Found January 25, 2013 on isportsweb.com:
PLAYERS: Prince Fielder
TEAMS: Detroit Tigers
The hot stove in regards to the Detroit Tigers isn’t exactly burning at this point in the offseason. Smoldering, maybe. The Tigers may very well make some additional moves to tighten up the roster but by and large the attention is turning to the roster as it currently sits. With that in mind, here are some burning questions that fans are demanding answers to. This will be a 2-part post. Bruce Rondon Is Bruce Rondon capable of being an effective closer for the Tigers? It’s important to remember that the Tigers made it to the World Series in 2012 with the moldy potato, Jose Valverde, as their closer. Papa Grande was featuring a steady diet of 92-94 MPH fastballs and a flat splitter. As a result, his K rate tumbled. He fanned just 48 hitters in 69 innings of work compared to 69 and 72.1 respectively in 2011. No deception requires a power arm. Valverde had neither. Rondon has both.  Rondon started in high-A ball and finished up 2012 at AAA Toledo, narrowly missing a call to the Tigers in September. He saved 29 games with a 1.53 ERA and 1.09 WHIP. He struck out 66 in just 53 innings of work. Rondon has the goods and the Tigers seem intent on letting him prove his worth as the team’s closer. I for one love the move. And when you see him dial that fastball up to 102 MPH that very first time, with such little exertion, I think you’ll be hooked too. Oh yeah, and he has a strong slider to boot. I’m all in on Rondon. Do the Tigers trust Andy Dirks with 140+ starts in left field? I honestly don’t think so but can’t figure out why. GM Dave Dombrowski has made it clear that he would love to find a right-handed corner outfield bat to compliment the roster. In other words, to replace Dirks against lefty starters. This thought process is what prompted me to write the Giancarlo Stanton article on Monday. Click here if you missed it. To me, Dirks is a winning player. It’s actually somewhat of a shame that we have to debate the merits of a guy who hit .322 with a .370 on-base % in his 2nd year in the big leagues, not to mention a boatload of intangibles and solid defense. Most teams would be handing him the keys to the kingdom. Dirks held his own against lefties as well, hitting .274 with 3 homers in just 73 at-bats. A year from now left field might look a lot different as Avisail Garcia and/or Nick Castellanos could be ready for everyday roles. Right now though, Detroit wants those guys to get full-time at-bats, so Toledo is likely their joint opening day destination. In the meantime, in Dirks, the Tigers should trust. Can Victor Martinez bounce back? Martinez hasn’t swung a bat in a meaningful situation since the end of the 2011 season. The general tone in camp seems to be that he will be ready to rock come spring training. Jim Leyland knows that it’s a tough task to miss a full year and come back just as productive as before but notes that if anyone can do it, Victor is the right man for the job. His knee, if healthy enough to swing, shouldn’t limit him otherwise. VMart will be a full-time DH in 2013. Something will have to go array for him to put a mitt on his left hand this season. The basic task is to hit the ball hard and jog around the bases. The bottom half of Detroit’s lineup really struggled in his absence in 2012. The thoughts of a 3-4-5 of Miguel Cabrera, Prince Fielder, and Martinez is awfully tantalizing and should boost the entire lineup’s production level. My expectation is that Martinez will be ready to go full throttle come Opening Day. Let’s not forget that he hit .330 in 2011 with 103 RBI’s. The guy is a hitting machine when he’s healthy. Martinez is signed through 2014. Hopefully he plays out the last 2 years of his contract with the health and productivity you’d expect of a $13M/year player. I think he will. Part 2 of this series will be released on Monday. Leave your comments below. To receive an email each time a new Tigers article is published, fill out the Email Notification Form [Follow me on Twitter @isportsJoe]
THE BACKYARD
BEST OF MAXIM
RELATED ARTICLES

Plenty of closer candidates for the Tigers

The Papa Grande era in Detroit is over. And that is probably for the best. Despite his 110 saves from 2010 to 2011 and despite being perfect in 2011, Valverde saw a serious reduction of his ability to fool or blow away major league hitters in 2012, particularly late in the season. And the eccentric closer was completely pounded during the last two post seasons. So now Valverde is...

Tigers, fans get revved up for baseball

DETROIT -- The weather's cold, but baseball fever was hot at Comerica Park on Saturday. The Tigers arrived to see 10,000-plus ardent fans waiting in line around the block to get into TigerFest, the team's annual winter baseball carnival. "It makes it all worth it when you see them packed around the corner out there," center fielder Austin Jackson said. "They...

Coke tells colorful tale of striking out Cabrera

SOUTHFIELD, Mich. -- Miguel Cabrera doesn't strike out very much. While becoming the first player to hit for the Triple Crown since 1967, the Detroit Tigers third baseman fanned just 98 times in 622 at-bats in 2012. So you can understand why any pitcher who gets the best of Cabrera would brag about it, and Tigers reliever Phil Coke did just that during a winter caravan stop...

Rondon might close for Venezuela in WBC

DETROIT -- Rookie Bruce Rondon, the Tigers' top prospect to close this season, is being considered by the Venezuelan national team to be its closer in the World Baseball Classic when competition begins in early March. I have heard a lot of talk about that, Tigers general manager Dave Dombrowski said, but weve never been officially asked. Observations of Rondon during spring...

Leyland looking for closer characteristics in Rondon

DETROIT Tigers manager Jim Leyland is going to talk about his rookie closer, Bruce Rondon, and his need to turn the page so often in the months ahead that Leyland will either lead to a revival in reading or of an old Bob Seger song. You remember Turn the Page by Ann Arbors Rockin Robert Seger, right? Well, anyway, Rondon, 22, is getting a shot at replacing Jose Valverde, who collapsed...

Hunter fires up TigerFest crowd

DETROIT -- Torii Hunter made his way to the radio-interview platform at TigerFest and, before he was even introduced, received a rousing ovation from several hundred fans. A fan wearing a Tigers cap and jacket in the third row of folding chairs began to chant, TORE-ee! TOR-ee! The fans around him joined in, too, greeting Detroits new right fielder. Hunter took a seat and was taken...

Verlander loves idea of being a Tiger for life

DETROIT -- Justin Verlander, Tiger for Life. That has a nice ring for both Verlander and Tigers fans. And a deal to keep him in Detroit for the duration of his career could become a reality either before or after his current deal for five years at 80 million expires after the 2014 season. I told Verlander during a media gathering at Comerica Park on Thursday that when Zack Greinke...

Justin Verlander Wants to Play His Entire Career in Detroit

Players do not often reveal their motivations these days.  It can hurt their contract negotiations when working on an extension.  Justin Verlander is not concerned with that, though.  At the Detroit Tigers' annual luncheon, Verlander made no secret of his desire to spend the rest of his career in Detroit. Jason Beck of MLB.com says the question about what Verlander wants...

Spotlight will be on Rondon in Tigers' spring training

The spotlight of spring training is going to be shining largely on rookie Bruce Rondon. The almost-anointed successor to departed Jose Valverde as Detroit's closer was the subject of the most questions as the Tigers began their winter publicity caravan prior to last weekend. Rondon, 22, has yet to throw a pitch in the majors but when he does the radar gun will likely clock...

Tigers eager to try for 2nd straight pennant

After winning the American League pennant in 2012 but losing the World Series in four straight games, the Detroit Tigers are ready to try to take that elusive final step. The Tigers are led again by a collection of stars that would make pretty much any team envious. Right-hander Justin Verlander was the AL MVP two years ago, and slugger Miguel Cabrera was voted MVP last season after...

VWL Coming to a Close as Omar Infante Appears

The Venezuelan Baseball League Final started Wednesday in the city of Valencia. Cardenales de Lara and Navegantes del Magallanes will vie for the championship trophy. Although with little presence of Tigers, many had outstanding participation in the playoffs and it is important to highlight. None more noteworthy than the appearance in January of Omar Infante.

2013 ZiPS Projections – Detroit Tigers

Dan Szymborski’s ZiPS projections, which have typically appeared in the pages of Baseball Think Factory, are being released at FanGraphs this year. Below are the projections for the Detroit Tigers. Szymborski can be found on Twitter at @DSzymborski. Other 2013 Projections: Angels / Astros / Athletics / Blue Jays / Brewers / Cubs / Diamondbacks / Giants / Mets / Nationals / Phillies...

Justin Verlander: One-Team Pitcher and HOFer?

Detroit Tigers ace Justin Verlander recently stated that he would like to spend his entire career in the Motor City and earn Hall of Fame honors in the process.  What is the likelihood of this happening? According to baseballreference.com career leaders for WAR (wins above replacement), of the Top 50 pitchers of all-time only Walter Johnson, Bob Gibson, Carl Hubbell, Jim Palmer...

Look Back and Ahead to 2013: Third Base

Coming into 2012, one of the biggest questions the team was facing was whether or not superstar Miguel Cabrera could successfully make the shift back to third base. Cabrera was able to hold his own, but just how well did he do, and was it good enough to stick there long term?
Tigers News
Delivered to your inbox
You'll also receive Yardbarker's daily Top 10, featuring the best sports stories from around the web. Customize your newsletter to get articles on your favorite sports and teams. And the best part? It's free!

Today's Best Stuff
For Bloggers

Join the Yardbarker Network for more promotion, traffic, and money.

Company Info
Help
What is Yardbarker?

Yardbarker is the largest network of sports blogs and pro athlete blogs on the web. This site is the hub of the Yardbarker Network, where our editors and algorithms curate the best sports content from our network and beyond.