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According to the always-insightful ATM Reports from Lee Sinins, the Tigers announced approximately seven thousand non-roster invitees to spring training.

It's an interesting list. Is this the next Dombrowski step in rebuilding? Can the Tigers move into 60-win territory? (That's a real question.) What's next? Anyway, here's the list alphabetically by position:

INFs Brent Abernathy, Rayner Bautista, Danny Klassen, Warren Morris, Greg Norton, Pablo Ozuna, Dean Palmer and Jason Smith, OFs Jeff Inglin, Marcus Thames and Andres Torres, Cs Bobby Estalella, Ben Petrick, Mike Rabelo, Guillermo Rodriguez and Maxim St. Pierre and Ps Jorge Cordova, David Cortes, Craig Dingman, John Ennis, Shane Loux, Ariel Prieto, Brian Schmack, Adrian Burnside and Andy Van Hekken.

Some comments ...
It's unfortunate the Motor City Kitties didn't ink Glendon Rusch, who signed today with the Texas Rangers, as Rusch very likely would have given Jason Johnson a good run at being the Detroit rotation horse.

Abernathy, Klassen, Norton, Thames, Estalella and especially Petrick have all been touted at some point as future major league regulars, and in some cases, potential stars. If the Tigers "hit" on just one, they're ahead of the game. Who's the most likely, if any?

Aren't the Tigers better off with Estalella and Petrick behind the plate rather than blowing $10M on Pudge Rodriguez? Rumor alert: the Tigers and Cardinals are both supposedly talking about signing Pudge in order to trade him immediately back to Florida, which they can do with his permission, to circumvent the May 1 rule and gain prospects.

Palmer, Torres, Loux, Schmack and Van Hekken were all with the Tigers in some capacity last season or in 2002. Palmer is the former All-Star; Van Hekken has been talked up as a future rotation regular, though he has battled injuries. Schmack has always struck me as someone who could be a useful bullpen cog. Can any of these players make an impact?

Ariel Prieto. Ariel Prieto. Who knew? Hey, maybe he's Loaiza v.'04.

I wonder if you could build a 43-119 team (where the Tigers finished this past season) around this group of players? As they say here in North Texas, you might could do it, but either way, that dog wouldn't hunt.

Interesting stuff ... the Lakeland camp seems likely to have the feel of an open tryout this spring.
The New Detroit Tigers? | 38 comments | Create New Account
The following comments are owned by whomever posted them. This site is not responsible for what they say.
_coliver - Wednesday, January 21 2004 @ 12:14 PM EST (#32714) #
Hey, maybe Juan Samuel can leave the first base coaches box and make a comeback...Julio Franco is still playing!!!
_Chris - Wednesday, January 21 2004 @ 12:18 PM EST (#32715) #
They might do better if Trammell came out of retirement too.
_AZ - Wednesday, January 21 2004 @ 12:47 PM EST (#32716) #
What about Alex Sanchez and Jose Pett?
Coach - Wednesday, January 21 2004 @ 12:50 PM EST (#32717) #
I feel bad for Warren Morris. He wasn't the reason they stunk last year, but he's lost his job to Fernando Vina, who isn't any better, just more expensive. Carlos Guillen and Rondell White will actually improve the team, and Jason Johnson is better than the overmatched kids they ran out there last season. Al Levine and Mike DeFelice aren't great, but they're upgrades. Estalella is my shot-in-the-dark pick to win a job in spring training; he's had fast starts before. Marcus Thames, no longer buried in the rookie-hating Yankees system or the OF-rich Rangers, gets his last, best chance.

Can the Tigers move into 60-win territory?

Absolutely not, if those who are touting the Indians for 85-88 wins are correct. But if Cleveland has another wheel-spinning season (as I suspect) and the wheels fall off the White Sox completely, I can see 60-102 as a possibility in Detroit. What I can't see is a logical plan to return them to respectability.
_Mick - Wednesday, January 21 2004 @ 01:24 PM EST (#32718) #
I like Estalella too. I think the Tigers might end up starting him AND Petrick -- the latter in LF or DH, wherever RonDL doesn't play.
_Cristian - Wednesday, January 21 2004 @ 01:43 PM EST (#32719) #
I'm surprised the Tigers aren't in the running for Maels Rodriguez. You would think they would be trying to go after all international talent out there--Asian and Caribbean.
_S.K. - Wednesday, January 21 2004 @ 01:44 PM EST (#32720) #
Mick - I'll second that Estallela endorsement, and add that I don't think it's too late for Ben Petrick to become what everyone thought he would. I don't know if it's by design, or as a simple result of casting a ridiculously wide net, but I think the Tigers have a possibility for some real bargains here.
robertdudek - Wednesday, January 21 2004 @ 02:26 PM EST (#32721) #
I think the Tigers will win 55-65, Indians 75-85, White Sox 75-85, Minnesota 78-88, Kansas City 80-90.
_Mick - Wednesday, January 21 2004 @ 02:34 PM EST (#32722) #
Robert, are you suggesting that the winner of the AL Central could finish under .500?

I've kicked that idea around, and I do think it's possible. If NYY, BOS, TOR, BAL, ANA, OAK and SEA all finish above .500, that's half the AL.
Craig B - Wednesday, January 21 2004 @ 02:48 PM EST (#32723) #
It's not out of the question, that's for sure. If Cleveland improves, Detroit improves dramatically (I think they will lose just 100 games or so), KC plexiglasses (I think this is likely), and the White Sox and Twin disappoint, I think it'll be a race to 82 wins. It's going to be much harder to take easy wins out of Cleveland and even the Tigers in 2004, so the Central's good teams will have to improve just to stay in the high 80s.
_Tassle - Wednesday, January 21 2004 @ 05:28 PM EST (#32724) #
I think what he meant was that if KC finished on the lower end of their range, one of the other teams would finish on the higher end, which makes sense.
_Robbie Goldberg - Thursday, January 22 2004 @ 09:00 AM EST (#32725) #
Just a poll: Who'll be better in 2004, the Tigers or the Skychiefs? I don't think it's crazy to suggest the talent level on both teams is comparable...
_coliver - Thursday, January 22 2004 @ 09:49 AM EST (#32726) #
Ah, Alex Sanchez, I remember seeing him pitch for the St. Catherines Blye Jays in 1989. He was rushed too quickly. By 1989, he was getting ripped by the Sox at the beginning of the famous Ernie Whitt/Junior Felix game at Fenway. That game, incidentially, was the last game before the Jays moved to SkyDome.

Jose Pett--Kid Brazil. Didn't he have a mullet when they signed him?
_coliver - Thursday, January 22 2004 @ 09:50 AM EST (#32727) #
Sorry for the typos--Sanchez pitched for the St. Catherines Blue Jays in 1987.
_Mick - Thursday, January 22 2004 @ 10:55 AM EST (#32728) #
I assumed the reference was to the OF Alex Sanchez, who was 11 years old in 1987.

Which is it?
robertdudek - Thursday, January 22 2004 @ 11:16 AM EST (#32729) #
It is crazy to suggest the talent level on the Tigers and Skychiefs is comparable. I said it last year - if the 2003 Tigers were in the IL, they would have won the pennant (the Skychiefs finished below .500). The Tigers are going to be improved this year. There's a pretty big gulf between AAA in the majors, as the worst major league players would be well above average in AAA.
_coliver - Thursday, January 22 2004 @ 12:20 PM EST (#32730) #
I am refering to THE Alex Sanchez, Toronto's hot pitching prospect in the late 80s!

I think AZ would be linking THE Jose Pett with THE Alex Sanchez.
Craig B - Thursday, January 22 2004 @ 12:44 PM EST (#32731) #
the worst major league players would be well above average in AAA

Above average in ability, though not necessarily in performance. One of the things that killed the Tigers last year was getting disappointing performances out of players who really aren't *that* bad.

But in any event, the 2003 SkyChiefs finished behind the Toledo Mud Hens... the Tigers' AAA franchise. It stretches credulity that Dave Dombrowski is so dumb as to leave a better team in AAA than the one he has in the majors.
_Pfizer - Thursday, January 22 2004 @ 12:44 PM EST (#32732) #
Googled "Abernathy Gammons" just to be a pain and bring up how PG insisted that PM thought Abernathy was a superior player to Hudson as recently as a year (2 years) ago. Instead, I found this:

[i] That four-way deal would have been great. So would have another Astacio deal that would have sent the veteran right-hander to Toronto for Carpenter, Abernathy and center fielder Vernon Wells; that deal would have set the Rockies in the middle of the field for years, but someone up above in Colorado got nervous and killed it. (By the way, Ash could afford this deal because he had scrimped and saved months earlier and had cash stuffed away in his mattress).[/i]

Man, thank God Gordo is gone.
_S.K. - Thursday, January 22 2004 @ 01:51 PM EST (#32733) #
Wow... to think, we could have lost Abernathy and Carpenter...
_Pfizer - Thursday, January 22 2004 @ 02:05 PM EST (#32734) #
But we would have gotten that proven vet Astacio! He's all we needed to get us over the hump!

Any guesses to what Vernon's numbers would have been in Col?
_Shane - Thursday, January 22 2004 @ 02:15 PM EST (#32735) #
By the way, Ash could afford this deal because he...had cash stuffed away in his mattress.

Ya, right. It was more than likely a ham sandwich.
_coliver - Thursday, January 22 2004 @ 03:19 PM EST (#32736) #
ROFL!!! You da man, Shane!
_Ben NS - Thursday, January 22 2004 @ 05:11 PM EST (#32737) #
Vernon + Coors + Helton = Preston Wilson numbers

And although the Tigers ARE better than the Skychiefs, I'd rather have Syracuse than Detroit as my AAA squad.
Gitz - Friday, January 23 2004 @ 05:28 PM EST (#32738) #
Ack, Alex Sanchez! How many times did that guy show up on a Donruss baseball card as a "Rated Rookie"? More than, say, Braves's cather Kelly Mann -- and more than, say, another catcher, also known as "Carlos Delgado."
_DW - Sunday, January 25 2004 @ 02:42 AM EST (#32739) #
Have you had fun kicking around the Tigers? Suggesting your AAA team will be better than the Tigers in 2004 is clever. I don't see what the fuss is about the Tigers bringing in a lot of non-roster players to spring training. Why not explore all options for improving the team, particularly those that require little investment? Tigers are trying to build through the farm system, but help is still a few years away. They have added some decent hitters this off-season and should get a few of their young regulars to step up. A 60-65 win season is likely, particularly with other teams in the Central (other than KC) not doing much to improve.
_Donkit R.K. - Sunday, January 25 2004 @ 11:36 AM EST (#32740) #
KC didn't do much to improve !?!?!? I think a two-time MVP is a solid investment. Compared to, say, Brent Abernathy.
_Kristian - Sunday, January 25 2004 @ 11:51 AM EST (#32741) #
KC did alot this offseason. Resigning Leskanic and Grimsley, getting Juan Gone, Tony G, Brian Anderson plus taking a chance on Appier. Clevelands young prospects get another year so they should improve on that alone and Minnesota and the White Sox were the best teams already so even though they both lost some talent they still are far superior to Detroit. Detroit has a weak farm system as well and rushes guys like Bonderman instead of being able to move them slow. I think Detroit will be hard pressed to win 65 games yet again this year.
_Oggman - Sunday, January 25 2004 @ 02:38 PM EST (#32742) #
#137926 Posted 01/25/2004 02:42 AM by DW:
...They have added some decent hitters this off-season and should get a few of their young regulars to step up. A 60-65 win season is likely, particularly with other teams in the Central (other than KC) not doing much to improve.

#137927 Posted 01/25/2004 11:36 AM by Donkit R.K.:

KC didn't do much to improve !?!?!? I think a two-time MVP is a solid investment. Compared to, say, Brent Abernathy

Donkit R.K. Did you even read the previous post before commenting? Read the last line again.
_Donkit R.K. - Sunday, January 25 2004 @ 03:04 PM EST (#32743) #
*wipes egg from face*

My apologies, DW. I guess my speed reading wasn't at it's sharpest.
_Ben NS - Sunday, January 25 2004 @ 03:24 PM EST (#32744) #
It's possible that the Yanks, the BoSox, the Jays, the As, the Ms and the Halos will all post better records than the AL Central winner. One of the ALC teams actually gets into the playoffs in '04, a position of some worth considering only four teams per league make it.

However, winning a division crown is somethiing that has always been a part of the pennant race and having a divisional ensures that there will be at least a couple of teams from every major geographical area, which is nice for the sake of TV ratings.

Any thouhgts on whether MLB should take the top four teams in each league rather than three divisional winners and a wild card?
_DW - Monday, January 26 2004 @ 02:17 AM EST (#32745) #
Another team that has been quietly adding talent if not in quality, but quantity is Tampa Bay. Mike Williams, Fernando Tatis, Rey Sanchez, Todd Ritchie, Eduardo Perez, Damian Moss, TREVER MILLER, Mitch Meluskey, Todd Jones, John Halama, Brook Fordyce, Rob Fick, Jose Cruz, Deivi Cruz, Danys Baez, and Paul Abbott.

With their core of young talent and veteran complementary parts, Tampa could be much improved--if only they had pitching.
_S.K. - Monday, January 26 2004 @ 01:05 PM EST (#32746) #
When compared to the improvements the other AL East teams have made, Tampa is going backwards.
With the unbalanced schedule in full effect, I'm assuming that the D-Rays will be returning to their customary spot at the bottom of the AL.
(Although the Rangers, facing similarly tough competition and intent on trading away the best player in baseball, may make a run for it.)
Craig B - Monday, January 26 2004 @ 02:07 PM EST (#32747) #
With the unbalanced schedule in full effect, I'm assuming that the D-Rays will be returning to their customary spot at the bottom of the AL.

The D-Rays, of course, are starting pretty close. But is there any real reason to suspect that they will improve less than the Indians, who are a popular sleeper pick?

Granted, the D-Rays start off five games back of the Indians from 2003, both on Pythagorean and straight record, but otherwise they look to improve a lot in my own estimation.

They had two 21-year-old outfielders with young player's skills; both Crawford and Baldelli should be better in 2004, and that represents the core of the Rays' likely improvement, along with Aubrey Huff's upcoming age 27 season. Jose Cruz will be taking Al Martin's playing time... Cruz in right and Huff at DH is a massive improvement, offensively and defensively, from Martin DH / Huff RF. I think Tampa Bay will have the best defensive outfield in the division, and possibly the best in the AL - at least right there with Seattle. That will go a long way to helping the pitching staff. All told, those four players are looking at an improvement of 50-80 runs scored.

Julio Lugo hit very well after leaving the NL, and is a rock-solid defensive shortstop. Rob Fick should replace Travis Lee's bat, though he won't be the same defensively... now that's assuming that Fick and Martinez split the first-base duties, as I assume they will. I actually don't know what Piniella will do with Fick, since Crawford, Cruz, and Martinez are all left-handed hitters (Cruz is a switch-hitter, but you know what I mean). Fick got bounced from behind the plate because he couldn't handle the position defensively, but I guess it's possible he might see some time there.

They are weak at second and third - two weaknesses that the Rays have never really fixed. The Rays will have about 50 guys in camp... the roster is incredibly crowded, and there's a ton of NRIs. Lou needs to fix those problems from somewhere. There's a potential here to platoon at about five positions (if only the pitching staff wasn't so weak!) and Lou needs to sort out who will hit and who will sit. But there's lots of opportunities for the hitters to be better.

As has been pointed out above, the main weakness of the Rays is the pitching staff. More pointedly, it's the rotation. Last year's pen was very good, and it should be pretty good again. And the rotation, which lost about 60-65 games all on its own last year, will be better. Instead of the Jim Parques and the Steve Parrises, the Rays have a much better class of veteran invitees this year, and they've figured out that three of their young holdovers can actually pitch a little bit : two Venezuelans and a Dominican. Zambrano (can we nickname him "Loose Cannon Zambrano" yet?), Gonzalez, and Sosa are all under 30, and all will be pretty crucial to the Rays' hopes. All pitched well in 2003 but they only got 72 starts between them because the Rays didn't know that they were better than Bierbrodt and Parque and Parris and Joe Kennedy. You get the idea.

So 2003 was a learning experience for the team with its rotation; and that rotation will be more settled now. Mark Hendrickson will probably get a chance at the token lefty job, and he should be a touch better away from the SkyDome launching pad. Then there's Damian Moss, Todd Ritchie, Paul Abbott and John Halama. The Rays need to make one or preferably two starters out of those guys. If they can do that, they will have a rotation that can actually keep its head above water.

Baez, Holtz, Todd Jones, Mike Williams and both Reyeses will battle the holdovers for the pen jobs. The obvious danger here is that the Rays have never made good decisions coming out of spring; so they run the risk of letting go of three or four useful arms at the expense of this year's Brandon Backe, Doug Creek, Steve Parris, Dan Wheeler, or Brian Rose.
_S.K. - Monday, January 26 2004 @ 03:00 PM EST (#32748) #
Craig - I agree that there is the potential for improvement in Tampa. However, when you compare this potential with the near-certain improvements in their divisional rivals, I think they could lose 70% of their intra-divisional games this year. The Indians, on the other hand, have four divisional rivals who have done very little (KC excepted, perhaps, though they significantly outperformed their Pythag % last year).
On the other hand, your position obviously has a lot more thought behind it than mine, so I bow to your wisdom.
Craig B - Monday, January 26 2004 @ 03:34 PM EST (#32749) #
No, the point about divisional rivals is well-taken, and it means that in terms of W-L improvement, the Indians may see a bit more than Tampa, even if they have less real improvement.

Though you left off one rival who actually is likely to go backwards... the Yankees. Their aging cast of players is likely to drag the team a bit backwards in my view, even though their incoming bunch is solid.
_Mick - Monday, January 26 2004 @ 03:37 PM EST (#32750) #
The thing about the Rays is this ...
They could improve at every position, have absolutely every single thing go right, and still finish significantly last.

When compared to the improvements the other AL East teams have made, Tampa is going backwards.

So ... I think that's wrong, sort of. Tampa will probably improve more than any other team in the division except possibly Baltimore and the (face it) incremental improvements in NYY and BOS will make more of a difference.

If NYY goes from 95 wins to 102 and TAM goes from 60 to 75, which has improved more? You can make an argument either way.
_Bob, A Stratoma - Thursday, June 17 2004 @ 10:09 PM EDT (#32751) #
Was Guillermo Rodriguez ever in the majors (as in September call-up) ? Does anyone know his baseball team history before Toledo?
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