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News » Detroit Tigers Roster Report 2009-03-01


Detroit Tigers Roster Report 2009-03-01


Detroit Tigers Roster Report 2009-03-01
Scoring runs was not a problem for Detroit last season, but defense and pitching were. So the Tigers got a new shortstop (Adam Everett), moved Brandon Inge back to third, traded for C Gerald Laird and shifted Carlos Guillen to left field, moves they believe will help the pitching. RHP Edwin Jackson was obtained via trade to give the rotation a fresh arm, and the organization hopes a complete return to health by RHP Jeremy Bonderman along with a resurgence by RHP Justin Verlander will stabilize the rotation and take pressure off the bullpen. There is no established closer, but RHP Brandon Lyon was signed to compete for that job and a healthy RHP Joel Zumaya would give the 'pen a big boost.

ARRIVALS: C Gerald Laird (trade with Rangers), SS Adam Everett (free agent from Twins), RHP Edwin Jackson (trade with Rays), LHP Kyle Bloom (Rule 5 selection from Pirates), C Matt Treanor (free agent from Marlins), RHP Juan Rincon (minor league free agent from Indians), RHP Brandon Lyon (free agent from Diamondbacks), RHP Scott Williamson (minor league free agent from Mariners).

DEPARTURES: RHP Kyle Farnsworth (free agent, signed with Royals), RHP Todd Jones (retired), SS Edgar Renteria (free agent, signed with Giants), OF Matt Joyce (traded to Rays), C Vance Wilson (free agent, signed minor league deal with Royals), LHP Casey Fossum (free agent, signed minor league deal with Mets), RHP Freddy Garcia (free agent, signed with Mets).

SPRING FOCUS: Determining whether RHP Brandon Lyon or RHP Fernando Rodney -- or someone else -- will close games is the No. 1 task of the spring; the rest of the bullpen should fall into line after that. Getting the rotation ready and finding a fifth starter is No. 2. Positions in the field are set, but the bench is not; incumbent UT Ryan Raburn faces a challenge from rookie INF Jeff Larish for the last seat on the bench.

PROJECTED ROTATION:

1. RHP Justin Verlander

2. RHP Jeremy Bonderman

3. RHP Armando Galarraga

4. RHP Edwin Jackson

5. LHP Dontrelle Willis or LHP Nate Robertson or RHP Zach Miner

Bonderman began throwing two weeks before spring training began and said he felt good. The key to a Detroit rebound will be a return by the Verlander to way he dominated hitters his first two seasons, when he won 35 games, and a repeat of his strong rookie season by Galarraga.

Last year Detroit opened the season with three lefties in the rotation; this year it might have none. Robertson dropped some weight and worked hard to get more flexibility, while Willis also shed pounds in an effort to regain his control. Both are working to rebound from disastrous 2008 seasons. Miner is in place if the lefties falter.

PROJECTED BULLPEN:

RHP Brandon Lyon (closer)

RHP Fernando Rodney

LHP Bobby Seay

RHP Joel Zumaya

RHP Zach Miner

LHP Kyle Bloom or LHP Nate Robertson or LHP Dontrelle Willis

RHP Juan Rincon, RHP Scott Williamson or RHP Freddy Dolsi

Detroit needs either Lyon or Rodney to grab the closer's job, which would set up the back end of the bullpen. Front end is in flux and the club is hopeful Rincon can bounce back or Williamson can be healthy. Miner could wind up in the rotation but is likely to begin the season in the bullpen.

Finding a second lefty to go with Seay is a priority but there are candidates. Some rookies, notably RHP Casey Fien, will get a long look and it's likely Detroit will be looking at the salary dumps and discards of other teams during the spring.

PROJECTED LINEUP:

1. CF Curtis Granderson

2. 2B Placido Polanco

3. RF Magglio Ordonez

4. 1B Miguel Cabrera

5. LF Carlos Guillen

6. DH Gary Sheffield

7. C Gerald Laird

8. 3B Brandon Inge

9. SS Adam Everett

Bottom three spots in the order may fluctuate from game-to-game, and whether Guillen's back and knees can hold up in the outfield is a question, but everything else is set.

Manager Jim Leyland likes to make sure his regulars get enough rest to keep them fresh for the finish, so look for the players in the bottom three slots in the order to play 100-120 games at most.

It won't be surprising if Cabrera, who took one turn around the league to adjust, has a monster year in his second tour around the American League. And remember, he led the AL in home runs last season.

PROJECTED RESERVES:

C Matt Trainor

LF Marcus Thames

INF Ramon Santiago

UT Ryan Raburn or INF Jeff Larish

Trainor, Thames and Santiago are set but it could go either way for the last spot on the bench. Raburn has the edge because he's been there before and he can play any position in the infield or outfield. Larish could get the call if the Tigers feel the need for left-handed power pinch-hitter or occasional DH.

If Raburn isn't around, though, the only alternative Detroit has in center is 3B Brandon Inge.

It's not hopeless for OF Clete Thomas, either, if Thames is dealt at some point to fill a void at another position. Thomas is a sound defender who hits from the left side.

TOP ROOKIES:

A number of pitchers have a chance to make the roster at some point during the season. RHP Casey Fien went 3-3 with 12 saves and a 2.96 ERA in 40 games for Class AA Erie to earn a bump to Class AAA. RHP Rudy Darrow was 4-2 with four saves and a 1.85 ERA in 33 games for low Class A West Michigan before impressing in 14 games for Erie (six saves, 2.63 ERA in 14 games). At least two of last June's draftees -- No. 1 RHP Ryan Perry and No. 2 RHP Cody Satterwhite -- could be mid-season call-ups if the bullpen needs help. Perry had a 3.86 ERA in 12 games for Class A Lakeland but he saved four games while Satterwhite struck out 22 in 18 innings with a 4.42 ERA in 17 games for Lakeland (two saves).

INF Jeff Larish impressed as a pinch-hitter in two brief trials last season and might open with the Tigers if they feel his left-handed bat and power potential outweighs UT Ryan Raburn's versatility and experience. Larish, who hit .260 with two home runs and 16 RBI in 42 games for Detroit, added a third baseman's glove to his equipment bag last year and could help himself by taking fly balls in left this spring.

MEDICAL WATCH:

--RHP Joel Zumaya (small right shoulder fracture that did not require surgery) has been throwing without strain or pain through the first week-plus of camp. His curve has been excellent.

--RHP Jeremy Bonderman (right rib removal, blood clot surgery in June 2008) reports only the normal aches and pains of early throwing. He's beginning to work in his slider and is tinkering with a changeup (again) and a split-finger.

--LF Carlos Guillen (sore back, missed all of last September) played a handful of winter games in left with no ill effects. He said he'll drop out of the World Baseball Classic if he isn't playing left field (his new spot with the Tigers) for Team Venezuela.


Author:Fox Sports
Author's Website:http://www.foxsports.com
Added: March 1, 2009

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