Originally written November 28, 2012 on Tigers Weblog:
(see what I did there? Tres? You can call me the blog post title Expert, if you’d like) It’s been a while, so let’s get caught up on Free Agent news around the club. There hasn’t been much movement around Detroit, but some interesting things nonetheless. I am fascinated by the Josh Hamilton situation. Living in Dallas, I can tell you that the club’s attitude towards him at the end of the season through now was definitely resentful, and bordered on disgust. His lack of effort, his massive August slump and his unappreciative comments angered many around here. It looks like that attitude leaked out to MLB in general and he’s not seeing the money he hoped he would. Jon Daniels makes smart decisions, so if they make Hamilton an offer, it will be at a level that the club feels he is worth, regardless of what the market says. On to our Tigers… This Rafael Soriano stuff is heating up. I know that we have Rondon waiting in the wings, but why not Soriano? Money is not an object here. Illitch is in a spend now to win now mindset, of which we should be very appreciative. I would love to see Soriano nailing down the 9th for us. Rondon will have his time. Tony Paul of Detroit News disagrees. By the way, where would Boras be without Illitch? About 1% less rich? I think that many feel that Porcello is expendable if we sign Sanchez, but Dave Cameron argues that Porcello is poised for a breakout season (you’ll need insider). Cameron writes “He set career highs in both strikeout rate and ground ball rate in 2012, but even more encouragingly, his velocity jumped nearly 2 mph, and he was regularly topping out at 95 for the first time as a big leaguer. The improvement was masked by mediocre results, but those were primarily caused by a .344 batting average on balls in play, and considering how dreadful the Tigers’ defense was, that’s a number that is unlikely to be repeated with any other set of teammates. While his 4.59 ERA won’t blow you away, his 3.91 FIP suggests he was much better than his raw stats suggest.” (note – I find the insider subscription to be well worth it) Porcello will benefit more than anyone from a better middle infield… So let’s talk about the middle infield for a bit. There have been rumors that the Arizona Diamonbacks whant Peralta. Not sure why (likely at 3B), but let’s assume that they are true and that the Tigers make a deal for Justin Upton. Then what do we do at SS? Some think that the Tigers may covet Stephen Drew. But Drew would likely be a downgrade defensively (especially after ankle surgery) and would definitely be worse offensively than Peralta. Some have suggested putting in Danny Worth and just sacrificing his spot in the lineup in return for the increased defense. This is not a bad idea. Runs shouldn’t be a problem in 2013, defense will. As we all know, the Tigers were one of the worst teams in the league at turning ground balls into outs, and Worth’s range at SS would be of significant value. There was a long insider article on ESPN yesterday which addressed the tigers middle infield problems, here are a few of the highlights: Infante and Peralta will both be 31 next season, they are likely to decline all the way around. “Infante’s .257/.283/.385 line in his two months in Detroit in 2012 didn’t even match that career-outside-of-Atlanta average. At the very least, Detroit can at least be confident in his fielding. As he has received more steady playing time at one position, his fielding performance has improved — he has been 18 runs above average over the past two years according to UZR — but even with two months of Infante’s good defense, the only team to get worse production out of its second basemen last season was the Orioles.” “If they are serious about winning whileMiguel Cabrera, Prince Fielder and Justin Verlander are in their primes, it might make sense to use top prospect Nick Castellanos as trade bait to get an elite shortstop or second baseman. Castellanos’ natural position is third base, where he is blocked by Cabrera, so he could be expendable. While they can’t move Peralta to another position, Infante could easily go back to his super-sub role and have plenty of value there if they acquire a better second basemen.” And some AJax love in the article – “Last season, Jackson posted one of the best seasons in the game, and it was curious that he didn’t receive even one vote for the Most Valuable Player award. (He had 5.5 WAR, per FanGraphs, which ranked eighth in the AL.) At 5.5 WAR, only 21 players in baseball were more valuable than Jackson.”   Boesch may be on the block, according to Jon Paul Morosi. I definitely think that Boesch is expendable, I just don’t see us getting much in return. I think the real lynch pin is Garcia. If he’s the right fielder of the future, then there’s no spot for Justin Upton – whom I’m guessing the Tigers would go after in a Peralta to the DBacks deal. Though I would love to see the Tigers deal Boesch and Peralta for minor leaguers, and then run with Worth at SS. Here’s a potential lineup: 1. Jackson, CF 2. Hunter, LF 3. Cabrera, 3B 4. Fielder, 1B 5. VMart, DH 6. Garcia, RF 7. Avila, C 8. Infante, 2B 9. Worth, SS Nice. A few other notes: - Remember how we acquired QBert and Darin Downs? Offseason minor league contracts. Just signed 19 more – including 2005 first round pick Trevor Bell. - In case you missed it – the Tigers released some info on their World Series shares. - Remember when the Tigers were in the World Series? Seems like forever ago.
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