Vote in the poll below to let us know who you think is the Face of the Tigers for our Face of the MLB tournament.
Recently, a friend told me about a rumor he heard regarding issues between three players in the Detroit Tigers clubhouse. I was very entertained by these rumors, and decided to find out more.
Last season was very interesting for the Tigers. Top prospect Avisail Garcia was traded mid-season to the White Sox, Miguel suffered multiple hip injuries, and Prince Fielder was later traded to the Texas Rangers.
Here’s why: Avisail Garcia, who was a rookie on the Tigers squad last season, allegedly slept with Prince Fielder’s wife.
When Miguel Cabrera and the rest of the team found out about this situation, a scuffle broke out in the Tigers clubhouse between Garcia, Fielder, and Cabrera. The young Garcia and the veteran Fielder supposedly got into a physical altercation, and Miguel Cabrera re-injured his hip in an attempt to break up the fight.
Another reason why we love Miguel Cabrera. He put himself at risk of injury to stick up for another teammate.
On July 30th, Avisail Garcia was traded to the Chicago White Sox in 3-team trade that sent Jose Iglesias to Detroit. The very same day, Miguel Cabrera was removed from the Tigers lineup with a hip injury.
Here’s the interesting part about the situation. The following week after Garcia was traded, Fielder’s batting averaging dropped 10 points to .258, his lowest during his tenure with the Tigers. A few weeks later on August 15th, Fielder filed for divorce against his wife.
Diamondhoggers.com included this statement when they first reported the situation. “I don’t care enough to look into it, but apparently Fielder said there was still sour grapes at least on his end for him being traded from the Tigers. He wasn’t completely over it and was bothered by it because he thinks it was for the wrong reasons.”
It’s still unclear how true these rumors are, but if they are true, the Tigers wanted no part of it. There’s nothing more detrimental to a clubhouse than a scandal like this.
The year was 1984. The Detroit Tigers defeated the San Diego Padres 4 games to 1, to win their 3rd ever World Series, 1st since 1968. Only 6 members of the Tigers current 40 man roster were alive. 30 years later, the Tigers face the tough task of getting back there. Led by former MVPs Miguel Cabrera and Justin Verlander, and Cy Young winner Max Scherzer, the Tiger have come so close year after year, but have fallen short every time. To win the Fall Classic in 2014, here’s what the Tigers will need.
A number 5 starter
Drew Smyly? Jose Alvarez? who gets the job done? Whoever is the Tigers fifth starter will need to get the job done. Rick Porcello started 29 games for the Tigerss last season, finishing with a 13-8 record and a 4.32 ERA with 18 quality starts. Due to trading Doug Fister this off-season, Porcello will most likely be the Tigers number 4 starter in 2014.
Drew Smyly started 18 games for the Tigers in 2012, he went 4-4, posted a 3.99 ERA, striking 94 batters in 99 innings. Smyly served a reliever in 2013, and was very effective. In 66 games, Smyly had a 2.37 ERA, 1.04 WHIP, 2.6 WAR (wins above replacement), and 86 Ks in 76 innings.
Jose Alvarez had a 2.80 ERA in 20 starts with the Toledo Mudhens, the Tigers triple-A affiliate. Before being called up to the MLB, Alvarez was leading the International League in strikeouts, WHIP, and baserunners per nine innings. Alvarez was called up to the majors for the first time on June 9, 2013, and made his debut starting in place of Aníbal Sánchez. He recorded a win and a quality start, pitching six innings while striking out seven against the Cleveland Indians. After that, Alvarez really struggled. He finished with a 5.82 ERA and a 1-6 record. If he can pitch well in Spring Training, I think he can challenge Smyly for the 5th starter role.
Consistency at catcher
Alex Avila has been mightily inconsistent the last two seasons. After hitting .295 with 19 homers and 82 RBIs in 2012, he’s averaging a .235 average, 10 homeruns and 48 RBIs the last two seasons. He may be a great defensive catcher, but his hitting needs to be more consistent on a day-to-day basis. Last season, Avila hit just .227 with 11 home runs and 47 RBIs, his 0.7 WAR was one of lowest among eligible catchers. With Bryan Pena now in Cincinnati, and Victor Martinez on his last legs, Avila will have to step up his game in 2014. The Tigers gave Avila another chance, avoiding arbitration by signing him to a 1-year deal worth $4.15 million.
Last season, the Tigers bullpen combined for a 4.01 ERA and a 17-25 record with16 blown saves. While major pieces like Joaquin Beniot and Jose Veras left, they signed Joe Nathan and Joba Chamberlin.
Last season, Joe Nathan was arguably the best closer in all of baseball. The 39 year old posted a 1.39 ERA in 64 innings last season with the Rangers. He closed out 43 games in 46 opportunities, a solid 93% save percentage.
Joba Chamberlin has pitched in just 60 innings the last two seasons due to numerous injuries. He has been inconsistent throughout his whole career, but has had some outstanding seasons. In 2008, Joba’s rookie year, he posted a 2.60 ERA while striking out 118 batters in 100 innings.
My #3 rated prospect in the Tigers organization, Bruce Rondon, will likely pitch in the Tigers bullpen next season; probably as a setup man. Rondon, whose fastball topped 100 MPH in spring training last year, has been a stud in the Tigers farm system for many years, and is due for a breakout season.
Andy Dirks producing again in 2014
In 2012, Andy Dirks hit .322 with 8 HR and 35 RBIs in just 219 ABs. After his successful sophomore season, the 27 year old was given the Tigers #6 spot in the batting order, hitting behind Victor Martinez. However, Dirks didn’t produce like the Tigers expected him to in 2013. The lefty hit .256 with 9 HR and RBIs in 438 ABs.
While his stats weren’t horrible, the Tigers expected a lot better. We all know what Andy is capable of after his 2012 season, and we want to see him play like that again. Dirks will likely split time with newcomer Rajai Davis in left field.
Brad Ausmus getting the job done
After Jim Leyland stepped down from after 8 seasons as Tigers manager, Ausmus is left with the tough task of replacing Leyland. Jim led the Tigers to 700 wins and 2 AL pennants with the Tigers. Leyland will serve as a special assistant for the club in 2014. Ausmus used to play ball back in the day, catching 1971 games for the Astros, Padres, Dodgers, and Tigers, yeah he played for the Tigers. He finished his 18 year career at the age of 41 with a career .251 average, 80 HRs, and 607 RBIs, he was also pretty speedy for a catcher, stealing 102 bases in his career.
However, successful playing careers don’t always lead to great coaching success. Look at Isiah Thomas for example, “Zeke” finished his NBA career as one of the best point guards of all time, but had a 187-223 record as a manager.
Ausmus comes to Detroit with no coaching experience at all, which worries me. He was a catcher, but catchers usually always turn out to be great managers. Look at St. Louis’ Mike Matheny for example. He had no managerial experience when the Cards hired him, but look at what he’s done with Cardinals. He’s made them one of the best baseball cities in America, if not the best.
Can the 44 year old Ausmus get the job done in 2014? If you ask me I think he can. I think he can take this team to next level, sort of like what Matheny did in St. Louis. With tons of returning pieces from the last few seasons, I believe the Tigers can go all the way in 2014.
The Detroit Tigers have been one of the best teams in the MLB the last few season-three straight Central Division titles, three straight ALCS appearances, and AL Champions in 2012. Dave Dombrowski, the Tigers GM, has been known for developing minor league players into superstars. Players like Curtis Granderson, Justin Verlander, Rick Porcello, and Jacob Turner have all come up in the Tigers farm system. Next, I will breaking down my top 15 prospects in the Tigers organization for the 2014 season.
15. Jeff Thompson RHP West Michigan Whitecaps (A)
Thompson was selected by the Detroit Tigers in the third round of the 2013 First-Year Player Draft out of the University of Louisville. He was named 2013 Big East Conference Pitcher of the Year and a Golden Spikes Award semifinalist after going 11-2 with a 2.19 ERA and 113 strikeouts in 17 starts. The 6’6″ 245 pounder had a 3.80 ERA in 45 innings pitched with West Michigan.
14. Austin Schotts CF Connecticut Tigers (A)
Schotts was selected by the Detroit Tigers in the third round of the 2012 FYPD out of Centennial High School in Frisco, Texas. In 2012, Schotts hit .310 with the Tigers rookie team, the GCL Tigers. Austin was named Gulf Coast League Tigers Player of the Year in 2012. In 2013, Schotts hit .315 with runners in scoring position, driving in 30 runs. However, Schotts hit just .195 without men on base. He finished 2013 with a .212 average and 31 stolen bases.
13. Tyler Collins OF Erie SeaWolves (AA)
Collins was selected by the Detroit Tigers in the sixth round of the 2011 FYPD out of Howard College. In 2012, Collins hit .290, 7 HR, 66 RBIs, and stole 20 bases with the Tigers Single-A team, the Lakeland Tigers. Tyler also finished second in the Florida State League in 2012 with 35 doubles, and finished fourth with 137 hits. Collins just .240 in 2013 with the SeaWolves, but hit 21 homers and drove in 79 runs. Strikeouts were a big problem for Collins, as he struck out 122 times in 129 games.12. Kyle Lobstein SP Erie SeaWolves (AA), Toledo Mudhens (AAA)
Lobstein was acquired by the Detroit Tigers from the New York Mets in exchange for cash considerations on Dec. 6, 2012. He was selected by the Tampa Bay Rays in the second round (47th overall) of the 2008 FYPD. The 23 year old posted a 13-7 record in 28 starts, a 3.27 ERA, 148 Ks, and 2 CG, in 167 innings pitched with the SeaWolves and Mudhens in 2013.
11. Eugenio Suarez SS Erie SeaWolves (AA)
Suarez was signed by the Detroit Tigers as a non-drafted free agent on Oct. 9, 2008. In 2012, Suarez hit .288, 6 HR, and drove in 66 runs with the West Michigan Whitecaps. He was named West Michigan Player of the Year for 2012. In 2013, the Venezuelan product hit .264 with 10 homers and 57 RBIs.
10. James McCann C Erie SeaWolves (AA)
McCann was selected by the Detroit Tigers in the second round of the 2011 FYPD out of the University of Arkansas. James hit .306 with 14 doubles, a triple, six home runs, 38 RBIs and 11 stolen bases in 61 games during his junior season at the University of Arkansas in 2011. He hit .277, 8 HR, and drove in 58 runs with the SeaWolves in 2013.
9. Jose Valdez RP West Michigan Whitecaps (A), Lakeland Flying Tigers (A)
Valdez was signed by the Detroit Tigers as a non-drafted free agent on June 4, 2009. He posted a 2.74 ERA in 49 innings pitched. The Dominican also struck out 67 batters and his opposing hitters hit .186 off him. He was added to the Tigers 40-man roster on November 20, 2013.
8. Hernan Perez 2B Erie SeaWolves (AA), Toledo MudHens (AAA)
Perez was signed by the Detroit Tigers as a non-drafted free agent on July 2, 2007. The Venezuelan hit .310 with 4 HR and 39 RBIs and stole 28 bases in 2013 with the Tigers Double-A and Triple-A affiliates.
7. Corey Knebel RP West Michigan Whitecaps (A)
Knebel was Selected by the Detroit Tigers in the first round (39th overall) of the 2013 Draft. He posted a 0.87 in 31 innings pitched in 2013. He also had 14 saves and his opponents his just .133 against him.
6. Jake Thompson SP West Michigan Whitecaps (A)
Thompson was selected by the Detroit Tigers in the second round (91st overall) of the 2012 Amateur Draft. In 16 starts, Thompson went 3-3 3 with a 3.13 ERA in 83 innings pitched with West Michigan.
5. Robbie Ray SP Erie SeaWolves (AA)
Ray was acquired from the Washington Nationals in the trade that sent Doug Fister to Washington. In 2013, Ray went 11-5 in 27 starts with a 3.36 ERA, 4 CG, and 160 Ks in 142 IP with the Potomac Nationals and the Harrisburg Senators, the Washinton Nationals double and triple-a affiliates.
4. Jonathan Crawford SP Connecticut Tigers (A)
Crawford was selected by the Detroit Tigers in the first round (20th overall) of the 2013 Draft out of the University of Florida. He put up a 1.89 ERA in 8 starts. He also struck out 21 batters in 19 innings pitched.
3. Bruce Rondon RP Toledo Mudhens (AAA), Detroit Tigers (MLB)
Rondon was signed by the Detroit Tigers as a non-drafted free agent on Sept. 12, 2007. The 6’3″ 275 pounder out of Venezuela posted a 1.53 ERA in 53 IP. He also had 14 saves and opposing hitters hit just .139 off him. Rondon even saw action in a shaky Detroit bullpen. He had a 3.45 ERA and even a save in 28 innings pitched.
2. Devon Travis 2B West Michigan Whitecaps (A), Lakeland Flying Tigers (A)
Travis was drafted by the Detroit Tigers in the 13th round of the 2012 Major League Baseball Draft out of Florida State University. Travis hit .351 with 16 HR and 76 RBI in 2013. He also stole 20 bases and had a .418 OBP. His outstanding play rewarded him, as he was named the Tigers Minor League Player of the Year.
1. Nick Castellanos OF/3B Toledo Mud Hens (AAA), Detroit Tigers (MLB)
Castellanos was selected by the Detroit Tigers in the first round (44th overall) of the 2010 First-Year Player Draft out of Archbishop McCarthy High School in Davie, Fla. In 2012, Castellanos hit .320 with 10 HR and 57 RBI with the West Michigan Whitecaps and the Lakeland Flying Tigers. Castellanos, who stands 6’4″, had another impressive season with the Toledo Mudhens in 2013. Even though his average dropped to .276, his HR numbers went up (21) and his RBI numbers also (76). Castellanos was called up to the big leagues when major league rosters expanded on September 1, 2013. He went 5-13 (.278) in 18 at bats. Castellanos will be Tigers starting third baseman in 2014, according to Jim Leyland.
In the AL Central the five teams are the Detroit Tigers, Cleveland Indians, Chicago White Sox, Kansas City Royals, and the Minnesota Twins.
Again the first place team in the central will be the Tigers. They have lost first base slugger Prince Fielder in a trade with the Texas Rangers for second baseman Ian Kinsler. They have also signed closer Joe Nathan and reliever Joba Chamberlain. Miguel Cabrera will be moving back over to first base. Even with the loss of Doug Fister they still have a dominant starting rotation.
For the second straight year the Cleveland Indians will finish in second. They haven’t made any huge moves in this off-season. If they can bring back Ubaldo Jimenez, and can pitch like he did with the Rockies, and in the second half last year they may have a chance at a wild card. They added veteran outfielder David Murphy and re-signed veteran Jason Giambi. Indians fans want Swisher, Kipnis, Santana, and Bourn to play to their potential.
The Chicago White Sox will go from last place in 2013 to third place in 2014. Jose Abreau the Cuban slugger will man first base this year. Paul Konerko said that 2014 is his last major league career, he might not get a ton of playing time with Abreau but will still perform capable to how he can play. The rest of their stars have to play like they did in 2012 when they came in second place. Last year the only good sign was pitcher Chris Sale.
In fourth place will be the Kansas City Royals. Adding right fielder Norichika Aoki and pitcher Jason Vargas will do better than last years players, but not good enough. Last year they came in third place and fifth for the AL Wild Card, and this year will be fourth place in the division. They lost the bidding war for Carlos Beltran to the Yankees but New York lost it for Omar Infante.
In last place will be the Minnesota Twins. The Twins added two starting pitchers in Phil Hughes, and Ricky Nolasco. They have star Joe Mauer moving over to first base. Josh Willingham has the potential to hit 30 plus home runs when he is healthy. If the Twins pitching holds up and guys like Mauer, Willingham, Dozier, and Nolasco play like the all-stars they can be than you may see they can land ahead of the Royals.