With around two weeks left in Spring Training, we still haven't answered the three main questions we had going into camp. Who's the fifth starter? How's the bullpen going to shape up? Who's going to be on the bench? Why/how did Nate, Dontrelle, and Inge get those contracts? Wait...that's four. Scratch the last one.
So, we've got Verlander, Bonderman, Jackson, and Galarraga set. Not very intimidating, I know. Plus, there's questions about all four of them that have been documented over and over. But who's the fifth guy? The candidates? Zach Miner, Nate Robertson, Dontrelle Willis, and Rick Porcello.
My Choice: Pedro Martinez (or Miner)
Probable Choice: (sigh) DesigNate
It's going to be Nate or Dontrelle. Too much money to just write off. They've both looked bad, but Nate's been slightly less horrible. Where does Dontrelle go from here? The bank, I guess.
Zach should probably get the nod. He hasn't been great, but his track record, to me, is better lately than the others. Rick needs a year in AAA before I want him up with the big club. I still don't know if Bondo has completely recovered from being thrown to the wolves when he was 20 years old. But Zach and Rick are righties and I can see Detroit wanting to take one of the southpaws up north to start the season. And Pedro? No chance in hell. Just throwing it out there...
Brandon Lyon, Fernando Rodney, and Bobby Seay are set. Zumaya would be set, but he's more fragile than an 80 year old woman and we don't know if he's going to start the season on the DL. Assuming Zoom is healthy, (I know, I know) that leaves three more spots in the pen. The spooky kids in question (assuming Nate's a starter)? Willis, Miner, Kyle Bloom, Clay Rapada, Macay McBride, Juan Rincon, Scott Williamson, Freddy Dolsi, Ryan Perry, and Casey Fien. So...who's coming with me?
My Choices: Rapada, Rincon, Perry
Probable Choices: Willis, Miner, Rincon
Zach and Dontrelle are in. I can't see any way around it due to contract issues. And Rincon's been reborn with Rick Knapp this spring, so far. I hope they would lean that way over Dolsi, who's not ready yet, in my opinion.
Perry's ready, though. I'd love to see them give this kid a shot. He reminds me of Zoom before he became a punchline. Rincon, I mentioned. And Rapada? I just like him as our second lefty. He's the only guy that didn't give up any homers for us last year. And yes...I'm the one that was gushing over the signing of Williamson. I was desperate for anything at that point. But Scott's been okay and I'm happy to have him as a Mud Hen in case something happens. And if Zoom's on the DL to start, I take him to the big club just to spite everyone.
Mr. Misty May is the backup catcher. Santiago's the infielder. Thames is the outfielder. That leaves a spot between Jeff Larish, Ryan Raburn, Brent Clevlen, Clete Thomas, Timo Perez, and Mike Hessman. Who ya got?
My Choice: Timo Perez?!?
Probable Choice: Ryan Raburn
Raburn's out of options, so he wins over Larish. Plus, he can play center...and anywhere else. Grandy does need a backup. Inge doesn't count because his pouting at not being at third for a game would cause Leyland to need more smokes. They go up in price on April 1st, so no-go there. Larish and Marcus would be worse than me in center. Clevelen's out, too, and I hope no one claims him...I like the guy. I believe the same goes for Hessman who I'd rather have STARTING than Inge, but I'm on my own there. Clete's hurt, young, and isn't that good. Sorry, Cult Members. As for Timo? He's the bastard oldest child of the Tiger organization that they don't like to talk about.
But I love me some Timo. All the guy does is hit Major League pitching. Hard. Whenever we've called him up, he's produced. I finally get to see a Spring game (bite me, FSN), and Timo homers, triples, and singles. He can play any outfield spot and play it well. But he's 31 (methinks) and they're focused on the kids. So, it's another year in Toledo hoping that someone will notice him.
One More Thing
Am I the only other person that is impressed with Sheff so far? Everyone has him batting sixth this year, but with the walks he draws (not to mention being healthy), I'd like to see Mr. 500 batting third. Hit Cabrera fourth, Maggs fifth, and Guillen sixth. With the amount of time Gary walks, I'd much rather see the mashers driving him home than Inge and Everett stranding him on base. Just a thought.
Two more weeks. Anything can happen. Good luck, Timo.