The Tigers have finally parted ways with Adam Everett and called up Danny Worth to take his place on the roster. Worth will probably play as much as his productivity earns him, sharing time with Ramon Santiago at the shortstop position for the rest of the 2010 season in Detroit. But what does this mean for the long term future of the Tigers on the left side of the infield with Everett's departure and Brandon Inge's contract due to expire after this season? Here is a look at where the Tigers might go from here.
Danny Worth has been called up, and Adam Everett is gone. But is Worth the long term answer at shortstop? How much time will he play with Santiago, a lefty/ switch hitter, also on the roster? That's really up to Worth. He isn't being recalled to sit on the pine. This is a real life major league audition for a starting gig in 2011. Danny's numbers in Toledo were pretty good, and his numbers in limited time in Detroit were stellar. Unlike Sizemore, he didn't struggle adjusting to the pace of the game in the major leagues when he got his shot.
Worth is batting .287 with an OBP of .330, a pair of homers, 18 RBI and led the Hens with a dozen stolen bases. If he can keep his numbers in that range at SS while providing at least average defense, the Tigers are in for an upgrade at that position (which really isn't saying much). All the indications are that he has a chance to stick around. We'll find out sooner, rather than later what he's worth.
Brent Dlugach- Brent has been getting the bulk of the time at SS in Toledo this season, playing 41 of 57 games in the hole. See comments below regarding his lack of ability to make contact and get on base, add some mediocre defense at SS, and he doesn't look like much of an option. Maybe the Tigers will promote Ciriaco or Iorg and put them at SS or 3B in Toledo, otherwise, they figure to put Worth at SS and Rhymes or Sizemore at 3B with the other playing 2B. We'll know soon where they're going.
Cale Iorg- The player that DD said would be "an All Star in the majors sooner than people think" looks more like the next Adam Everett than he does a major leaguer. He's hitting barely above the Mendoza line, with a horrid .254 OBP, only 11 BB's in over 200 PA's, with 3 homers. Add ten errors- though not the greatest measure of defense- and there's just nothing to see, here.
Inge is hitting a mediocre .237 with an OBP barely at .300, and an OPS of .704. This follows three consecutive months hitting under .190 to finish off the 2009 season. His defense has fallen off also this season, with only 8 out of zone (OOZ) plays and an overall ranking of 4th in the league defensively. Fangraphs suggests that he's a little above replacement level, but below average among 3B. Jose Bautista is having a monster year in Toronto, and Jose Lopez is one to watch in Seattle in terms of 2010 and free agency this winter. But this isn't about free agent options.
A quick check of the Toledo stat sheet on the Mudhens website doesn't show any third baseman on the roster. There's a reason for that- there isn't one! Danny Worth was getting the bulk of the playing time at third, but he's now in Detroit as a shortstop. Wil Rhymes, a second baseman by trade and talent, and/ or Brent Dlugach, who has been the primary shortstop this year, could be filling in at the hot corner. Maybe Jeff Larish gets another shot at a position where he has at least some chance of cracking the Tiger lineup in the next five years or so, but he's been manning first base while Ryan Strieby is being converted into an outfielder.
Defensively, several options in Toledo look decent. But if you're looking for a bit of pop from this position, it's not there unless Larish is moved across the diamond. Rhymes has less than no power, although he is a contact hitter with speed that may have a shot at translating his modest numbers to the show. But at third base, he'd leave the team with no power in a position that traditionally provides some pop in the lineup. Dlugach is a K machine with modest pop for an infielder, but a sub .300 OBP and I think he'd struggle mightily at the plate in the major leagues because of his plate discipline and inability to make contact in AAA ball.
The best shot the Tigers have of filling this position internally (including extending Inge) is Larish, IMO. They probably aren't going there by the time all the dominoes fall, but Larish has a chance to hit in the majors, with some pop, and his defense has potential as well
Audy Ciriaco- was moved from SS to 3B, either because his D at shortstop wasn't so great (and it isn't) or because they haven't yet given up on Cale Iorg as a SS (they haven't). But Audy is hitting just .235 with ten errors in the field. He's on the 40 man roster, but one has to wonder why. He has walked just 5 times (that's FIVE) in 33 games, against 27 K's- translating to an OBP of just .261. Okay, so he's got a shed full of tools. That's why he was protected last November. No solution here.
So, where does that leave us? The Tigers are likely to make a move to replace Worth in Toledo, but that doesn't mean that the guy that gets promoted is any kind of an answer for the vacancies that are created by expiring contracts after the 2010 season. Worth has a shot at replacing Everett, but I would not be surprised if DD had to go shopping for two players for the left side of the infield after this season. I'm tempted now to go into a discussion about replacements for the vacancies that will be created by the departures of Damon and Laird, but I'll save that discussion for later.