What’s left? Pitching invites, maybe Cespedes?

Here’s the deal: Whatever follows this first paragraph, take it with a grain of salt. As we saw on the Prince Fielder thing, plans change around these parts.

That said, the Tigers don’t sound like they have another major move in store.

Positionally, team president/general manager Dave Dombrowski said they’re pretty well set. Yes, there’s still some free agent DH/outfielder types, but if the Tigers added somebody there, they’d essentially be locking themselves into Miguel Cabrera as a third baseman before seeing how he handles the position in spring training.

But there’s a big-name hitter still out there who has been connected with Tigers interest since November. When Dombrowski was asked about Cuban outfielder Yoenis Cespedes, he crafted his response to allow some leeway should somebody above his pay grade decide he’s worth pursuing.

“I don’t want to say on that,” Dombrowski said. “Most likely [they're out], but you never can tell.”

Not lately, no.

Their outlook on pitching sounds a little more secure. Though the Tigers reportedly went after Roy Oswalt earlier, Dombrowski gave a pretty strong indication that they’re not looking for that kind of deal anymore. They’re still looking for veteran pitching, but Dombrowski is now downplaying expectations to the level of non-roster invitees. The 40-man roster is full, though they’ll open a spot by Opening Day by placing Victor Martinez on the 60-day disabled list.

Martinez, by the way, was scheduled to have a second opinion on his left knee Thursday afternoon from Dr. Richard Steadman. No news was available as of Thursday night, but the Tigers are expecting to hear he’ll need surgery for a torn ACL.

That would open up a roster spot for a non-roster pitcher who comes to camp. At this point, though, Dombrowski sounds more open than ever to having one of his young pitcher take the fifth starter job, especially if he’s going to get an uptick in run support.

“We’re having some conversations with a few guys,” Dombrowski said. “I don’t know if it’ll happen for not. But I don’t want it sound like we’re signing some guy to a long-term contract, or even in a position to be giving a big one-year deal. We’re talking more [to] bring a guy into camp, and if our youngsters don’t make it, then we can maybe lean on that guy to do it.”

The added run support the Tigers can expect from this offense gives them some leeway.

“You’re trying to win, and I think you can do that,” Dombrowski said. “But we have four veteran starters, a better offense. So it’s conducive to breaking that [young] guy in there if you can. At some point, you’re trying to break young guys in, because you want a guy or two to break in on a yearly basis somewhere. I know people write about payroll and I know we have a high payroll, but even the Yankees try to break young guys in, because you need to have somebody making lesser salaries. … It’s important, and I think it’s a good place to do it for us. But I don’t want to feed somebody to the wolves if they go to spring training and then they don’t look like they can handle it. That’s why you’re trying to protect yourself if you can.”

I said this on twitter earlier, but at this point, I would be surprised if one of the youngsters heading to camp — Duane Below, Jacob Turner, Adam Wilk, Andy Oliver or Drew Smyly — doesn’t win the open rotation spot. There’s more talent in that group than in the lower ranks of the free agency market right now. It’s the experience that’s lacking.

4 Comments

I love how exciting this has been this week – I do like how the Tigers management already has the plan and has presented it, shows confidence.

I’ve barely been able to sleep the past few nights, just wandering around the internet and twitter reading all the articles and comments about this big deal. It is very exciting and we sure do have something to look forward to this spring. That being said, let’s hope we don’t have any more major injuries. I’m going to miss Victor something awful and little Victor. I sure hope he can return to the team during the season. There’s really no one quite like him, imo.
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The timeline has been reported over and over about the deal and I just keep remembering how Dave looked on the 20th at WMU. He had a glow about him that day. I know people make fun of his ties, but he looked very handsome that day. Of course, he was at his alma mater and there was a terrific crowd. And, as soon as they arrived back in Detroit was when the “green light” went on. Mr. I had made the decision while we were sitting there eating lunch and listening to Dave say how “its probably not a good fit” etc., etc. When I left, the Tiger bus was pulling away. All the windows are blacked out so you cant see inside, but I remember waving and giving them the thumbs up sign and felt pretty silly about it. Still, it’s a day I’ll never forget.

Just before the Fielder press conference started up, I went out to get the mail and my spring training tickets were there. Good timing. I’m also glad I’ve already bought my tickets for regular season road games, since the Tigers are becoming a huge draw. Availability and price will become an issue.
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So Juan Pierre signs a minor league contract with an invite to spring training. Guess that indicates where he stood on the market. He’s more likely to get PT in the NL if he can make the club. On the subject of leadoff men, I’m not close to being sold on Austin Jackson. It appears JL is planning to look at him in the spot during ST, but I’d rather have Ajax just get ready for the season and not have to worry about leadoff duties. If he gets off to a good start hitting elsewhere in the order, then think about moving him up once he’s established his game. So who else would lead off if not Jackson? With this lineup, darned near anybody. Santiago. Raburn. Kelly. Avila. Anyone with a good eye for pitches.

I never thought I would say this……again; “Thank You Curt Flood!”

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