers declined to offer him a new contract before Monday's non-tender deadline. (Brian Calloway photo)

Will Rhymes might have been short on size but was high on heart.

That is what made the 5-foot-9 and 155-pound Rhymes – a 27th round draft pick out of the College of William and Mary in 2005 – endearing to fans upon his arrival to the big leagues in 2010.

Rhymes wasn’t regarded and didn’t have the tools/skills set of a top prospect like one-time competitor at second base Scott Sizemore had, but turned in a strong showing once called up to the majors during the 2010 season. Rhymes hit .304 in 54 games with 12 doubles and three triples and won over fans with his play. That strong showing over the second half of the season helped in part earn Rhymes the first shot at second base to start the 2011.

Will Rhymes hit .306 in 104 games at Triple-A Toledo in 2011 and was a Triple-A All-Star. (B. Calloway photo)

But Rhymes never got going early in 2011 , batting .221 with 1 double in 19 games before being demoted to Triple-A Toledo and replaced on the Tigers roster by a hot-hitting Sizemore. From there, he pretty much fell out of the Tigers plans.

The 26-year old was a Triple-A All-Star in 2011, but the Tigers obviously don’t see Rhymes in the future plans which is why they declined to offer him a contract for 2012 and allowed him to become a free agent.

Even with the Tigers trading Sizemore to Oakland in May, Rhymes never found his was back to Detroit until rosters expanded in September. Instead the Tigers went with a combination of Carlos Guillen, Ryan Raburn, Ramon Santiago and Danny Worth at second base. And the Tigers appear content right now to use a platoon of Santiago and Raburn for that position in 2012.

This decision by the Tigers brass in essentially the best case scenario for both parties. With Rhymes likely being a longshot to make the major league roster out of spring training, he will get a chance to go elsewhere to try to get back to the majors. And the Tigers still have enough options at second base.

The bullpen was an area the Tigers needed to improve this offseason and they did just that with the acquisition of veteran right-handed reliever Octavio Dotel.

The addition of Octavio Dotel should bolster the Tigers bullpen (Getty Images)

Reports indicate the Tigers signed the 38-year old Dotel to a one-year deal with the option for another. Dotel chose signing with Detroit over returning to St. Louis, where he won a World Series. He is the second Cardinal free agent the Tigers have signed this offseason (Detroit signed St. Louis backup catcher Gerald Laird last month).

Dotel gives the Tigers a strong option for the seventh inning and could give the Tigers a formidable back end of the bullpen with Joaquin Benoit as the eighth inning setup man and Jose Valverde as the closer. Dotel has struck out 10.9 batters per nine innings over his 13-year major league career. He spent 2011 with Toronto and St. Louis, appearing in 65 games and going 5-4 with a 3.50 ERA and 62 strikeouts and 17 walks. Opponents just hit .185 against him.

With Ryan Perry being inconsistent and Al Alburquerque struggling with injuries, the Tigers now have a veteran steady presence for the seventh inning. The Tigers also get flexibility and can alternate Dotel and the lefty Phil Coke for the seventh depending on matchups.

As it stands the Detroit bullpen will likely consist of Alburquerque, Benoit, Dotel, Perry, Daniel Schlereth and Valverde. David Pauley, Duane Below, Adam Wilk and Brayan Villarreal all pitched out of the bullpen in 2011 and could combine for the final bullpen slot, barring any other additions or trades. Below and Wilk also could be in competition for the fifth starter spot.

Dotel is the third offseason signing by the Tigers and all have addressed needs. Laird fills a need as a backup catcher, while allows Victor Martinez to be a full-time DH or spell Cabrera at first base. Detroit also re-signed utility infielder Ramon Santiago, who will likely split time at second base with Ryan Raburn in 2012.

The Marlins reeled in one of this year's top free agents in shortstop Jose Reyes, who reportedly has agreed to a six-year deal worth $106 million. Reyes, 28, led the NL with a .337 batting average and 16 triples in 2011. (AP photo)

The Philadelphia Phillies have been the class of the NL East of late with five straight division titles.

The Miami Marlins appear set on changing the landscape of the division and becoming a force to be reckoned with for the next several years.

The Marlins, who will move into a new stadium next season, have been the busiest team this offseason with the acquisitions of closer Heath Bell (three-year, $27 million deal) and most recently shortstop Jose Reyes (reportedly to a six-year, $106 million deal). It appears Miami isn’t done spending as it has reportedly offered a 10-year deal to free agent first baseman Albert Pujols and could be in the mix for left-handed starter Mark Buehrle, who first-year Marlins manager Ozzie Gullen coached in Chicago.

Albert Pujols appears to be the next target for the Marlins. Miami has offered the 31-year old All-Star first baseman a 10-year deal according to reports.

Keep in mind that the Marlins already had a shortstop in All-Star Hanley Ramirez, who likely will be forced to shift over to third base. If Ramirez cooperates with a move to third and doesn’t demand a trade, the Marlins shouldn’t have any problems offensively in 2012. Miami also has a talented young outfield duo of Logan Morrison (23 HRs, 72 RBIs in 2011) and Mike Stanton (34 HRs, 87 RBIs in 2011)

The NL East could become the toughest division in baseball with the Marlins spending spree. Division power Philadelphia could be losing Jimmy Rollins at shortstop, but still has a strong rotation anchored by Roy Halladay and has other pieces like Ryan Howard, Chase Utley and Hunter Pence.

Washington will get its first full season of pitching phenom Stephen Strasburg and has some young talent in catcher Wilson Ramos and shortstop Ian Desmond along with third baseman Ryan Zimmerman and first baseman/outfielder Michael Morse. The Nationals also have some money to spend and have been linked to free agents such as Prince Fielder and Buehrle.

Atlanta, which just missed out on a wild card berth after its late season collapse, also has plenty of pitching with the likes of Tommy Hansen, Mike Minor, Tim Hudson and closer Craig Kimbrel (the 2011 NL rookie of the year) and offensive players like catcher Brian McCann, first baseman Freddie Freeman, second baseman Dan Uggla and outfielder Jason Heyward.

The Marlins spending spree obviously doesn’t guarantee they will be good, but the upgrade in talent will make them a threat in an improved NL East.