April 1st, 2013

Opening Day lineups: Tigers at Twins

Omar Infante and Prince Fielder are the only Tigers who have faced Twins Opening Day starter Vance Worley, so there’s going to be a learning process here.

TIGERS

  1. Austin Jackson, CF
  2. Torii Hunter, RF (11-for-50, 9 K’s at Target Field)
  3. Miguel Cabrera, 3B
  4. Prince Fielder, 1B (1-for-3 vs. Worley)
  5. Victor Martinez, DH
  6. Andy Dirks, LF
  7. Jhonny Peralta, SS
  8. Alex Avila, C
  9. Omar Infante, 2B (0-for-6 off Worley)

P: Justin Verlander

TWINS

  1. Aaron Hicks, CF
  2. Joe Mauer, C (20-for-57, 3 HR, 9 RBIs off Verlander, but 0-for-6 last year)
  3. Josh Willingham, LF (1-for-8, 3 K’s off Verlander)
  4. Justin Morneau, 1B (2-for-18, 10 K’s off Verlander since 2009)
  5. Ryan Doumit, DH (0-for-9, 2 K’s off Verlander)
  6. Chris Parmelee, RF (2-for-6, HR off Verlander)
  7. Trevor Plouffe, 3B (3-for-15, 5 K’s off Verlander)
  8. Brian Dozier, 2B
  9. Pedro Florimon, SS (0-for-2 off Verlander)

P: Vance Worley

Cancel those Elvis Andrus trade rumors, he’s getting paid

The rumor mill has been trying to tie the Tigers together with Rangers shortstop Elvis Andrus for months. If it wasn’t the idea of a grand return package for Rick Porcello this past offseason, it was the Spring Training rumor that Texas could look to trade Andrus next offseason to make room for top prospect Jurickson Profar.

Now that Andrus is reportedly on the verge of a contract extension worth up to eight years and $120 million, those rumors are toast.

What exactly the Rangers do with Profar now is a fair question. They could move him to second base and shift Ian Kinsler to first. They could conceivably try to trade Profar, too, but if you’re going to be paying a guy like Andrus eight figures, it’s hard to give up a talent like Profar, who provides a wealth of potential at another position for at least three years of minimum salary.

USA Today puts Tigers payroll at $148,414,500

One of the Opening Day rituals for baseball writers is USA Today’s annual list of Opening Day payrolls, including salaries for every player who has made a big league roster out of camp. They put the Tigers at $148,414,500, not including the $377,049 paid to Brennan Boesch. Add that in, and they come in at just under $148.8 million. Their Opening Day payroll last year was around $133.4 million.

This year’s Tigers payroll comes in sixth-highest among Major League teams. Detroit would be fifth highest if based just on players who made the team, but the salary that the Angels are paying Vernon Wells this year to play for the Yankees moves the Halos into the top five at $148,896,250.

The White Sox come in second in the AL Central for payrolls at $119,073,277. Next up are the Indians at $84,772,800, followed by the Royals at $81,491,725. The Twins are at $75,802,500.

Would Tigers make a move for Casper Wells?

The Seattle Mariners finalized their Opening Day roster on Sunday by keeping Jason Bay as their extra outfielder and designating Casper Wells for assignment. The Tigers were rumored to have interest in trading for Wells over the final days of Spring Training before naming Matt Tuiasosopo as their right-handed hitting outfielder of choice to share starts in left field.

So now that Wells is out there for the taking, would the Tigers add him now? If it’s going to happen, they’re probably going to have to give something up before he hits the waiver wire. They probably had a better chance of working out a trade for him last week if they wanted him badly enough.

Players who are designated for assignment hit the trade market. If they aren’t traded in the first few days, they eventually the waiver wire, which at the start of the season run in reverse order of last season’s standings. So the Twins, Indians, Red Sox, Royals and White Sox will all have their chance to claim him before the Tigers’ waiver spot comes up. In other words, all of the Tigers’ competitors in the AL Central will have their chance, plus the Red Sox. Most of those teams already have their outfield mix set. That doesn’t mean they wouldn’t make a claim to keep a division/playoff favorite from addressing a position of need.

The Tigers have a decision to make. They like Tuiasosopo in part for his versatility, which includes the ability to play the corner infield spots as well as second base in a pinch. However, they have Don Kelly capable of doing the same thing. Wells, meanwhile, brings center-field capability, which they have in Kelly but only limited experience in Tuiasosopo. Wells is a stronger defender, not that the Tigers really need to worry about defensive substitutions in the outfield at this point). He did not hit particularly well in Seattle over the last year and a half, but he firmly established himself as a lefty killer, with a .267 average, .891 OPS and nearly half of his 35 hits for extra bases off southpaws.

Could it happen? Again, if it does, it’ll probably have to be trade a trade.

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