I don’t like Juan Pierre. Never have. I would enjoy watching him be mauled by a pack of lions. And I never thought I’d enjoy having a Pierre-type player on the Tigers. But after five games of Quintin Berry, I find myself pleasantly surprised. Like Brad Eldred’s story, I’m a sucker for a long-term minor leaguer finally getting a shot at the show. And I guess I’m not used to seeing actual speed in a Tigers ballplayer.
When Austin Jackson comes back from the DL, the team is going to have to make a decision on Berry. Do they say “thanks” and send the 27 year old career minor leaguer back to the Mud Hens? Or do they reward the guy and keep him around?
If he stays, who goes? That’s what I thought I’d take a look at today.
Before we start cutting guys, let’s get a couple things straight. Berry’s only played five games in the majors. He is unlikely to stay hot for too long, especially once teams get a scouting report on him. He has no arm and even less power. He’s never hit for much in the minors and is older than Brennan Boesch and even Delmon Young.
But damn, the guy can run. He adds a factor I haven’t seen on the Tigers in forever…true speed. Sure, Austin’s quick, but he’s never been a real base stealer for whatever reason. Berry seems to be able to swipe them at will.
Remember the big comeback in 2004 by the Red Sox over the Yankees? That doesn’t happen without Dave Roberts pinch running and swiping second base. And with the Tigers bench consisting of Gerald Laird and Danny Worth as their key pinch runners for late in ballgames, I think Berry is worth keeping around for just that role. And if he keeps hitting, put him in a corner outfield spot and rotate Dirks, Young, and Boesch around depending on who’s hitting.
But someone would have to go once Austin returns. Who are the candidates?
Ramon Santiago: Not going anywhere. Has tenure, a good glove, and is a switch hitter.
Delmon Young: I doubt they’d DFA him right now. He makes too much cash and they’ve already swallowed a small fortune with releasing Brandon Inge.
Ryan Raburn: Still a mess at the plate and in the field. He still has an option remaining for another week or so before he hits five years of MLB service time, I’m told. Now may be the time to send him down to Toledo to work with Bull Durham and get him away from the boo birds in Detroit. Trouble is, you demote Ryno, you make Santiago the full time second baseman and the team has never wanted to do that.
Don Kelly: In my dreams. Though his average is down to .164 and he has exactly ZERO extra base hits in 69 plate appearances, he remains a favorite of Jim Leyland and most of you due to his versatility. I still don’t get it. One day, you’ll all admit I was right from the beginning on him.
Danny Worth: Worth doesn’t seem to be a favorite of Jim Leyland, for whatever reason. Santiago and Raburn get most of the time at second and Worth rarely plays. If the team decides to reward Berry and keep him around, I think Worth is the favorite to get yet another trip to Toledo.
If it were up to me? We would shoot Don Kelly out of a catapult directly into a brick wall. With that unlikely, I guess Ryno would be made a Mud Hen until late July. He needs time away from Detroit before the hatred of the fans kills him the way it did Inge. If it hasn’t already. And it wouldn't destroy the team to let Worth start more than once a month. Let's finally see what he can or can't do. He can't be worse than what Raburn's been doing.
As for Berry? He’s already second on the team in steals. He’s hitting .381 with a .458 on base percentage. Of course he’s not going to keep it up. But hell…the way this year’s gone so far, I think it’s important to ride whatever hot bats we have.
I still hate Juan Pierre. But I’m really liking Mr. Quintin Berry. Let him stay a while, Dave.