|C||Gerald Laird||SP 1||Justin Verlander|
|1B||Miguel Cabrera||SP 2||Rick Porcello|
|2B||Scott Sizemore||SP 3||Max Scherzer|
|3B||Brandon Inge||SP 4||Jeremy Bonderman|
|SS||Adam Everett||SP 5||Nate Robertson|
|CF||Austin Jackson||CL||Jose Valverde|
|RF||Magglio Ordonez||RP||Joel Zumaya|
|DH||Carlos Guillen||RP||Phil Coke|
|C||Alex Avila||RP||Bobby Seay|
|OF||Clete Thomas||RP||Zach Miner|
Additional roster information can be found at MLB Depth Charts.
|Key Additions||Key Losses|
|CF||Austin Jackson||Trade (NYY)||CF||Curtis Granderson||Trade (NYY)|
|SP||Max Scherzer||Trade (ARI)||SP||Edwin Jackson||Trade (ARI)|
|P||Daniel Schlereth||Trade (ARI)||2B||Placido Polanco||Free Agency|
|RP||Jose Valverde||Free Agency||RP||Brandon Lyon||Free Agency|
|LF||Johnny Damon||Free Agency||RP||Fernando Rodney||Free Agency|
Top Prospects: Austin Jackson (OF), Jacob Turner (P), Casey Crosby (P)
The Tigers’ 2009 season was a very good one for the team, which unfortunately ended after a loss in game 163 to the Twins. The Tigers finished 86-77, 1 game back of the Twins for the AL Central crown. Led by manager Jim Leyland, the Tigers started off the season with the unexpected release of DH Gary Sheffield, despite being owed over $10 M for the season. Another surprise was that top prospect Rick Porcello, all of 20 years old, made the opening day rotation despite only being in the minors for one season, at high-A.
The Tigers got some excellent performances out of their players, especially in the rotation. SP Justin Verlander led the rotation with a 19-9 record, 3.45 ERA and 269 strikeouts, with offseason acquisition Edwin Jackson providing excellent innings as well (13-9, 3.62). Porcello did well also, posting a 14-9 record with a 3.96 ERA. 1B Miguel Cabrera led the offense again, posting a .324 batting average to go with his 34 HR and 103 RBI.
The Tigers unfortunately endured some distractions during the season. Among them were the decision by Jim Leyland to keep SP Justin Verlander on regular rest toward the end of the season so that he would be slotted to start the last game of the season on regular rest, and giving the ball to rookie Rick Porcello should they have to play into the playoffs. Another huge distraction during the last week of the season was 1B Miguel Cabrera’s arrest early on October 3rd. The Tigers had been in full-force collapse to that point, as they had a 3 game lead on the Twins with only 4 games to play.
Team Outlook for 2010
The Tigers spent a large portion of the offseason trying to shave payroll some, and succeeded by moving CF Curtis Granderson to the Yankees as a part of a huge three team deal. They have slotted in prospect Austin Jackson to replace Granderson in CF, and will sorely miss Granderson’s bat. They’ve gone younger, with 2B Scott Sizemore coming into spring training as the starter at 2B. This team is going to be built around their excellent pitching. Look for them to have a very dominant top 3, with Verlander, Porcello, and newly acquired Max Scherzer.
My main concern with this team is the amount of unknowns. 2B Scott Sizemore and CF Austin Jackson are both rookies, and it remains to be seen whether or not they will be able to provide similar production to the players they are replacing. Will Rick Porcello hit a wall after such a huge jump in innings pitched last season? Will Max Scherzer be able to stay healthy this season, and will Justin Verlander be able to repeat his excellent 2009 season? This is a team that has a lot more questions than answers at this point, and I feel like they will need a lot of things to break their way to end up at the top of the division in 2010.
Fantasy Outlook for 2010
SP Justin Verlander and 1B Miguel Cabrera are far and away the best fantasy players on this team, with CL Jose Valverde providing value with the amount of saves he gets. Beyond that, there’s a lot of players that will be useful in deeper leagues (Sizemore, Laird, Inge) and players who are high-upside, high-risk types (Jackson, Porcello, Scherzer). A player to watch during spring training would be Jeremy Bonderman. Bonderman is trying to come back from a lost season due to injury, and did provide good value as a starter when he was healthy previously. New addition Johnny Damon will look to repeat his excellent 2009 season, but I can’t really foresee that occurring. He’s going to be 36 this season, and will be going from the extremely hitter friendly Yankee Stadium to Comerica, which should play a lot more neutral.
Prediction for 2010
The Tigers have retooled, and are making a run at the division again in 2010. However, I don’t think that this team as constructed is necessarily going to be good enough to catch either the Twins or the White Sox. They’re going to need some unexpected performances from someone on this team, and it’s never a good thing to have to rely on getting those.
82-80, 3rd in the AL Central