Good Monday morning, loyal baseball fan. It has been a long and difficult winter. The free agent market has remained horribly stagnant. Worse yet, we suffered the loss of Congressman John Dingell last week, a man who was one of the finer human beings to grace this earth and a Twitter presence we will be hard pressed to encounter again.
There is some good news, though. Tuesday is the day we get to utter four of our favorite words: “pitchers and catchers report.” We aren’t all the way there yet, but something baseball related is going on, and I will take it. Here’s what’s happening with the Tigers and the rest of the league.
The Greene new deal
Closer Shane Greene didn’t have the best season in 2018. As Chris McCosky of the Detroit News lays out with the use of a variety of statistical measurements, FIP, and, gasp, spin rate, among them (Welcome to the dark side, Chris. Feel the analytics flow through you). A decidedly terrible August wasn’t much help. Greene admits that both physical and mental fatigue got the better of him last year.
I bet it wouldn’t surprise you that in an article leading up to spring training, we’re talking about a guy who decided to switch things up a bit. Greene took a bit more time off to recover this offseason, and is tweaking his routine so he follows more of a set schedule than he has in years past. Greene saved 32 games last year; let’s hope he gets that nasty back and gets the rest of his stats in line so the Tigers can trade him somewhere he will be more useful in July.
Back to the future
Make no mistake, I and the Tigers believe that the children are our future. You can teach them well, but buddy, you gotta let them lead the way.
With that in mind, I would like to share with you Anthony Fenech’s three prospects to watch at spring training. The one you might be familiar with is Franklin Perez. The other two might not be on your radar. Outfielders Jacob Robson and Danny Woodrow are looking to build on solid 2018 campaigns, and Fenech thinks Robson could see some time in Detroit if his performance remains consistent. Personally, there’s this Casey Mize kid I’d like to get a look at, but I admire Fenech’s road less traveled approach.
Houston, we have a splitter
If nothing else, you have to admire the stones on relief pitching prospect Zac Houston. The young fella goes on record saying that, if he’s healthy and has command of his fastball, that there isn’t a soul who draws breath on this earth that he couldn't send muttering back to the dugout like an elderly gentleman reluctantly embarking on an errand that benefits him in no conceivable way. Houston is adding to that confidence by developing himself a splitter. He has an invite to the big league camp this spring, so he will have plenty opportunity to jump into the deep end and swim with the big kids.
Gunnin’ for that number one spot
We roll into the spring with some roster spots still up for grabs on the 2019 team. If you are looking for a breakdown, you need look no further. I think it’s been known for some time that Niko Goodrum is the leader going into spring at second base, but is no guarantee to lock down the spot.
On top of that, we have a few things to sort out in the bullpen and the starting rotation. The signings of Matt Moore and Tyson Ross along with a good spring from Spencer Turnbull could make some decisions in the rotation a little difficult. The bullpen, as it should be, is a grab bag with the only guaranteed spots seeming to rest with Greene and Joe Jimenez. It should be fun to see how it all plays out.
Unstuck Rogers in the 25th century
Top catching prospect, Jake “The Snake” Rogers (yes, that’s what I’m calling him) got himself an invite to the big league camp this year. Not having played past Double-A, he is a backstop that has little left to prove in most aspects of the game — except for one that matters a little bit. He needs to further develop his game offensively before he is truly ready for big league action. The organization is, of course, adjusting his stance and all that other good stuff. Rogers is good enough to get playing time based solely on his abilities while wearing the tools of ignorance. It’s the bat that will dictate how soon that happens.
Around the horn
If you’re into the whole gambling thing, Buster Olney has some surprising over-under projections. A small market team’s worst nightmare. The three most divisive teams of 2019. A trip to Tigers fantasy camp. Ten players you forgot were Tigers. If Eugenio Suarez is actually one of those for you, then you are a lucky individual, because I will never forget.