This is a continuation of my Tigers season preview, hence the Vol. 2 in the title, if you missed Vol. 1 you can find it here, or if you don't feel like clicking around, just scroll past my haughty, patronizing and condescending post insulting Jeremy Bonderman's intelligence (In full disclosure, I did feel terrible after writing that post and had to walk around Detroit to clear my head and look for some understanding....instead I came across a pack of feral German Shepherds, who were infected with "The Madness", and lacking in empathy.....jerks). Well, my liege, I won't bore you with some lengthy introduction, but the same rules apply as with my other season previews, there will be no mention of that sorcery commonly referred to as sabermetrics. I know I probably just lost about 90% of my readers with that last statement, and I'll get a series of e-mails from people explaining how I should embrace the concept of VORP, runs created and some crazy thing called a "home" run. I'm sorry but I don't think Ty Cobb cared about his adjusted OPS or Hank Greenberg lost any sleep over his PECOTA......whatever the hell that is, and if the traditional statistics were good enough for Hughie Jennings (are these old Tiger references annoying you yet?) than they are good enough for me Consarnit! If getting a history degree taught me anything it's that the best way for society to live is to fear change, be hostile towards innovation and ignore new ideas and if anyone deviates from the norm they shall be burned at the stake, (raises pitchfork menacingly)! On to the preview!
Owner Mike Ilitch: Anyone whose familiar with this website knows Mr. Ilitch has been the butt of many of my jokes, and has gone through many incarnations here. First he was a lonely old despot ravaged by leprosy who was disinterestedly watching his team and body rot away. Then he became a werewolf, then a leprechaun (I was tripping balls that day), to his current role as a vampire living in the deep recesses of Comerica who uses puppies and kittens as his only means of sustenance. This was completely justified as his time as owner had coincided with the coldest, bleakest period in the storied 100+ year history of the Tigers, but now that he's oversaw one World Series appearance everyone wants to lionize him as a baseball owner and are clamoring for him to buy the Lions and turn them around. I'm sorry but I'm going the other way on this. It's going to take a hell of a lot more than one postseason to make me forget about the Randy Smith era, the decade of losing, and namely that 119 loss season when the Tigers were an outright embarrassment to the game of baseball leading to Zombie Abner Doubleday rising from the grave to tell the media the Tigers were "an abomination of the highest order." Hang on a sec, Count Ilitch is tapping at my window right now..."Go away, I'm not letting you in here unless you've brought a second guitar for Co-op Guitar Hero, you archfiend."
Jim Leyland: Leyland on the other hand will always be O.k. in my book. I don' care what he does this season, he could come out and shoot pitchers dead on the mound (Jason Grilli) to facilitate a pitching change, steal my identity and ruin my credit (more so), and make off with my girlfriend (if I had one), and I still wouldn't be mad at him. To put it succinctly, Jim Leyland is the balls.
Ivan Rodriguez: Pudge had a great bounce back season, and responded very well to Leyland's management after acting like a petulant, malcontent of a wimpy puss under Alan Trammell. I picture Leyland coming into the locker room for the first time last spring similar to a new principal walking into an inner city school. Pudge is sitting in the back wearing a leather jacket, smoking and saying something like "Hey, holmes, eez chu the janitor or the new jefe," while Alexis Gomez laughed uproariously. Leyland would then respond by saying something like, "Get f***ed Pudge, theres a new sheriff in town." Everyone in the room goes "Ooohhhh", Pudge would get up slowly and walk towards the front of the room all calm and cool, laughing incredulously before getting real intense and in Leyland's face, saying "You don't know me old man, you don't know what I've been through." Followed by Leyland responding in Spanish for about 20 seconds, an awkward pause and then Pudge breaking down crying in Leyland's arms, earning Leyland instant credibility and respect throughout the room.
Vance Wilson: Wilson has my dream job so I'm a little jealous of him. He makes about 750k a year to play in 50 games, lay down some sacrifice bunts, pick up groupies who have no idea if he's an All-Star or a nobody, and throw out some baserunners. He also broke the Curse of Matt Walbeck, by being a competent back-up catcher and making it to a third season with the team but not without paying a price. While defeating the ghost of A.J. Hinch, Wilson suffered a serpent bite on his left elbow leaving it inflamed and irritable and landing him on the D.L. O.k. that's not what really happened but I'm sure it's a hell of a lot more interesting than the truth.
Sean Casey: I'm going to try to do the impossible and write about Casey without mentioning Chris Shelton. Umm........(looking around).......the thing is........(fascinated by my own freakishly long and fine arm hair)........o.k. I cant' do it. I'm in the Pro-Shelton camp. This doesn't mean I'm Anti-Casey per se (I am learning something in law school, per se, teriffic). I'm sure Casey is a nice guy and all those hitters that reach first base would rather talk to him than be frightened by this mugly fug, but Casey just seems like a stopgap, while Shelton is the wave of the future. There is no question Shelton struggled over the last half of the season but so what? He's young and it's not like he's Babe friggin' Ruth, who can just roll out of bed and hit 60 homeruns, but with experience I think he could be a very productive first baseman. Instead we've got Casey and his .270 average and nine homeruns. But at least he's a nice guy for whatever that's worth.
Placido Polanco: Here is my bold prediction for the upcoming season. Polanco will win the A.L. batting title. I know this statement practically guarantees Polanco will bat .230 and get hurt for the season in late May because of my incredible jinxing powers, but right now in my heart of hearts, I believe he'll wrestle the crown away from Joe Mauer in a mostly peaceful, slightly bloody coup. Speaking of slightly bloody, how great does that Polanco for Urbina trade appear now? I'll have to make a mental note to select Urbina in my upcoming fantasy baseball league and lobbying for my commissioner to allow his statistics in the Venezuelan Correctional League to be included. I'll even volunteer to move to Caracas and work as the official statistician, sure it's shanked or be shanked in there, but I think I could survive long enough to take home first place.
Carlos Guillen: Guillen is my favorite current Tiger, I'll unabashedly make that statement and whenever Granderson walks by I'll start being really affectionate with Guillen and loudly proclaim how Carlos satisfies me in ways I didn't think were ever imaginable, just to make Curtis jealous. (If you're confused I'm only writing this because Granderson charged me 25 bucks for an autograph at the mall, which lowered him on my list of favorite Tigers temporarily). My favorite thing about Carlos is how laid back his on-field demeanor is, it appears as if he couldn't be more annoyed that he has to play baseball for three hours when he could be at home watching The Venture Bros., which is what I would be doing in his situation. I was worried that his impending free agency may be a distraction but the Tigers stepped up big today and re-signed Carlos for 4 years and 48 million, which seems very reasonable given his caliber of play over the past few seasons and his importance to the team's present.
Brandon Inge: My second bold prediction for this season....(drumroll).....Inge will win a Gold Glove at third base this season. I think he'll cut down on the routine errors that have plagued him in the past and his range and throwing arm are just disgusting, but in a good way, not like a Dr. Pepper and Arby's kind of way. I'm glad the Tigers rewarded Inge with a four year deal this off-season, especially since he is one of the last vestiges of those terrible Tigers teams from earlier in the decade. I'll be honest, when the Tigers signed Pudge I thought Inge was curtains. I thought he was one of those guys who I would stumble across on baseball-reference.com late at night, which would lead to me calling my friend T.J., and saying "Remember Brandon Inge?......yeah....uh-huh....that guy sucked." Good for Inge.
Omar Infante: I've always been a big Infante fan and have always been curious as to what kind of numbers he would put up if he played full-time on a mediocre team like the Orioles. I think he is a great athlete and supremely talented but just can't get any playing time on a contender like the Tigers. Wow, that was strange, writing the last sentence, juxtaposing the word Tigers and contenders without some kind of sarcastic comment following it, this is going to be a great season.
Neifi Perez: Ugh. This guy.....I mean he's just.....he just sucks. O.k. can everyone agree to that, can this officially enter the lexicon of obvious statements, like "the sky is blue", "dogs and cats hate each other" and now "Neifi Perez is friggin' terrible". What exactly does he do again. Hit for power? Ha. Average/OBP? Absolutely not. Steal bases/Speed? Nope. Defense? Yeah, like seven years ago he was pretty good, I think, and now he's entering his mid-30's so he's only going to get worse, sooo.....yeah.
Craig Monroe: Monroe has deservedly developed a reputation for being the most clutch Tiger due to a string of late game heroics last July and a great post-season performance against the Oakland, forever shedding his previous label as Target belt stealer. I know that happened like two years ago but I still think it's funny and try to bring it up whenever the opportunity presents itself. My friend T.J. is still drunkenly driving the Monroe bandwagon coming dangerously close to slamming it into the retention wall, and annoying the hell out of me along the way. I get the feeling that the Monroe era is coming to a conclusion in Detroit, especially with an already deep outfield and emerging phenom/superstar Cameron Maybin seemingly only a season away from contributing. So it appears the writings on the wall and this may very well be the last time I'll be previewing Mr. Monroe, which is making me a little misty-eyed, like there should be a Sarah Mclachlan accompanying this paragraph.
Curtis Granderson: I alluded to this earlier, but this past off-season I had the pleasure of meeting Granderson at the Fashion Square Mall in Saginaw. My only complaint, and I wasn't aware of it before I got there, was that it cost $25 to shake his hand and get an autograph........ummm, what? I'm not a cheapskate but I wouldn't spend $25 to smoke crack with Tony Phillips let alone shake his hand and get something signed. I know it's not Granderson's fault because it was being put on by a couple of overly tanned 5'2" comic book/card shop owners who were total pricks, (like there is any other type of card shop owner) but I was a little disappointed that I had to finally meet Granderson under such cold/callous circumstances (I had always pictured it happening where I would run into Granderson while carrying a bunch of papers, comically sending them flying in all directions, and him nicely helping me pick them off the ground, but I digress). The one thing of note was Granderson had the largest hands I've ever seen in my life, and this is coming from someone who has long, skinny, mortician like digits. How's he going to do this season, you ask......pfft. How the hell would I know......how's that for some analysis.
Magglio Ordonez: Maggs hair is amazing. I believe it contains all of the secrets of the universe and/or a place for gnome-like creatures to frolic through gaily. I understand Maggs reluctance to cut his hair as I've been wearing my hair long for most of the past five years, (except for right now), and you get the feeling that your hair contains all of your knowledge and superpowers, kind of like that one Bible story.....ummm......no, not Jesus finding out Darth Vader was his father, uhh....I don't think it's Moses enslaving the Egyptians either, shit this is embarrassing, I never really went to church.......ah Simpson, wait, Sampson and Delilah, that one. I think Maggs is going to have a big season this year and that's why I drafted him way to early in my fantasy draft this evening. If one thing is guaranteed to ruin someone's career its being a member of my fantasy team. I'm sure Maggs shuddered and felt pain in his knees when I selected him.
Marcus Thames: The Tigers had been jobbing Thames for a couple of seasons before he made the team coming out of camp last year. Sure enough he established himself, almost immediately, as a power hitting DH with a very impressive homerun rate, and the Tigers rewarded him by asking him to switch positions and battle for one of the final roster spots again. Huh? I feel the same way about Thames as I do Infante, I think they could both be above average starters on lesser teams. For example if you throw Thames on the Royals and give him 500 at bats he could probably put up a 35 HR 100 RBI season with ease, but I'm thankful for the depth our team has, and I'm sure Thames is thankful to be hundreds of miles away from Kansas City.
Gary Sheffield: Sheffield has always been one of my top five favorite non-Tigers, (don't worry this isn't going to devolve into another list.....yet) and when I first heard the Tigers had traded for him I was thrilled. It would be like finding out that Kate Beckinsale (Warning, Gratuitous Kate Beckinsale photo imminent) was moving into the apartment next door only with less stalking and slightly more bat speed. I'm actually scared to sit anywhere down the third baseline this season for fear that my face will be torn off by a Sheffield foul ball. Also anyone who thinks Sheffield isn't going to have a monster season is insane. If anything motivates Sheffield it's his bi-polar disorder coupled with spite, (more the former than the latter), which he has a lot of thanks to the Yankees and the way they handled his situation dating back to not playing him in the ALDS finale. The only thing that I'm not sure about with Sheffield is how I feel about him wearing No. 3, making him the first Tiger other than Trammell to wear that number in the past thirty years. I guess the real question should be why isn't Trammell's number retired in the first place? Was 20 years of service, a World Series Title, and the thankless job of coaching some of the worst talent ever assembled for three years not enough to keep his number from being retired? Did that last sentence make an iota of sense theoretically or grammatically? These answers and more on the next.......wait this isn't a television show......where am I?
Central Division Standings Predictions:
1: Detroit Tigers: Did you really expect me to pick somebody else? Anything less than a World Series parade that travels through my apartment would be a disappointment, and you don't want to see me when I'm disappointed. Seriously, I'm hysterical, tears, thrashing, everything, it's pretty pathetic.
2: Minnesota Twins: Every year I write them off, and every season they contend for the division title. They are a very well managed team with talent and it makes them dangerous.
3: Chicago White Sox: I think this team has one last good run in them before they start to re-tool, just not enough to win a very competitive division.
4: Cleveland Indians: They seem to be the sexy pick to win the division and not because they have Jeremy Sowers. These picks always seem to fall flat on their face and I think they play to sloppy to win the toughest division in baseball.
5: K.C. Royals: They have no chance to win this division. None. They should petition to move to the International League, they might have a chance there.....maybe.