The Tigers have done a good job of addressing their team needs so far this offseason. It seems as though there are many decisions yet to be made. When the Tigers open the season on April 1st in Minneapolis (brrrrr), it is quite possible Andy Dirks will be in left field and Jhonny Peralta will be at shortstop. However, in considering options for improving his roster, it seems Dombrowski is willing to consider other alternatives.
Is Dirks an Everyday Player?
It seems there is a certain amount of contention amongst Tiger management and coaches as to whether or not Andy Dirks is a 150 game a year player. In two years and 579 at- bats (full year equivalent), Dirks has hit 15 home runs, knocked in 63 runs, and batted .293 with a .794 OPS. If he could put up those numbers in a full season from the bottom of the line-up, the Tigers would definitely take it. The question with Dirks is whether or not he should start against left handed pitching. In only 114 plate appearances over the last two years, Dirks has managed to hit .288 with a .787 OPS against lefties. Furthermore, he has struck out only 10 times in that same sample.
I think Dirks should be the everyday left fielder. His hitting stats show he is worthy, and his defense is capable, if not spectacular. And as I have chronicled before, Dirks has a way of doing the little gritty things. Every team needs a player like that. The Tigers do need to find a replacement for Ryan Raburn as the right handed hitting outfielder off the bench, though. Why spend more money on a Cody Ross type player whose stats are no more impressive than Dirks?
Should the Tigers sign Stephen Drew and trade Peralta?
This is a very difficult question, and one that can be viewed from either side. Peralta certainly had a down year offensively last season. But, in looking at Drew’s numbers, there is no reason to believe he will outperform Peralta next year:
Drew’s 162 game average: 15 HRs, 70 RBI’s, .265/.328/.433
Peralta’s 162 game average: 18 HRs, 82 RBI’s, .264/.327/.422
Drew does potentially provide an upgrade on defense, however. The knack on Peralta has always been his range, and Drew would certainly get to more balls. But Peralta has long been one of the best shortstops in terms of fewest errors. So is the range/error trade off really advantage Drew?
The real advantage in signing Drew would be the 2-3 year commitment we would have at shortstop, given that there is no alternative immediately ready within the farm system. Additionally, the Tigers could get some value in trading Peralta. They could trade him alone or put a package together for outfield or bullpen depth.
In conclusion, the existing numbers give no indication the Tigers would be a better team with replacements for Dirks and Peralta. It should give Tiger fans no alarm if both are in the starting line up on April 1st. If I were making the moves, though, I would keep Dirks out in left but definitely make a run at Drew. A 2 or 3 year deal at $8 million a year would make the Tigers better in the long run.