Not really bench warmers

At the time the Tigers set their 25 man roster this spring, I lamented the construction of the bench. Breaking camp the bench consisted of Vance Wilson, Omar Infante, Ramon Santiago, and Marcus Thames. All 4 were right handed (okay, so Santiago was a switch hitter for what that was worth) and only Thames had a chance to be a viable offense threat.

Fast forward to today and as John Paul Morosi points out, things look a lot better.

Vance Wilson is the prototypical back-up catcher who is solid defensively and he calls a good game, but this year he is providing some pop to the tune of a 457 slugging percentage.

Omar Infante has provided solid production at 3 infield positions and a couple starts in centerfield. The only knock against Omar is that some of the power we saw in 2004 has yet to return.

Brent Clevlen has been awesome in his short stint as the back up outfielder. The defense has been outstanding and he has served well as a defensive replacement/pinch runner. Oh yeah, and he’s hit pretty well so far also.

And what is probably the best news, I can’t figure out who the 4th bench player is. Dmitri Young, Sean Casey, Craig Monroe, and Marcus Thames have merged into a formidable rotation of 4 guys for 3 spots. Thames of course is tied for the team lead in homers. Craig Monroe has loudly raised his average from the low 240’s to 271. Sean Casey has yet to fully hit his stride, but he has come up with a couple big hits. And Dmitri Young has been killing the ball since his return.

The Tigers not only have some offensive punch coming off the bench, they have flexibility in that they have pop from both sides of the plate available. They have defensive upgrades and they have positional flexibility with Carlos Guillen and Pudge Rodriguez able to play first base and Omar Infante able to play the outfield.

Jim Leyland has been excellent in deploying his cogs the last few weeks. His biggest problem now is finding enough at-bats for a lot of deserving players. It’s a nice situation to be in as the Tigers hit a very difficult stretch in the schedule.


  1. Kyle J

    August 7, 2006 at 4:48 pm

    And taking into account how nicely the bullpen fits together (three guys that can pitch solid long relief; a left-handed specialist; three guys with closer experience/stuff; good balance of power/finesse), the 25-man roster looks pretty balanced/deep for the stretch and run and playoffs.

  2. Jeff M

    August 7, 2006 at 6:26 pm

    Dead-on. I don’t know how we got to this point so quickly, but somehow this team has enough depth that it could sustain a couple significant injuries and still make a serious run at the title.

    What an awesome feeling. 🙂

  3. Richard Wood

    August 9, 2006 at 5:49 am

    I haven’t seen this good a combination in many years. It reminds me of theBig Red Machine, who always seemed to have the answer . The pitching is very solid (downright intimidationg at times). The position players are professional in bearing and ability, and the outfiled is fast, quick, and all of them are good with a bat. Leyland has called this team to not only be the best inMLB, but the best by 10 games !!