Now that the Detroit Tigers will not be playing in the World Series I can talk about what moves will be made in the offseason.
1.) The Tigers will not re-sign Jhonny Peralta.
I know it is hard to think this because he had such a good bat this past season and he came back after his suspension and did well in the postseason, but he is not an everyday left fielder. Plus, if you have him start at shortstop, you take away the defensive play of Jose Iglesias. So there are two options here trade Iglesias which is out of the question because he can be the everyday shortstop for quite a long time and is a good defensive player, has speed, and is a good small ball hitter. The other is letting Peralta go which seems to be the only option because there is just no place to squeeze him into this team and you can’t have him ride the bench or put him at DH because of Victor Martinez. So in my opinion Peralta is gone and Nick Castellanos will take over left field along with Andy Dirks and Don Kelly
2.) Who should be brought into the bullpen and let go?
So this year the bullpen struggled and did not have a true closer this season. That is one issue that GM Dave Dombrowski needs to address in the off-season. We can’t have a platoon of closers next year. A couple of good closers going on the market are Joe Nathan and Grant Balfour. Nathan had 43 saves last season with a 1.39 ERA and I believe he would work well in Detroit. Balfour I don’t believe would because of his recent outburst with Victor Martinez during their ALDS series and that could cause some friction within the Tigers. So if they get a closer they could re-sign Benoit and use him as the set-up man like the Tigers wanted.
Now for the rest of the bullpen: Drew Smyly and Al Albuquerque should be brought back as well. Smyly has been a consistent arm out of the pen and Albuquerque was better near the end of the year and is rounding back into form. Also Jose Veras should be given a full season evaluation. A couple of their youngsters also deserve another chance and that is Jose Alvarez and Bruce Rondon. They have time to improve, but if they don’t show any they should be let go. Phil Coke is definitely gone and most likely Jeremy Bonderman is as well. The Tigers should go sign a couple of more arms for their bullpen.
3.) What the starting line-up and starting pitching rotation might look like for 2014 opening.
First I will start with the starting pitcher rotation since this should be a lock unless they trade away Max Scherzer, which is being rumored.
1. Justin Verlander
2. Max Scherzer
3. Anibal Sanchez
4. Doug Fister
5. Rick Porcello
Some people are thinking the Tigers might have to trade a starting pitcher to get a closer and Scherzer has been rumored would seem to be the choice and then Drew Smyly can be moved into the starting rotation. However as I stated above they could sign a closer from free agency.
Here is what I believe the starting lineup should be and I shook it up a little bit.
1. Omar Infante 2B
2. Torii Hunter RF
3. Miguel Cabrera 3B
4. Victor Martinez DH
5. Prince Fielder 1B
6. Nick Castellanos LF
7. Austin Jackson CF
8. Alex Avila C
9. Jose Iglesias SS
Like I said I shook the lineup a bit. I believe Infante would make a good lead off hitter. He did bat over .300 this past season and was a consistent hitter. Fielder needs to be moved down the lineup for him to wake up so he start hitting like Austin Jackson did when he got moved down during the ALCS. I inserted Castellanos in the lineup because I think he will win the starting job in LF in spring training otherwise Dirks could fill the #6 spot. I also kept Austin Jackson down in the lineup because he seems to hit better when buried in the lineup and he said it takes the pressure off of him.
Stay tuned for more Tigers news during the off-season.