Spring Training is Here

With the dawn of any new season, there are always a number of (seemingly) pressing stories heading into spring training. Hopefully Coleman and Smoking Loon will take my cue here and allow us at DTW to focus on them one by one.

I’d like to start at third base.

(note, all stats below are from FanGraphs, they could vary slightly at BR)

According to FanGraphs, Miguel Cabrera had the 2nd highest 3B WAR in all of MLB last year at 7.6. Josh Donaldson, and his 12.1 Def rating snuck ahead of Cabrera at 7.7

Cabrera’s -14.6 def rating at 3B was just a shade behind David Freese for the worst 3B Def rating in all of baseball, and was the 6th worst defensive player rating in all of baseball. (Prince Fielder, who managed a -16.5 at 1B, was the 3rd worst according to FanGraphs). The effect of poor corner d in the D has been well documented for the last two years, and was definitely a factor in the Fielder for Kinsler swap last November.

With Cabrera returning to 1B, this shores up 1B, and opens up a spot in the field for Nick Castellanos.

Castellanos, who is by all accounts an average fielding 3B, should still be a noticeable improvement in terms of range on the left side of the infield. Playing next to Iglesias will help significantly. Offensively, Castellenos is expected to hit around .270 with 10-15 home runs, but we’ve got some time to let the kid grow. If he can manage to play average baseball and mature at the big league level, we’ll be alright. He’s been the Tigers top prospect for two years now, so I’m as excited as anyone to see what he can do.

The question for you today is what happens if Castellanos gets injured or isn’t quite yet ready (or insists on playing left field)?. There isn’t another true 3B on the roster and Lombardozzi (picked up from Was for Fister, remember?) and Kelly would have to fill in. Yikes. I can’t imagine that Lombardozzi and Kelly are expected to log a high number of at bats at 3B. I’m guessing that Castellanos will get his shot early, but if things don’t pan out, DD will bring someone else in.

In other news…

Kinsler’s #5 is retired – Hank Greenberg. So he’s gonna wear #3 in the hopes of renewing a little #1 to #3 magic.

This got me thinking of those mid 80’s Tigers teams…not a HoFer on them. And we’ve got two first ballot guys right now.

15 thoughts on “Spring Training is Here”

  1. Well, Inge and Polanco are both still available…

    I do think this is THE issue for this season. I can easily imagine a Rondon type of situation where Castellanos fails, and there is no real Plan B. Don Kelly? Hernan Perez? Move Cabrera back and bring up Jordan Lennerton?

  2. I saw Castellanos last year at Toledo. His numbers were better than Lennerton but he was not hitting the cover off the ball. Hopefully he can supply average defense and keep his average above .250. If he does it would be better than Inge (except for 1/2 his All star year) or anyone else. I like the speed and defense approach compared to the softball league. Hopefully we can pull away this year from the rest of the league and keep a good distance all the way through September this year.

    1. Was he playing left field when you saw him? He had a lot on his plate learning a new position, I wonder if that affected his hitting at all. In the few at bats I’ve seen of him so far, I saw nothing that excited me (unlike, say Avisail Garcia’s first at bats).

      1. 3B is an issue, I think, but not THE issue, if I may humbly disagree. A. The odds of Castellanos being awful are low. 3B is his natural position, and the guy can hit and will, even if it’s not right out of the gate, no cause for panic. B. A healthy Cabrera at 3B would not be a disaster on D, and there’s Martinez for 1B (Lennerton being a longshot) and anyone for DH. C. The Tigers could easily swing a trade early in the season for a serviceable 3B if they had to, and I think they have a once highly regarded 3B prospect – Francisco ???, forget his name – down on the farm. D. Kelly or Lombardozzi don’t even have to be considered as options.

        I think it’s exciting to be giving the new guy a go at 3B. I view it as interesting and promising rather than worrisome.

    1. Maybe because I included a link? Very strange when this happens. Anyway, go to Tiger Tales and read Panas’ new post on lineups. I like No. 1, but would think about switching Jackson and Kinsler.

  3. heading down to spring training next wednesday for a couple weeks. Went 24 straight years but missed the last two because of my personnal objection to keeping Jim Leyland (nothing personnal towards MUMBLES, just my objection to the direction the Tigers chose to go.). I am very excited to start the Brad Asmus era!..and to see the new players On a side note spring training under Leyland was a joke…very few days of fundementals..most drill days were lackluster at best…interested to see if there is a difference in the new regime…

      1. Enjoy Jud! Lots of uncertainity this year in manager, coaches, 3rd base, holders, etc that can come up and bite us during the season. Let us know what you see!

        1. OTFIM – if you get any good pics of the starters, please let us know so we can use them for the game posts.

          1. My brother takes some great photos when he attends Tigers games and then puts together a Tiger calendar for the upcoming year. He has a pro camera set up with strong lens, etc. Let me see if I can get him to share with you some of his photos for this site.

  4. first report will be friday.. I hang out at the back fields where the Starters drill and the coaches are working..nothing like the sound of 10 fungo bats cracking balls all over the place…I have some business to do up at the NSTC (National Softball Training Center ) in Clermont over the weekend so the first game I will attend will be St Louis Monday Mar3…..its that time of the year!!!!!

    1. You lucky dog! We will be down hopefully after the lawyer graduates next year.. will look forward to your reports…

  5. went to morning workouts. they might have been limited by a big rain on Thursday and it was still pretty wet. The thing that strikes you immediately is watching Asmus vs Leyland is like watching Fallon vs Leno….Asmus is physically active in most drills..either demonstrating or correcting..he looks like he could play today.
    the other thing I really liked was coaches spread out over the fields. with Leyland …Lamont, Mac, Belliard, Leyland traveled around together. Jones was usually on a different field unless pitching drills…this year staff coaches were basically working different fields …now maybe that was the plan that day…lot more energy from place tp place……more tomorrow

Comments are closed.