Wanted: One run producer (at least) for Tigers

Miguel Cabrera is a physical presence at 6-foot-4, with a listed weight of 240. In real life, he doesn’t need a whole lot of protection.

In baseball, Miguel Cabrera received 32 intentional walks this season, more than any American League player received since 1993, and more than the next two highest AL totals this year. He could use some protection in the lineup.

In a year when the Tigers have potentially more than $50 million to spend on upgrading the club, protecting Cabrera with at least one proven hitter will be one of team president/general manager Dave Dombrowski’s two biggest goals, if not the biggest.

Help could be in the form of a corner outfielder, of which there are many potentially set to hit the mark. It could be in the form of a designated hitter, and Dombrowski didn’t rule out the idea of going back to a full-time DH again. They could do multiple signings, something Dombrowski hinted at when he talked Sunday about being nimble in this market. But some way, they need to bulk up the heart of the lineup.

“We need a middle of the order bat to drive in runs,” Dombrowski said. “We have to have that. And it’s most likely going to come either in the outfield or at DH, or both, because we already have that type of bat at first base. There are other areas [where it could come], and that’s why we need to be flexible this winter in what we do. But those are the most likely areas that it would come.”

The difference that support makes can be seen in the splits. Cabrera, and in turn the Tigers, were at their best in May, June and early July, when Magglio Ordonez was getting on base in front of Cabrera, and rookie Brennan Boesch was proving to be a potent run producer behind him. His top two months in terms of OPS were May and July, and three of his top four months for RBIs came in that span.

Once opposing pitchers began approaching Boesch differently after the All-Star break, and his amazing production went south, the walk totals on Cabrera logically soared. Once Ordonez suffered his season-ending ankle fracture, of course, Cabrera’s RBI opportunities dipped.

Ordonez’s injury set in motion a lot of moving parts. Once it became clear he wouldn’t get enough at-bats to best his $15 million option, it became the club’s decision whether to pick it up. Dombrowski announced Sunday that they won’t pick it up, making Ordonez a free agent this winter.

The Tigers and Ordonez have mutual interest in working out a deal, but it’s going to take some creativity, beyond simply the contract terms. The Tigers have to look at Ordonez’s recovery from ankle surgery as it goes along and project how much time he can realistically play in the field at age 37.

“At this point, I don’t know how much you consider him being an outfielder compared to also where it fits into [him] being a DH,” Dombrowski said. “I think you have two spots you’re talking about, and see where eventually he kind of fits into that.”
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If the Tigers re-sign Ordonez, Dombrowski indicated, it likely wouldn’t be their only signing. But if Ordonez is back, can they still sign someone for the DH slot, or would they need that fifth hitter to play the outfield at least some?

For what it’s worth, Dombrowski’s comments indicate he’s more open to having a full-time DH again than he might’ve been, say, two years ago with an older lineup.

“I guess you’d prefer not to,” Dombrowski said, “but would we consider that? I think we’ll consider anything that gives us some offense in the middle of the lineup at this time, that we think we need, somebody that can drive in some runs. Ideally you’d prefer not to have it, but if that’s the way it fit in, that’s the way it fit in.

“One thing is that we don’t have as many players going forward that are older. I mean, we’ve kind of turned into a little bit younger club. So most guys can go out there and play most days. You might look to give a day off to somebody once in a while, and then [manager Jim Leyland] can decide who he wants to DH at that particular time, but we don’t have a lot of older players. … If the right guy fit, we’d sign a DH.”

Dombrowski said the Tigers would prefer to add at least one left-handed bat to their lineup. That could come internally, if Carlos Guillen is ready for the start of the season after microfracture surgery, or if Boesch wins an expected competition for an outfield spot. More likely, though, they’d like one of the bats they sign to come from the left side.

That shouldn’t be a big problem to find on the free-agent market, where the top end could potentially include slugger Adam Dunn and multi-tooled catalyst Carl Crawford, among others. Dunn, specifically, would seem to fit a DH type of role, though he has told reporters in Washington he’d rather not do that full-time.

Dombrowski isn’t getting into any names at this point, other than the guys on his team, but he believes there’s enough on the free-agent market for them to find help. He also has players on the team who can supplement that.

One of those guys is Ryan Raburn, who might finally be poised for close to an everyday role. Dombrowski stopped just shy of labeling him as such, but made it clear he has stepped up in importance to the lineup.

“I don’t know if he’ll be an everyday outfielder or not, but I think we feel he could be a primary guy,” Dombrowski said. “How many at-bats that entails, I don’t know. It depends on who else is with our club at that time, how the manager makes out the lineup, how he produces. But we look at him as being an important part of our team, and a guy that’s going to play a lot. I wouldn’t say he’s an everyday outfielder yet, but he’s going to play a lot.”

18 Comments

Well, Detroit need a starter and AJ Burnett will be available. Ys dumped him to please an aging catcher. That could be the next Rogers

Luke Scott? Kemp?

Burnett was horrible wasn’t he????? Not sure about Kemp, but I don’t think Scott is a free agent so it would have to be a trade.

I wonder how Magglio’s ankle feels now. We haven’t heard one word about him. In all the Tiger end of the year highlights, not one is of Magglio. That’s who my DH would be if his ankle was OK.
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Not feeling well tonight. Think it might be withdrawal syndrome:>(

From MLB Trade Rumors.com:

“Type A and B Free Agents
By Tim Dierkes [October 5 at 4:33pm CST]
Based on Eddie Bajek’s reverse-engineered Elias rankings, 82 free agents will be ranked Type A or B for the 2010-11 offseason. Right now there are 33 Type A and 49 Type B free agents. The list is below. The deadline for teams to offer arbitration to their own free agents is November 23rd. Prior to that date this list will shrink quite a bit, as certain players have options that will obviously be exercised, others will sign extensions, and Wagner and Lowell will retire. If recent history is any indication, 23-24 free agents will ultimately be offered arbitration. Keep in mind that unless a player is offered arbitration and turns it down to sign a Major League deal with another club, there is no draft pick compensation.

Type A

Albert Pujols – 96.667
Jayson Werth – 92.000
Rafael Soriano – 91.771
Derek Jeter – 91.304
Mariano Rivera – 88.609
Victor Martinez – 87.054
Cliff Lee – 86.932
Matt Thornton – 86.094
Carl Crawford – 84.615
Billy Wagner – 83.650
Adrian Beltre – 82.313
A.J. Pierzynski – 80.804
Andy Pettitte – 80.682
Vladimir Guerrero – 80.000
Ted Lilly – 79.950
Jason Kubel – 79.744
Bronson Arroyo – 79.538
Matt Guerrier – 79.483
Paul Konerko – 78.095
Magglio Ordonez – 77.436
Miguel Tejada – 76.720
Manny Ramirez – 76.154
Scott Downs – 76.069
Carl Pavano – 75.000
Ramon Hernandez – 74.517
Mark Ellis – 74.405
Dan Wheeler – 74.218
Jorge de la Rosa – 74.092
Jason Frasor – 73.446
Grant Balfour – 72.727
Frank Francisco – 72.584
Arthur Rhodes – 72.076
Takashi Saito – 69.749

Type B

David Ortiz – 75.000
Johnny Damon – 74.359
Derrek Lee – 74.167
Adam Dunn – 74.167
Hideki Matsui – 73.333
Javier Vazquez – 71.875
Jon Garland – 71.452
Brad Hawpe – 71.026
Bengie Molina – 72.321
Scott Podsednik – 70.588
Orlando Hudson – 70.238
Brandon Inge – 68.707
Jon Rauch – 68.541
Koji Uehara – 67.733
John Buck – 67.411
Felipe Lopez – 66.964
Brian Fuentes – 66.906
Pedro Feliciano – 66.733
Joaquin Benoit – 66.727
Kevin Gregg – 66.673
Orlando Cabrera – 66.667
Lance Berkman – 66.667
Octavio Dotel – 66.442
Juan Uribe – 65.608
Miguel Olivo – 65.251
Carlos Pena – 64.762
Jason Varitek – 64.732
David Eckstein – 64.732
Mike Lowell – 64.626
Jhonny Peralta – 63.946
Yorvit Torrealba – 63.707
Trevor Hoffman – 63.043
Kerry Wood – 62.666
Aramis Ramirez – 62.637
Jose Reyes – 62.434
Randy Choate – 62.379
J.J. Putz – 61.876
Adam LaRoche – 61.667
Omar Infante – 61.607
Alex Gonzalez – 61.376
Jesse Crain – 60.690
Gerald Laird – 60.045
Aubrey Huff – 60.000
Rod Barajas – 59.459
Aaron Heilman – 58.512
Chad Durbin – 58.359
Kevin Millwood – 58.049
Kevin Correia – 57.261
Chad Qualls – 56.126

We got one returning son back with the wings this year (Modano)–could the same happen with Jeter?

Are any of you guys worried that Illitch won’t be spending as much money this year because he is buying the pistons?
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Dave G

Dave – YES I am.

A little bit. My goodness, if he has the kind of money to buy the Pistons, he could practically buy Type A’s at every position. Oh, well. It worries me a little bit, but I don’t think he’ll be skimpy. If the Pistons can put a winning team together, that would be a good thing. He’s got his son’s and the rest of his family to handle other parts of the business empire he has created.

Normally I wouldn’t call someone an idiot, but there are idiots out there who make fun of his pizza. I still love hot ‘n ready Little Caesars and regularly buy them.
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Well, we’ll get to see Carl Crawford in just a few minutes. He is a great player, but like some have mentioned, his legs aren’t what they used to be playing on artificial turf. I wouldn’t offer him a long contract, but alot of $$$$ short contract. It’s the agents who want the best deal for themselves.
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How we ended up with Jacque Jones instead of getting someone like Scott Podsednik puzzles me to this day.
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Given the absolute void behind the plate, I’d like to see Victor Martinez come to town. The thought of Crawford and Jackson hitting back to back is fun, but I can’t see that happening. The Rays are in a tough spot. That can’t afford to sign him, and they can’t afford not to.

This guy must have more money than most third world countries. I would think that this year’s budget is already set. How it all plays out in the future has always been anybody’s guess, even before the Pistons business. Besides, you win with smart management and not necessarily tons of cash. That’s been proven here.
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That said, let’s sign Crawford AND Dunn. :-)
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–Rich

i agree with you rich about the budget already being set. I have been waiting for this off season for a long time hopefully we get some exciting players that have proven themselves already instead of hoping that guys pan out.
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Dave

Yeah Dave, I think they’ll do pretty much exactly what DD spelled out on Sunday. The obvious question is how they assess who they want to acquire. That will be the interesting part and will keep us checking the news all winter.
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I got a chuckle out of Steve Kornacki’s article on the 2011 Tigers. It’s a fine article and a good read but his mention of JJ Putz and Chad Durbin as FA relievers out there was what caught my eye. We HAD Chad Durbin and let him walk away for no return. We could have had JJ Putz for Larish and Joyce. I’ll give DD a half mulligan on that one because Joyce brought Edwin Jackson who figured into last winter’s positive transaction. Not to mention Edwin was an All Star for us. But those deals may have been more about poor decision-making by our trade partners.
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As long as I’m dwelling on the past, Pup, I figured the Infante-Jacques Jones deal was okay at the time. I preferred to keep Omar, but JL wasn’t going to play him much and Jones was supposed to be a fairly solid hitter. I was surprised when he became an utter failure. I’d rather have kept Infante and traded Leyland.
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–Rich

Start with a .500 club that was 8th in run production and 12th of 14 teams in team ERA.
Subtract Damon’s .355 OBP from the 2 slot, Magglio was on pace for .300 avg/ .378 OBP (that’s .378!), 20 homers, and 100 RBI. $ 75 million coming off the payroll (not 50 million as we’re lowballed to believe) potentially available for upgrades. That includes $ 34 million presently spent on starting pitchers and $ 26 million spent on the 2 and 3 hitters, with a hole in the 5 slot.
DD decieds to stand pat at 3B, SS, and Catcher, and apparently one outfield spot. That leaves one corner OF and DH for upgrades.
If only one bat is added, the net outcome is a dowgrade. Two bats and we’re breaking even, and just pray that the guys hit better. I want Maggs back if he’s healthy, but they won’t know that for a couple months, and Boras will drag things out while he lies about other clubs being interested, even if it hurts his client. Boras is about money, money, and money. If Maggs is a DH, the FA outfield selection is much more limited than the DH’s. Add that DD has not signed a free agent position player to a multi year contract since Ordonez before the 2005 season. I look for an OF and DH to be acquired by FA and/ or trade. Anything less is a huge step back.
Now about that 12th ranked rotation: We need a No. 2 or 3 starter, and it ain’t Phil Coke. $ 34 million can get a helluva starter. Do it! If not a Lilly, Arroyo, Webb, Kuroda, or Pavano, then a trade for one of the G men- Guthrie, Greinke, Garza, or Gio Gonzalez. Trade Galarraga or Oliver if necessary. And if Coke is not in the bullpen, we need two set up men, not just one. Let Perry, Robbie, and Schlereth hone their skills in low leverage situations before prematurely promoting them to late inning duty.

Start with a .500 club that was 8th in run production and 12th of 14 teams in team ERA.
Subtract Damon’s .355 OBP from the 2 slot, Magglio was on pace for .300 avg/ .378 OBP (that’s .378!), 20 homers, and 100 RBI. $ 75 million coming off the payroll (not 50 million as we’re lowballed to believe) potentially available for upgrades. That includes $ 34 million presently spent on starting pitchers and $ 26 million spent on the 2 and 3 hitters, with a hole in the 5 slot.
DD decieds to stand pat at 3B, SS, and Catcher, and apparently one outfield spot. That leaves one corner OF and DH for upgrades.
If only one bat is added, the net outcome is a dowgrade. Two bats and we’re breaking even, and just pray that the guys hit better. I want Maggs back if he’s healthy, but they won’t know that for a couple months, and Boras will drag things out while he lies about other clubs being interested, even if it hurts his client. Boras is about money, money, and money. If Maggs is a DH, the FA outfield selection is much more limited than the DH’s. Add that DD has not signed a free agent position player to a multi year contract since Ordonez before the 2005 season. I look for an OF and DH to be acquired by FA and/ or trade. Anything less is a huge step back.
Now about that 12th ranked rotation: We need a No. 2 or 3 starter, and it ain’t Phil Coke. $ 34 million can get a helluva starter. Do it! If not a Lilly, Arroyo, Webb, Kuroda, or Pavano, then a trade for one of the G men- Guthrie, Greinke, Garza, or Gio Gonzalez. Trade Galarraga or Oliver if necessary. And if Coke is not in the bullpen, we need two set up men, not just one. Let Perry, Robbie, and Schlereth hone their skills in low leverage situations before prematurely promoting them to late inning duty.

Amen Tigerdog. You hit the nail right on the head. Don’t forget they also need a right handed back-up catcher that can actually hit over .200.
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I’ve been saying all along the Tigers need a middle of the rotation starter, 2 veteran relievers, a back-up catcher, at least 1 OF & a DH.
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Anything less will make for another year of struggling to finish above .500 and a division being handed over to the Twins yet again.
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Joe

O, baseball brothers, I know that “it all starts with pitching” is a time-honored truism, but have we forgotten how often this year we heard the refrain “the Tigers threaten but do not score”? Our 2010 rotation was not perfect, but it was plenty strong enough for the Tigs to contend. What killed us was the consistent lack of the timely hit. The Tigs don’t just need a middle-of-the-order bat to “protect” Cabby. We need a professional hitter (preferably more than one) who can show the young guys how to play a pitcher and get the big hit when it counts. The way Polanco did. The Damon was supposed to. The way Maggs can when he’s healthy (which, I fear, he may not be next season… coming back from a bad ankle is slow. Cf. Sizemore). If anybody on the FA list fits this profile better than Carl Crawford, please tell me who. Plus, he’s an exciting player who will help put butts in the seats, which for Mr. Illitch means he’ll help pay for himself. From where I sit, we can improve our rotation significantly without adding any pitchers, just by filling the hole in the line-up where the run-producer(s) should be.

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