That's it. It's time to end all the speculation. After coming to spring training without a centerfielder or a fifth starter, the Tigers have ended the competition for both spots.
In an announcement Friday, Justin Verlander was named the Tigers' fifth starter and Joel Zumaya was assured a spot in the bullpen. Earlier in the week, Curtis Granderson was awarded the starting job in centerfield.
Manager Jim Leyland said of Verlander and Zumaya, "Our 13 position players would look at me like I was nuts if I didn't take those two guys."
While I'm optimistic that Verlander will rise to the occasion and pitch up to the potential he has shown in the minors and at times, this spring, I can't say I'm without doubts. I just have to trust that Dombrowski and Leyland know best. Dombrowski has produced some great pitchers and hopefully Verlander is the next one.
I'm very excited about Joel Zumaya's potential. From what I've heard, he has a closer's mentality and may eventually assume that role. For now, Leyland plans to use him in "huge situations." Leyland didn't provide any further explanation of these situations, but one could assume that Zumaya may see his fair share of the AL's elite left-handed hitters. Here's hoping he can handle it.
The centerfield contest has been pretty one-sided. Nook Logan has struggled most of the spring and Curtis Granderson has taken advantage of that. In fact, Granderson has played so well, Sports Illustrated's David Sabino included him in his latest Fantasy Watch article. Sabino say's Granderson is a 20 homer, 20 steal threat in his first full season. I completely agree with Mr. Sabino. Fantasy baseball players out there, feel confident taking Granderson in your middle rounds.
Even with these issues resolved, the Tigers still have some questions. Where will Jason Grilli, who's out of options, end up? What do they do with Carlos Pena. If they don't release Pena by Wednesday, they'll owe him his full $2.8-million salary for this season.
This was my first full-length article for Bless You Boys. I'm thinking of turning it into a weekly "State of the Tigers" column. What do you, the loyal reader, think of that idea. Please feel free to list any critiques or recommendations.