Sunday, March 28, 2010

Leyland Hints at Opening Day Roster

With the Tigers going to Milwaukee to play two exhibition games on Friday and Saturday, Jim Leyland and Dave Dombrowski need to make their final decisions on which 25 players will head north by Thursday. Leyland gave some not so subtle hints the last couple of days. First, he made it pretty clear that Joel Zumaya will be in the Tigers bullpen despite his battles with command much of the spring:

On Saturday, in regard to reliever Joel Zumaya striking out the side against the Yankees in Lakeland, he said, “If you have guys like that and if they don’t make the team, you’ve got a hell of a team.”

And, no, Leyland said, he did not have to see Zumaya pitch consecutive days and maintain a healthy arm to take him.

He also discussed the outcome of the battle for the 25th roster spot:
“It’s not hard to figure out,” Leyland said. “I’ll give you one hint: ‘If Larish could play center field, his chances would be better.’ “
That tells me that it's going to be someone who is both a corner infielder and a center fielder. That eliminates both Larish and Clete Thomas, so it has to be Don Kelly. With Brandon Inge still not 100% after knee surgery, it's important that they have a reliable back-up at third base.

They also need to decide between Alex Avila and Robinson Diaz as back up catcher. The Tigers need offense, so I'm confident it will be Avila. I also think he will play fairly frequently - a couple games per week maybe.

So, the position players should shake out as follows.

Starting Line-up:

Austin Jackson CF
Johnny Damon LF
Magglio Ordonez RF
Miguel Cabrera 1B
Carlos Guillen DH
Brandon Inge 3B
Scott Sizemore 2B
Gerald Laird C
Adam Everett SS

(He may flip flop Sizemore and Laird)


Ryan Raburn CF
Alex Avila C
Ramon Santiago IF
Don Kelly IF-OF

The final pitching staff is less certain. Jon Morosi said yesterday that the Tigers are shopping Nate Robertson. Obviously, the Tigers would have to eat most of his salary to make that happen and I'm not convinced they can pull it off. I don't think they will just release him because he has had a good spring and Jeremy Bonderman and Dontrelle Willis are not exactly rock solid fourth and fifth starters. Until a move is made, I'm going to assume that all three will kept on the roster.

This is how the pitching staff looks to me:


Justin Verlander
Rick Porcello
Max Scherzer
Jeremy Bonderman
Dontrelle Willis


Jose Valverde
Ryan Perry
Joel Zumaya
Phil Coke
Fu-Te Ni
Eddie Bonine
Nate Robertson


  1. Lee, what are your thoughts on Porcello? Baseball Prospectus says his low K/9 last year was about "learning to pitch efficiently" or something. Is he gonna be a stud? And when?

  2. Daniel,

    Porcello has been a GB machine again this spring. I think his k rate and K/BB will go up this year but I don't think he'll be a big strikeout guy yet. I do believe he'll be an ace within two years.


  3. And yet you're sure you don't want to trade for him?


  4. I knew it was you. If it was a keeper league, I'd be all over him. Right now, I've got three pitchers who are better than him and Dempster who is similar in value. Plus, my offense is awful.




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