A few days ago, Mike Rogers wrote it would be a wise move for the Tigers to go after a proven batter like outfielder Johnny Damon if they want to shore up their hopes of competing for a division title in 2010.
A report by Jon Paul Morosi at FoxSports.com says the Tigers may be interested in DH/first baseman Hank Blalock or utility infielder Adam Kennedy.
And in our comments section, Linuxit has been pounding the drum for second baseman Felipe Lopez.
Most of these moves has some sound logic behind them, and many of them for the same reason: The Tigers have little insurance behind third baseman Brandon Inge and second baseman Scott Sizemore. Inge will not be available to play in spring training games until near the end of the March, and is just one trip to the disabled list from leaving the Tigers in a precarious position. Sizemore is a rookie, coming off a broken bone in his ankle in November. Behind Sizemore in the infield rotation is ... ? Well, Ramon Santiago, but that leaves shortstop Adam Everett without a real insurance policy, depending on your feelings about Brent Dlugach.
Simply put, the Tigers are putting a pretty sizable bet in terms of payroll -- increased last month with the addition of closer Jose Valverde -- they'll be able to compete in a still-weak Central Division in 2010. But they're just one infield injury away from seeing that bet possibly wasted. Why not get a little insurance? So a player like Kennedy or Lopez makes pretty good sense. Both are capable defensively, can play multiple infield positions and bat left-handed.
Lopez (stats) is coming off a very nice season, but can he do it again? He put up several career numbers, including a BABIP 30 points higher than ever before. RJ Anderson pointed out at Fangraphs he walked a bit more and struck out a bit less, but otherwise appeared to be the same batter he always was with a bit better luck. He mainly has played shortstop and second base, but has logged time at third as well. Using CHONE predictions his value is estimated at nearly $10 million in 2010.
Kennedy (stats) surprised with his season in Oakland in 2009 as well. He started 78 games at third base for the A's and played a bit below-average defensively there. He is a worse batter than Lopez as well. But he likely fits into the Tigers' salary requirements and would accept a backup role.
Damon (stats) plays in the outfield, but would help assure the Tigers could bat the oft-injured Carlos Guillen as designated hitter, as well as giving Detroit the biggest bang for its buck at the plate. The CHONE projections have him at a .352 wOBA and .854 OPS. Damon is my top choice, although if money is no object for the team I think they may as well pick up Lopez while they're at it.
Who else is out there?
Well, looking at MLB Trade Rumors, there aren't a lot of palatable options for the infield. Detroit could try to nab Tiger-killer Joe Crede, but then he'd just find a way to kill them from within. Trojan Crede images are probably already frightening some readers, so I better move on.
In the outfield/designated hitter area, Jermain Dye offers a slight possibility, but nothing greatly interesting. Garrett Anderson? Uhm, no. Johnny Gomes? Well, for a low price maybe.
Feel free to follow that link yourself and find any names that you'd like to include in the discussion.
So clearly, Damon continues to make the most sense to me. I understand why some might want Lopez to play for the Tigers as a backup -- Sizemore should be given every opportunity to start at second -- but I am not sure I understand why he'd want to be a backup after his 2009 season. Kennedy would make a good pairing for Detroit for a bit of insurance.
Otherwise, there's just not a lot out there worth looking at.