Roster decisions imminent

By this time Wednesday, the Tigers’ 25-man roster should be known. Manager Jim Leyland said Monday afternoon that roster moves Tuesday to whittle the roster down to about 26, including a decision on the final position player and the backup catcher.

“By this time tomorrow, we’ll be down to probably one guy [over the limit],” Leyland said. “I think the picture will be almost totally clear for everybody by tomorrow.”

The one decision that will be left will be in the rotation. That, Leyland said, should be decided Wednesday, or Thursday at the latest. Dontrelle Willis and Jeremy Bonderman both start Tuesday — Willis against the Orioles in Sarasota, Bonderman in a minor league game. Nate Robertson is scheduled to start Thursday against the Braves. You can read into that, I suppose, what that means for Robertson’s chances.

Leyland said Sunday he has in his mind what his roster would be, but that it wouldn’t necessarily be the final roster. Dave Dombrowski has the final say on that. So what follows now is a discussion with Dombrowski, Leyland, the coaching staff and other members of the front office on the baseball side.

The final roster spot is essentially down to Don Kelly or Clete Thomas. The backup catching decision essentially comes down to whether the Tigers want Alex Avila catching a couple times a week in Detroit or every day in Toledo for development’s sake, which would most likely put Robinzon Diaz on the team. The fact that roster decisions are coming Tuesday seemingly indicates the Tigers don’t expect to grab another backup catcher on the waiver wire or in a trade.

8 Comments

early on, i was in favor of sending avila to aaa, but he’s earned a spot on the 25 man. they can get him some ABs as a LH pinch hitter when not starting 1-2 games per week, and he can learn about managing a game from behind the plate at the ML level. expect kelly to get the last roster spot over clete. having said that, expect clete to get more ABs over the duration of the season than kelly.

Here is my 2 cents on the roster.

Position players – I think Don Kelly and Alex Avilla make the team. Leyland played his card by saying that Larish would be under more consideration if he played CF. Well Kelly is in CF today. And importantly, can play 3B in the cold if Inge’s knees hurt. Avilla is too good a hitter not to have on the team.

Final pitcher – Sounds like they are trying to make a trade. ANY trade will involve Detroit eating a lot of salary. But if they could do something like Dontrelle and $7 million to Pittsburgh for Neil Walker (a 3b blocked in their minor leagues) that would work. Pittsburgh needs someone to sell tickets. Tigers get a mid level prospect at 3B. Otherwise I get the feeling Willis makes the team and they send Ni down (he has options) and if Willis bombs in the pen he will be “sheffielded” (discalimer: I am rooting for Dontrelle, I have liked him his whole career).

Here’s my take, or opinion, on the rotation question. It does indeed sound like Nate has made the rotation and I have no problem with that. Nate did what was asked. Between Dontrelle and Bonderman, I’d start out with Willis in the rotation and Bonderman in the pen. My reasons (other than it seeming to be morally reprehensible to not give Dontrelle a shot at it after the way he’s pitched) are a) Willis has a perhaps one-time shot to slide into the rotation with confidence and b) Bonderman can work on his 3rd pitch while using his two good pitches in relief work. Then let’s see how everything plays out. Plus this gives us two lefties in the rotation. This is what I’d do to start the season. Of course, there’s the possibility of a trade.
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Between Thomas and Kelly, most everyone seems to have it nailed. The one that goes north to start the season is not necessarily the one to get the most PT with the big club this season.
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Backup catcher, I’ll go along with whatever the club decides. There’s good arguments for either choice to start the season. In the long run, I’d like to get Laird some more days off this year. I think all concerned would benefit from that. Gerarld was a real trooper last year, you can’t argue that.
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And isn’t it great to have the season so close to beginning now?
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–Rich

I couldn’t help myself! This is a repost from a couple of threads earlier:
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I would imagine there will be a surprise (or two) before the week is out.
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I can certainly see the opportunity to get something for Nate right now but in actuality, he is probably the best bet to rebound over Bondo and Dontrelle. We do need a lefty starter IMO.
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Can’t believe that the club and Bondo are still dealing with the fact he doesn’t have a 3rd pitch—seems ludicrous in this day and age.
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DD says they are committed to Sizemore at 2B–this time I believe him. I think he is, rightfully or not, I think they are convinced he is their solution at second.
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If they are able to swing a trade I would not be surprised to see it for a more offensively productive shortstop. I could see them offering Nate and Everett up for an everday shortstop. I think they will want to hang onto Ramon as he can play any of the “true” infield positions. They also could make Don Kelly available. I don’t see him beating out Clete for the last spot.
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The Tigers need a good arm out there as an option and defensive replacement. Clete has more upside than Kelly in terms of youth, power, speed and game impact.
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As to Kelly being able to play 3rd, well Inge has a lock on the hot corner and all the drivel about giving him time off will just not happen. JL has too many options (and yes, I know they are not good ones) at 3rd in that he can throw Raburn, Santiago or Guillen there. Kelly has had a good spring but I would be very surprised to see Clete not make the squad.
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In the abreviated contest yesterday, I was very pleased to see what Austin Jackson did in the field. He made a great catch in difficult circumstances toward the end on a pretty messy field. he just flat out went and got it. Nice to see. I will mis Curtis greatly, as most Tiger fans will, but I do think this kid will be a good and dependable Tiger too. We look like we might have some exciting yers ahead of us with the likes of him, Ramirez, Thomas, Boesch, Wells and Strieby.
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I don’t mean to forget Raburn in that group but I would not be shocked to see them make him a 3rd sacker. I have no doubt he has the ability to be decent at that position.
I couln’t help myself!
“Oddly enough, Ramirez used to be a 3rd baseman. You don’t EVEN want to know what his fielding percentage was there though!
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Bobby Seay and Miner going down will be an opportunity fore someone and for management to guage the depth and character of the bullpen. I think the chances of Seay ever pitching at the level he once did are remote, so the acquisition of Phil Coke now takes on even greater significance. Schlereth is not far away either.
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Avila or Diaz? I have a feeling it just might be Diaz. If they bring Clete north they may feel they have less reason to have Avila’s LHB on the bench and give himn the time they know he needs to hone his skills. I would rather see him up here and getting around a third of the playing time with Laird (who is leading the club in HR’s!!!). This way he learns at the best level possible and Laird gets the physical and mental rest he needs. Avila could be a good one. He wants to be a catcher (and will be) but I still salivate over seeing the impact he could make as a 3rd baseman.”
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Go Tigers.

Sounds good to me guys. I’d take Nate and Dontrelle as starters, and let Jeremy start out in the pen. Good point Dan….two pitches..what’s with that?
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I think it Avila should be kept on the big team. He’s a left hand bat and he can hit. Lots of opportunities to PH (Everett)and what’s wrong with 2 starts a week. Plus I don’t buy into the idea that he can better hone his skills playing full time in AAA. That philosophy is overrated. He has already experienced being a contributor at the mlb level. He doesn’t need to prove anything, and I think a step backwards might actually impede his motivation. Just my opinion.
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Regarding Clete or Kelly….I like them both and wish they could both stay. I lean towards Clete because he has contributed longer than Don.(just don’t bat him 3rd JL) but Kelly can play more positions which is a plus.
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I’ll miss Curtis and Marcus. Guess we just gotta move on.

The thing that keeps getting over looked is that Bonderman is as good or better than Robertson and Willis with just two pitches and the third is coming if we can believe the rumors. If you are just looking at spring numbers than you have to look negatively at two of the main three also. Spring numbers only favor Porcello and Willis.

The thing that keeps getting over looked is that Bonderman is as good or better than Robertson and Willis with just two pitches and the third is coming if we can believe the rumors. If you are just looking at spring numbers than you have to look negatively at two of the main three also. Spring numbers only favor Porcello and Willis.

“Nate Robertson is scheduled to start Thursday against the Braves. You can read into that, I suppose, what that means for Robertson’s chances.”

I DON’T know what to read into that, Jason, do you?

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