Detroit TigersManager: Brad Ausmus
Stadium: Comerica Park
2007 Record: 88-74 (2nd in AL Cent)
Team Page | Roster | Schedule
2007: Batting Stats | Runs Scored (ranked 2nd in AL)
|2008 FANTASY PROJECTIONS|
|OFF THE BENCH|
|-- = unavailable|
Seven projected starters have been All-Stars. Opposing managers would be wise to avoid using left-handed pitchers. Four starters hit at least .324 against left-handers last season, with right fielder Magglio Ordonez leading with a .410 batting average and a .713 slugging percentage in 122 at-bats. Ordonez will bat in an ideal spot: between Gary Sheffield, whose balky wrist appeared strong during spring training, and new third baseman Miguel Cabrera. Ordonez excels in production situations. He has hit .355 with runners in scoring position for the last five seasons, second-best in the majors behind Texas' Michael Young at .367.
The loss of dynamic center fielder and leadoff hitter Curtis Granderson for at least two weeks because of a broken right middle finger will limit the offense. The Tigers plan on using shortstop Edgar Renteria at the top of the order. He can't match what Granderson does: double-figure totals in doubles, triples, homers and steals last season. Granderson's absence also puts more strikeouts in the lineup with Brandon Inge in center field and increases the Tigers' vulnerability to right-handed pitchers. Granderson and second baseman Placido Polanco are the only regulars who were less effective against right-handers last season.
HITTER TO WATCH:
Mike Hollimon has a chance to resurface in the Tigers' middle infield, and as a slick-fielding shortstop would be a great late-game replacement for Edgar Renteria.
PITCHER TO WATCH:
Yorman Bazardo could make the club as an 11th or 12th man; he has good control of an average fastball and above-average changeup, but lacks a quality breaking ball and doesn't miss bats.
-- Keith Law, Scouts Inc.
JUST THE FACTS
• Dontrelle Willis needs to be money. Jeremy Bonderman has had trouble developing a third pitch, and Kenny Rogers just gets older. The Tigers traded much of their young pitching depth this winter, so they're praying that Willis makes a smooth transition to the AL.
• Fear for the bullpen. Joel Zumaya could be out until midsummer, and Fernando Rodney has been dogged by shoulder tendinitis for a year. At 39, Todd Jones might fall off the cliff. No doubt the Tigers will score a lot of runs, but can they hold leads?
• Edgar Renteria is unarmed. Scouts say Renteria's weak arm makes him a liability at short. He's tried playing shallow to compensate, but that just allows more balls to zip on by.
"This is the best lineup I've seen since the Yankees' teams of the late '90s," says an opposing catcher. "Any pitcher who faces them better be on top of his game, or else he's going to have a lot of trouble in a hurry."
"I was joking with GM Dave Dombrowski at an event that he was silly to sign a guy named Pudge and an older pitcher named Rogers. I'm 44 years old, and if he had signed me I could have given him both those things for a fraction of the price." -- Mike Rogers, R-Mich.
-- Buster Olney
How many games will the Tigers win in 2008? Do they have the top lineup, rotation, bullpen or manager in their division? Did they put themselves in a great position by acquiring Miguel Cabrera and Dontrelle Willis in the offseason? Register your vote.
Placido Polanco is a lifetime .305 hitter who will bat second in one of the strongest lineups in the game, yet we bet you'll get him in perhaps the 12th or 13th round.
You'll pay the top-10 catcher price tag for Ivan Rodriguez, but all he'll give you is a lot of empty batting average. If he repeats last year's numbers, consider yourself fortunate.
-- Tristan Cockcroft
Curtis Granderson's injury is not the most serious one facing the Tigers this year. Joel Zumaya is still recovering from AC joint reconstruction, Fernando Rodney's shoulder is ailing and Jeremy Bonderman's elbow is, well, healthy ... for now. But Granderson's presence on a daily basis has the most impact on the club. Granderson fractured the third metacarpal (bone in the hand that forms the knuckle at the base of the third finger) and will be forced to wear a splint for a couple of weeks. If the healing is satisfactory, Granderson will then have the splint removed and resume baseball-related activity. Another week or two of getting game ready and Granderson should be able to rejoin the team. The Tigers are counting on it.
-- Stephania Bell