It is finally here, Spring Training 2012. After getting bounced from the ALCS by the Rangers, and a long off season that was very uneventful, until four weeks ago, the Tigers are back in uniform and players are beginning to report to Joker Marchant Stadium.
There probably is not one publication or expert out there who does not have the Tigers as the favorite to win the Central. The AL Central will be by far the weakest division in baseball from top to bottom. Many sources have the Twins, and White sox in the top 5 of all teams with the Indians and Royals probably in the bottom third in all of baseball.
That doesn’t mean the Tigers are void of question marks coming in. There is still a question of 2nd base. How will Miggy adjust to third base? Who will DH? Who is the fifth starter? And who will fill out the middle innings of the bullpen?
So let’s start out with optimism. This is what the team would look like if everything worked out the way we would like:
•Brandon Inge plays well all year and has some of his old magic and plays 2nd base
•Ryan Raburn doesn’t have his normal terrible first half and gives us a full year of baseball and plays left field
•Miguel Cabrera plays sufficient enough at 3rd base to play there almost every day
•Jacob turner lives up to his hype and fills the role of our fifth starter
•Collin Ballester and a combination of Adam Wilk, Duane Below, Brayan Villarreal, and David Pauley shore up the bullpen
If all of these things happen then the team would look something like this:
1.Austin Jackson CF
2.Brennan Boesch RF
3.Miguel Cabrera 3B
4.Prince Fielder 1B
5.Delmon Young DH
6.Jhonny Peralta SS
7.Alex Avila C
8.Ryan Raburn LF
9.Brandon Inge 2B
7.Duane Below/David Pauley/Adam Wilk
The most notable addition to the bullpen isn’t Octavio Dotel like it should be; the most notable addition is not having Ryan Perry on the team. The worst part of Perry was the way Leyland used him. It sure seemed like every time there was a jam that Perry couldn’t get out of in a million life times the old skipper was walking out there to put him in.
Of course it is a long shot that everyone will play as well as we would like, certainly there should be some drop off. If Alex Avila has a decline in his stats I don’t think it would surprise anyone, same thing with Fister, Peralta and Boesch.
The most important thing is that baseball is back and we can start getting excited again. I want to walk this year with an unaltered sense of optimism. I don’t know how long that will last, but I am going to try.