2010 Winter Meetings Day 1: Tigers rumors pretty quiet

Detroit Tigers president and general manager told the media he had no news to report on a rather sleepy opener to baseball's 2010 Winter Meetings. Other than signing minor-league catcher Omir Santos as an insurance policy, the Tigers were relatively quiet on the first day. So far. You never know when a blockbuster deal will find its way into the media.

There were two main issues at play: 1) The Tigers are in search of a fifth starter -- or aren't, depending who you ask. 2) They may be inquiring about cheap alternatives to the corner outfield conundrum. At least to start. Again, that news comes from a report from Kornacki via Twitter, though the original report came from ESPN.com's Jerry Crasnick.

We'll take the storylines in order.

Looking for a fifth starter?

MLive's Steve Kornacki reported via Twitter the Tigers were looking for a fifth starter. Which is funny because they already have a fifth starter in Armando Galarraga. If Dombrowski wants to improve, he should probably add a couple of fourth starters, no? Detroit can certainly do better than Galarraga, but they'd better do a lot better than him or risk the public relations hit of turning their backs on Mr Perfect. 

However, manager Jim Leyland seemed to weakly shoot down the report when he told the Free Press that Galarraga is his fifth starter.

"Galarraga is our fifth starter right now," Leyland said. "That's the way it stands as of Dec. 6."

So Galarraga doesn't have to win the job in spring training?

"I'm not going to get into all of that," Leyland said on the first day of baseball's winter meetings.

OK, so not exactly a ringing endorsement. Remember Phil Coke got the "99.9 percent" guarantee. All Galarraga gets is "right now" and "I'm not going to get into that." So the door is definitely open for the Tigers to find additional starting pitching.

I just hope they're shooting for a bit higher than a fifth starter because what's the point? They may as well sign Jeremy Bonderman if a fifth starter is their goal. If they did go out and sign one and declare themselves happy with the rotation entering spring training ... well I'd advise you not to give them your credit card number in August when they try to sell you playoff tickets two months too early.

Anyway, at least we know starting pitching is on their minds. Let's see what happens next on that.

Tigers interested in Fred Lewis?

Crasnick's report via Twitter said that seven or eight teams, Detroit included, are interested in Toronto non-tender Fred Lewis, who was paid a paltry $455k in 2010.

Depending whose projections you believe, a move to sign Fred Lewis would either be a pretty solid move for a fourth outfielder or a curious one. (And if this was the answer for a starting corner outfielder, again, keep your credit cards away from the Tigers.) If you were to believe the Bill James Online projections for Lewis (via Fangraphs) expect him to have a .276 average and .353 on-base percentage alongside a .415 slugging average. He's projected at 17 steals, the same number he had in 2010. He's below average defensively ... but that describes like 85 percent of the team at this point so I guess it shouldn't be that big a concern, right?

However, the ZiPS projections (via Baseball Think Factory) are a more humble  .255 average,  .334  on-base percentage and .406 slugging average. Couple that with poor defense and it sounds like a waste of a roster spot and I'm just not that impressed, but make him a fourth outfielder. ... I guess. Make him a starting outfielder and some teeth gnashing should rightfully occur.

Conclusion:

All in all, not impressed with today's rumors. Boring and disheartening if carried to fruition.

In other news:

Former Tigers outfield / first base coach Andy Van Slyke interviewed with the Mets for the position of hitting coach. (MLB.com)

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