Damon Makes Tigers AL Central Favorites

by on February 22, 2010   4 Comments

Pitchers and catchers are busy in MLB camps in Florida and Arizona, but a few high-impact players are still looking to sign on the dotted line.  That crowd decreased by one yesterday as Johnny Damon inked a one-year, $8 million dollar deal with the Detroit Tigers.  The left-handed hitting veteran isn’t your prototypical lead-off hitter, but he will be the first one to the plate on Opening Day for the Tigers in 2010.  His presence in the lineup, and left-field, will take the pressure off of rookies Austin Jackson and Scott Sizemore at the top of the lineup and continue to set the stage for GM Dave Dombroski to throw his weight around in the 2011 off-season when $50+ million, including Damon, comes off the books.

Dombroski pulled off a masterful trade this off-season, but has only gotten credit for it recently as the emotional shock of losing CF Curtis Granderson has worn off.  In return for Granderson, the Tigers netted two young highly-talented immediate-impact power-lefties in Phil Coke and Daniel Schlereth – the kind of arms that are often considered pitchers-who-must-not-be-named in trade talks.

Prospect Austin Jackson will replace Granderson in CF and bring a similar defensive package, and thanks to the presence of Johnny Damon, he will not have to lead-off in his rookie season, instead probably being shuffled at #2 or #9 depending on the health and production of fellow rookie 2B Scott Sizemore, who some are predicting could be in the 15-20 HR range.  Max Sherzer, who also came over from the D-Backs in the Granderson/Jackson three-team swap, will easily replace Jackson in the rotation for less money.  Dombroski mentioned early on that he is going to give LHP Phil Coke a chance to make the starting rotation, words that will hopefully kick the competitive fire in slumping Tiger lefties Nate Robertson and Dontrelle Willis.  If the Tigers get anything out of Jeremy Bonderman, who returns fully healthy in 2010, or Andres Galarraga in the 5th spot, they will have a terrific pitching staff.  Closer Jose Valverde was a terrific upgrade over close-your-eyes-and-chuck-it approach of Fernando Rodney, who will set-up Brian Fuentes in LA this summer.

Author: Aimee Connors
Categories: Major League Baseball (MLB)
Tags: , , , , , , , , , , ,

4 Comments »

  1. If Andres “Big Cat” Galarraga is pitching for the Tigers I would immediately become a Tiger fan.

    Armando, however… 😉

    I am really excited to see what Scherzer can do with a full healthy season and moving into one of the best pitchers parks in the league. Hard telling what could come of Bonderman. I doubt we see the 200 strikeout potential again, but you never know. I know little to nothing about the thoracic outlet syndrome that he has/is recovering from and how that will relate to his pitching.

    Comment by Mac
    February 23, 2010 at 12:10 pm

  2. Haha, funny slip up on my part with the Galarragas. If Phil Coke can step in at #4, that creates a lot of competition for #5 between Bonderman, Willis, Robertson, and Galarraga, and I like the odds of competition breeding improvement in that group. Even with all the health issues that Bonderman has had, my money is still on him having a comeback year – as you said, likely not a 200+ K type comeback year, but certainly one of the better #5 starters in the AL.

    Comment by Jason Wuerfel
    February 23, 2010 at 1:07 pm

  3. On the flip side of the Scherzer trade, what do you see Edwin Jackson doing in Arizona? He saw a big jump in his strikeout rate last year so I don’t know if moving out of Comerica will really hurt him as much. If he can bring the walks down a bit more Jackson, Haren and a healthy Webb could be quite the trio.

    Comment by Mac
    February 24, 2010 at 12:39 pm

  4. Edwin Jackson will be good in Arizona – the NL West (outside of Colorado) is a pitcher’s paradise. Dodgers, Giants, and D-Backs all play in pitcher friendly stadiums, and PetCo is better suited for Cricket. Jackson also gets to face the pitcher every 9th batter for the first time as a starting pitcher. He had a tremendous first half in 2009 and was part of the Tigers collapse in the second half, but he will be a solid #3 starter behind Haren and Webb. Between the give and take of NL vs. AL and ballpark and competition comparisons, I see him having numbers equal to or slightly worse than 2009, since I still think he over achieved a little last year.

    In the deal the Tigers get a pitcher a year younger with equitable stuff for a couple of years at minimum wage instead of having to fight in arbitration with Jackson. However, I am even more excited about the lefty Schlereth. I am clueless how you trade two recent 1st rounders that made it to the bigs on the fast track for an arbitration eligible pitcher who had far and away a career year in 2009 (not to mention both are pitchers and one is a lefty).

    Comment by Jason Wuerfel
    February 24, 2010 at 12:52 pm

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