It occured to me that this whole Next Relevant Tiger Team idea is a bit pessimistic. After all, it implies that 2005's Tigers aren't going to be relevant. From another perspective, though, it's really quite optimistic. We're talking about which current Tigers will be on the next Tiger team that is consistently good. Look at it this way: there hasn't been a Tiger in fifteen years about whom we could say, "He's going to be on a Tiger team that's consistently good before he retires." Expecting that to change makes it a hopeful exercise, when you get right down to it, one that assumes the Tigers will be an important part of the baseball story in 200?.
Last time we looked at the infielders. In the comments, a rare blogosphere event: a discussion about Placido Polanco in which intelligent points were made on both sides, one which probably mirrors discussions going on in the Tiger halls of power. Check it out, if you haven't already. Today, the outfielders:
Magglio Ordonez, right field. Magglio will be on the next consistently excellent Tiger team whether or not they want him. His contract, if I've got my figures right, is for a hundred years and a billion dollars. Sure it can be voided if he spends time on the DL this year because of his Austrian-repaired knee, but preemptive DL stints for ailments serious and commonplace have made that less than likely. Still, he's been a masher when healthy, and it doesn't really matter whether or not he's worth $15 million per season, just whether or not he's healthy. I wouldn't be surprised to see him move to DH by the time his contract is up, but I also expect the Tigers will get at least a couple of good seasons out of him.
--Rondell White. Rondell will be a free agent, and while he's a decent hitter, he's never been able to stay healthy or maintain his performance as the dog days start to drag on. There's a 50% chance he doesn't finish 2005 with the Tigers.
--Craig Monroe. Monroe has a reasonable chance to stick around. He's only 28, he's got a lot of pop, and he can play center without embarrassing anyone. He'll never post reasonable OBPs, though, and he's not enough of a center fielder to be an important part of a good team. The bet here is that he gets replaced or traded and catches on somewhere else as a fourth outfielder, but my crystal ball is cloudy on Monroe's Tiger future.
--Nook Logan. I expect that Exavier Prente Logan has some serious fans out there, and that his youth and speed have stirred up some hopes. My man can't hit, though, and posted sub-700 OPSes at every stop above low-A ball. His hot start in 2005 was a fluke, and he's not a starter on a good team, or even a decent team.
--Alexis Gomez. He's Logan with a little more pop and a lot less speed (his SBs disappeared in 2002 for some reason). No.
--Bobby Higginson. Bobby doesn't deserve the scorn he's endured over the last couple of seasons, but this is definitely, definitely, his last year with the team.
The Roster So Far:
C -- Ivan Rodriguez
1B -- Chris Shelton
2B -- [open]
3B -- Brandon Inge
SS -- Carlos Guillen
LF -- [open]
CF -- [open]
RF -- Magglio Ordonez
DH -- [open]
Next time, starting pitching.