Thursday, December 07, 2006

Leyland Talks Roster Management

I wish I would have read the articles by Jason Beck and Lynn Henning before I read the Detroit Tigers Weblog this morning. Billfer, who does the DTW, posted about the Leyland's ideas in the articles and and now I feel like I'd be ripping him off if I did the same. Well, maybe just a few thoughts will be okay. If you don’t like links, the content of the articles has three points Billfer commented on. First, Leyland is coming up with a contingency plan for the leadoff spot in case Granderson doesn’t make progress in cutting down on his strikeouts. The two other candidates in Leyland’s eyes are Polanco and Pudge. Leyland also said he was trying to figure out how to get Thames at bats, and thought of trying him out at first base to do so. Finally, facing a similar problem with Omar Infante, he said he’s thinking of giving him some time in the outfield – center field specifically.

As everyone mentions, the Pudge thing sounds nutty when you consider he walked less than forty times in the past two seasons. Everyone also mentions that he seems to adjust his approach when he’s in the leadoff spot, and I think I remember saying the same thing in a post after one of those games where he led off last season. Now if somebody could just talk him into taking that “leadoff approach” regardless of where he bats in the order.

I love the idea of expanding Thames’ and Infante’s roles to get them more at bats. The Thames thing is only surprising in that the idea hasn’t been tossed around before. In the Tigers’ defense, it’s a lot easier to try a guy at a new position in Spring Training than in the middle of a playoff run. The Infante idea is not surprising at all. The Tigers have talked about making him a super-sub in the past and outfield was discussed then as one of his possible responsibilities. I actually thought the Tigers might think of Infante as their fourth outfielder if and when they traded Thames or Monroe. Such a designation would have allowed them to keep him, Santiago and Perez all on the roster once one of those to were moved.

That brings me to an interesting sidebar that comes from all of this (I guess Billfer didn’t cover as many of my thoughts as I realized). I’ve talked quite a bit about the 2007 roster and who there is and isn’t room for. Well, to recap there are only four bench spots once you get past the pitching staff and the regulars. Vance Wilson is signed for the next two years, so he is a lock for one of them. Santiago is signed and I believe out of options, so he is another lock on the roster (why sign a guy for half a mil and then let him get snagged off waivers?). That leaves two spots for Neifi, Thames and Infante. Leyland specifically addressed ideas for using Thames and Infante in 2007 with no mention (at least in these articles) about Neifi. Could it be? Is there no future with the Tigers for Neifi? I love that idea almost as much as the ideas for getting Thames and Infante playing time. I am on board with getting rid of Neifi whether it’s a trade requiring the Tigers to eat his salary or just releasing him. Basically, I’d rather pay him $2.5M not to play on the Tigers than the alternative. The only other option I can think of – which would allow keeping all three on the 25 man roster - is going with an eleven man pitching staff. As I said before, I doubt that’s likely. I’ll keep you posted on what could be a promising development for the Tigers’ roster.

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