Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Another round of cuts

This morning, the Tigers optioned outfielder Brent Clevlen and pitcher Virgil Vazquez to Toledo and reassigned seven players to the minors - pitchers Freddy Dolsi, Preston Larrison and Chris Lambert, catchers Max St. Pierre and Nick Tresniak and infielders Mike Hollimon and Scott Sizemore. The 8 cuts leave the Tigers with 37 players (32 from the 40 man roster and 5 non-roster invitees) still in camp.

This means there are 12 more cuts to go. Of those, Jordan Tata and Joel Zumaya are headed to the disabled list and Fernando Rodney and Vance Wilson are likely going there as well. In addition Francisco Cruceta is still having VISA problems and isn't likely to come north with the team once he gets here. Clay Rapada is also probably not a realistic option as he has been bothered by a sore shoulder and just started throwing last week.

So, there are really 6 more cuts to go. The following pitchers are available for the last two spots in the bullpen: Denny Bautista, Yorman Bazardo, Aquilino Lopez and Francis Beltran. I think that Bautista and Bazardo will make it but Lopez seems to have a good chance too. Beltran seems like a long shot.

Jim Leyland has apparently made his decision on the position players be but hasn't announced anything yet. The following players are available for four spots on the bench: Ramon Santiago, Marcus Thames, Brandon Inge, Ryan Raburn, Freddy Guzman, Timo Perez, Mike Hessman and Dane Sardinha. Assuming there are no trades, I believe Santiago, Thames and Inge are locks. Raburn is the fan (including me) favorite for the final spot but he likely won't make it if Inge isn't the back-up catcher. He might not even make it if Inge is the backup catcher as Leyland may want to carry the left-handed batting Perez or the switch hitting Guzman. My guess is: Santiago, Inge, Thames, Guzman (who could back up Granderson in center field and has had a good spring).

The most unfortunate reassignment of the day was Hollimon who dislocated his shoulder diving for a ball yesterday. He could miss a big chunk of the season or even the whole season. An MRI later today will reveal more. Hollimon was not expected to make the roster but had the potential to be an injury replacement during the season. He is one of their better prospects and has a chance to be a good utility man or even a starter in the future. However, losing a year of development at age 25 would be a big blow to his chances.

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