2010 MLB Season Preview: Detroit Tigers

>> Tuesday, March 16, 2010

It has been a crazy off season for the Detroit Tigers. Gone are 2009 All Stars Curtis Granderson and Edwin Jackson, along with 2009 Gold Glove winner Placido Polanco. The Tiers front office sold the local fans on a partial rebuild, with an emphasis on getting the team younger. Then along comes one Johnny Damon, and even though they would not pay Polanco 5 million a season to play second and hit second, they ponied up 8 million dollars for a broken down 36 year who has no chance of covering the spacious left filed of Comerica Park and will only do as good as Polanco in the lineup if he has a good year. Tiger fans are just as confused as I am.

The only upside of having Damon in the lineup is he is an alternate lead off hitter. Manager Jim Leyland will give rookie centerfielder Austin Jackson every opportunity to prove he can handle the lead off spot, but Damon is clearly the back up plan. The Tigers liked Damon’s power numbers from 2009, but playing 81 games in the spacious confines of their ball park is surely going to hurt Damon’s production. He should get on base a lot, which is good for the second guy, but the Tigers had that already in Polanco.

The Tigers are going to have to stay healthy this season, which is a tall task considering the number of aging veterans on the roster. On top of that Polanco’s replacement at second, rookie Scott Sizemore broke his ankle in Arizona fall league play. There seems to be some questions if he will be healthy enough to start the season. Third baseman, Bradon Inge, is coming off double knee surgery and remains a question mark, and I haven’t even mentioned aging veteran Carlos Guillen or Magglio Ordonez yet.

There is also the question of who will be the Tigers 4th and 5th starting pitchers. Jeremy Bonderman, if he has recovered from blood clots, is the fourth starter by default. The Tigers have two highly paid, but wildly inconsistent pitchers in Dontrelle Willis and Nate Robertson. They also have Eddie Bonine, Armando Galarraga, and Phil Coke to battle it out for the final starting spot.
Here's what I think the roster will look like:
Projected lineup

1. CF Austin Jackson
2. LF Johnny Damon
3. RF Magglio Ordonez
4. 1B Miguel Cabrera
5. DH Carlos Guillen
6. 3B Brandon Inge
7. 2B Scott Sizemore
8. C Gerald Laird
9. SS Adam Everett

Projected Rotation

SP: Justin Verlander: Led AL in wins, IP, K's.
SP: Rick Porcello: 5-2, 3.07 ERA after Aug. 1.
SP: Max Scherzer: 9.2 K/9 for Arizona last season
SP: Jeremy Bonderman: Only 13 starts since '08
SP: Nate Robertson: 3.86 ERA as SP; 7.48 as RP in '09.

CP: Jose Valverde