DTW-TV: A position battle worth watching

You guys were too kind last week, so I’m doing this video thing again. In episode 2 of Detroit Tigers Weblog TV I highlight what I think will be the most interesting position battle in Lakeland this year.

Watch: Detroit Tigers Weblog TV – Episode 2 (9 Mb, 4:14)


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Chris Shelton’s Defense
2005 Spring Training Stats
2006 Spring Training Stats
Marcus Thames & Chris Shelton


  1. Mark

    February 23, 2007 at 3:25 pm

    The battle that will be the most interesting is that for the fifth starter position. Kenny Rogers, Justin Verlander, Jeremy Bonderman and Nate Robertson are definitely solid starters, and as a group, they rival any in the league. That leaves Mike Maroth, Zach Miner and Andrew Miller to compete for the fifth position. I would like to see Andrew Miller get an honest chance, just like Verlander did last season, but in the end, I think he’s still a few years away. Maroth’s health and rehabilitation will be an obvious factor, and I think Miner can be the solid fifth starter after the way he pitched last season.

    Having the extra guys gives the team a great backup plan in case someone gets injured, and is great for the team’s future. I would hate to see Miner or Maroth traded at this point.

    As for the position players, It shouldn’t be a given that Nefi Perez/Santiago will be on the team over either Shelton or Thames. I would have both Shelton and Thames remain on the roster.

    Thames was a very reliable player last season in both left and at bat. If Craig Monroe goes into a slump, I want Thames at least sharing time with him in left.

    Shelton can still develop into a tremoundous player for the Tigers. Anyone who can show flashes of brilliance like he did at the start of last season needs to have a chance to show that he can keep up that level of performance throughout an entire season. In four or five years the likes of Ordonez, Sheffield & Casey may be distant memories, and a player of Shelton’s potential could make those memories fade much more quickly.

    In that same time span, do we expect the better of Nefi Perez/Santiago to have the same luster? The way I see it, there are four starting infielders. Infante and either Perez or Santiago as backups. If you need a third backup infielder (which I don’t think you do), Ivan Rodriguez played second this season.

    Santiago can’t hit, and he shouldn’t be a given for this team.

  2. Mike R

    February 23, 2007 at 11:17 pm

    Touching on the points Mark talked about:

    Andrew Miller is less than 1 year removed from College. While an “honest look” would be nice, it’s just not practical. He’s at the least, 1 full season away from cracking the Tigers starting rotation; and I wouldn’t have it any other way. I’d rather he have a great short stint in Lakeland and finish with a great year in Erie and come up to the Tigers in September after the minor league campaign is finished.

    Marcus Thames is not a Major League caliber outfielder. He just isn’t. I love the idea of him platooning at 1st base, assuming he can pick up adequate glove work. Otherwise, I think it’s in our best interest to shop him around (which I’m sure they have) and find a deal suitable for us. Chris Shelton still has A LOT to prove to me. I know he mashed in the Minors and that his 2005 numbers look great, he slumped at the end of that season. In 05 he hit: .224 in August, .267 in September, .275 in Sept/Oct. So I’m not sold on him being the slugger that everyone thinks he’ll become.

    We need a 2nd back up infielder other than Infante. And Ramon Santiago is slick in the field. Even though he doesn’t hit a lick, I’ll take what is possibly an upgrade over Guillen’s defense (especially the defense Carlos displayed last season) and little to no offense over the idea of Neifi Perez and his bad defense, little to no range, and little to no offensive upside at what feels like 80 times the cost of Santiago. I think Ramon should have a spot on this club as the 2nd backup infielder and we should let go of Neifi.

    Barring injuries, i’d like the reserves to set up with Thames (if he’s not dealt) platooning at 1st (I believe Shelton has one more option year left. If so, that helps tremendously), Vance Wilson, Infante and Santiago.

    The things that still mildly concern me are: the lack of a lefty in the bullpen outside of Ledezma (who I’m really high on, and I wouldn’t mind seeing get a shot for the 5th spot in the rotation, but probably isn’t likely), and a legit 4th outfielder who can, you know, field the outfield with some consistency. And that player is not Marcus Thames, in my opinion.

  3. boombotti

    February 24, 2007 at 2:51 am

    If Clevlen has a good spring, he should be the fourth outfielder. He plays good defense and has a cannon for an arm.

  4. boombotti

    February 24, 2007 at 2:56 am

    By the way, I know this was about the Marcus Thames vs. Chris Shelton thing, but I was just thinking I would rather have Clevlen rather than Thames, because of the better defense, he is younger, and probable could produce similar numbers as Marcus.

  5. Kyle J

    February 24, 2007 at 11:30 am

    Thames had a slugging average of .549 last season (.490 for his career). I really don’t think Clevlen is going to match that.

    Both Thames and Shelton need to be given a full shot at making the team. Either or both of them could regain their hitting form and force their way into the starting line-up.

    I’m really rooting for Shelton. As Bilfer points out, his fielding alone could be a major upgrade over Casey. And if he can get his confidence back, there’s no reason to think he couldn’t hit .290 with 25 home runs over a full season.

  6. Mark

    February 24, 2007 at 2:01 pm

    What are the rumblings concerning the battle for the fifth starter spot down in Florida right now?

  7. billfer

    February 24, 2007 at 8:08 pm

    Mark – there aren’t really any rumblings about the 5th starter spot. At least not yet. Leyland said that it is Mike Maroth’s. Barring injury or gross ineffectiveness by one of the incumbents there won’t be a battle.

  8. Walewander

    February 24, 2007 at 10:47 pm

    What about Ledezma?

  9. Eric Jackson

    February 24, 2007 at 11:06 pm

    Ledezma will be in the bullpen.

  10. Kurt

    February 25, 2007 at 2:56 pm

    I don’t think Ledezma should be a LOOGY, but he should definitely be a lefty in the pen. He’s not bad as a starter, but he’s terrific as a reliever. Had a 7+ k/9 and ERA of 2.55.

  11. Brian

    February 25, 2007 at 5:59 pm

    Clevlen needs to prove he can hit AA or AAA pitching before we should bring him up and have him as the 4th OF. He needs at bats.

  12. David

    February 26, 2007 at 4:25 am

    The fifth starter should not even be a question, Maroth had a 5-2 record with around a 2.56 ERA before his arm finally gave in, in KC. He is my second favorite tiger player (after inge and before guillen.) All favorites aside, he knows how to spot his fastball, has a great change up and knows how to locate. He could easily be our second best SP after Bonderman. I would not be surprised at all if he won 18 games next year. He is at worst an innings eater who AT WORST would post a 4.00 ERA and 14 wins. Our rotation should boil down to this

    1) Kenny Rogers LHP
    2) Jeremy Bonderman RHP
    3) Mike Maroth LHP
    4) Justin Verlander RHP
    5) Nate Robertson LHP

    Marcus Thames not a major league outfielder? If he would have gotten 550 AB he would have hit about 41 dingers with about 95 runs and RBIs. I’m not saying that he would do that, but the guys is right in his prime. With Ordonez, Sheffield, Casey, Pudge, Guillen and Polanco all having a decent chance of being injured you have to keep that kind of stick on your bench. He would be an upgrade on many teams rosters in the outfield (Twins, Indians, Rangers etc.) even though he doesnt have very good range or a great arm.

    As far as Shelton goes he is what ? 26 for all you guys know he could very well be the next Ryan Howard, well lets not go too far but he could be very good. He is built like the bambino. I say the guy hit in college, hit in the minors and hit in the majors and then had everbody saying he was the rebirth of one of the greatest sluggers ever. Thats alot of added pressure to someone on top of starting your first pro year in the bigs. He impressed me much more in 2005 when he came up after the ASB and started smacking the ball the opposite way for doubles when he and Ordonez hit consecutively in the order.

    I say give the kid a chance, hes got great plate recognition, and can spray the ball, hit for average and power. I just think he was really pressing like Arod was pressing against us last year in the playoffs. If he learns to “chill-out” I think hes got alot of talent and could be a good to great hitter. .300, 30HRs and 100 RBIS aren’t out of the question for him, also his fielding has been improving.

    And by the way Carlos’ defense last season wasn’t great but I’d give the guy some slack his knee was just reconstructed and hes trying to play one of the most demanding positions in the game, most of those Errors came off of him double clutching with the ball, not fielding it.

    Neifi needs to go, don’t care how. If we traded him back to the cubbies and all we got was a box of Cracker Jacks we’d be the winners. I now name him ” KING GIDP”, or “MR. ANTI-Rally Chew”, or “EMPEROR LEECH”

    Finally, Infante is another player who fits the sheltonish category, he can def hit a fastball, we’ve seen that and hes another guy like Thames that we’d be foolish to try and trade. He’s not a great fielder but has better range than Placido and has a quick swing that could make him one of the better second -basemen in the league if he ever started for an entire season. Also don’t forget small ball is important and he is one of the fastest Tigers on the bench.

    Hopefully Inge will win his Gold Glove this year that he was cheated out of last year and everything will be right with the world.

    Also Billfer you should have a running poll, what was the best comeback of ’06 (excluding playoffs) that you attended.

    My top three are as follows

    1) Against Cincy
    Grady hits a bomb in the ninth that just hooks around the foul pole in left with 2 outs and monroe wins it in the 10th (this was after zoom fed griffy like 5 or 6 straight fastballs and he hit one like 103 mph out right by where we were sitting)
    ~outside of opening day this was the craziest i’ve ever seen COPA

    2) Against NY to salvage one game out of 4
    Guillen hits the single off of ex-tiger farnsworth place went nuts

    3) Pudge hits walkoff against Cleveland in early August against Fausto Carmona Bot of 9th 2 outs. again place went absolutely nuts

    Can anyone say AL Central Champs? Heres to hopin’ and believing we can after ’07, and to all the fun throughout another glorious baseball season!!!

    Go Tigers