With the exception of one hot streak that ended about a week ago, 2012 has been an agonizing year for the Detroit Tigers, their front office, and the fans.
The Tigers pulled one trade prior to the non-waiver deadline, reeling in former Marlins’ Anibal Sanchez and Omar Infante. These moves added depth and anchored the 2nd base position’s revolving door. The Tigers elected not to pull the trigger on a July 31st deal however, which likely would have been for a right-handed hitting outfielder.
As we all know, players can still be acquired after the deadline once they’ve cleared waivers and a trade is worked out. Once again, the Tigers’ organization is popping up on the rumor mill.
Recent names linked to Detroit include Alfonso Soriano, Carlos Lee, and Bobby Abreu. Aside from being old, broken down, and entirely uninteresting, this crop might offer something. Then again, maybe it won’t.
The Cubs would have to eat virtually all of Soriano’s contract for the Tigers to bite. And then he’d have to find a place to play through 2014. None of this seems plausible.
Meanwhile, the Marlins wouldn’t mind moving Carlos Lee, but I’m not sure what he really offers the Tigers. He’s hitting just .189 against lefty pitching this year and is nothing more than a DH, something the Tigers still have in Delmon Young.
Abreu has overstayed his Major League Baseball welcome. He’s hitting just .246 with 2 homers on the season and plays a rickety defense, at best.
The Tigers would be wise to pass on all of these players and just roll with what they already have. The problem with that is 2012 quite simply hasn’t come together like everyone thought it would.
The defense has been predictably weak. Pitching has been middle of the road thanks to Rick Porcello, the lack of a 5th starter (until Sanchez arrived), and multiple Doug Fister injuries. And perhaps most maddening of all has been the lackluster offense.
To be sure, the top 4 of Austin Jackson, Quintin Berry, Miguel Cabrera, and Prince Fielder have done yeomen’s work all season long. After that, it’s been as inconsistent as anyone could have feared.
For every Brennan Boesch (.246 avg) hot streak there is a two week period of disappointment. When Delmon Young (.263 avg, .295 on-base %) perks up your attention with a long home run he’ll invariably follow that at-bat up with a bases loaded, inning-ending double play. Alex Avila (.241 avg., 6 homers) is 25, going on 38. He looks old and slow. Injuries can do that to a player and apparently they have whittled Avila’s talent down to its current nub. Jhonny Peralta (.258 avg) has been ok, but won’t come anywhere near his annual parade of 80 RBI seasons.
Mix all of that up and throw in a dash of Ryan Raburn (.172 avg., 1 homer) and this team is stuck in neutral. The Tigers enter play on Wednesday against Boston a full 3 games back of Chicago in the AL Central.
Fingers are starting to point. Some take aim at Jim Leyland and claim his inability to motivate. Others throw hitting coach Lloyd McClendon under the bus and then tell the bus driver how hard to hit the gas.
Detroit is still in the thick of the wild card race and all eyes appear dead set on taking down the White Sox. For that to happen, this team needs to find some consistency from 5-9 in the batting order. A two week hot stretch isn’t going to bring home the pennant.
Do they have it in them?