Category Archives: Detroit Tigers

Season Outlook: Detroit Tigers

Projected 2017 Starting Lineup:

  1. Ian Kinsler – 2nd baseman
  2. J.D. Martinez – Right Fielder
  3. Miguel Cabrera – 1st baseman
  4. Victor Martinez – Designated Hitter
  5. Justin Upton – Left Fielder
  6. Nick Castellanos – 3rd baseman
  7. James McCann – Catcher
  8. Tyler Collins – Center Fielder
  9. Jose Iglesias – Shortstop

Projected 2017 Starting Rotation:

  1. Justin Verlander
  2. Michael Fulmer
  3. Jordan Zimmermann
  4. Anibal Sanchez
  5. Daniel Norris

Season Outlook:

It appears that Cleveland will win the AL Central in 2017, but the Tigers are a team that certainly could contend for a wild card spot. The first five players in the Tigers lineup looks really good with Ian Kinsler, J.D. Martinez, Miguel Cabrera, Victor Martinez, and Justin Upton. As long as those guys stay healthy then they should produce the bulk of the offensive production for Detroit. Cabrera is a legitimate MVP candidate every year, but last year he struggled to stay healthy. Cabrera and Victor Martinez are key to the team’s success since they are the most consistent hitters that the team has, but they are both getting old which could affect them in 2017. Meanwhile, the Tigers starting rotation looks very deep and talented on paper especially with Justin Verlander, Michael Fulmer, and Jordan Zimmermann. Anibal Sanchez and Daniel Norris are very good options at the back end of the rotation as well, although they just struggle with consistency. The Tigers bullpen appears to be a weakness heading into 2017, although Francisco Rodriguez is a good closer. This team does have some weaknesses, but their lineup and pitching rotation both have the potential to be very good in 2017. If the Tigers key players can stay healthy then I see no reason that they can’t compete for a playoff spot in 2017.

Prediction: 2nd place in the AL Central

miguel-cabrera

Biggest need remaining for every AL Central team

Chicago White Sox – Biggest need: Centerfielder

This team has needs all over the place especially after trading away Adam Eaton and Chris Sale this offseason. However, the centerfield position seems to be a complete mystery for the White Sox heading into 2017. Adam Eaton was supposed to be in that role, but now that he was traded away then the team doesn’t have much left. Charles Tilson and Leury Garcia will compete for the starting job, but neither player has much MLB experience. Tilson has only 2 at-bats at the MLB level and Garcia has had a little more experience, but he is a career .188 hitter in 308 at-bats. Tilson figures to be the starter as of right now, although it would be smart for the White Sox to bring in a more experienced centerfielder as a temporary solution.

Cleveland Indians – Biggest need: Centerfielder

Cleveland doesn’t seem to be interested in re-signing last year’s starter in centerfield Rajai Davis, so it likely means the team will have a new starter at that position in 2017. Tyler Naquin is projected to be the team’s starting centerfielder, but he hit only .174 in 23 at-bats for Cleveland last season. The Indians should probably bring in some more depth at the position because who knows how well Naquin will perform as the everyday centerfielder.

Detroit Tigers – Biggest need: Centerfielder

The Tigers traded away Cameron Maybin who was the starter in centerfield for the team last season. However, the issue is that the team hasn’t found a decent replacement for Maybin as they are projected to have the inexperienced JaCoby Jones as the starter in 2017. Jones only has 28 career at-bats and he has only hit .214, so it is a complete unknown as to how well he’ll play at that position. The team also has Tyler Collins and Anthony Gose as options in centerfield, but neither of those guys is exciting.

Kansas City Royals – Biggest need: 2nd base

The Royals have 3 young players that could win the starting 2nd base job for the Royals in 2017, but none of the players are great options. Whit Merrifield will probably be the starter at 2nd base, but he only has one career season of experience as he hit .283 with 2 home runs. Christian Colon and Raul Mondesi both have more experience than Merrifield, but Mondesi is just a .185 career hitter and Colon is a .268 career hitter. Kansas City should at least add a veteran 2nd baseman in order to compete with Merrifield.

Minnesota Twins – Biggest need: Centerfielder

It wasn’t too long ago that centerfielder Byron Buxton was the top prospect in all of the MLB, but he has struggled tremendously to start his career. Buxton had 10 home runs with a .225 average last season for the Twins and the team is hoping that he can develop some more in 2017. Buxton can make remarkable defensive plays at times in centerfield, but it doesn’t matter much if he can’t produce consistently on offense. Danny Santana is a decent backup, but he isn’t nearly as talented as Buxton is. The Twins should sign a veteran centerfielder just in case Buxton struggles again in 2017.

Tigers sign Avila to a 1-year deal

The Detroit Tigers added to their catching depth by signing veteran catcher Alex Avila to a 1-year/$2 million deal. Avila has spent most of his career with the Tigers as their starting catcher, but he left the Tigers to spend one season with the White Sox in 2016. Avila now will reunite with his dad Al Avila who is the Tigers general manager. However, Avila will not be the starting catcher for Detroit in 2017 as James McCann has that role locked down. Avila provides the Tigers with a decent backup catcher as he has the ability to hit home runs which should be useful when he receives some playing time. Avila hit 7 home runs in limited time for Chicago last season, but his problem has been that he can’t hit consistently. Avila strikes out too much and he has only been a .240 career hitter and he hit an even worse .213 average with the White Sox last season. It is great to see Avila back with the Tigers, but at this point he is nothing more than a backup that can fill in occasionally for James McCann. This signing provides some more stability for the Tigers at the catcher position. Avila might not be an all-star caliber catcher like he was before, but he provides some more depth at the catcher position for the Tigers at least.

Grade: B

alex-avila

Free Agent that every AL Central team should re-sign.

Chicago White Sox – Alex Avila – Catcher – 2016: .213 avg. and 7 home runs

Alex Avila isn’t even close to being the all-star caliber catcher that he was during the 2011 season with the Detroit Tigers. However, Avila still has pretty good power for a catcher and he is still probably worth the White Sox re-signing because he can be a useful backup catcher at least. It’s difficult to find quality catchers these days and bringing back Avila at least as a backup would be a good move since he will be cheap to re-sign and he still has a lot of talent even though he has struggled in recent years.

Cleveland Indians – Mike Napoli – 1st baseman – 2016: .239 avg. and 34 home runs

Napoli was probably the one player that turned Cleveland from not just a playoff contender, but rather into a world series team. Napoli hit 34 home runs last season and he was the consistent power source that the Indians had been lacking in previous years. Napoli is 35 years old which means he won’t be getting a very long deal this offseason, yet it is worth it for Cleveland to keep him for at least another year or two.

Detroit Tigers – Jarrod Saltalamacchia – Catcher – 2016: .171 avg. and 12 home runs

In no way should Jarrod Saltalamacchia be a starting catcher on any team in the MLB. However, he still has a lot of value as a backup that has a ton of power left in his bat as proven by his 12 home runs despite receiving a part-time role. The average for Saltalamacchia is horrible as he hit .171 for the Tigers in 2016. However, he can be brought back at a cheap price and he could be useful coming off the bench.

Kansas City Royals – Greg Holland – Relief Pitcher – 2016: None

Holland didn’t play at all last season because he had Tommy John surgery on his throwing arm. However, when he is healthy, Holland has proven that he can easily be one of the top relief pitchers in all of the MLB. He is effective either as a setup man or a closer, but he would provide even more stability to the Royals bullpen at a bargain price. Kansas City has a tremendous bullpen even without Holland, but the Royals should definitely consider re-signing him since they will be getting a top-end relief pitcher for a cheap price. I have no idea how the Royals could possibly turn that down.

Minnesota Twins – Kurt Suzuki – Catcher – 2016: .258 avg. and 8 home runs

Kurt Suzuki has never been a flashy player, yet the one thing that he has always provided is consistent offensive production. Consistency is the main thing that Minnesota is lacking at pretty much every position which is why there a terrible team last year. However, it’s hard to find a more reliable catcher than Suzuki these days and combine that with the veteran leadership that he provides the Twins and they would be foolish to let him go.

 

AL Central Preview and Predictions

Chicago White Sox – 2015 Record: 76-86

Notable offseason additions:

SP Mat Latos(From Los Angeles Angels), C Alex Avila(From Detroit), OF Austin Jackson(From Chicago Cubs), 3B Todd Frazier(From Cincinnati), 2B Brett Lawrie(From Oakland), and C Dioner Navarro(From Toronto)

Notable offseason subtractions:

C Tyler Flowers(To Atlanta), 2B Gordon Beckham(To Atlanta), SS Alexei Ramirez(To San Diego), and SP Jeff Samardzija(To San Francisco)

Analysis: Chicago made quite a few acquisitions to try and improve their team this year. First of all, Todd Frazier is an all-star caliber player that will be great in the middle of the White Sox lineup to provide some support for Jose Abreu. However, for the offense to really be successful they will need production out of guys like Melky Cabrera and Adam Eaton who both struggled last season. Also, the White Sox have a pretty good pitching staff led by clear number 1 starter Chris Sale. If they can get some consistency from the back end of their rotation then that would make Chicago really good. David Robertson is a really good closer, but besides him the White Sox bullpen could really struggle. We know that Frazier, Abreu, and Sale will all produce for Chicago in 2016. However, they will need more production besides them if they want to compete in the AL Central.

Prediction: 4th place in the AL Central

Cleveland Indians – 2015 Record: 81-80

Notable offseason additions:

RP Tommy Hunter(From Chicago Cubs), 1B Mike Napoli(From Texas), 3B Juan Uribe(From New York Mets), OF Rajai Davis(From Detroit)

Notable offseason subtractions:

3B Chris Johnson(To Miami) and SP Gavin Floyd(To Toronto)

Analysis: Cleveland doesn’t have a loaded offense and now that all-star outfielder Michael Brantley will miss a big portion of the 2016 season then the team could really be starving to score runs. The Indians will need 2nd basemen Jason Kipnis and other position players to really step up in Brantley’s absence. Meanwhile, I’m not very concerned about Cleveland’s starting rotation especially at the top with Corey Kluber, Carlos Carrasco, and Danny Salazar. However, the 4th and 5th starters will have to become more consistent if the Indians aren’t scoring many runs. Cleveland’s bullpen is in decent shape especially with closer Cody Allen who had 34 saves in 2015. I’m not convinced that Cleveland’s pitching can make up for the lack of offense, so they will need at least somebody to step up while Brantley is injured or else this team could be in deep trouble.

Prediction: 5th place in the AL Central

Detroit Tigers – 2015 Record: 74-87

Notable offseason additions:

OF Cameron Maybin(From Atlanta), SP Jordan Zimmermann(From Washington), RP Justin Wilson(From New York Yankees), RP Mark Lowe(From Toronto), SP Mike Pelfrey(From Minnesota), OF Justin Upton(From San Diego), and RP Francisco Rodriguez(From Milwaukee)

Notable offseason subtractions:

SP Alfredo Simon(To Cincinnati), OF Rajai Davis(To Cleveland), and C Alex Avila(To Chicago White Sox)

Analysis: I really like what Detroit did this offseason because they improved their team in a variety of ways. The team already had Miguel Cabrera, J.D. Martinez, and Ian Kinsler in their lineup heading into this offseason. However, they made their offense even more dangerous with the addition of power-hitting outfielder Justin Upton. Also, the signing of Jordan Zimmermann provides the team with a top of the rotation starting pitcher that will help improve a pitching staff that wasn’t very good at all last season. ¬†However, the main issue for the Tigers in 2015 was definitely their bullpen. They made big improvements to their bullpen by acquiring Mark Lowe and Justin Wilson to be their 7th and 8th inning guys. Not to mention, Detroit also traded for Francisco Rodriguez who has been one of the most reliable closers. This team has improved in basically every area and it is ready to be a world series contender once again.

Prediction: 1st place in the AL Central

Kansas City Royals – 2015 Record: 95-67

Notable offseason additions:

RP Joakim Soria(From Pittsburgh) and SP Ian Kennedy(From San Diego)

Notable offseason subtractions:

2B Ben Zobrist(To Chicago Cubs), RP Ryan Madson(To Oakland), and SP Johnny Cueto(To San Francisco)

Analysis: The Royals are reigning world series champions and even though they did a good job of keeping key players like Alex Gordon with the team they still lost a couple of key players this offseason. Kansas City basically has the same exact lineup as last season, so you can expect to continue to see solid offensive production. The bullpen figures to be the strength of the team in 2016 as Kelvin Herrera, Luke Hochever, and Wade Davis are all returning to their late-inning roles. The bullpen might even be better after the Royals signed proven late-inning guy Joakim Soria. The only thing that I see holding Kansas City back is their starting rotation. Edinson Volquez is a reliable number 1 starter, but besides him it is unclear what Yordano Ventura and Ian Kennedy will give the team as top of the rotation starters. Both players have tons of talent, but they struggle with consistency and the bullpen might not be able to succeed if the Royals starters aren’t keeping games close. This team is still basically the same as it was last year, but ultimately the lack of a quality starting rotation drops them to 2nd place in the AL Central in my opinion.

Prediction: 2nd place in the AL Central

Minnesota Twins – 2015 Record: 83-79

Notable offseason additions:

1B Byung Ho Park(From South Korean team)

Notable offseason subtractions:

SP Mike Pelfrey(To Detroit), OF Aaron Hicks(To New York Yankees)

Analysis: The Twins surprised us all last season with 83 wins, but the issue is that they didn’t make their team much better this offseason. I’m excited to see what young outfielders Byron Buxton and Miguel Sano can do in 2016 and they will be a key component of the Twins offense. Of course, Minnesota will really need Brian Dozier and Joe Mauer to step up like they did last season in order to score runs. I think the Twins offense has a chance to be very good this season. However, the bullpen and the starting rotation really concerns me. Closer Glen Perkins is one of the most reliable closers in the MLB as he had 32 saves, but besides him the bullpen isn’t looking very good at all. Meanwhile, the pitching staff is just as much of a mess. Phil Hughes is the team’s number 1 starter and yet he only had 11 wins and a 4.40 ERA in 2015. The Twins offense will clearly carry the load like it did last season, but if they want to improve last year then somebody in their pitching rotation and bullpen must step up.

Prediction: 3rd place in the AL Central

miguel cabrera

 

Tigers acquire Justin Wilson

The New York Yankees have traded relief pitcher Justin Wilson to the Detroit Tigers for minor league pitchers Luis Cessa and Chad Green. Detroit has made major improvements to their bullpen this offseason and Justin Wilson figures to be a 7th inning or 8th inning guy for Detroit in 2016. He has been consistent throughout his career as he has a 3.03 career ERA and he will provide a lot of stability to a struggling Tigers bullpen. Meanwhile, I question why the Yankees would get rid of Wilson because he was a key part of their bullpen last season and they aren’t really the same without him as a setup man. Also, New York didn’t get much in return as Luis Cessa had a 4.52 ERA in Double-A and Triple-A last season. Cessa is close to a major league debut, but the Yankees should be concerned if he is putting up those types of stats in the minor leagues. The other right-handed pitcher that New York acquired in this deal was Chad Green and he wasn’t much better. Green posted a 3.93 ERA in Double-A last season and he is looking at 2017 before he could possibly make it up to the MLB. Green and Cessa are young, although they will need to majorly improve their statistics in the minor leagues before they can even think about moving up to the MLB. This trade doesn’t make too much sense for the Yankees especially since they are giving up such a reliable relief pitcher.

Tigers Grade: B+ – The Tigers continue to add to their bullpen and Justin Wilson is the type of setup man that they needed. He is reliable and they didn’t have to give up much for him except for a couple of minor league pitchers that are struggling.

Yankees Grade: D+ – I’m not quite sure why the Yankees would make their bullpen worse by trading a consistent pitcher like Justin Wilson. Also, to make things worse they are getting a couple of pitchers that aren’t putting up good numbers in the minor leagues.

justin wilson

Tigers sign Mark Lowe to a 2-year contract

The Tigers made it a priority this offseason to improve their bullpen which really struggled last season and they continued to upgrade their bullpen on Tuesday by signing Mark Lowe to a 2-year/$11 million contract. Lowe had a tremendous season for Toronto in 2015 as he had a 1.96 ERA in 57 games. The Tigers lost out on signing Joakim Soria, so Lowe could fill Soria’s void as the 8th inning guy in the Tigers Bullpen. Lowe is 32 years old and he comes at a really cheap price for Detroit which is what makes this signing so amazing. The Tigers recently acquired closer Francisco Rodriguez in a trade from the Brewers, so Detroit’s late-inning options are looking much better than they were last season.

Grade: A – Lowe comes at a really cheap price, but he is a really reliable relief pitcher and he will really help upgrade the Tigers bullpen next season.

mark lowe