As the roster turns

Josh Anderson is a left-handed bat, and he’ll be on the Tigers’ bench. That does not necessary mean he will be the left-handed bat off the bench.

There’s a key point to be made about Monday’s trade. While Tigers president/general manager Dave Dombrowski said that Anderson will be on the roster — he’s out of Minor League options, so they wouldn’t have made the trade if they didn’t plan on it — Dombrowski would not say that Anderson takes up the last spot on the roster. That means if the spot Marcus Thames has held for the past few years wasn’t in play before, it certainly appears to be now. And Jeff Larish would seem to be the other one in line for it.

As has already been written elsewhere, players without guaranteed contracts can be cut by April 1 and be owed 45 days’ salary in termination pay — or basically one-fourth of what they were slated to make — rather than the full season. Thames is scheduled to make $2,275,000 this year as part of a one-year contract agreement reached back in January to avoid arbitration. On a team with payroll considerations and lots of guaranteed contracts that can’t be cut, it’s hard to say that it wouldn’t be a factor, especially if all the evaluations are equal.

There’s very likely no way that Larish can match the pure power numbers Thames has put up in his role over the last few years. He ratio of a home run every 13.52 at-bats over the last three years ranks fourth in the American League. There’s absolutely no way that Larish can match Thames’ actual power and raw strength. But he has Minor League numbers that project him to hit for power in the Majors, he’s shown a knack for hitting off the bench, and he’s a left-handed bat for a team that has a predominantly right-handed lineup.

While you can’t rule out a trade, Thames himself has pointed out his situation: He has been on the block at various points over the last three years without a deal. He has also been rumored on the market for much of this Spring Training without much developing. And Dombrowski termed the chances of a trade involving any Tigers outfielder as possible, but not likely.

If the Tigers believe that Larish can provide them with enough of a power spark at the plate, especially in pinch-hit situations, then they could face a very difficult decision: How much is it worth for them to put him on the team? Plenty has been written over the last few years about a power hitter like Thames not having a regular role. But how about possibly not having a roster spot?

There’s only one big upside to Thames being out of the picture in Detroit, and me no longer getting emails asking to guess what Thames would hit over a full season is not it. It’s the fact that Thames could end up in a better situation for him in terms of playing time. Whether he could compete for that elusive starting job is uncertain this late in camp, especially when teams haven’t stepped up and traded for him already. But a long-awaited chance at more playing time, a platoon or more, couldn’t happen to a better guy.

30 Comments

I am continuing from the last blog. But it was mentioned by a few of you that Maggs refused to DH?? How do you know this to be true?? Is this speculation or is it fact??

Maybe the Tigers will let Thames go, and save a net sum of $ 1.3 million after factoring in the replacement cost of a replacement player at the minimum $ 400K. That would be the only reason that I see to replace Thames with Larish.
The advantages to Larish are that he bats left, he hits left handed, and of course he has that lefty bat. Unless you take Sheff off the roster, he has no position, and they now have Anderson, another lefty on the bench, but no righty with any pop. Maybe Larish can pinch hit for Everett in the late innings when the Tigers are behind. Don’t get me wrong, I like Larish, and I think he’ll hit in the majors once given a chance, but he has no position with the Tigers so long as they continue to trot Gary “mendoza line” Sheffield out there every day. A better solution would be to let Sheff hit his 500th homer, and have the gold watch and rocking chair ready to present to him the same day, then have a platoon of Thames and Larish in the DH role.
Even on the pine as a lefty, Anderson will likely have a batting avg of as good or better than Larish.
And you still have the fact that Leyland always, always carries two infielders on his bench. I don’ t see the pressing need for that, especially with Guillen still on the roster who could come back to the IF in an emergency, but Tram did it too. Could be that Thames is released and Larish is sent down, while Raburn or Rhymes gets the last seat on the bus.

Excellent analysis Jason. I like the Anderson trade…..left hander with very good speed and (hopefully) defense, and still very young is a big positive. Gives the Tigers a player who can potentially manufacture a needed run. Another dimension to the offense. Unfortunately, (or fortunately), however you look at it, this trade dictates some decisions to follow. I’ve always been a strong supporter of Marcus. I like his humble, selfless character. And when he messes up you see genuine remorse in his face (for lack of a better word). A very good team player who seems to have a very positive effect in the clubhouse. I do see the difficulty in keeping him as the roster shakes out now…..but…..

We’ve talked about all the potential DH’ers on this team, too many really. And it creates roadblocks to building a speedier, defensive oriented team with just the right amount of power to create enough offense. MCab will supply a lot of that.

I know it’s not this simple, but if it were, I’d keep Marcus and Carlos and trade Shef and Magglio. Yeah, I think I’m finally coming ’round to your preaching Dan. Marcus and Carlos could share the DH role, and both can play LF too, and remember Carlos could fill in in the IF in a pinch.

Now this would free up room for any three of Larrish, Thomas, Raburn, and Clevlen, if I’m counting right.

Maggs has done a lot in terms of production for this team, and we’ve all appreciated that since he’s been here, but I sure would like to see some speed at that RF position. I like Shef too but sometimes you got to let go.

With Maggs and Shef gone you would take a step of faith in believing the remaining cast could support Cab in run production. I believe they could.

Interesting Tigerdog, we were writing about the same time and seem to have some similar ideas. You make some good points.

True, Marty. I do like the Anderson trade, BTW, even if it means my man Marcus is a goner. I can see him pinch hitting for Everett or Inge against a tough righty in the late innings if the Tigs are behind, or pinch running for one of our station to station studs if they get a hit.
We’ve had almost no ability to “manufacture a run” when needed in a tight game, and Anderson adds a new dimension that I’m sure Leyland will take advantage of. Say Cabrera or Maggs gets a hit, you send in Anderson to run, putting all kinds of pressure on the pitcher, and the batter sees more fastballs and has a nice gap to shoot one through on the right side. Beats the station to station, leave em loaded offense of 2008.

Isn’t Clete Thomas an outfielder with speed, who looks as though he might be able to hit for average, who is a lefty, but who actually hits for some power as well??? Again, I wonder why we need another outfielder, as it was suggested before we have a backlog of outfielders?? We have to few pitchers, so what do we do??? We give the pitchers up and get more outfielders. Like I said yesterday this makes no sense unless they are unloading someone else as well..

Hey does anyone know the answer to the question I asked last night?? Some stated that Magglio refused to DH at all so that Carlos could play in the outfield some? Does anyone know this for a fact or is it speculation? Really curious, because I never heard that, I assumed that it was the coaches decision.

Jason, how does Carlos look in left?? I was in NYC last weekend and didn’t get to see any of the games that were televised on either MLB or FSN.

Wow.
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http://www.detnews.com/article/20090331/SPORTS0104/903310403/1129/Tigers+release+Gary+Sheffield
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Well that makes the motivation for yesterday’s trade a little clearer.
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matt

I suspect a possible trade is looming for another pitcher , especially, if DD knows that they need someone missing in the minors, and helping to rebuild the future players. Very likely, if Porcello is moved up, that leaves a hole in AAA. With Bondo improving but not ready, Zach is looking good, they will need extra arm strengh in the pen.

It is hard when you like the contributions of Maggs ($18M- no trade protection),& Guillen ($10m partial notrade) , as compared to Sheff ($14 limited no trade to 10 teams in MLB), and lowcost -utility benchers like Rayburn, Anderson, Larish, stong decisions to keep and bench, while Marcus Thames (2.27M) is an expensive bench ornament .

Reading comments, I do see a pattern that other clubs would love to have that kind of power at bat in a economical package, ready to play. I am saddened that we lost Matt Joyce last year, he looked like he had a future in the league. Crying over spilt milk & those deals happen. Miller, Jurjens, Rabelo,Maroth, Durban,Pudge, etc. but look at people that have come to the team useful or otherwise! Farnsworth : ( !

Rhymes, Holliman might have a future, and Clete Thomas is still improving and he just had surgery this winter. I see him as going back down.
My ONLY hope is that they retire Sheffield! Please, cut the organizations losses…Keep THames, he can still play OF and DH, meanwhile send Willis down ($10 m) or push him out of the plane taking him down to AA… oh, thats got to hurt every time DD thinks about it! Nobody is going to wear his jersey!.. their on sale at Sports Stores already!!!

YAYYY! I typed too slow..
Good bye and Good Luck to Sheff! Don’t let the door hit you in the ….
I cried seeing Pudge go, and he had proven worth, and a good charactor. Somethings weren’t there with GS!

Hip Hip Horah!!!
Now I am smiling and happy! : )
Can’t wait to tell my son!
Happy in Northern Michigan.. the sun is shining!

In a way, it makes me a little sad. The guy is a real competitor and he brings a lot of spirit. The flashes of brilliance that we saw got me very excited, but I agree that this is a good move for the team. I’m surprised that they would eat that much salary. I guess Marcus can get more ABs now in the DH spot and we’ll see if his power will scale with the additional plate appearances.
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matt

Nothing against Sheff- but this was a much needed, although unexpected move by the Tigers. I didn’t think they had it in them to eat the $14M- but I am very happy they did.

This makes yesterday’s trade much more palatable. So who’s the DH? Carlos? Maggs? Thames? Combo of the 3? This is best move the Tigers have made for the good of the team all year, in my opinion. Gary will get picked up, and have a decent year and then retire. He will be in the Hall of Fame- but not as a Tiger, even if he stayed through the year, he was not really a Tiger. Too much Gary, too little team in his character.

-Tracey

All I can say is WOW!!!!! I feel a major relief right now. I am sorry to the fans of Shef, but WOW!!! I have never been a fan, even back in the day. So good riddens to Gary, and I wont be completely cruel and wish him GOOD LUCK!!! I do hope we get to keep Marcus after this. But once again the big bosses have shown us they aren’t afraid to surprise us. Anyway, GO TIGERS!!!!! -Stacy

Wow– now that’s a surprise. I guess the assumption is that they’ll keep Thames? Or are they still going to cut Thames and keep Clevlen? The next few days should be very interesting. Here’s the roster as I see it shaking out:
- OF: Guillen, Granderson, Ordonez, Thames, Anderson
- IF: Inge, Everett, Polanco, Cabrera, Santiago, Larish
- Catchers: Laird, Treanor
- Starters: Verlander, Jackson, Miner, Gallaraga, Robertson
- Bullpen: Lyon, Rodney, Rincon, Perry, Bonine, Seay, Rapada
- DL: Zumaya, Willis, Bonderman

- Minors:(waiting in the wings) Raburn, Thomas, Clevlen (hopefully), Perez, Porcello, Fien.
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It looks to me that they will platoon Anderson and Thames in left and let Guillen DH. They’ll likely rotate other players into the DH role to keep them fresh. I like that idea and I like the added speed dimension that Anderson can provide.
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If we make the following assumptions:
- Verlander returns to being a stud. (Goal: 18+ wins)
- Jackson and Gallaraga are solid, middle rotation guys. (Goal: combined 28 wins)
- Miner/Robertson will fill the fifth starter slot throughout the year. (Goal: combined 10 wins)
Then, the season success hinges on the following:
- Bonderman returning healthy and proving he can be a top of the rotation starter. (Goal: 15 wins)
- The bullpen holding together– ideally with Perry proving he’s solid or Zumaya returning to form. (I know how many think that’s never going to happen.)
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A few quick questions:
- Is anyone concerned about losing Darrow in the trade for Anderson? His numbers were pretty good.
- Is Clevlen good enough to get picked off on waivers? If so, does the new team have to add him to their ML roster?
- Does Ordonez have any trade value? I know he carries a big stick but with the economy the way it is and the money left on his contract, are we dreaming when we think we can trade him? Is this his last contract year or do we have him in 2010 again?
- Does Guillen like playing DH?

Seems to me that Marcus should get the every day DH job now. He can also continue to back-up Cabrera at 1st and Guillen in left if needed which makes him more versatile than Sheff.

The release of Sheffield knocks my socks off, or knocks my hat in the creek, or whatever colloquialism you want to use. I never EVER thought they’d do that.
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I wasn’t nearly as down on Sheff as some folks, but this move alone cleans up a lot of roster problems. The new scenarios can be discussed for hours, but right now I’ve got to work. Dombrowski is trying to see that I don’t. :-)
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I am glad that I won’t have to try to defend Sheff anymore.
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–Rich

Like Rich, I’m blown away by the release of Sheff. That is a bunch of dough to eat during these economic times. I would imagine that Illitch would of had to have given the OK on this one.
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Rich, did you happen to read the article by Lynn Henning yesterday about Willis? Very weird stuff. Again, I really hope Willis can bounce back from all this.
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JUMS

This is move that took some guts to make. Good on them. There will be criticism and some logic in that perhaps they could have gotten something for him and paid 75% of his salary with another club. But-
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The main thing is they have re-energized their systemj. They have unblocked progress for some of the minor leaguers and given them hope. They have removed a negative influence on the team and this will be the biggest impact.
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There will be consternation over who DHs and complaints when Ordonez doesn’t DH as much as we hope he should. The advantage with this spot rotating is to keep offense in the lineup and playing the walking wounded or to keep these guys from wearing down from the grind of everyday play. We’ll likely see Larish there and MCab occassionally too with Larish spelling him at first. The possibilities are endless.
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This will put some emphasis on replacing Sheffields HR bat. Marcus likely stays now. Curtis will be dropped in the order and allowed to evolve as a player. Larish stays in the hopes of providing some clout.
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Will be interesting to see what happens with Clevlen, Rhymes, Hessman, Raburn and Thomas. A case could be made for all of them but I suspect Anderson makes Thomas redundant now. They could protect Clevlen now, or afford to take another middle infielder. Hessman is still odd man out and I hope he finds himself a big league job.
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Good to see the club willing to shake things up. This was a courageous move.

Jason– Based on the original post, you thought that Detroit was prepared to release Marcus. Care to elaborate on your thought process/sources?

We still have a logjam at DH. The addition of Anderson has created 4, arguably, 5 guys who can DH.
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There may still be a deal in the works here, so stay tuned.

To answer:
I am continuing from the last blog. But it was mentioned by a few of you that Maggs refused to DH?? How do you know this to be true?? Is this speculation or is it fact??

Carlos was quoted as saying the reason he didn’t get to play left in the WBC was because Maggs refused to DH- so he took LF…..Not sure where I read that, now- maybe the Freep or the News.

-Tracey

To answer:
I am continuing from the last blog. But it was mentioned by a few of you that Maggs refused to DH?? How do you know this to be true?? Is this speculation or is it fact??

Carlos was quoted as saying the reason he didn’t get to play left in the WBC was because Maggs refused to DH- so he took LF…..Not sure where I read that, now- maybe the Freep or the News.

-Tracey

As it stands right now.

Against RHP:
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Anderson
Polanco
Ordonez
MCab
Guillen
Granderson
Laird
Inge
Everett

Against LHP:

Granderson
Polanco
Ordonez
MCab
Thames
Guillen
Laird
Inge
Everett

I would expect Larish to pick up a few ABs against righties at the expense of Inge

Just the thoughts of infinate moves, by taking Sheffield out of the Lineup, frees up the stategy for Leyland. Sheff’s batting average wasn’t up to speed this spring, maybe it would have returned, he is skilled, but never shined with injuries. I compare him to Frank Thomas, last year, with the Blue Jays. Yes, he will find a team, just like Pudge did, but Tigers now have room for some youth and speed, and yes, a chance now to move Curtis down the batting order, for a speedy, leadoff hitter.. And a roster spot to rest players at DH, when summer starts breaking them down.
WOW, is all I can say.
IT will be interesting to watch as the season developes!

Tracey—I heard the same on a FOX TV (MLB.com) TV broadcast. I think it was Rod Allen that brought this up.

Dan, against RHP, wouldn’t you want to mix it up a little more (to get L/R/L), maybe:
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Anderson
Polanco
Guillen
Cabrera
Granderson
Ordonez
Laird
Inge or Santiago
Everett Inge
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matt

Upon reflection, I think I’d switch Ordonez and Granderson in the above order.
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matt

Any lineup is only going to be used about 25 times over the course of a season.
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Since Clete Thomas is sent to Toledo, it’s down to Larish, Raburn, and Clevlen. If it’s not Clevlen, Brent is on waivers and gone. Clete, OTOH, still has a future in Detroit. Raburn has an option left.
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Thames just received a huge vote of confidence, so good for Marcus. He’s come back from the dead. :-) This is one of those feel good stories, don’t you think?
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Getting something in return for Sheffield would have been nice, but other GMs probably knew how cornered we were with him. I just hope Gary doesn’t come back down the road with a bunch of negative comments about the Tigers. He was definitely backed up here by Leyland, and Jim doesn’t deserve any flack over this.
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As far as the “loveable ol’ coot” goes, the pressure is on him now to make a very workable roster work. He’ll need to earn his pay this season.
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I think I got the Ordonez/DH story from Rod Allen during a broadcast. Seems to have been reported in various places.
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I’m not sure DD is done dealing yet. VERY interesting spring.
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–Rich

Indeed, a very interesting spring. The fog seems to have lifted over Comerica Park.
I am looking forward to the team this year, especially to see what MCab does. That guy rocks….so fun to hear his bat connect with the ball. Country strong, as Rod would say.

Are we ever going to be able to count on Zumaya?
Go Tigers!

Indeed, a very interesting spring. The fog seems to have lifted over Comerica Park.
I am looking forward to the team this year, especially to see what MCab does. That guy rocks….so fun to hear his bat connect with the ball. Country strong, as Rod would say.

Are we ever going to be able to count on Zumaya?
Go Tigers!

I’ve searched the internet everywhere regarding the Maggs’ refusing to DH in the WBC and cannot find a thing. Even the WBC website and blogs don’t mention this. There are lots of pictures of Carlos and Magglio laughing together. They are supposedly very good friends so I can’t imagine Maggs’ doing it out of spite. The person who said this needs to give a source and not hearsay.

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