December 2010

With Werth gone, Boras, Tigers talk Magglio

The Tigers had barely arrived here at baseball’s Winter Meetings on
Sunday when the Jayson Werth signing made waves through the Walt Disney
World Swan & Dolphin Resort. It could have a major effect on what
the Tigers do here once business begins in earnest on Monday.

That includes a potential reunion with Magglio Ordonez, which now looks
more viable than ever. The Tigers’ best shot at an offensive upgrade
might well be a return of their former batting champion.

“I certainly know we’ll be talking,” agent Scott Boras said of the Tigers and Ordonez.

Boras made the comment after the Nationals announced their seven-year
deal with Werth, whom Boras also represents. Washington reportedly
outbid other interested teams by offering a longer contract at an
average of $18 million per season.

The Tigers have been viewed around baseball as among the most interested
teams in Werth. Team president/general manager Dave Dombrowski,
however, said they weren’t in the bidding.

“We were not involved,” Dombrowski told MLB.com in an email Sunday.

Boras told MLB.com that he talked with Dombrowski quite a bit this week,
on Ordonez and other topics. He said they agreed that they would
continue their conversations here. It’s worth noting that Boras also
represents reliever Zach Miner, whom the Tigers designated for
assignment last week but whom the Tigers would be interested in bringing
back.

Victor Martinez t-shirt goes on sale Saturday at CoPa

Victor Martinez T-Shirt.jpgNormally, I don’t get into the merchandise end of things, but I know the jersey t-shirts are pretty popular, and it’s the holiday shopping season. And the Tigers did a pretty quick turnaround producing some shirseys for Victor Martinez.

They’ll go on sale Saturday morning as part of the Tigers’ one-day holiday sale from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. at the Comerica Park main pro shop.

The sale was already scheduled for other items, including leather chairs from the clubhouse, catching gear, game-used bats and jerseys, helmets and more. Hall of Famer Al Kaline is also scheduled to sign copies of his book, Six: A Salute to Al Kaline, for an hour starting at 10:30 a.m.

Last week’s signing of Victor Martinez obviously adds something to the mix, including a new gift idea for the Tigers fan who has most everything. It’s new enough that it’s the first confirmation we’ve had that Martinez will get to keep number 41.

Part of the proceeds from the one-day sale will benefit the Detroit Tigers Foundation. The first 100 shoppers will be treated to a free gift. Free parking is available across the street at Lot 1.

Tigers sign John Bale to minor-league deal

A year after the Tigers signed Brad Thomas out of Japanese ball, and two years after Detroit brought over Fu-Te Ni, they’ve gone back to the Far East to find a bullpen lefty. Detroit has agreed to a minor-league deal with former Royal John Bale, who pitched this year with the Hiroshima Carp in the Japanese Central League.

Foxsports.com first reported the signing, which the Tigers confirmed.
You might remember the 36-year-old Bale from his time in 2009 with the Royals. He gave up 18 earned runs on 34 hits over 28 1/3 innings that season with 24 strikeouts. He spent parts of three seasons in Kansas City after a previous three-year stint in Japan.
It would be fair to consider Bale a depth signing for a situational lefty. He has allowed a .238 average and a .647 OPS to left-handed hitters for his Major League career, compared with a .327 average and .847 OPS against right-handed batters. 
If you want to get into the looming lefties of the AL Central, Justin Morneau is 2-for-10 lifetime off Bale, though one of those hits was a two-run homer. Joe Mauer is 4-for-9 off him, but all singles, with three RBIs. Grady Sizemore is 1-for-6 with four strikeouts against Bale, while Travis Hafner and Jason Kubel are both 2-for-7 off him. 

Let the Werth sweepstakes begin

The Tigers still see a need for a right-handed bat in the middle of their lineup, and right field is the one opening they see where they can add that. They would like to bring back Magglio Ordonez, but agent Scott Boras is expected to wait until after the top free-agent outfielders sign and set the standards before progressing on Ordonez. One of those top-tier outfielders is Jayson Werth, whom Boras also represents.

Put it together, and the Tigers can check in about Werth while still keeping their options open on Magglio. With still around $30 million of payroll space left from the $60 million or so they shed in expiring contracts, they have the financial wiggle room for it. The Tigers have already been keeping in touch with Boras this offseason about Ordonez, and Dombrowski said after the Martinez signing that his team would regroup this week and look at their options.

Get the picture? Thus, let the Jayson Werth sweepstakes begin.

It might not be the same courtship the Tigers enjoyed with Victor Martinez, but Werth is the most logical fit among the top free-agent hitters left on the market. Even if the Tigers have every intention of trying to re-sign Ordonez, they’ve been expected to look into Werth.

ESPN’s Jayson Stark listed Detroit among the half-dozen or so teams with varying levels of interest in Werth. Foxsports.com’s Jon Morosi cited Major League sources who see the Tigers among the Red Sox and Phillies as the most serious suitors for Werth. Both reports list the Red Sox as the favorites.

No deal is expected anytime soon, which Stark confirms. The most logical plan for Werth is to wait until Carl Crawford signs, either with the Angels or elsewhere, and see how that impact other teams’ interest. Because after Crawford and Werth, Magglio is the next-highest rated outfielder on a lot of lists.

If Werth is looking for a six-year deal, as a report suggested, that could test the level of the Tigers’ interest. Detroit already has its DH spot sealed for the next four years with Martinez, so any long-term deal they add would have to be for somebody who can play the field for the vast majority of that contract. Werth has very good defensive tools for right field, including a strong arm, and has been an iron man with 315 games over the last two years for Philadelphia, but they would have to make sure he can stay healthy.

Miner non-tendered; Zumaya, Galarraga stay

The only nontender from the Tigers today is reliever Zach Miner, whose fate was set in that regard when he was designated for assignment on Monday. Detroit will indeed tender contracts to Joel Zumaya and Armando Galarraga.

Leyland: Guillen in mix at second base

The Tigers haven’t quite come up with a set definition of Carlos Guillen’s role so far this offseason, partly because of the injury concerns coming off knee surgery. It becomes a bigger issue now that Victor Martinez will be getting the bulk of the at-bats at DH.
On Tuesday, however, manager Jim Leyland confirmed what many have suspected for a while: If Guillen is healthy, he’s going to be in the mix at second base.
“Nobody’s talking about Carlos Guillen,” Leyland said on the Tiger Talk radio show Tuesday night. “I think that’s a big key. I said that last year. If you get Carlos Guillen close to what he was, particularly offensive, he can be a big key at that position. He’s going to be involved in that mix for sure.
Leyland was the guest on the season premiere of the Tiger Talk show Tuesday night. You can grab the link to the show archive here or listen live to the weekly program. 
Leyland talked with Tigers radio voice Dan Dickerson and Pat Caputo about the Tigers offseason so far, but some of his best remarks were about current players and where they fit in. That includes Guillen, whose season-ending knee injury from a Brett Gardner slide in August put his role in question, mainly with the question of whether he’ll be ready for the start of next season. That’s looking a little more likely now.
At season’s end, Leyland and team president/general manager Dave Dombrowski raised the idea of Guillen rotating positions next season, getting at-bats around the infield and maybe one of the corner outfield spots. But it was clear that as long as Guillen’s health was a question mark, the Tigers had to look at their options at second base.
They still have those options — Scott Sizemore and Will Rhymes are heading into their sophomore seasons, while Danny Worth is expected back from his foot issues — but they also have Guillen.
“Danny Worth is the best defender of that group,” Leyland said. “Rhymes showed us a spark. Sizemore looked much better when he came back. and like I said, Carlos Guillen is still a wild card.”
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