While I was busy reading articles about people who write baseball articles, written by other people who also write baseball articles, the Tigers went public with the list of non-roster players who have been invited to spring training in 2014. FINALLY! REAL BASEBALL!
Some of these names may be familiar to some of you, but probably most of these names meant nothing to you unless you're one of those weirdos who actually pays attention to players not on the Tigers' 25-man roster. (Personally, if a player is not currently taking an at bat, I have no idea who it is.)
Fortunately for you, I am part of an elite network of highly informed, "insider" sources (I am not permitted to tell you the name of this secret network, but it rhymes with "Flitter"), and I can answer many of the questions you'd probably never think to ask about these 16 individuals who will be joining the Tigers in Florida in a few weeks.
Who are the pitchers that were invited?
Duane Below, Luis Marte, Eduardo Sanchez, Blaine Hardy, Jhan Marinez, Drew VerHagen, and Robbie Ray.
That's a lot of pitchers!
Well, perhaps, but the Tigers' bullpen has more holes than a syllogism created by a group of BBWAA writers, so it's not a bad thing to have seven pitchers on the list. It wasn't lack of base running ability or sub-par defense that cost the Tigers the ALCS last year, it was the chewy center of the Tigers' bullpen, as you can see from these ALCS highlight reels.
*Watches highlight reels*
As I was saying, it was lack of base running ability and sub-par defense that cost the Tigers the ALCS last year.
Also, the bullpen needs help.
Duane Below ... I know that name. Why do I know that name?
Because you're thinking of that terrible joke I told last week at the bar, about the overflowing bathtub that had a clogged "Duane Below." Or maybe because he pitched for the Tigers in 2011 and 2012 before going to Miami.
Yeah, I sort of remember that now. Was he any good with the Tigers last time?
What about the words "he went to Miami" don't you understand?
I definitely know I've heard the name Luis Marte in the past.
Yes, he also pitched a handful of innings for the Tigers in 2011-2012, then spent 2013 in Toledo.
Why did he get sent to Toledo?
The Miami roster was full.
What about Blaine Hardy?
He's actually a fictional character from a teenage romance novel. (But hey, "A Good Tigers Bullpen" has been an ongoing work of fiction, so he should fit right in. BOOM!)
OMG, there's a "Jhan" on this list? HAHAHA! Jhanny is back!
That's not how you pronounce his name. It's not a soft "J" sound.
Then how do you pronounce it?
I see the famous Robbie Ray made the list.
You see well.
What should we expect from him?
He's had four seasons in the minors, and his overall numbers show that he strikes out a batter per inning, and walks half-a-batter per inning. So as long as he never faces Dustin Pedroia or Jose Altuve, he'll do fine.
What catchers got invited?
James McCann, Craig Albernaz, John Murrian, and Luis Exposito. All minor leaguers (Exposito got a few at-bats with the Orioles in 2012), and in terms of offensive ability, Exposito's career 732 OPS looks the most promising, if you put any faith in tangible numbers. I have no information about Exposito's level of grit, guts, heart, or hustle.
Is that what the Tigers are looking for? A catcher who can hit?
No, actually, they're just looking for organ donor matches for Alex Avila.
Any other position players on that list?
There are five: Devon Travis and Danny Worth are infielders, and Trevor Crow, Ezequiel Carrera, and Tyler Collins are outfielders.
Seriously? Danny Worth is back?
Shhh. He can hear us.
I've heard good things about Devon Travis as well.
He's had two minor league seasons, with an overall strikeout rate of 12% and an OPS of 914. Also, I hear he's "scrappy."
What else do we know about him?
He's only 22 years old, he's a small-ish guy who stands at 5' 9" and 183 pounds, he likes inspirational jazz music, the movies of John Hughes, long walks on the beach, and candlelight dinners. You can look him up on PlentyOfFish under the screen name SumTyger4U.
Who is this Ezequiel Carrera guy?
That was probably a mistake. Dombrowski didn't have his glasses on, and he thought the name was "Cabrera."
No, seriously, I know that name.
He got a handful of at-bats with the Cleveland Indians in 2011, 2012, and 2013. Fun-fact: one of the two home runs that he hit in 2012 came off of Joaquin Benoit in the tenth inning of a 5-5 game at Comerica Park.
Figures. So glad we got rid of Benoit. The bum!
Wait, what? What's going on here? Am I chatting with an MLive user?
Hahaha no why woudl u think taht fiarLaylind fyyerFleeldor fierDimbromskeet gbfhl blrg asdhhg wikkmmmm ....
Stupid bots. Anyway, in case you were wondering, the Tigers came up in the bottom of the tenth of that game, down 8-5, facing closer Chris Perez. He got two quick outs, then walked two batters - one of whom was Andy Dirks, who had come in to pinch hit for Danny Worth. Austin Jackson doubled in a run, Omar Infante singled in two more runs to tie the game, and then Miguel Cabrera took a 3-1 pitch into the left field seats for a two-run, walk-off home run. Final score: Tigers, 10; Indians, 8.
The moral of the story? Watch out for Danny Worth.