March 1st, 2010

Bill James: Tigers 28th in Young Talent Inventory

Though Tigers manager Jim Leyland has said a few times this is as much young talent as he has had in a Spring Training camp, Bill James says Detroit doesn’t have enough young talent at the big league level yet. It’s enough of a deficit that James ranked the Tigers 28th out of 30 Major League teams in Young Talent Inventory in his just-released Bill James Gold Mine 2010.

Tigers have a young talent nucleus–three or four players–that is very
good,” James said in a press release. “Their problem is that what’s outside of those three or
four players is not much of anything. Their top five: Miguel Cabrera,
Justin Verlander, Rick Porcello, Jose Valverde, Zach Miner.”

James’ list of the 20 most valuable “properties” among young players in the Majors includes only one Tiger, Miguel Cabrera at No. 9. Nope, Verlander didn’t make the list, though I’m not sure he qualified at age 27. But it’s a very odd list. How odd? Joe Mauer ranked 16th, just behind David Wright and Ryan Zimmerman. Zack Greinke ranked 13th. Jair Jurrjens ranked 19th.

Red Sox claim Fien off waivers

Instead of going across the street to minor league camp, Casey Fien is going across the state to Fort Myers after being claimed off waivers by the Red Sox. It was a tough move for the Tigers, who really didnt have any logical choices for who to take off the 40-man roster to make room for Johnny Damon. Leyland kind of foreshadowed this move last week when he said he thought Fien would be pitching in a big league camp somewhere.

Porcello to start home opener, Scherzer April 7

The pitching rotation still hasn’t been filled out, but at least we know when the guys who are set will start. Jim Leyland announced this morning that Rick Porcello will start the home opener when the Tigers host the Indians on Friday, April 9. Max Scherzer will start the second game of the season against the Royals on Wednesday, April 7, after Justin Verlander starts Opening Day on April 5.

That leaves two openings that will depend on who’s pitching. One would figure that if Jeremy Bonderman gets a spot, he would appear to be more likely to start the series finale at Kansas City April 8. Bonderman would logically fit into the series finale at Kansas City April 8, but he still has a three-game suspension looming over him from his pitch that hit Minnesota’s Delmon Young in the final week of last season. Bonderman immediately appealed the suspension, and I haven’t heard anything yet about a hearing. Unless it’s reduced, he can’t pitch at all during the KC series, which would put someone else in line to pitch that game.

You could say it’s the first major assignment for the 21-year-old Porcello, but starting the tiebreaker game against Minnesota last October was pretty big. Leyland said he wanted Scherzer’s first start as a Tiger to be on the road rather than in the added energy of a home atmosphere.