Ramirez to replace Granderson? Probably not
The continued trade interest in Curtis Granderson raises the question of who would replace him in center field. But contrary to published speculation, Wilkin Ramirez isn’t the answer.
From a pure athletic standpoint, Ramirez might be the closest Detroit has to Granderson that’s Major League ready. He was arguably Detroit’s fastest player as a spot player over the summer and late-season pinch-runner. His power potential is big, to the point that he would project more for an RBI producer.
He is not, however, a center fielder. He never has been, save for two games in center at Triple-A Toledo this past season and some time there in winter ball for Licey this offseason. The Tigers considered moving him to center in the lower levels of the farm system once they determined he was not a third baseman, but team officials felt he was a better fit in left field, where he made 11 errors in 95 games this year. The physical tools are there, but his instincts are a work in progress.
So if not Ramirez, then who? Ryan Raburn was Granderson’s backup in center for most of the year, and started there on a few occasions when Granderson had a game off, but that doesn’t necessarily make him a full-time center fielder. Clete Thomas was a regular in center at Erie and Toledo in 2007 and ’08, and maybe could fit in a platoon, but he was overmatched at the plate down the stretch this year. Prospect Casper Wells has the ability to play center field in the big leagues, according to some, and he definitely has the desire. Whether he could do it every day is another question; he would have to prove himself to the Tigers to do it.
Ideally, a Granderson trade would bring back a center-field prospect in return, but given the teams with reported interest, that doesn’t appear likely.
The other option would be to add a veteran center fielder, maybe someone like Mike Cameron, with whom the Tigers were linked in trade talk last summer as someone to play CF against lefties. That, however, would beg the question: If a Granderson trade frees up money to fill other needs, what good is it if you have to spend money to replace Granderson?