When the Tigers traded Jose Alvarez to the Angels for Andrew Romine, it looked like they had their primary shortstop to replace the injured Jose Iglesias. That was before they made another completely unnecessary trade for Alex Gonzalez. At 28 years of age with 74 major league games under his belt, Romine is no longer a prospect.
Romine is a solid defender at three infield positions, but is best suited as a shortstop because of his range and ability to go into the hole. He makes just about every play hit in his direction in a very steady fashion. He's as efficient as Iglesias without all the spectacular flair. Why the team thinks they needed Gonzalez when they had just acquired Romine is completely beyond me. I saw Romine quite a bit with the Angels last year, and his defense is impressive. His bat, on the other hand, is not.
At the plate, Romine has hit .250 .303 .270 .573 with no homers, no triples, and just three extra base hits in 174 plate appearances over parts of four seasons. He's been up and down between Anaheim and triple- A Salt Lake each season, which is why he is out of options. His minor league numbers leave room for optimism that he will hit a bit better, 279 .354 .367 .721 with 23 homers in over 3,000 minor league plate appearances. He also stole 182 bases in parts of seven minor league seasons.
The Angels drafted Romine in the fifth round of the 2007 draft out of Arizona State. He started in the rookie league and graduated one level each year. He has been at the triple-A level since 2011, with calls to the majors every year since 2010.
Romine is a switch hitter who tried hitting left handed on a full time basis, but his splits against left handers caused him to go back to switch hitting. He is still a better hitter from the left side of the plate, although it doesn't show in his major league splits yet. Tigers' infield coach Omar Vizquel coached him with the Angels last season, and recommended him to the Tigers when he became available for trade.
Romine is the son of former Red Sox outfielder Kevin Romine, and brother of Yankees' catcher Austin Romine. He was born in Winter Haven, Fla, just down the road from Lakeland, where the Red Sox used to have their spring training facility.
Odd Numbers: In the meaningless splits department, Romine has hit .306 .333 .318 .651 against starting pitchers, but only .179 .267 .209 .476 against relievers. This, of course, is proof that he should be starting over Gonzalez.
Keys to success: It looks like Alex Gonzalez will be starting most games at shortstop. Romine will need to capitalize on any opportunities that he sees to increase his playing time. The closer he comes to his minor league numbers at the plate, the better chance he will have of sticking around, possibly for a few years.
Outlook for 2014: It looks like Alex Gonzalez will be the starting shortstop to begin the season. Gonzo has all of 23 games at SS in the past two seasons, batting just .174 last year. If he doesn't do better than he has recently, Romine could be the primary starter, at least against right handed pitchers. Nothing is settled at the shortstop position for the Tigers yet, even if the roster has been settled for opening day.