Remember a few weeks ago when suddenly all the stories came up about Brennan Boesch pulling out of his slump? He had multi-hit games on June 7-8, then four hits and a home run on June 13. There were references to his improved mechanics and everything. I cautioned that it was too early to tell, but noted that June has historically been Boesch's best month at the plate. If he was going to pull out of his spiral, this month was going to be the time.
Here we are nearing the end of June, and things look ... no better than they were before.
Since the big game, Boesch is batting .119 with .213 on-base percentage. He has no extra-base hits and has driven in just two runs.
For the season, Boesch is batting .232 with .270 on-base percentage and .348 slugging. He's also been below-average in the field (-8 Defensive Runs Saved and -29.2 UZR/150 games). That makes him the worst kind of outfielder. Not good at anything. Yet every day, he's still playing. As I noted a few weeks ago, possibly the worst part is that you can't say Boesch has been getting exceptionally unlucky at the plate. His BABIP (now .263) and expected BABIP, based on batted-ball types, were pretty close to equal.
At this point, it's really hard to feel optimistic about a big improvement for Boesch. Yet it's hard to say exactly what should or will happen.
I asked earlier if upgrading second base was the right move for the Tigers. Now I ask a related question: Should the Tigers be concentrating more on upgrading the corner outfield, which also ranks among the worst in the American League in your choice stats.
Part of the problem here is that Detroit is forced into a bit of a holding pattern. The Tigers are waiting for the return of Andy Dirks, who had been playing out of his mind before suffering a series of injuries culminating in some sort of Achilles problem. At first it seemed like it could be only a matter of days for Dirks before his return. The most recent reports we heard were that he was in a walking boot and shouldn't be expected back before the All-Star Game. There seems to be no clear timetable there. But if and when he does return, he could be expected to return to a starting role.
Sending Boesch to Triple-A Toledo to work things out would make the most sense right now. But the only outfielder there on the 40-man roster is Matt Young. His first time joining the Tigers did not go exceptionally well. Then you've got Ben Guez, Justin Henry and Jerad Head. Fans with some familiarity with the Tigers' minor-league system had been asking for Henry in the past. It's not that he's exactly a wonderful option either -- but like Quintin Berry, at least he gets on base. Henry is batting .287 with .369 on-base percentage but just .344 slugging. Small sample size warning, but those who have worried about the Tigers' execution with runners on base will not want to know Henry has a .577 OPS with runners on base. Splitting time between Double-A Erie and the Mud Hens, Guez has at least been hot this season and may yet earn a chance to make a big-league debut. He's batting .281 with .381 on-base percentage and .482 slugging for the Hens and even better with the SeaWolves. Motor City Bengals called Guez a "poor man's Casper Wells" recently, by the way.
As for the trade market, Grey Papke at Walkoff Woodward recently ran through a list of possibilities. It's kind of ugly, too. Beyond Carlos Quentin, a familiar former White Sox outfielder currently with the Padres, the market doesn't give a lot to get excited over, either.
Much like second base, the problem is that there are a lot of clubs still in it, and many others who aren't have young, cheap corner outfielders that they would prefer to keep. Keep an eye on teams like the Phillies and Brewers, who are struggling and may have to sell if things don't turn around soon. Otherwise, the Tigers are going to have to gun for someone like Quentin. There are probably lesser names out there, but the market is still emerging. If the Tigers are going to go big, however, it will probably have to be for someone like Quentin.
So at this moment, one kind of wonders if Boesch's roster spot is safe because there's just not a lot the Tigers can do right now. But I do wonder if he'll make way for Guez if he doesn't start hitting soon. The 40-man roster thing is a minor issue there, but a DFA could take care of that.
We'll wait and see what happens here -- but something has to change soon.