Tigers NRI list

Yesterday the Tigers announced this year’s crop of non roster invitees. These are the players who aren’t on the 40 man roster, but will participate – at least for awhile – in the big league camp. It’s usually a passel of catchers, used to spread out catching duties, and a bunch of journeyman arms who will provide some depth at the AAA level. Then throw in a couple of position players who just haven’t fit in other teams plans and a prospect or two and you have your NRI’s. It’s how the Tigers picked up Jamie Walker, Bobby Seay, Tim Byrdak, Chad Durbin, and Marcus Thames. But this year’s group of players has a different look.

The Tigers NRI’s are:
Rudy Darrow
Alex Avila
Cale Iorg
Alexis Gomez
Casey Fien
Jeff Kunkel
Don Kelly
Jon Kibler
Dane Sardinha
Will Rhymes
Ryan Perry
Max St. Pierre
Scott Sizemore
Fu-Te Ni

Of the 14 players, 11 are prospects from within the organization (or organizational catchers). The only newcomers are Alexis Gomez, Don Kelly, and Fu-Te Ni. And even then Gomez and Kelly are former Tigers organizational fodder and Ni could be considered a prospect. Essentially the Tigers have spent nothing even on minor league free agents.

My hope was that the Tigers would have a handful of pitchers that – while not vital cogs – could contribute to bullpen depth. But it looks as if they think they have that in house already. It’s looking more and more like the Tigers have absolutely nothing left to spend and the team will be relying Zach Simons, Rudy Darrow, Casey Fien, Kyle Bloom, Ryan Perry, and Alfredo Figaro to join the incumbents. It’s not hopeless, but not encouraging either. And I further wonder if this was going to be the approach, why not include Green, Jacobson, Satterwhite, and Weinhardt?


  1. Eric Cioe

    January 13, 2009 at 9:51 pm

    Given enough arms, they can build a pen, as long as they’re willing to cut bait and option a guy when he isn’t effective anymore. They might be able to assemble a usable seven man pen out of what they have. Maybe not. I wish they had gotten a few more project arms, but they must feel confident in what they have in the minors.

  2. Vince in MN

    January 14, 2009 at 1:36 am

    The Tigers might still be able to work out some kind of trade for relief pitching, although I don’t think they have much flexibility there – I don’t believe DD wants to part with any of the remaining youngsters, so that means someone off the 25-man roster (Thames and who else?). As far as the free agent market, what’s left is either going to cost a draft pick (which I think and hope is out of the question) or crap. Maybe they’ll wait and grab someone(s) at bargain basement prices at the last minute, but there really isn’t anybody there to get excited about. Then there is the possibility of picking somebody up cut by another team as ST progresses. Right now though, I sure don’t see any reason for DD to be burning the midnight oil.

  3. Mark in Chicago

    January 14, 2009 at 9:08 am

    Thames, Raburn and Clevelan are all trade bait. Even money at least one of them gets dealt for relief pitching.

  4. Mr X

    January 14, 2009 at 11:43 am

    That’s good. Hopefully this year they won’t come into camp with a huge swagger. Each player better be on a mission to prove that they can still Git R Dun. Otherwise I’d rather watch Larry the Cable Guy.

  5. Mark in Chicago

    January 14, 2009 at 1:04 pm

    Gary Sheffield should be a NRI, see if that motivates him a bit.

  6. Chris in Dallas

    January 14, 2009 at 1:15 pm

    If by NRI you mean Nefariously Remains Injured, then I agre with you.

  7. Vince in MN

    January 14, 2009 at 2:17 pm

    “…Raburn and Clevelan are all trade bait.”

    Good luck with that.

  8. Tim D

    January 14, 2009 at 2:52 pm

    I know they have denied budget pressure, but reality is they haven’t spent any money and it doesn’t look like they will. I don’t think they are counting on 40,000 per game and that is probably wise. Hopefully some of these kids come through or they are going to lose a lot of 4 hour 10-6 and 9-7 games. This looks like a last place team. Very little pitching, slow, RH sluggers, no dynamic players except Granderson. Lots of 6-4-3 DPs. Better D will help a little. 75 wins at this point.

  9. Vince in MN

    January 14, 2009 at 2:57 pm

    Speaking of budget pressure, here is an interesting analysis of wins gained from dollars spent in MLB over the last ten years:


  10. Mr X

    January 14, 2009 at 4:14 pm

    I don’t think Cleveland, Minnesota, or Chicago are any better off. They have more holes to fill than the Tigers.
    The White Sox have scrubs at 1B, 2B, 3B, and CF. Thome isn’t getting any younger either. The back-end of their rotation is choppy at best. They do have a decent pen though. They aren’t as good as they were last year. They lost Vazquez, Cabrera, Crede, and Swisher; and have added nothing back. This is hardly a .500 team anymore.

    I can’t figure out how Minnesota can win with the little amount of talent they have. Their hitting is terrible besides Morneau and Mauer. Nobody on their starting staff has ever won more than 12 games. This team could easily regress into something pathetic.

    Cleveland has question marks at nearly every other position. Besides Cliff Lee who do they have that they can count on in their pitching staff? This does not look like a .500 team.

  11. Dave BW

    January 14, 2009 at 4:35 pm

    Mr X —

    While we Tigers fans have probably become overly accustomed to assuming the worst about our team, you’re equally guilty of doing the same with every other team in the division (aside from, strangely, KC). I don’t have the time or interest to do a writeup on every divisional rival right now, but just to use the White Sox as an example:

    He had a below average year, but Paul Konerko isn’t exactly a scrub, and Josh Fields — while he needs to walk a whole lot more — is as big a power threat as anyone we have besides Cabrera. While I can’t say with authority who their #4 and #5 SP even ARE at this point (Broadway? Richard? Contreras? Carrasco?), Danks is for real, Buehrle is consistently good to great, and Floyd is… yeah, I don’t really know what Floyd is anymore. Their bullpen is still the class of the division. They’re not a 90 win team at this point, but 85 wouldn’t surprise me. I can’t say the same for this Tigers’ squad, who likely have around an 81 win ceiling right now.

  12. Mr X

    January 14, 2009 at 4:46 pm

    Konerko was about as counter-productive as Sheffield last season. Konerko and Sheff are exactly what scrubs are. They are both washed up in my book.

    I’m not going to agrue with you because I think the Tigers suck too, but they are just as terrible as these other teams in the AL Central. It wouldn’t take much for any one of these teams to be in 1st place or last place.

  13. Chris in Dallas

    January 14, 2009 at 5:15 pm

    I think Cleveland had a sneaky good offseason with picking up Wood and Derosa. I think they got someone else pretty decent that slips my mind at the moment. Chicago overachieved in ’08 (particularly Floyd) and should regress some. The Twins always look dead on paper and then end up around 90 wins so who knows with them. KC obviously stinks, and got even worse in the offseason (seriously – Willie Bloomquist?). Bottom line, I don’t think anyone is running away with anything in the AL Central. The Tigers could finish anywhere from 4th to 1st and I wouldn’t be surprised.

  14. Dave BW

    January 14, 2009 at 5:31 pm

    Agreed about KC, Chris. The hilarious thing is that they actually had a plan (acquiring more OBA), and then did the exact opposite. They had a terrific, low-cost bullpen that they traded away for marginal hackers like Crisp and Jacobs, and then replaced those traded bullpen arms with… Kyle Farnsworth. For 4.5 million a year. Yikes.

    As for MIN, I think Twins fans will be in for quite a reality-check when the team finally relocates from the Metrodome to a stadium where standard physics actually apply. This year, though, I’m guessing the team will be roughly the same as last year.

    I’d project Cleveland to win the division, but their rotation is so iffy that it will more likely be a close race between them and the Sox.

  15. Mr X

    January 14, 2009 at 5:44 pm

    Too bad Wood has only been healthy once for back to back seasons since he turned pro 11 years ago. If he can stay healthy, which is doubtful in my mind, then he’ll be a great closer for the Tribe. Due to his track record, I woodn’t count on him being around come September though. I’m rooting for him nevertheless. He’s one of my favorite pitchers to watch, along with Joel Zumaya and John Papelbon.

  16. David

    January 16, 2009 at 2:35 am

    Wait did anyone say Tigers 2009 World Series Champions?


  17. cayetana torres

    February 1, 2009 at 12:20 am

    hi, this message is for alexis gomez

    I’m happy to know you’re doing well and back to the place you always said was your home, I’m really sorry you didn’t at least say good bye, but I wish you the best and hope can see you again