Saturday, March 19, 2011

Alburquerque is going to Toledo.

Some fans  were hoping that right-handed reliever Alberto Alburquerque would make the Tigers roster just because they like his name.  That possibility came to an end this morning when he was re-assigned to the minors along with left-hander Charlie Furbush, shortstop Argenis Diaz and first baseman Scott Thorman.  Alburquerque and Furbush had shots at making the opening day roster at one point, but they both need to work on their control.  Diaz and Thorman never had any real chance of making the team barring catastrophic injuries.

With Carlos Guillen and Joel Zumaya heading to the disabled list and 33 others still in camp, the Tigers now have eight more cuts to make before spring training.  They have 15 pitchers still competing for a roster spot and they will carry 12, so there are three more moves to made there.  Locks to make the team are

Justin Verlander
Max Scherzer
Rick Porcello
Brad Penny
Phil Coke
Jose Valverde
Joaquin Benoit
Ryan Perry
Brad Thomas.

That leaves six pitching battling for three spots:

Daniel Schlereth
Robbie Weinhardt
Brayan Villarreal
Enrique Gonzalez
Fu-Te Ni
Adam Wilk

Schlereth and Weinhardt are the safest bets unless Schlereth's control issues of his most recent appearance linger into the next game or two.  Beyond that, it is anyone's guess.  Brayan Villareal has the advantage of being on the 40-man roster and he also the most upside of the remaining candidates.  However, they may prefer that both he and Wilk get more work in the minors.  I'm going to guess they go with Gonzalez , who has MLB experience and the ability to eat up a few innings at a time. 

They will also carry 13 position players with the following players a virtual lock for the opening day roster:

Alex Avila
Victor Martinez
Miguel Cabrera
Jhonny Peralta
Brandon Inge
Ramon Santiago
Don Kelly
Austin Jackson
Magglio Ordonez
Ryan Raburn
Casper Wells

The Tigers have not said that Wells is going to make the team, but it's difficult to see how he won't.  He plays all three outfield positions, hit well at the end of last year and continued his hitting this spring.  Most importantly, they need a right-handed hitter to play when Avila sits versus lefties and Wells is the only one available.  So that leaves seven players for two spots:

Scott Sizemore
Will Rhymes
Danny Worth
Brennan Boesch
Clete Thomas
Andy Dirks
Max St. Pierre

St. Pierre is not going to make the team so it's really six players.  He is mainly still around because they need an extra catcher to handle all the pitchers still in camp.

One spot will go to the starting second baseman which manager Jim Leyland says is still undecided.  I don't think either Rhymes or Sizemore has done anything to firmly seize the job this spring.  So, I still think they will go with Sizemore, who has more potential as a hitter.  Danny Worth can't be ruled out yet, but he's more of a utility infielder.

The last spot will most likely go to a left-handed hitting outfielder - Boesch, Dirks or Thomas.  I don't think they'll clear space on the 40-man roster for Dirks, so he is probably out.  So, it comes down to Boesch's power potential versus Thomas's defense.  I've gone back and forth on this, but I'm now leaning towards them keeping Boesch and hoping that he recaptures last year's first half magic.  I'm still rooting for Thomas though.

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