Big Cat to become Miggy's mentor?

bigcat.jpgLooks like the Tigers will be getting another slugger into camp after all. But this one won’t be swinging; he’ll be mentoring.

A report out of Venezuela quotes former Major League All-Star Andres Galarraga saying he has been offered a job by the Tigers to come to Spring Training in an instructional role. Among his duties reportedly would be to serve as a mentor to Miguel Cabrera.

Team president/general manager Dave Dombrowski replied Saturday that he wasn’t prepared to discuss Galarraga’s role at this time. (Update: It appears they’re still talking and haven’t finalized it yet, which would explain the hesitation to comment. Still, it sounds like he’s coming.)

If it happens, It would be an interesting match of one of Venezuela’s most revered players and the young star whose talent has drawn comparisons with Galarraga ever since he was a teenager.

Galarraga talked Friday during the Caribbean Series, which matches up the winter ball champions from Venezuela, Dominican Republic, Mexico and Puerto Rico. This year, it’s being held on Margarita Island in Venezuela.

When Cabrera talked about his battle with alcoholism a few weeks ago, the Tigers talked about having someone with him in Spring Training as part of his counseling program. This sounds quite a bit bigger than that.

Galarraga probably should’ve received a lot more Hall of Fame consideration than he did this year. He was one-and-done when he failed to draw votes from five percent of the total ballots, an amazing fate for someone who hit 399 home runs, put up 1,425 RBIs and was regarded among the best at his position for more than a decade. Magglio Ordonez speaks of him like a national hero, the greatest player to come out of his country. Whenever Ordonez has been compared to him, it’s humbling for him.

Galarraga didn’t find a full-time role until catching on with Montreal at age 26 in 1987, eight years after he signed with the Expos as an amateur free agent, and around the same time Dave Dombrowski was in Montreal’s front office. Cabrera is 26 now, turns 27 in April, and has driven in at least 100 runs on all six of his full big-league seasons. He has  four years with at least a .320 batting average and .940 OPS.

But obviously, Cabrera has some challenges to overcome and some growing up to do.

41 Comments

This is encouraging news. El Gato Grande’ is not only a role model, but has already helped Cabrera with his firstbase play. After the six weeks of spring training, I’d assume that Andres will be only a phone call away if Miguel needs it.
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To answer the question about the snow in Virginia, we have 20 inches on the ground here at this point, with probably another 6 to 10 inches to come today. It’s been snowing non-stop since Friday morning, sometimes sideways. Needless to say, nobody is going anywhere for awhile. I’m just wondering how I’ll get it all shoveled. I lived in Michigan for 50 years but I don’t recall anything quite like this one. Most importantly, I have laid in my Superbowl supplies. I’ll take the Saints as the underdog.
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The Twins are making quite a few moves, and I think they’ve improved their team considerably. You almost get the feeling they know the challenge of moving to a “real” ballpark and will now have to field more talent. The days of the Nick Punto types may be done. While it may be easier for Central teams to play in Minnesota, the Twins may be tougher when they go on the road. I’m anticipating another 3-way race to the wire. Oh, and it may be time to put a stop to the talk of the Central being weak. I don’t see anything weak about it.
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Adam Kennedy was signed by the Nationals, so that option is gone. I’m not so sure we’ll go for another infielder. The Nats, by the way, have a vastly improved team of position players, but their pitching is still very suspect. I may make it to more of their games this year.
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Four weeks until Florida for me.
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–Rich

I do believe that the mtrodome gave them at least a 5 game advantage. It will not carry over to this park.

I think that is a great idea having Galarraga up with the camp, and to help keep Miggy on the straight and narrow. But ultimately he is going to have to do it himself.
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Rich – that snow sounds like fun. Every once in a while it is fun to get snowed in. I have lived in the Detroit area since 1991 I can remember a couple of snows around 15 or so inches but nothing like that. Now I remember when I was a kid living in the Grand Rapids area then a little farther up north having a few snows like what you are getting. I remember once as a kid we had a snow that came up to the windows in my parents house. We climbed on top of the roof and jumped into the snow. Have fun with the clean up and be safe. I talked to my brother who lives in NYC and he said they only got a few inches.
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GK

I think that is a great idea having Galarraga up with the camp, and to help keep Miggy on the straight and narrow. But ultimately he is going to have to do it himself.
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Rich – that snow sounds like fun. Every once in a while it is fun to get snowed in. I have lived in the Detroit area since 1991 I can remember a couple of snows around 15 or so inches but nothing like that. Now I remember when I was a kid living in the Grand Rapids area then a little farther up north having a few snows like what you are getting. I remember once as a kid we had a snow that came up to the windows in my parents house. We climbed on top of the roof and jumped into the snow. Have fun with the clean up and be safe. I talked to my brother who lives in NYC and he said they only got a few inches.
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GK

I was just wondering if Marcus was going to get shafted and lo and behold he signs with his old club. Congratualtions to him and I hope he excels in NY and becomes a fan favorite there as well.
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Idle thoughts of the day–wouldn’t Nick markais llok good with the Olde English D?
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Will be interesting to see how Sizemore responds to the huge amount of pressure he will be under—way more pressure than Jackson.
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Are any teams inquiring about Brandon Inge?
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Will Everett be able to discover what his bat is for?
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Will Laird?
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Mariners are putting together an all-star type team—remember when we did that?
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Twins seem to be loading up nicely.
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What will happen with Brent Dlugach?
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Hey, can’t Avila play 3rd?
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Spring is getting closer I guess!

There is something to be said about wearing the uniform of the Olde English D. I think it’s one of the best looking unis in MLB.

I have many idle and active thoughts about the Tigers this year. Too many! I hope they know what they are doing.

The Tigers really need a LHB. It is a shame we never got to experience Curtis Granderson in the middle of the lineup as a run producer.
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We seem to have a lot of potential starters. My guess is DD may be waiting to see how guys like Bonderman, Galarraga, Willis, Bonine and Miner perform in ST. A couple of good performances out of those guys might make one expendable. I would like to see a lefty in the rotation and maybe the guy from the Yankees might slip in there too.
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This is one area of strength for the Tigers—they could package up a starter and a guy like Raburn, Larish, Ryan, Ramirez or Thomas if they could entice a proven LHB thumper. Though Guillen is a good Tiger, I would not mind seeing him packaged up as well—although he does have a relativley potent LHB, he is brittle and aging fast. He is also becoming discontented and we don’t need another situation similar to the one we had with Sheffield.
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This is stated only if the idea is to be competitive this year. I would like to see us keep Thomas and give Ramirez a chance to see if he can become a 4 or 5 tool guy.
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I like Raburn but he is destined to become a Marcus Thames here in Detroit—get something for him.
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Convert Avila to 3rd—if he shows he can hit. We can’t afford to go with Inge if he is hobbled. We don’t need a playing “mascot”.
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Dan,

Dusty Ryan was already traded to Padres for a PTBN.

Bye Dusty! I will miss you. Nice long-ball potential. Good arm. Just learning.

I was excited about Dusty Ryan at the end of ’08. Hopefully Avila will fare better with Detroit.
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I agree with you on giving some of the young guys a shot. I think it would really behoove the Tigers to give extended playing time to Ramirez, Wells, Jackson, Thomas, Raburn, Avila, Sizemore and important roles in the bullpen for Schlereth, Perry and Ni. So much of the offseason of 2010 depends on what the Tigers think they have with some of these guys. It will be good to know if Ramirez plays a 50 game stretch and hits 189 and strikes out 50 times. Or if Clete gets a few months in the lineup and can improve on his average and cut down on the Ks. If not, his opportunity may be over.
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Ultimately, I want to see a fun, exciting, competitive team on the field for years to come, and I am willing to take a chance on the youngsters this season to find out what we have for the future.

It will be interesting to see if Grandy is used in leadoff by the Yanks. What am I going to do wi th my Grandy bobblehead?

It will be interesting to see if Grandy is used in leadoff by the Yanks. What am I going to do wi th my Grandy bobblehead?

It will be interesting to see if Grandy is used in leadoff by the Yanks. What am I going to do wi th my Grandy bobblehead?

It will be interesting to see if Grandy is used in leadoff by the Yanks. What am I going to do wi th my Grandy bobblehead?

It will be interesting to see if Grandy is used in leadoff by the Yanks. What am I going to do wi th my Grandy bobblehead?

It appears that DD has up to $5m available to spend on the team. Does Damon solve the lead off and offensive issues?
Some comparisons between Raburn and Damon.
Raburn made 261 AB’s last season for a 23.0% SO; 45 RBI’s; 16 HR’s; .291 / .359 / .533 and .891 OBP. Damon from 550 AB’s went 17.8% SO (career 12.5%); 82 RBI’s; 24 HR’s; .282 / .365 / .489 (career .439) and .854 (career .794).
For comparison, Curtis struck out 22.3% last season slightly down on his 24% overall at Detroit.
With Raburn’spower arm and ability to stop extra base hits, his clumsy plays will go as he gets more playing time and stops feeling he has to constantly impress.

Far be it from me to know enough to make an appropriate offer to Damon, but I would think he could be had on a 1-year contract with incentives or an option. If I were DD I would not be committing to a multi-year deal with a 36 year old outfielder with a weak arm.
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I do think he would help the Tigers both on the field and in the clubhouse–but they have to be prudent with Illitch’s money or there won’t be enough available for the next opportunity.
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If he is signe (an it appears likely he will), then there is a whole new can of worms to be dealt with with Carlos Guillen who will be unhappy once again. No matter how DD or JL spin it.

Damon can make things happen but he is 36 and a far cry from the guy that stole 36 and 46 bases for the Royals.

It appears that the offer(s) for Damon are on the table, so there’s no further point in sandbagging my opinion. So here it is.
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First off, you’ve got to hand it to Mr. Ilitch. The man wants to win as much as we fans do, if not more. When it comes down to it, you can always count on Mr. I to “ante up and kick in like men” to quote Morgan Freeman from the movie “Glory.”
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I think that Damon makes the Tigers a vastly improved team for 2010, and there are several reasons. I won’t go into great detail, but here are a few. (a) He takes the pressure off Austin Jackson. I’d like to see the kid play centerfield like he’s capable of and not be bogged down with pressure regarding his offense. Hitting him either 9th or even leadoff with Damon behind him may accomplish this. I want to see Jackson in 2010 run down balls that no one thinks he can get to. (b) Damon goes to the plate with an idea of what needs to be done. Perhaps his hitting approach will rub off on the rest of the team. (c) Damon is accustomed to winning. That’s another intangible that needs to spread thoughout a team that has managed to blow the division in the final week of 2 of the past 4 seasons. (d) Fans and teammates will discover that Damon is a fun guy to have around. Since Sean Casey was let go, we haven’t had that and the 2008 and 2009 teams sorely needed it. (e) It sends a message to the team that we’re serious not only about future seasons but 2010 as well, and that the Detroit Tigers are expected to contend.
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I have more reasons, but that’s enough for now. Hopefully, if Damon is indeed signed,the fans won’t go all Sheffield on him. Johnny Damon is not Gary Sheffield.
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I find it interesting that the White Sox suddenly jumped into the picture. One thing that Chicago and Minnesota do much better than Detroit is to compete within the division, during both the season and offseason. Need I mention the Jake Peavy starts or the Carl Pavano signing?
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If this deal takes place, I’m all for it. The money will still be there for future seasons.
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–Rich

While I am warming up to the idea of Damon – here are the problems I have with it. THE MONEY that is way too much money for that man. His homeruns were inflated last year because of that rinky dink right field he played in half of the year. His arm is weak and Comerica is a large field even in left. And the other problem were is there going to be room for guys like Raburn and Clete to get some time in the field?? And will Guillen accept a role in which is is most definately a DH? He wasn’t happy with it last year and I am sure it will be no different this year.

Though not an extremely accurate fact-based article, I think this one is worth reading in light of the imminent Damon signing:
http://www.tauntr.com/content/boras-somehow-gets-damon-solid-deal

I’m starting to come around a little bit, mostly in the face of something that is beginning to seem inevitable. I do agree, Rich, that Damon may be able to improve the team’s overall approach at the plate. He is a very patient hitter and he will take what you give him. I don’t like him much in the field, but I’m not that hopeful about Carlos out there either. I hope he doesn’t go back to the “Jesus” look, though.
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Carlos is just going to have to deal with this, imo. He only played in 81 games last year (113 the year before). We need help at the top of the lineup (and a lefty bat), and Damon is the best fit at this point. If Carlos gets hurt, Damon or Ordonez will DH and Raburn/Thomas will get extra time in the OF.
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It also seems very likely that there will be one or more trades in Spring Training to break the left-handed logjam in the bullpen. The roster is nowhere near set at this point.
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Speaking of the roster, who goes to make room for Damon, if he’s signed?
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matt

They might have accomplished acquiring a LHB, speed, LHB, sparkplug, plus a way better arm and insurance if AJ can’t cut it by simply paying about 11 or 12 million dollars less by just signing Scott Podsenik.
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I like Damon well enough but I think they just don’t get it when it comes to signing fading superstars. Or when it comes to rewarding their fan favorite roster players.
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I generally think salaries are excessive but the problem with the Tigers management is they get themselves into a tight rut with their signings. we end up with players that you have to play to justify their salary and that no one else will take off your hands.

Damon with AJax no doubt provides far greater certainty at the top than Raburn and Ajax, but he is also just as likely to be Sheff Mk2 with a smile if he gets his 2 years as Boras continues to get his way with Mr I and his millions.
Sure Damon might provide some plate discipline with his climbing 18% SO rate from 2009, but we already cut the league leader in Polly who has a career 7% SO rate.
DD never takes a cut on his bad contracts so any useful role for Carlos and his remaining $26m is certainly wasted as he has next to no chance of contributing as full time DH.
This off season has been a total shambles in putting together a team following Mr I deciding since January to throw an additional $15-20m to the roster.
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And we still haven’t addressed a fall back player for the infield, particularly 3B & SS with not even one future prospect added to the roster.

Quite frankly, I’m sick and tired of wating on Johnny to make up his mind. Here’s something that might get the juices flowing again……something to look forward to!

http://www.papagrandellc.com/

What were the Tigs weaknesses last year, after they won more games than anticipated and a lot of things went wrong, many though no fault. They won more than their fair share of the close games so the old choke mentality seemed to have gone, and the Twins run home was easily the best in MLB.
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My rough order of why the Tigers didn’t win one more game in 2009:
1. The bottom order stunk killing team momentum and the essential big innings that knocks out SP’s – Inge (no Plan B), Everett and Laird.
Having **** and 3B both career hitting under 250 didn’t work in 2009 and no doubt there will be another reason why it fails again in 2010. Replacing the rock Polly with a rookie recovering from major surgery sure isn’t going to help the DP’s and infield stability.
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2. The starting pitching ended after Ricky, made worse after EJ in his 3rd starting year was overused early as JL’s “horse and innings eater”.
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3. No reliable LHB – Curtis stunk and overused against lefties, Carlos injury and unable to switch hit effectively and Clete’s downward spiral as JL perservered with him at the top of the order hitting .2/.297 from 160 AB’s at No. 3.
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4. Miggs and Maggs issues effecting their performances. The Tigs have managed Miggs once it became exposed to the public exposed but no doubt management was either inept or turned a blind eye hoping his problems would go away without any support.
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Damon to me is another Carlos who also has considerable experience and No. 2 & 3. Carlos has had 875 AB’s at No. 2 for .295/.358/.457/.815 matching Damon’s figures. Even SO rates in 2009 were close with 17.8% to Carlos’s 20.2%, up from career 17.3% due to injury.
If defense becomes a consideration again, Raburn would get the LF position most of the time. No one wants or is effective as a full time DH so the effectiveness of Carlos or Damon is compromised.
This would not be an issue if DD trades Carlos but he is yet to take a cut on a players contract, even releasing Sheff when he could have taken some money from the Rangers a few months earlier.
Why would you tie up $40+m for Carlos and Damon over the next two years just to solve a potential lead off problem and not throw any money at the infield problem?
Clete no doubt will have a an improved 2010 and will be adequate insurance to Ajax in CF.
Raburn’s batting is no longer questionable and is sufficient insurance for lead off with more than adequate career stats of .261/.343/.511/.854 from 92 AB’s and in 2009 from 55 AB’s an amazing .345/.413/.691/1.104.
If any money is available for Damon, it should go instead to ****/3B, who can hit at the top of the order.

Funny how abreviated short stop gets censored!!

I would rather see the Tigers pull the plug on the Boras/Damon circus and just go out and make a trade for a good, young corner OF with a solid MLB bat. We have Raburn, Guillen, Seay, and either Willis or Robertson, or Galarraga, or Bonine or Bonderman to sweeten an offer.
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The need for a proven outfielder is essential. But to bring in a 36 year old who upsets the ‘chemistry” somewhat is a big gamble. Damon changes everything with the current group of fielders. In my mind if you change the dynamics of that group than you may as well divest yourself of one of them too–but not Thomas. Clete has that very important LHB and plays with a panache that is still undeveloped.

He obviously brings out the worst in me but Boras IMO is the most shallow, hollow, self inflated piece of work in baseball.
It is hard to recall many trades this winter that have been outside the $1.5-$5m range. Hopefully Mr I sees where Damons Detroit love really is, pulls the offer and gives the extra money he was digging up for DD to use through spring training.

I don’t see how we can form opinions over this process when we don’t know the facts. There are any number of reasons why this signing hasn’t taken place. This is professional baseball.
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In the end, Damon would make the 2010 Tigers a better team so the question is, do we want that or do we want to wait until 2011? There are good arguments on both sides. I don’t think we can pull off any kind of major trade during ST. I would expect more of a Josh Anderson type of deal. My personal opinion is that we don’t have any position players in the minors that can be counted on.
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I’ll have to leave it with my usual disclaimer, though. We’re not going to win anything anyway with Jim Leyland at the helm.
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–Rich

I agree pull the plug either you want to be here or not – 14 mil in my opinion is way too much anyway for a guy who cant throw the ball. And to now jack us around and say you are not in a hurry well I don’t have to say what kind of a piece of crap Ithink he is.

The Tigers might be better served by going after Felipe Lopez rather than Damon. A bonus is that Boras was fired by Lopez recently!
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The Tigers are going to need someone to pick up the slack in the infiled. We could end up in a situation where we have 3 infielders who don’t contribute offensively. Lopez can hit a bit and he is a switch-hitter as well. I think he has even played a little out in the field too.
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I feel if we get Damon then OK, but I think he may create some new problems even though he solves a couple of glaring ones as well.
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I hope they don’t pay too much for him as all this other “interest” from other teams may be nothing more than smoke and mirrors.

Some interesting Total Bases hit % for 2009 in team order:
Miggs 54.7% (career 54.2%)
Raburn 53.3% (career 46.1% from 610 AB’s)
Curtis 45.3% (2009 RHP 53.9%; LHP 23.9%; career 48.4%)
Thames 45.3% (career 49.1%)
Maggs 42.8% (2009 H1 34.3%; H2 54.0%; career 51.3%)
Carlos 41.9% (H1 24.4% H2 50.3%; career 44.6%)
Binge 40.6% (H1 51.5%; H2 28.1% career 39.4%)
Polly 39.6% (career 41.4%)
Clete 38.5% (career 39.1% from 391 AB’s)
Ramon 38.5% (career 33.8%)
Everett 32.5% (career 35.1%)
Laird 32.0% (career 36.7%)
For comparison Damon TB% was 48.9% in 2009 (career 43.9%); ARod has a career 57.6% and Pujols 62.8% after going 65.8% in 2009.
Damon has a LF range of 1.82 compared to Carlos 2.2 and Raburn 2.49. Whichever way you look at the stats and $$$, Raburn should get the majority of plays in LF alternating with Carlos at DH which is how the Tiger Depth Chart currently shows. Why then displace Raburn with Damon whose bat has less punch and Raburn can equally hit lefties and hit at the top of the order?
Clete is sufficient insurance for Jackson in CF with Kelly the forgotten reliable man.
I dont understand the fixation with the outfield when the infield has been the problem.

Totally agree Dan with Lopez – still only 30 with most of his AB’s at either leadoff or No. 2. Only problem is he plays 2B far better than SS.

I would caution against counting on Raburn too heavily. He had a nice season in a part-time role, but it remains to be seen if he can provide the same as a regular. Two things can happen: opposing clubs will pay much more attention to him, and he may not do as well with the added pressure of being a guy we count on. That said, Raburn is one of my favorite Tigers.
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Just sayin’………………
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–Rich

We can hypothesize over and over again, but I’m gonna trust in Dave and roll with the choices he and Mr. I made. Gotta look forward!

I wonder how enthused DD has been about acquiring Damon, or more to the point suddenly having an extra $7+m splashed for one player over the team budget he was provided. One thing is certain, he would have played the off season a lot differently.
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With $10m available when you include the $2.8m for Everett and Ramon, Polly would definitely have been offered arbitration for the 2 draft picks. DD could have really given the infield the necessary offensive lift without compromising defense. Sizemore would then have been eased into the side from the bench instead of Ramon.
Utility players such as Adam Kennedy ($1.25m) and Felipe Lopez (<$3.5m) would provide a Plan B at 3B and improve the offense without compromising defense. Jim Thome ($1.5m) would have provided a much needed reliable PH given the many times we failed to produce a crucial late innings RISP hit from the bottom order. With Carlos only a 60% chance to play the full season, Thome would likely get a lot of AB’s as DH also.
DD could still then have gone into spring training with $3-4m up his sleeve for any last minute trade adjustments.

Rumor has it that the current sticking point in negotiations is Boras/Damon dickering for a 1-year deal with a player option. Typical Boras. I would NOT do that. In fact, I’d keep to a straight 1-year deal and make Damon play it as a free agent season again. I’d only do a 2-year deal to use him as July deadline trade bait. We need to stick to our guns here.
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–Rich

Interesting Rich – I was under the impression that Damon wanted a multi year deal and come to find out – well this whole thing in my opinion has been ridiculous. While I said the other day I was warming up to Damon – I didn’t like the kind of money that was being thrown at him. I do think a 1 year is more to my liking for the the right money. In my opinion though Damon/Boras are jacking the Tigers around and I would in a way just like the Tigers to tell him to go to heck???

That rumor I mentioned earlier doesn’t seem to have much teeth. I would guess the Tigers are just waiting for their standing offer to be accepted.
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Tiger Girl, thanks for the reminder of that nightmare. Inge would have had the game winning RBI there in the 12th, and he would have had it in the 9th if Raburn hadn’t misplayed Cuddyer’s bloop. Doesn’t seem like many recall Brandon’s blistering double into the corner to score Kelly from firstbase. That was the clutchest of clutch hits. The game story should have read “Brandon Inge’s run scoring double in the 9th inning propelled the Tigers to a division crown……” and so on.
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I’m just ready to get out of the arctic wasteland this area has become. What was that they said about Lambeau Field, the “frozen tundra”? My road is frozen tundra.
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–Rich

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