Sunday, February 19, 2012
The DNR Preseason Top 40
So many questions. Who will replace Magglio as my favorite Tiger? With Brad Thomas gone, who now gets the honor of the most hated? Will Don Kelly continue to climb from the Bottom Ten? Who the hell is Avisail Garcia?
All of these questions and more are answered after the jump. Players are listed in order based on nothing by my personal preferences, along with where they were ranked the last time I did this.
1 (3): Miguel Cabrera
AKA: Big Mig, Cabby, Señor Ding Dong, Tipsy McStagger, Young M.C.
What do you do when your favorite player is sent off to the glue factory? Replace him with his closest Venezuelan equivalent. The way Cabrera finished 2011 did nothing but finally convince me, without a doubt, that he is the best hitter I’ve ever seen in a Tigers uniform. And his good natured attitude combined with his willingness to step aside at first to make way for Prince Fielder has finally done the enevitable…it has made Miguel Cabrera my new favorite player. RIP Magglio.
2 (2): Justin Verlander
AKA: JV, The Terminator, Rather Be Golfing
The reigning MVP and Cy Young Award winner has a hefty season to live up to this year. And he has spent the entire offseason collecting awards and tweeting about golf nonstop. This has me worried about his preparation for this year since Verlander’s best month has never been April. But he remains the ace of the staff, a freak of nature, and the most important player on the Tigers if they are going to succeed in 2012.
3 (4): Victor Martinez
AKA: V-Mart, Boomstick, Big Victor
He’s gone this year, but not forgotten. The term “professional hitter” was made for guys like Victor and he will be missed this year, not only for his bat, but for his leadership in the clubhouse. It amazes me that I can like a guy that played for Cleveland for so long as much as I do V-Mart, but here we are. I think I speak for everyone reading this when I wish him a speedy and problem-free recovery. And say hi to Little Victor for us.
4 (16) Doug Fister
AKA: The Dougie, Mister Fister
I knew Fister was a good pitcher when the Tigers acquired him from Seattle at the time I last did one of these lists. But no one could have expected him to be as amazing as he was down the stretch for the team last year. A full year of Fister in the #2 spot in the rotation is one of the main reasons the Tigers are expected to run away with the AL Central this year.
5 (5) Austin Jackson
AKA: A-Jax, #AustinJacksonStrikesOut, OH JACKSON
Unlike many of you, I don’t care if he strikes out much of the time. The kid sees more pitches than anyone on the team not named Cabrera, Fielder, or Avila. He is the only guy that we have that can run faster than Jim Leyland. And he’s the best defensive center fielder we’ve had in Detroit since Gary Pettis. The kid is still young and learning. And he’s probably never going to be Curtis Granderson, so let it go. Let him be Austin Jackson and enjoy him for what he is.
6 (9) Phil Coke
AKA: Cokehead, Coke Zero, Boss
Phil’s just fine on the mound, but what I enjoy about him is the fact that he’s the rare baseball player with a fun, goofy personality. I went to a game last year where they had some kids on the field before the game receiving some dumb awards that no one other than their parents cared about. The token Tiger to be on the field with them was Phil Coke. When they announced him, he did this cheesy fist pump and looked more like an excited kid out there than even the children themselves did. Coke’s a nut, he doesn’t take everything too serious, but when he’s on the mound, he’s a badass.
7 (7) Ryan Raburn
AKA: Ryno, Tongue Bandit, Rayburn (mLive only)
I like Ryan Raburn. There. I said it. Bite me. I like Raburn because he is not perfect. He screws up a lot. But at the same time, he can go a week playing like a superstar. There is no Tiger that I root harder for than Ryno. I can’t really explain it. But if there’s anyone that I hope can finally put it all together for a full season, it’s Raburn. And the more Tiger fans I continue to see complain about and crap on the guy, the more I feel the need to root for him.
8 (6) Jose Valverde
AKA: Papa Grande, Dance Fatty Dance, El Perfecto
The tub of goo and personality known as Jose Valverde was perfect in save situations for us last year. What more could Tiger fans ask for out of a closer after rocky years of watching Todd Jones and Fernando Rodney in the 9th inning? Valverde is unlikely to repeat his perfect 2011 this year, but he remains the first pitcher since Mike Henneman to make me feel comfortable with a one run lead in the 9th. I can’t thank him enough for that.
9 (11) Alex Avila
AKA: Titanium Catcher, Al’s Boy, The Beard
No player surprised me more last season than Avila did. The All-Star catcher came out of nowhere to erase the doubts that many, including myself, had about him taking over the starting catcher job in the D. Can he repeat his success this year? With a lighter workload this season, all signs point towards yes. If not, we’re in trouble, considering who his backup is.
10 (NR) Prince Fielder
AKA: Prince Charming, Cecil’s Boy, Fatty Fatty Fat Fat
What? You thought that just by joining the team that you were going to win me over that quickly, kid? Granted, three months into the season Prince will probably easily make my top five, but for now he enters the list at number ten. Like everyone, I’m excited to see what the best left-handed slugger in the game will do in a Tiger uniform. But he’s got a lot of pressure on his shoulders with his gigantic contract and the immense shadow his father cast as a Tiger. But if anyone can handle it, this kid seems to be the guy to do it.
11 (13) Rick Porcello
AKA: Kid Rick, Pussy Magnet
It seems amazing that Porcello is still only 23 years old. I think most people forget that when they talk about him like he’s peaked already. But I think this is the year that Porcello finally takes the next step in becoming the pitcher the Tigers thought he’d be when they drafted him in 2007. He’s finally under the radar behind JV and Fister in the rotation and the spotlight is now on Jacob Turner as the new young gun. I’m not sure why, but I think he’ll be a standout in this year’s rotation. Thus, expect him to go 2-18 with a 6.33 ERA.
12 (8) Max Scherzer
AKA: Mad Max, Beyond Thunderdome, Blue/Brown Eyes
Max is in the same boat as Porcello is. He has the stuff. He has the potential. All the tools are there. It’s just a matter of putting it all together. Just imagine with me last year’s offense with the addition of Prince Fielder. Then behind that, put JV, Fister, and Porcello and Scherzer realizing their full potential. We would win 130 games. Be the ball, Max. Be the ball.
13 (13) Jhonny Peralta
AKA: JP, Silent H, Chin Strap
Peralta quietly proved all his doubters wrong last year with his best season in several years. He has pop at the plate, a better glove than advertised, and a quiet professional attitude in the clubhouse. With Magglio and Guillen moving along and Victor being hurt, the team may need Peralta to take a veteran leadership role with the them this season. And with Cabrera under the microscope at third, Jhonny’s defense is going to be more important than ever this year.
14 (17) Jacob Turner
AKA: Jake The Snake, Ike Turner, The Future
If hype were a Tigers baseball player, it would be Jacob Turner. We’ve heard nothing but great things about the kid since he was drafted, and at the age of 20, there’s a good chance of him being thrown into his first full MLB season in the rotation. I hate this idea, but I am intrigued to see what the youngster can do out there.
15 (12) Brennan Boesch
AKA: BB, Dubba B, Brah
The California Kid has become a favorite of many Tiger fans, but I remain unconvinced. He needs to put together a full season before I climb on board with the rest of you. But the skills are there. Now if only the guy would take a pitch once in a while. Or at least a shower.
16 (14) Al Alburquerque
AKA: AlAl, Wrong Turn, Zoom 2.0
Talk about coming out of nowhere last year. No one knew who Al was when Dave Dombrowski signed him as a minor league free agent last year. But when he came up, he struck out big league hitters like an adult pitching to 8 year olds. A line drive to the noggin and arm trouble ended his season early and he’ll be sidelined for the first half of 2012, too. But when he comes back, if he’s the pitcher he was in early 2011, the Detroit bullpen will be among the best in baseball.
17 (27) Joaquin Benoit
AKA: Nelly, The Crippler
I hated the Benoit contract when it happened. But without him, the Tigers wouldn’t have gotten where they did last season. He and Jose Valverde formed the best bullpen tag team Detroit had seen since the Lopez/Hernandez days of the mid-80’s. If he can keep it up this year (and keep gigantic boils from festering on his face) than Jim Leyland’s job will be much easier to do when handling his pitching staff.
18 (18) Ramon Santiago
AKA: Little Ramon, Razor Ramon, The Little Tiger Who Could, Sneaky Power
I don’t know anyone that doesn’t like Ramon Santiago. He may be the one Tiger that it’s impossible to hate. He always gives you full effort, he can play anywhere, and you never hear a complaint out of him whether he starts or not. His role with the team is still up in the air with the platoon situation at second base, but all logic points to him getting the majority of the starts there. If so, at least we’ll have one infield position we won’t have to worry about defense at.
19 (NR) Delmon Young
AKA: DY, Elmon, Little Dmitri
Oblique injury and all, Delmon came up huge in the playoffs for the Tigers last year. Acquired down the stretch for peanuts from Minnesota, Young looked like his old self at the plate for the Tigers last year. This year will be a big one for him as he will be counted on to protect Prince in the lineup in the five hole. The biggest question will be where he plays. He doesn’t want to be a full time DH, but he might be the worst defensive outfielder I’ve seen since Jose Canseco at the end of his career.
20 (26) Danny Worth
AKA: Leno Jaw, Worthless, Lynn Henning’s Favorite Tiger
Worth probably won’t make the team, but I wish he would. A dependable glove, a better bat than most people think, and an affordable contract made it a surprise when the team re-signed Santiago in the offseason. I’m beginning to think that Danny’s best chance at seeing consistent time in the majors will be with another team.
21 (21) David Pauley
AKA: Who?, The Invisible Man
I know little about Pauley other than that he had a great first half last year in Seattle, Doug Fister loves him, and Jim Leyland doesn’t trust him. All of that makes me want him to be the big surprise out of the pen for us this year.
22 (NR) Collin Balester
AKA: The Stache
Balester was acquired from Washington for Ryan Perry to be the long reliever this season. The team’s new Zach Miner will hopefully find success in the AL for the the sole reason of he and Phil Coke having goofy facial hair growing competitions.
23 (NR) Octavio Dotel
AKA: Old Man River
The 38 year old Dotel is playing for his MLB record 13th team in 2012 after winning a World Series in St. Louis last year. He is the only Tiger on the 40 man roster that is older than I am and this depresses me greatly. For that reason, Dotel will be a favorite of mine this year. Hopefully he pitches a great 7th inning, too, before Alzheimer's disease eventually sets in.
24 (28) Duane Below
AKA: Look Out Below
The pride of Britton, Michigan is my favorite to win the 5th starter role this year vacated by Brad Penny. Duane pitched well in limited MLB action last year and I’d rather see him get a shot over rushing Turner to such a high profile position. Being a lefty helps, too.
25 (NR) Casey Crosby
AKA: CC, Bing
The 23 year old 5th round pick of the 2007 Draft has been slowed by injuries, but rebounded nicely in the minors last year. He’ll probably be a fixture at Toledo, but may finally get a chance in the rotation at some point in Detroit this year if DD doesn’t go out and find a veteran 5th starter.
26 (NR) Brandon Inge
AKA: Special Little Guy, Salem, Binge
Sigh. One more year. Everyone’s hero/punching bag is back for one more round in Detroit and now he’s competing for the second base job. Inge has had quite the career in Detroit and this season will be the little bastard’s final go around unless something crazy happens. It’ll be interesting, that’s for sure.
27 (24) Andy Dirks
AKA: Forrest Dirks, Tumor Neck
He has a gigantic neck that haunts my dreams. He’s better than Clete Thomas. He’s nowhere near as good as many Tiger fans seem to think. Dirks is a fine 4th outfielder, but I don’t see him as anything more than that.
28 (NR) Gerald Laird
AKA: G$, Laird Ass
Yeah, he’s back. The biggest failure of Game 163 has returned as the backup catcher in 2012 for the Tigers. His signing caused a Guinness World Record for the largest combined facepalm of a baseball fanbase in history. Laird won a World Series ring with Dotel and the Cards last year and will be a much needed relief on the workload of Avila this year. For all of his offensive miscues, Laird remains a solid defensive player and good signal caller behind the dish.
29 (30) Adam Wilk
AKA: Got Wilk?
Another lefty trying to win the 5th starter job. Wilk was impressive in limited action last year, but will probably spend the majority of the year in Toledo, barring injury to someone in the pen.
30 (33) Don Kelly
AKA: Donnie (Sucks at) Baseball, Hotfoot, Bane of My Existence
I don’t hate Don Kelly. I hate how Jim Leyland uses him in high profile spots in games. Kelly is a nice guy and a dependable utility player. But I sometimes feel the team would be better off if Leyland’s favorite player were to somehow be dropped into the closest active volcano.
31 (23) Andy Oliver
AKA: Remember Andy Oliver?
I don’t think anyone in the organization outside of Cale Iorg has seen his stock drop more than Oliver’s has the past two years. Once an untouchable prospect, Oliver has turned into another Tiger lefty that can’t find home plate. 2012 will be a make or break year for him.
32 (NR) Luis Marte
The 25 year old Dominican was just fine as a late season call up last year. He could be this year’s Al Alburquerque if things go right and he avoids line drives in batting practice.
33 (31) Clete Thomas
AKA: Cletus, The Savior
Yeah, he’s still alive. Thomas hasn’t been the same since hurting himself in 2010. He’s a below average player with a cannon for an arm. With a solid spring, he has a chance of taking Dirks’ job on the team as the 4th outfielder, I guess.
34 (NR) Tyler Stohr
AKA: The General
Stohr is a minor league pitcher that once went to West Point. He’s a nice guy on Twitter. Other than that, I know little about him.
35 (NR) Matt Hoffman
He’s 23, he’s a lefty, and he’s from Oklahoma. To be continued.
36 (37) Jose Ortega
I still know nothing about him. He reminds me of one of those fictional minor leaguers they put in your organization on MLB: The Show.
37 (NR) Avisail Garcia
6’4 outfielder that’s only 21 years old. We’ll see.
38 (NR) Hernan Perez
21 year old minor league infielder. Again, we’ll see.
39 (38) Daniel Schlereth
AKA: Stink Jr, Wild Thing, Wolfman
I don’t like Daniel Schlereth. If he learns control, we might be able to be friends. Until then, he remains the most cringe-worthy pitcher likely to make the Tiger staff.
40 (36) Brayan Villarreal
AKA: Minor League Filler
Villarreal sucks. I’ve seen him in Toledo and in Detroit. And he’s sucked every time. Congrats, my Venezuelan friend. You are my new Brad Thomas.
Who’s Gone Since Last Time?
Magglio Ordonez (1)
Unsigned free agent. It’s selfish of me, but I hope he retires. It would make me sick to watch him play for another team.
Carlos Guillen (15)
The walking ER Unit caught on in Seattle and I wish him well.
Joel Zumaya (19)
Zoom is a Twin which will make it much easier for me to hate him now.
Ryan Perry (20)
Traded to Washington for Balester. I always liked Ryan, though he could never seem to pull it all together.
Brad Penny (22)
He’s off to Japan where he will probably be confused with Godzilla on a daily basis.
Chance Ruffin (25)
Sent to Seattle to finish the Fister deal.
Wilson Betemit (29)
Wilson was a nice bat down the stretch that disappeared in the playoffs. Off to suck in Baltimore.
Ryan Strieby (32)
The new Mike Hessman is still around, but off the 40 man roster.
Will Rhymes (34)
Tinkerbell is off sending scrappy tweets in the Tampa organization this year.
Omir Santos (35)
Will return as a catcher in Toledo this year, despite being off the 40 man roster.
Lester Oliveros (39)
Will probably make Minnesota’s bullpen this year. Good for us.
Cale Iorg (40)
Still around. Still a disappointment. He is to Dave Dombrowski as Chris Pittaro was to Sparky Anderson.
Brad Thomas (41)
On the DL when I did the last list, the dingo rapist is still a free agent.
Finally, speaking of ex-Tigers, Jen from Old English D informs me that the Cubs signed Nate Robertson. So much for Theo being a genius, huh?