|Detroit Tigers 2003 Preview||| Print ||
Written by Jonathan Leshanski (Contact & Archive) on March 04, 2003
Last in the American League
Home: Comerica Park
Dave Dombrowski is remaking the Detroit Tigers in a new image. He’s begun this process by jettisoning a lot of the pieces of last year’s disastrous season. Unfortunately for Tigers fans the pieces he’s been dumping were the best part of last season’s team. It’s called rebuilding, and it’s going to be a rough season. To make matters worse the Tigers slashed payroll, which will leave them far from being competitive.
When the bright spot in your pitching rotation is that Steve Avery might be back you know some dark days are coming. Nominal staff ace Mark Redman is gone, and the starting rotation will consist of Mike Maroth, Steve Sparks, Nate Cornjo, and a couple of question marks. These question marks will probably include Andy Van Hekken, who needs more maturing before he becomes a solid pitcher, and Nate Robertson, who was acquired from the Marlins in the Mark Redman trade and will contend for a starting spot.
There is some hope down the road with right-handed pitcher Jeremy Bonderman, who was signed as a high school junior. He was good at high single A last season, and has continued to look great in his first games this season. Manager Alan Trammell has been very impressed. At age 20 it seems very unlikely that the Tigers will rush him to the big show, but given the deplorable state of Tigers pitching that is far from a sure thing.
Last year’s relief staff has been supplemented by a handful of new arms. Coming from the Marlins are Gary Knotts and Rob Henkel, from the Pirates is Adrian Burnside, and from waivers Pedro Feliciano. It’s good that the Tigers have these arms to count on because it’s going to be a long hard season, especially for the starters.
The one sure thing the Tigers have this year is two top-notch closers. Speculation that either Matt Anderson or Franklyn German will be dealt to fill a hole is still running rampant. It’s uncertain which of them will actually close this season if neither is dealt.
The offense is going to look very different this year too. The Tigers’ all around best statistical hitter, Randall Simon, has moved on to Pittsburgh. Their lone All Star from 2002, Robert Fick, will be starting in Atlanta. Also gone are 3rd baseman Chris Truby and OF Damian Jackson.
Because of this, the big question is just who are they going to field? The answer won’t be long in coming. For sure we can expect that Bobby Higginson, Dimitri Young, Brandon Inge, and Carlos Pena will take up four of the batting slots. Other fairly safe bets include Omar Infante, Gene Kingsale, and Dean Palmer.
Neither the Tigers’ offense nor pitching are going to scare many people this season. In many ways they are going to count their blessings that they play in one of baseball’s weakest divisions. They are really going to need to beat up on the weak sister Royals and Indians to see any improvement in last season’s numbers.