|Tigers Retool for 2010 and Beyond|
Written by At Home Plate Staff (Contact & Archive) on March 19, 2010
In a division where no team jumps out at you as being far superior and the Tigers only missed the playoffs due to a playoff loss you have to wonder why the team decided this offseason was the one for a radical redesign.Â In one fell swoop the team said goodbye to two of last year's most productive players -- leadoff hitter Curtis Granderson, and number two starter Edwin Jackson and ushered in less proven players like Austin Jackson, Phil Coke, Max Scherzer and Daniel Schlereth.
Money-wise the players they got back combined cost less than a single season of what they'd have had to pay Edwin Jackson.Â Throw in Johnny Damon to replace Granderson and you have a Tigers team that may even be a little better than last year's team.Â Admittedly it doesn't address the age or brittleness of the key players, but it does gear the team up with a level of continuity that the organization needed, rather than face a radical rebuilding in just a season or two.
That doesn't make this a true youth movement, at least not for this year, when the Tigers will be relying on offense from a core of players well into their 30s which includes Johnny Damon (34), Magglio Ordonez (36), Brandon Inge (32) and Carlos Guillen (34) to provide a significant portion of the offense.
Still the youngsters will all have to contribute if this team is going to get anywhere in 2010, and that's especially true of Scherzer.Â Scherzer, a righty with electric stuff, has been billed as the true prize that the Tigers got in the four team deal.Â Scherzer, who has true ace potential, was rushed to the Majors by the Diamondbacks in the middle of the 2008 season with a grand total of ten AAA starts to his name, before being thrust into the limelight.
He responded, if not with wins (he's 9-15), then with dazzling power and loads of strikeouts, managing to K 240 batters in just 226 1/3 innings of Major League work.Â That's something special, and could be a harbinger of greatness to come.Â And considering he'll be slotting into a rotation that last year featured Edwin Jackson (13-9. 3.62 ERA) he'll have some pretty big shoes to fill.
But he isn't the only key youngster you can expect to see in Detroit this summer.Â Also coming in this blockbuster deal was centerfielder Jackson, who right away will be stepping in as the Tigers' leadoff hitter and head tablesetter for the offense.Â Jackson last year hit .300 with a .354 OBP for the AAA Scranton Red Barons while stealing 24 bases in the process.Â He'll be a bit raw at the plate as he gets his first tastes of Major League pitching, but he's the team's best option at the top of the lineup.
Less of a key player, but also important will be second baseman Scott Sizemore, a 25 year old with a little pop in his bat (17 home runs at AAA last year), a solid glove and great outlook on what he wants to accomplish this season.Â He's been a .300+ hitter at the minor league level and could offer some additional offense that the team might very well need
This season will be about transition and the Tigers look to have chosen their young talent carefully, but teams in transition often face difficulties if too many of their young players struggle, or too many veterans fade at the same time.Â Just how it will play out remains to be seen, the Tigers could either be glorious in their level of achievement or fall rather flat.Â Either way they'll be a heck of fun team to watch in 2010.