First of all, we want to thank Mr. Henning for taking the time to answer our questions. It's a huge deal for us that someone with as much experience, knowledge, and journalistic prestige as him would be willing to chat with us. So, without further ado, our interview with Lynn Henning:
TPR: As everyone knows, Casper Wells has recently been DFA. Do you see him taking Tuiassasposo's place as the right handed hitting corner OF?
Henning: Doubt they would go with Wells over Tuiasosopo. They're roughly the same hitter, and Tuiasosopo has that big advantage where he can play the infield. So, other than Wells' ability to play center field, I see no reason why they would make that move.
TPR: What 2 or 3 prospects stood out to you the most this spring? Why?
Henning: Tyler Collins, for sure, impressed me with his bat and, frankly, with the rest of his game. Much faster than I anticipated. And a better defender. But it's the bat that makes him potentially an important player. Looks like a better version of Dirks. Has more power. I really liked him. Eugenio Suarez is going to be a very good shortstop, and it's pretty clear he'll hit. He's going to be a good player for a long time. Hernan Perez showed me enough to make me believe he can play second base as early as next season. But those three, in my mind, have become vital prospects.
TPR: Who do you think is the Tigers' shortstop in 2014? Peralta? Machado? Suarez? Someone off the radar?
Henning: I tend to think the Tigers will make a trade in July and that player will become their shortstop for 2014. I would not rule out Danny Worth. I expect that he'll be up soon and that he'll stick -- and maybe have a chance to grab that position next spring should Dombrowski not make a trade in the interim. Suarez will have that job in a couple of years. Just don't think he's going to be ready in 2014.
TPR: How do you think the Porcello/Smyly situation will play itself out this season? Does Rick get traded?
Henning: Porcello, in my view, had either of two destinies as he came to spring camp. He was either going to be traded ahead of Opening Day or he was going to be traded in July. I still think it'll happen. The Tigers simply want Smyly in that rotation. Porcello's trade value should be higher in July. The Tigers by then should have a bullpen arm they can use to replace Smyly. That's still a ticklish situation. He's very good in the pen, so you don't want to hurt yourself there. He also needs regular work when his great value figures to be as a starter. We'll have to see how this plays out. But I still think Porcello will be dealt, probably for a shortstop.
TPR: Describe just how big Steven Moya is in person?
Henning: Moya is tall as opposed to big. Has a splendid baseball body for a guy 6-foot-7. The Darryl Strawberry comparisons are irresistible. Now that he's healthy he'll be an excellent pick to have a breakout year. Still has to show he can hit for average, and that he can stay healthy. But all of that should fall into place. He's an excellent prospect, as everyone knows.
TPR: How do you think the closer situation will work itself out? Will Rondon be the closer by mid-summer?
Henning: I don't see how the closer situation really, truly evolves without Rondon. He has the stuff. He just needs a bit more time. But it's going to be essential that he makes it to Detroit. They can't continue to play musical chairs with the ninth inning and continue to jostle these role guys. Just doesn't work. If Rondon doesn't gain the necessary command, you can figure on them trading for a closer in July. But I still believe Rondon will be their man. Not as quickly, perhaps, as the front office had hoped.
TPR: What did you think, specifically, of Tyler Collins? He has Castellanos, Garcia, Hunter, and Dirks all blocking his way for a corner OF spot right now. Will he ever see at-bats as a Tiger?
Henning: As mentioned, Collins is going to be a serious player in Detroit. No question, they have an outfield glut and at least one of those outfielders (Garcia, probably) will be traded no later than July. How they sort out the ultimate starters is hard to say. But trades are going to happen, and I'd be surprised if Collins was part of any deal by the Tigers that sends him to another team. He's got a chance to be real good.
TPR: How happy is the team to have Victor Martinez back? He's obviously an emotional leader.
Henning: Victor Martinez simply rips the baseball. One good swing after another. The guys appreciate him in the clubhouse, no question. He's like a tribal chief. But his real value is that he is a hitting craftsman. What a difference he's going to make.
TPR: Is it time to give Danny Worth a shot as the utility infielder? Ramon Santiago looks like he's lost significant bat speed and overall quickness.
Henning: No question, the Tigers wanted Danny Worth to go north. But they had no shot at trading Santiago and they didn't want to immediately eat the contract unless Worth was going to provide a dramatic edge in talent. The fact is, he might very well give them an appreciable upgrade. They'll make this move fairly quickly, I'm sure. Worth will be back. I tend to believe Santiago will be DFA'd. And that's going to be a sad day in Detroit. They do not come any better than Ramon Santiago. I mean, no better. Just a lovely human being, and an extremely important player these past seven seasons.
Again, a HUGE thanks to Mr. Henning for taking the time to answer our questions. We wish him all the best this season and beyond.
Editors note: The interview was conducted by Jordan Gorosh, and all correspondence between Mr. Henning and TPR was done through him. Interview was edited for content clarity and grammar by Brian Sakowski. Also, although he is no longer on staff as a writer, Travie Wade provided the original cover graphic you see above. We at TPR strongly recommend you give his design business (Travie Wade Designz) a follow on twitter @WadeDesignz