Sunday, March 20, 2011

What's Happening with the Tigers Infield?

You may be wondering why Ramon Santiago is starting at second base for the second consecutive game.  It doesn't seem to make a lot of sense given that Scott Sizemore, Will Rhymes and perhaps Danny Worth are competing for the second base job.  Steve Kornacki of MLive is asking the same question and has some interesting quotes in today's article. 

Manager Jim Leyland said that he is happy with the backup outfielders and relievers as the spring winds down.  However, he also says:
“There’s only one thing that sticks out and it sticks out like a sore thumb.”
He would not elaborate, noting that reporters should be able to figure it out.

Leyland also gives a lot of praise to Danny Worth:
“Danny Worth quietly has had a nice spring,” Leyland said. “He can play defense with anybody. He’s one of the best young defensive infielders in baseball.”...
“He has a cannon for an arm. And he’s hit the ball well this spring. He’s a pretty good player now. He’s awfully good, so we have to wait and see.”
It sounds to me as if Worth is going to make the team.  So, what's "sticking out like a sore thumb?" One thought is that Worth may have passed Sizemore and Rhymes and seized the second base job.  If that were the case, then why has Santiago started at second base the last two games?  Is he he the new second baseman? 

Santiago taking over at second wouldn't be the first infield surprise that Leyland has given us during his tenure. He has shifted Carlos Guillen all over the place the last few years. A more likely possibility is that the Tigers are shopping Santiago.  The Phillies and Orioles are known to be looking for infield help gives the health of their starting second basemen Chase Utley and Brian Roberts respectively.

Who could the Tigers get for Santiago?  Probably not much more than a fringe prospect, maybe one of those hard throwing double-A relievers that Dave Dombrowski loves.  Given the not ready or just not very good options at the back of the pen right now, this guy could even make the opening day roster. 

The trading of Santiago is pure speculation, but it looks like some kind of little surprise is going to happen in the infield before opening day.

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