Leyland discusses three roster decisions looming

Jim Leyland was asked before Friday’s game if all of his roster questions could come down to the same day near the end of spring training, or if they could stagger them.

“I think they possibly could all funnel down to one day,” Leyland said, “but I think you could possibly make one of those decisions sooner than the other two. You could get your position players [set], but the bullpen spot and the fifth starter spot are going to go real late, because we don’t know. We have no idea.”

Leyland has talked about the outfield decision they have to make, and he has played Andy Dirks and Clete Thomas accordingly in an effort to get them both ample at-bats.

“I think Dirks and Thomas are real close,” Leyland said earlier in the week. “I’m happy with it.”

Of course, Leyland also has played Ryan Raburn and Brandon Inge quite a bit at second base, and now Inge at third while Miguel Cabrera is out in an effort to get Inge as many at-bats as possible. He also has talked about second base as a mix.

“Second base is not a problem,” Leyland said March 12. “It might be a problem figuring out who’s going to play there, but it’s not a problem, because I’m covered three ways for sure.”

The positional issues — or issue — could get a little bit of clarity coming up next week. Leyland also said Friday that he hopes to use a day next week against a left-handed starting pitcher to test out his Opening Day lineup, including the batting order he’ll likely use April 5 against Red Sox left-hander Jon Lester. Third base could be tricky that day, assuming Cabrera isn’t yet back to game action by then, but the DH slot for that day could be telling, whether it’s Ryan Raburn or Delmon Young or somebody else.

16 Comments

I count four decisions. Fifth starter, seventh reliever, second base, and last outfielder. Inge has proven over ten years that he can’t hit and he’s getting progressively worse. Dirks is clearly better than Thomas at the plate, and is very good in the field. Clete can’t hit much, either.

Given Leyland’s math combined with his comments, I’m not sure second base is actually a roster decision. Sounds more and more like a playing time decision.

Sounds that way, but I didn’t want to insinuate anything, especially when it comes to the great Brandbino. Worth hits .300, Inge hits .200, yet…… awww whatever. :)

Patrick … money, money, money …

Dirks hits for a better average and hits leftys better. Thomas has more power and is better defensively. The question comes down to how is the spot going to be used and how many at bats they get. If it is a defensive replacement and one start a week, I go with Thomas and play Dirks everyday in AAA to keep him ready as an injury replacement. I go with Dirks, if they factor him into the DH spot and he would be in the line up more than once a week.

How do you figure Thomas has more power? Dirks averages 1 HR every 41 AB in the minors and Thomas 1 every 54AB. The most Thomas has hit in a season is 12, Dirks 15. Their 162 game ML average is 15 for dirks and 8 for Thomas. Dirks has as much speed as Thomas and is younger, Thomas throws better but has had Tommy John surgery. Dirks is by far the better choice to make the team.

Dirks has an option year left—Thomas does not.

So what, Thomas isn’t worth the roster spot!

is one of the utility IF jobs still up for grabs: Inge vs Worth? it seems that Inge would best be used almost exclusively vs LHP… guessing that Raburn, Cabrera, or Young would DH vs LHP to get Inge into the lineup. Worth might be the better choice for a late inning sub because he has more position versatility than Inge and I assume more speed. is this roster spot still undecided, or a fan fabricated battle?
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Worth has an option so they’ll probably keep Inge and let his in-season rather than spring training performance determine his future with the team. if Inge is on the 25 man, I’ll not be surprised if he’s in the opening day lineup vs lefty Lester.
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if Tigers decide to keep Smyly, do they have space to add him to the 40 man or will they need to DFA someone?

I count 39 on the 40 man roster after you add Kelvin DeLaCruz. They might be going to DFA either Thomas or Inge in any case, or they could move Al Al to the 60 day DL to open a spot. Shouldn’t be an issue.

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