Tigers Updates – Guillen, Inge, Sizemore, & Chapman
It’s been a fairly slow offseason so far for the Tigers. After Dave Dombrowski’s year-end
press conference media availability session, the Tigers action has taken a back seat to the playoffs and other Detroit sports.
The biggest story so far this offseason has been Carlos Guillen’s disgust with how Jim Leyland has handled the Tigers’ lineup over the past few seasons. Ian at Bless You Boys has all the details, but I wanted to give my opinion. Ever since coming to Detroit, Guillen has done everything asked of him. He has always put the team first and his personal agenda second. His comments may come off as whiny (especially to the media), but think about the timing of this press release rather than what was said. Guillen waited until the season was over to voice his disapproval of Leyland’s rather frequent lineup adjustments. Guillen could have easily let fly during the thick of a pennant race, but once again he took a back seat to the team.
I can understand where Guillen is coming from. Yes, he was hurt for about half of the season (playing in 89 games, I think). However, Jim Leyland used an absurd amount of lineup combinations last year (126 in all). Professional athletes are creatures of habit, and changing lineups that often gives them basically no chance to get into a rhythm. The Tigers’ starting pitchers, the strength of this year’s team, were in a cycle of pitching every 5th day. The relievers that were used most often (namely Lyon and Rodney) were the most effective, partly because they are the most-skilled pitchers in that bullpen but also because they were in their own personal groove when pitching nearly every day. The Tigers hitters were never allowed to get into the same sort of rhythm that the pitchers did because of the constant lineup shifting by Leyland.
Two other (somewhat) related stories coming from the Tigers are the offseason surgeries for Brandon Inge and prospect Scott Sizemore. As anyone that followed the Tigers regularly would know, Inge was playing through immense pain in both of his knees during the second half of the year. His numbers took a big-time nosedive because of this, but he played on anyway. According to Jason Beck, Inge is scheduled to have surgery on both of his knees on November 3rd. He should be ready to begin baseball activity sometime in February. Inge has always been one of my favorite Tigers, even if I constantly berated him for his anemic hitting the last couple of seasons. He stepped up this year and had a huge first half, earning him a spot in the All-Star Game and Home Run Derby. He is easily one of the best fielding 3rd basemen in baseball and should win a Gold Glove (if the voters ever watched a game, they would know this).
Sizemore is the heir-apparent at second base for the Tigers, and was absolutely teeing off on pitchers in the Arizona Fall League before breaking his ankle while turning a double play. I’m actually glad that Sizemore is opting for surgery right away. This will allow his ankle to fully heal before next season. Letting it heal naturally could have left him with some lingering effects next year. Here’s to a speedy and successful recovery for both Sizemore and Inge.
The latest story coming out of Tigers’ camp is the apparent interest in Cuban prospect Aroldis Chapman. I haven’t heard much about him, but Kurt at Mack Avenue Tigers found that he’s hitting upwards of 102 mph on the radar gun. Despite the Tigers’ unnatural love for powerful arms, it doesn’t look like he’ll end up in the CoPa next season. Look for another Yankees-Red Sox bidding war this offseason.