By: Kurt Snyder & Holly Horning
Spring training is drawing to a close and the Tigers still have much to do to get down to a 25-man roster. Plenty of opportunities are still available for players hoping to make the trip to Miami.
Kurt and Holly will jump right in and discuss the state of the roster heading into April.
With only 3 days left of Spring Training, the Tigers still need to make a number of roster cuts. Is this a good or bad situation to be in?
Injuries this spring have driven where the Tigers are with their roster and the cuts still remaining to be made. And unfortunately, there are still decisions to be made in the last few days.
The last thing we expected or wanted was to have to make a decision on the rotation in the final week of the spring. But down went Daniel Norris and enter a competition between Greene and Boyd among others.
Anibal Sanchez was ailing with an arm problem throughout the spring causing him to miss a fair amount of time. Only last week did we begin to feel more comfortable with his recovery. It’s a rotation that should have been settled long ago, so these are not good signs for a team looking to compete for the division title.
The bullpen, considered to be in decent shape at the beginning of the spring has also been hit by the injury bug. Because of the guys that have gone down, there are still spots to fill. Blaine Hardy will not be ready on Opening Day. Alex Wilson will not be ready on Opening Day. Bruce Rondon did not make the team. Nor did Bobby Parnell. And really Shane Greene was a guy we thought would be real valuable in a couple different bullpen roles, both short and long relief. But that will have to wait.
And finally, we found ourselves discussing centerfield and who would team up with Anthony Gose until Cameron Maybin returns. In the process, Wynton Bernard stayed in the game a little longer than expected and it also opened up an opportunity in center that Tyler Collins wouldn’t have normally gotten.
This was a roster that for all intents and purposes was pretty settled when pitchers and catchers began to report. But here we are at the end of spring still looking for some answers. It’s not at all how we envisioned things and not at all a good thing.
This is one of those topics where I can’t pick one side or the other because I see viable arguments for both.
On one hand, for the first time in at least 3 years, the Tigers have depth again. Gone are the days when Dave Dombrowski assembled the roster with few surprises and then went dumpster-diving for the bullpen.
At least on paper, there was a viable competition for 2 positions and both starting and relief pitching. Now it appears that pitching will be the final area to determine.
But I think the Tigers, now that Avila is in charge, are finally taking a longer look at some of the minor league players. Getting a better sense of their talents with an extended viewing. Giving them a better sense of how the minor league teams will fare this year and how they may possibly help the MLB team in late summer.
But on the flip side, not yet deciding on your starters and relievers can also be seen as an area of concern. Injuries have made this a longer process no doubt. And now, there is a huddled group of relievers who are having a hard time standing out from one another and making the selection process more difficult.
And then there is the issue of gelling as a team. The team will have almost an entirely new bullpen and 3 new starters. On the field, there will be 5 new players. They need time to play together – and come together.
Joe Maddon said the other day that it’s important to get your team assembled in time for the last 10 games of spring training. He uses this time to allow his players to solidify as a team and get them into the regular season mindset. In other words, he wants all the adjustments to have taken place before Opening Day so they can hit the ground running with the first pitch of the season.
With only 3 games left, the Tigers need to make approximately 10 more cuts. At this point, the focus needs to turn away from the future and turn towards the present by getting the official 25-man roster finalized and working together in advance of the season that counts.