Andy Dirks, our presumptive mostly-everyday LF, is having back surgery. He’ll be out 12 weeks at the least. The alarmist in me reads this as: Dirks will be out 4 months minimum, will struggle mightily when he does get back, and in essence, he’s done as a Tiger. Even the non-alarmist has to admit that chances of Dirks staying in the long-range plans for LF, 2015 and beyond, have fallen considerably. 2014 was Redemption Year for Andy, and I no longer see any redemption (or patience for it) happening. I think there will be a new direction entirely.
The short-term “what to do?” is well-covered by Jason Beck. I can’t reprise it any better. I will offer that this boosts Don Kelly’s stock. “Useful” may have become “nearly indispensable.” A plausible bench at this point would be Kelly, Worth, Lombardozzi, and Holaday. If that seems odd, consider how the Tigers could possibly carry less than two infielders with uncertainty at two positions there. Don Kelly can play all three OF positions well. I see him as less of a platoon partner for Rajai Davis and more of a 4th outfielder who might be in for a lot of playing time on a running basis. Not a whole lot different than last year’s role, really.
Which brings us to Rajai Davis. Who is this guy? Well, he’s scary fast. He’s also no great shakes as an OF defender (particularly in LF), doesn’t hit that well for average and has a low career OBP, and has no power, not even gap power (look at his triples numbers). He’s especially mediocre against RHP. I’m looking for some sign that he could surprise as more of an everyday LF than we think, and not finding it. Acquiring a solid replacement for Dirks might be in order, and forget the business with Kelly. This could be selling Trevor Crowe and Ezequiel Carrera short, though. Lots of ST to go yet.
And now, our live and in-person Detroit Tigers ST correspondent. More excerpts from the Book of Jud:
3/3: Smyly was down – down..down… change slowed down on everyone except Peralta. high FB crank…second time up high hanger crank out again…next batter he goes down again easy ground ball. ..Both of Peralta’s were fly balls carried in the wind..just barely cleared fence. Worth played all nine innings.. no one does that…read into that what we want. Davis ran from home to third on that triple in a frickin flash!!!!..faster than AJ. Ortega threw about 11 pitches in his inning 9 were 94-96..9 were strikes. Coke was pitiful of the 5 hits he gave up..4 were to lefties. He didnt pitch with the starting D but maybe Kinsler would have gotten to acouple of the GB hits. Not one pitch over 89…one at 76 everything else at 84-88. Castellanos muffed an easy GB…but made up for it with the longest HR of the day. It was a bomb.
3/6: I was thinking about this while the rain cones down but in the game Rajai Davis hit the triple guys who are fast like Jackson round the bases so fast the bow way out so that its almost a circle the are running rounding first….Davis is different he cuts the bases so fast and tight, he almost runs a straight line between bases..I bet he takes 10-15 less steps than most fast guys on a triple.While he was running I thought he was running 65 ft softball bases …he is crazy fast!!!
3/7: Any way these pitcher drills were always kind of a joke with Leyland..lot of laughing and screwing around. The drills I am watching seem to be taken a little more seriously. Maybe cause guys are fighting for spots or maybe its because of Ausmus ..I don’t see JV and I know I would recognize him. I am outside the fence about 100 feet away. It’s still pretty wet from yesterdays rain but it always amazes me how efficient and fast the ground crew gets things done. This whole complex is beautiful. And theres lots to take care of… Marte balks in winning run…wont matter he looks exactly like Coke from the right side. batting practice pitches all 86-87 nothing on them. Lombardozzi is like a talented Kelly. he can run and hit…Castellanos runs good. I failed to mention before that I have seen Jackson bat 6 times now and he has hit the ball on the button all 6 times. he looks good. Robby Ray is going to be just fine.
3/7: At Steinbrenner stadium the absolutely best thing is the grotto just outside the entrance to the field. there are big rocks with brass plaques of retired Yankee numbers. One for each going right up..1..Martin, 3 Ruth, 4 Gerhig, 5 DiMaggio, 7 Mantle, 8 Yogi, 9 Maris, 15 Munson……..etc….it is the coolest display ever. People whisper when in there…the ground is spotless…I am not anywhere near a Yankee fan but I am in awe when I walk thru there.
3/8: Joba was throwing a lot of breaking balls and so was Ray. maybe it was the plan and there were some walks. but both got out of there inning. wheres as Marte just like last time was straight and pounded…we didn’t see Miggy take BP here but before the Cardinal game he went over the berm with acouple and hit the 420 CF sign in BP…he looked “normal” to me.