Tag Archive: Detroit Tigers


Displaced at third base by Miguel Cabrera, Tigers veteran Brandon Inge wants to find a way to get playing time.

Brandon Inge will compete for the second base job during spring training. Inge, who turns 35 in May, has never appeared at second base during a game with the Tigers. (B. Calloway photo)

The 34-year old thinks second base could provide the perfect opportunity.
Inge has asked and been granted a chance by manager Jim Leyland to compete for the second base job during spring training. He will compete with Ryan Raburn, Ramon Santiago and Danny Worth for time at the position. Inge has never appeared at second base during a major league game. Inge, who is regarded as one of the better athletes on the Tigers, has played all the outfield positions, third base and catcher during his tenure in Detroit.
If Inge was to win the second base job, it wouldn’t be a bad thing for the Tigers. Inge at second base could allow the Tigers to make Raburn their everyday left fielder and make Delmon Young their designated hitter. That move would at least strengthen their defense because Raburn can cover more ground in left field and also has a better arm. Raburn did commit six errors in the outfield last season and had a .948 fielding percentage in 72 games playing the outfield, while Young had seven errors, seven assists and a .969 fielding percentage in 115 games.
Regardless if Inge was to adjust adequately defensively to second base, he still must find a way to produce at the plate after hitting .197 last season. Those will likely be the determining factors of how much of Inge we will see this season.

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.

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.

ALL THE RIGHT MOVES

The signing of Victor Martinez in the offseason has proven to be a key reason behind the Tigers winning the AL Central this season. (B. Calloway photo)

Dave Dombrowski entered the season with his job on the line.

The  Detroit Tigers general manager was on the final year of his contract and needed to help the team get back to the postseason.

He made several key decisions that helped the Tigers win the AL Central division title – their first division crown since 1987 and first playoff berth since reaching the World Series in 2006. Here is a look at some of the decisions he made that helped get the Tigers back into the postseason.

Signing Victor Martinez in the offseason

This might be one of the single most important decisions Dombrowski made.  The Tigers had several players they could pursue to bolster their lineup with Jayson Werth, Adam Dunn and Carl Crawford also being available. The decision to bring Martinez aboard for four years looks to be the be the best move of the bunch. Dunn, who is in his 1st season in the AL, is hitting .160 with 11 home runs and 42 RBIs for the White Sox. Crawford (.254, 11 HR, 18 SBs) is having a down year with the Red Sox and the same has been the case for Werth  (.232, 20 HR, 58 RBIS) with the Nationals.  Meanwhile Martinez has been a leader on and off the field for the Tigers

The switch-hitting Martinez is batting .324 with 12 home runs and 102 RBIs. He has come up with a number of big hits for the Tigers and made teams pay when they pitched around Miguel Cabrera. With runners on base he is hitting .399 and .390 when they are in scoring position.

Trading for Doug Fister at the trade deadline

Since being acquired from the Mariners in July, Doug Fister is 8-1 in 10 starts for the Tigers. (AP)

The Tigers needed pitching at the deadline to bolster their chances at winning the division. Fister has been the answer. Ubaldo Jimenez was considered to be one of the highly coveted players on the market but the Tiger and Dombrowski were smart to work out a trade with Seattle for Fister instead. Jimenez has struggled with the rival Indians, while Fister has become a top of the line starter for Detroit. In 10 starts since being acquired by the Tigers on July 30, Fister is 8-1 with a 1.79 ERA. He has struck out 54 and walked five over 70 1/3 innings. He and likely AL Cy Young winner Justin Verlander have formed a formidable 1-2 combination with a combined 14-0 record and 1.61 ERA since Aug. 16. Fister ranks fourth in the AL with a 2.83 ERA. Jimenez is 4-4 with a 5.10 ERA in 11 starts since the Indians acquired him from the Rockies.

Landing Wilson Betemit, Delmon Young from division rivals

Dombrowski made trades with division rivals during the season to land players that have been important pieces for the Tigers. In July, he acquired Betemit from the Royals. Betemit stepped in for the struggling Brandon Inge at third base. Betemit has hit .281 with four homers and 18 RBIs since joining the Tigers. Young was acquired in August from the Twins and has anchored left field and the No. 3 spot in the Detroit lineup. He has hit .264 with seven homers with 29 RBIs and four doubles in 38 games with the Tigers. Acquiring Young has proved as extra important with the Tigers having lost Brennan Boesch for the season with a thumb injury in August.

Acquiring Jhonny Peralta from Cleveland and re-signing him

Dombrowski acquired Peralta before the trade deadline in 2010, but the decision has made a big impact on this year’s team. Signed to a two-year contract in the offseason to play shortstop, Peralta has been a valuable contributor to the Tigers offense and has played steady defense. Peralta, who has mostly hit in the No. 6 or 7 spots in the lineup, entered Tuesday’s game hitting a career-best .301 with 20 home runs and 84 RBIs. He also has 25 doubles.

Ryan Raburn (left), shown being congratulated by Austin Jackson (14) following his two-run homer, had four RBIs in Detroit's 9-3 win over the White Sox on Friday (AP)

Justin Verlander recorded his 1,000th career strikeout and limited the White Sox to just three solo home runs as the Tigers opened their three-game series with a win over Chicago.

Win: Verlander (2-2)

Loss: Mark Buehrle (1-2)

Hero: Ryan Raburn

Raburn went 2 for 5 with four RBIs to power the Tigers offense in the win. His two-run home run in the third put the Tigers ahead 4-0 and drove in what would prove to be the winning run. Friday marked the second straight contest in which Raburn homered.

Key: Raburn’s two-run homer was definitely the difference maker, but this was one of the best showings by the Tigers offense this season. The team generated runs throughout the entire contest with two in the second, two in third, one in the fourth, one in the sixth and three in the eighth. Casper Wells added two RBIs from the No. 9 spot, while Alex Avila, Jhonny Peralta and Brennan Boesch also drove in runs.

Strong night: Other than allowing a pair of solo homers to Carlos Quentin and a solo homer to Paul Konerko, Verlander was dominant against the White Sox. Verlander struck out eight and didn’t issue a walk while tossing seven innings.

Up next: Vs. Chicago, 4 p.m. Saturday

The Tigers bolstered their bullpen with the addition of Joaquin Benoit. The right-handed reliever was 1-2 with a 1.34 ERA in 60 games last season with the Rays. (Associated Press)

Joaquin Benoit had struggled with his control for much of his career.

In 2010 he finally put things together and emerged as a top-notch setup man for the Tampa Bay Rays. Benoit went 1-2 with a 1.34 ERA and struck out 76 and walked 11 in 60 1/3 innings, playing a large role in helping the Rays win their second AL East crown in three years.

The best season in his career resulted in a big pay day as the 33-year old right-hander has reportedly agreed to a three-year, $16.5 million deal with the Tigers where he will likely become the setup man to Jose Valverde. This comes a year after he was signed by the Rays as a minor-league free agent after not playing in the majors in 2009.

Benoit is a much needed piece for the Tigers because they were in need of bullpen help. With the injury history of Joel Zumaya and Phil Coke likely headed to the starting rotation, Detroit needed to find someone for the back end of the bullpen.

The problem with the deal is the Tigers are giving out a large amount of money and years to a pitcher that hasn’t been consistent throughout his major league career. In 2008 with Texas, he struck out 43 and walked 35 in 45 innings – not a great ratio. Through most seasons in his career, he has walked an average of four per nine innings – not something you want a reliever to do. But after missing 2009 because of rotator cuff season, Benoit put it all together.

The deal is a bit of a gamble for the Tigers, but if Benoit in fact has things figured out and can duplicate or come close to his 2010 success, it would be a big boost for a Detroit team hoping to contend in the AL Central.

Benoit is the first piece in free agency reeled in by the Tigers. With the loss of long reliever/spot starter Eddie Bonine and minor league Casey Fien (who spent some time in the majors the past two seasons), it appears the Tigers will be revamping the bullpen. Ryan Perry and Valverde and now Benoit likely are the main locks for the 2011 bullpen at this point.

When it comes to polarizing sports figures in Detroit, Tigers third baseman Brandon Inge has to rank near the top of the list. Inge, who has spent his entire career with the Tigers, is either adored or hated by most fans.

The section that loves him praises what he brings to the table defensively and believe his offensive contributions are adequate enough. Plus they like they way he hustles and think he is a high character person to have around. The other section isn’t impressed with a guy that has a .237 career batting average and strikes out a ton.

Brandon Inge will make $5.5 million the next two seasons after agreeing to a two-year deal with the Tigers on Thursday. Inge, who has been with the Tigers since 2001, has hit .237 with 136 homers over his career. (Brian Calloway photo)

I don’t fall into either of these sections, but do believe it was good for the Tigers to bring back Inge for a two-year deal for $11 million, which was announced on Thursday.

Some may believe the Tigers are continuing to reward players for being mediocre with the signing. In reality, the Tigers weren’t going to find too much of an upgrade at that position if they opted to go the free agent route. There also is no true replacement for him in the farm system.

Adrian Beltre was one of the most talked about players that the Tigers should pursue. Beltre was an All-Star this season and hit .321 with 49 doubles, 28 homers and 102 RBI with Boston. However Beltre never even hit near .300 in the previous five seasons, which he spent with Seattle. His best average in those years was .276. And Seattle plays in a ballpark similar to Detroit’s Comerica Park.

So Beltre would have cost more and his production would have gone down likely. The costs to get Beltre could prevent the Tigers from addressing some more pressing needs, like getting a bullpen arm and adding a big bat or two.

In my mind, Inge is adequate enough at the hot corner. He is a Gold Glove caliber defender with a decent amount of range. Despite what some may say about his offensive abilities, the 33-year old drove in 70 runs in 144 games this season, which ranked in the upper half among all American League third basemen. Inge also hit .247 this season, which although is by no means great, but was his best average over the past four years.

The move will be even smarter if the Tigers do in fact keep Jhonny Peralta in the fold and make him their starting shortstop for 2011. Inge’s range would help compensate for Peralta’s lack of range and give the Tigers a decent left side of the infield.

Jeff Frazier makes contact during a game against Buffalo on Monday. He will make his Major League debut when the Tigers face the Red Sox on Friday at Fenway Park (Brian Calloway photo)

With the Tigers in desperate need of offensive help in order to stay in the playoff race, they’ve had to make several moves in the past few days.

Detroit hopes their latest move will provide a boost to their struggling offense.

After getting swept by the Tampa Bay Rays on Thursday, the Tigers announced that Jeff Frazier’s contract was being purchased and Jeff Larish would be designated for assignment. The move is a deserved one for Frazier, who has turned in a strong season in Triple-A Toledo.

Jeff Frazier was leading the International League in doubles and ranked second in hits and homers prior to getting promoted to the bigs. (B. Calloway photo)

Frazier, who turns 28 in two weeks, was an International League All-Star this season and hit 23 homers – including two in Wednesday’s win over the Pawtucket Red Sox. He also had 32 doubles and 68 RBIs, while hitting .273 in 104 games. Frazier led the International League in doubles, ranked second in hits and home runs and was third in RBIs prior to getting called up.

The move was a smart one for many reasons. It does give the Tigers an opportunity to sit down the slumping Brennan Boesch for a few games. Tampa Bay pitched around Triple Crown candidate Miguel Cabrera three times during the four-game series to get to Boesch. Each time Boesch didn’t deliver.

Boesch did break an 0-for-11 slump with an infield single during today’s game, but has been ice cold since the All-Star break and seen his average fall 50 points.

Frazier, who originally was a third-round pick by the Tigers in 2004,  is a right-handed hitter.

The move to designate Larish likely marks the end of a Tiger career for another player that couldn’t stick around with the Tigers. Larish was in the bigs in parts of the 2008 and 2009 seasons. He began ’09 on the Tigers 25-man roster before being sent down.

Wilkin Ramirez looks up after being caught stealing during a recent game against Buffalo. Ramirez's contract was designated for assignment by the Tigers on Wednesday (Brian Calloway photo)

He had all the tools and was highly regarded by many in the Tigers organization.

Wilkin Ramirez was one of those five-tool prospects who could do it all. He could hit for power, he had the speed. The tremendous amount of talent the 24-year old outfielder had resulted in two appearances in the Futures game – signifying that Ramirez is a star in the making.

Yet somehow, Ramirez still hasn’t been able to put up the numbers to match his raw potential.

This seemed to  be a make-or-break season for Ramirez, who spent some time in the bigs last season and made some positive things happen.

With Ramirez not producing numbers the Tigers would have liked, he was designated for assignment on Wednesday to make room for Jhonny Peralta, who was acquired in a trade with the Cleveland Indians.

With that, the Tigers have 10 days to decide what to do with Ramirez. He could get traded, released or placed on waivers. He likely will become one of the first players ever to play in a Futures game and then get designated for assignment that same month.

The appearance in the Futures Game likely has been the high in what has been a disappointing season for Ramirez. The season started with him getting demoted in a sense to Double-A Erie. Ramirez spent the 2009 season in Triple-A Toledo only to take a step backwards. The Tigers organization likely did that so Ramirez would get daily playing time and not have to rotate in a crowded Toledo outfield that featured Clete Thomas, Ryan Strieby, Jeff Frazier and Casper Wells.

Between stops at Erie and Toledo this season, Wilkin Ramirez was hitting .230 with 19 HRs, 56 RBIs and 144 strikeouts in 97 games. (B. Calloway photo)

Ramirez was hitting .241 with 15 homers and 42 RBIs when he was promoted back to Triple-A Toledo in June. Prior to getting DFA’d on Wednesday, Ramirez was batting .216 with four homers and 14 RBIs in 41 games with the Mud Hens. Not numbers you would expect from one of your elite prospects.

Between Erie and Toledo, Ramirez was hitting a combined .230 with 19 homers and 56 RBIs this season. Some alarming numbers include 144 strikeouts in 97 games and 12 stolen bases in 20 attempts (At Erie he stole five bases and was caught six times).

Cutting down on Ks was something Ramirez needed to do. With the down numbers across the board this season (Ramirez hit .258 with 17 HRs 51 RBIs and 33 steals while striking out 143 times in113 games last year at Toledo), it appears Ramirez has fallen out of favor with the Tigers. It’s unfortunate because Ramirez is still young. He could get it together in another couple of years and be the player the Tigers thought he was at one point of time. It appears he has run out of time with the organization.

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Looking at the 40-man roster, the Tigers other options of players to DFA were the following:

Casper Wells – OF (Batting .207 with 15 HRs and 33 RBIs in 82 games; also has 86 strikeouts at Toledo)

Clete Thomas – OF (Hit .183 in 21 games with Toledo, out for the year with injury)

Ryan Strieby – OF (Hitting .243 with 15 doubles and 10 HRs and 48 RBIs in 73 games at Toledo)

Audy Ciriaco – SS/3B (hitting .241 with 9 HRs in 61 games at Double-A before promotion to Toledo)

Brent Dlugach -SS (hitting .267 with 38 RBIs and 20 doubles; has 21 errors)

Alfredo Figaro – P (9-6 with 3.91 ERA at Toledo, just named IL Pitcher of the Week)

Fu-Te Ni – P (lefty reliever has 9.72 ERA in nine games since being sent down to Toledo)

Daniel Schlerth – P  (Lefty was acquired in offseason trade from D’Backs; has 47 Ks in 40 innings and a 2.38 ERA out of the bullpen)

Bobby Seay / Zach Miner – P (Injured relief pitchers)

Jacob Turner / Andrew Oliver – P (Prized pitching prospects. Not a chance they would have been DFA’d)

Note that this was probably made more difficult because of the injuries to Magglio Ordonez and Carlos Guillen. That forced the Tigers to put Will Rhymes and Jeff Larish on the 40-man roster and eliminate Casey Fien and Billy Buckner.

I think Ni and Thomas also could have been a viable options to DFA.