What's a Detroit Tigers "All Decade Team" without Rob Fick? Better off... (Image MLB.com)
The aughts were not a good decade overall for baseball in Detroit. Despite there being only a couple of seasons worth remembering (for the right reasons, that is...), and none ending how we'd have preferred, the Tigers have gone and named their "All-Decade" team anyway.
In fact, the Tigers could have just as easily used the starting lineup and rotation from '06 in its entirety, and called it day. But what's the fun in that?
Selected by play-by-play men Dan Dickerson and Mario Impemba, Tigers baseball media relations director Brian Britten, Tigers baseball media relations manager Rick Thompson, and beat writer Jason Beck, as you might guess, the team was dominated by players who were members of the 2006 AL pennant winners.
Not that Tigers from the days we'd rather not remember, the ugly pre-2006 seasons, were totally ignored.
Everyone's favorite player...to hate...Bobby Higginson, made the team as an outfielder over the immortal Craig Monroe (according to Beck;s article). This news broke my heart.
I had developed a man-crush on Monroe thanks to his '06 heroics. I'll always fondly remember his late August home run to beat the Yankees, when it looked for all the world the season was going to collapse. There was a reason I'd half-jokingly say, "David Ortiz wishes he were as clutch as Craig Monroe!" Monroe's clutchiness was short-lived, but we'll always have 2006!
But Higgy was a better player for a slightly longer time...though his decline was amazingly rapid. Higginson was done as a power hitter after 2000, washed up after 2004, and is still going to the bank today thanks to the $50 plus million (That's NOT a typo) the Tigers paid him over his career.
Jeff "Mike Sweeney kicked my ass" Weaver was named one of the starting pitchers, most likely edging out Mike Maroth. At least Maroth was liked, and more importantly, demanded the ball even when on the verge of 20 losses. That should count for something.
As much as I disliked Dmitri Young (I tend to have issues with men who hit women...let alone abuse drugs), he pretty much took the DH position by default. Even though the Tigers gave up on Da Meat Hook between games of a '06 double-header, who else are you going to put there? Randall Simon? (Though the sausage abuser's '02 wasn't half bad).
If only the Tigers had burned Gary Sheffield's outfield glove in '07. He was a dominant offensive force playing as a full-time DH...till Sheffield talked Jim Leyland into playing the outfield. As we all know, Sheffield collided with Placido Polanco trying to catch a fly ball, grinding his shoulder into dust. Damn, what could have been...
For the most part though, there really isn't much to argue over. But I'll try to anyway, after the jump...
In regard to position players, 1B Miguel Cabrera, 2B Polanco, SS Carlos Guillen, C Pudge Rodriguez, OF Curtis Granderson (SIGH) and OF Magglio Ordonez are total no-brainers at their respective positions. Career .236 hitter Brandon Inge takes 3B for no reason other than it's impossible to make an argument for Jose Macias, Chris Truby or Eric Munson. Trust me, I tried and I couldn't. (If only Dean Palmer stayed healthy. What's with this franchise and bad shoulders?)
On the mound, Justin Verlander is unquestionably the best starting pitcher the Tigers have had in over two decades. After Verlander though, there really isn't much.
The Gambler Kenny Rogers had a fine career, but only one excellent season (Without a doubt, he was an ace in '06) out of his three as a Tiger. Journeymen Nate Robertson (career 4.92 ERA), Jeremy Bonderman (career 4.78 ERA) and the aforementioned "Cheech" Weaver (4.33 ERA as a Tiger. Respectable, considering the awful teams he was on) being named to the team shows just how starved for starting pitching this team has been.
If the selection committee were going to pick a setup man based on one good season, then I'd go with Brandon Lyon over Joel Zumaya. Sure, Zumaya was electrifying in '06. But so was Fernando Rodney, as the Tigers had a tag-team for setup men. Lyon was literally lights out last season, a one man bullpen at times, and a big reason the Tigers made it to game 163.
Todd Jones as the closer? He made Detroit pharmacists a ton of cash in blood pressure medication and Pepto-Bismol sales, but he deserves his spot on the team.
So there's your team of Tigers legends for the 00's. "Legends" being a relative term, of course.
In all honesty, after looking back at the past decade of Tigers baseball, it'd be much easier to name a Tigers All-Decade team...of suck. Which sounds like a future post to me!