By: Kurt Snyder
The Justin Upton signing is the biggest news for the Tigers this week. He is certainly the capper on what has been one very busy offseason for Al Avila.
January’s version of 20 Thoughts will touch on several of the moves the Tigers have made this off-season, mixed in with some random, unrelated items to mull over. That’s the beauty of this segment. There are no rules.
1. With Justin Upton in the fold, the bench just got deeper. We have to expect a centerfield platoon, but I think Cameron Maybin will get every opportunity to take centerfield outright. Anthony Gose on the bench with the ability to provide defense and speed is a great asset.
2. I never expected another big time free agent signing by the Tigers. But knowing what we know, why wouldn’t I expect it?
3. I can’t stress enough, more than ever, how much the Tigers need to protect the health of Miguel Cabrera. The acquisition of Upton helps fill the void on days Miggy needs a rest. Justin should slide into the middle of the lineup on those days.
4. The chances to make the Opening Day roster seem to diminish every day for Bruce Rondon. The Tigers have really moved on. He will have to bust down a door to prove himself. That would be something we aren’t used to seeing.
5. It’s a consensus; Mike Pelfrey will have to prove everyone wrong. Few feel he will help the Tigers. A big contribution from him this season will really prove Al Avila’s worth.
6. Even with all the talent the Tigers have acquired this season, I think a rookie will still need to contribute.
7. Are you willing to bet KRod will stay the closer the entire season? Remember our luck.
8. After looking at the roster improvements, really the only thing left to do is find a manager. Sorry, but I’m not kidding.
9. Will Nick Castellanos improve defensively this season? Not unless he learns to be more athletic, and unfortunately that’s not something you learn.
10. The Tigers most important starter? Anibal Sanchez. If you get a healthy season from him, I would say the results should be favorable entering October.
11. After the Justin Upton trade, I know much more about the luxury tax than I did before. Still much to learn though. Baseball is hard!
12. When will Justin Upton get the most pitches to hit, batting #2 or batting #6? Pretty simple isn’t it? He should thrive hitting in front of Miggy.
13. Who thought the Tigers would consider signing Cespedes in the off-season? And then given his continued availability, who thought they would spend big on someone else?
14. I have quit trying to guess who Al Avila will acquire next. Outside of Zimmermann, everything has been a surprise. And that’s a good thing. (Yes, this is a hold-over from the December list)
15. This is a really important season for Nick Castellanos. He will need to make a considerable amount of improvement at third and at the plate if he wants to avoid being trade bait.
16. The late inning bullpen threesome of Lowe, Wilson and KRod has all the makings of a much improved pen. But Drew Verhagen and Alex Wilson are the real wild cards that will dictate the difference between this being a good bullpen and a great one.
17. How quickly did JV buy Kate a Justin Upton jersey?
18. It’s my hope that Shane Greene comes back and becomes a valuable pitching asset for the Tigers. And I think he will.
19. My dad used to describe how some pitchers throw a heavy ball. I actually understand it, but I have never been able to effectively explain it to people. But I know it when I see it.
20. Teams on paper are much easier to judge. Results on the field decide the fate of the paper. There are no certainties until players expected to be good are indeed, good.