And Your 2007 Detroit Tigers…

With all the trade talk surrounding the Tigers, the biggest factor seems to be whether or not to trade prospects for a free-agent-to-be. Many pundits want the team to go all out on a trade to try to win this year, and rightfully so, because Detroit does sit atop the baseball world.

Not only that, but for the first time in years, the team has a surplus of minor league talent. With a surplus of starting pitchers (Bonderman, Verlander, Rogers, Robertson, Maroth, Miner, Humberto Sanchez, Jordan Tata, and possibly Roman Colon) either bona-fide big leaguers or ready to take the next step, a few are dispensable unless Jim Leyland goes off the deep end and decides on a nine man rotation. Combined with an outfield of sluggers Marcus Thames, Craig Monroe, Dmitri Young, Magglio Ordonez, a package deal is more than likely.

Which brings me to this point: even if the Tigers give up two young arms and a power hitting outfielder, they will still be in position to contend next year. Only Young and lefty specialist Jamie Walker will be free agents (and Walker has said more than once he wants to retire a Tiger).

Fox Sports insider Ken Rosenthal reported that Alfonso Soriano would be going to one of the top three AL Central teams, unless the Los Angeles Angels beefed up their offer. I fully pledge my approval to go after Soriano (who would help solve the Tigers problems hitting LEFT-HANDED PITCHING), at any cost. (See ‘Lefty, Anyone?’ for more on this.) A rumor has pitcher Zach Miner, OF Marcus Thames, and a pitching prospect (Jair Jurrjens) going straight up for the most sought after hitter in baseball. Many experts believe Thames’ stock will never be higher, and Miner will have a hard time keeping up at his current pace. And so what if Detroit can’t re-sign Soriano, the 2007 roster would look something like this…

C – Pudge Rodriguez; 1B – Chris Shelton; 2B – Placido Polanco; 3B – Brandon Inge; SS – Carlos Guillen; LF – Craig Monroe; CF – Curtis Granderson; RF – Magglio Ordonez.

Hmmm…that lineup looks suspiciously similar to the 2006 edition, if not the exact same. So go for it all Dave Dombrowski, because you won’t have a young team more ready to win than this one.

That’s all for now folks…remember, sit on the fastball, but don’t miss the Hanging Curve (next post…I’m not promising a date, because this one was four days late).

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Lefty, Anyone?

For the first time in over a decade, the Detroit Tigers are going into the July 31 trade deadline looking to buy – not sell. You could even go as far as to say they are looking for the one player to put them over the top. If you ask almost any fan in Motown what the most pressing need is, the number one response will be a left-handed bat. My question – and rightly so – is why? If you look at the numbers (which, according to the old saying, never lie), a left-handed hitter is not the top priority.

71606Through the seasons first ninety games (in which the team was 61-29), the overall batting average was .275, good for tenth-best in all of baseball. Now contrary to peoples opinions on Detroit’s lineup, which features 7 righties, 1 lefty (CF Curtis Granderson), and 1 switch-hitter (SS Carlos Guillen), the Tigers have hit right-handers to a tune of .283 (7th best in MLB). Compare that to a .253 average verses southpaws (22nd). Only one regular, Pudge Rodriguez (.352) and Chris Shelton (.289)  hit lefties at a rate of .257 or better.

It then makes since that the Tigers should go after Nationals OF Alfonso Soriano, if they truly are searching for another bat. Soriano is a .330 hitter against LHP, and would fit anywhere in the batting order. Sure, we could debate who to trade, at what value, for what its worth, etc.

So throw out the talk about Bobby Abreu, Jeromy Burnitz, and Matt Stairs. Although its certain Detroit cannot stay pat at the deadline, there is a more important piece to the puzzle to be added, but that’s for another day…

Until then, look for the fastball, but don’t miss the Hanging Curve (next post July 18)…