Monday, November 4, 2013

Brad Ausmus named Manager. Who will he have to play, and where?

Dave Dombrowski (Left) and Brad Ausmus (Right) 
Sometime over the weekend, culminating in a press conference called Sunday at 4:30 local time, the defending American League Champion Detroit Tigers announced that former catcher Brad Ausmus will replace the departed Jim Leyland as Manager of the Tigers.

For fans of the Tigers, reaction seems to range from “I like it” to “I hate it” and everywhere in between. 

Brad Ausmus
Dave Dombrowski had no second thoughts, turning the keys over to a manager who has no big-league managerial experience.  Dombrowski interviewed 4 candidates to replace Leyland, and the one he knew the least, is the one who impressed him most; Detroit’s new manager Brad Ausmus.

Now, that we know who is in charge, at least on the field, who will be playing, and where. 

Of the 2013 AL Central championship roster,

these are the players under contract:
Justin Verlander (SP1)
Anibal Sanchez (SP3)
Victor Martinez (DH)
Prince Fielder (1B)
Miguel Cabrera (3B)
Torii Hunter (RF)

That is it. 

Now, news isn’t all bad, as the Tigers have a club “control” over the following players:
Matt Tuiasosopo (OF)
Danny Worth (IF)
Jose Iglesias (SS)
Drew Smyly (RP)
Bruce Rondon (RP)

The following group is either a Free Agent, or Arbitration eligible.
Max Scherzer (AE)
Rick Porcello (AE)
Doug Fister (AE)
Al Alburquerque (AE)
Alex Avila (AE)
Austin Jackson (AE)
Andy Dirks (AE)
Phil Coke (AE)
Joaquin Benoit (FA)
Jose Veras (FA)
Jeremy Bonderman (FA)
Brayan Pena (FA)
Omar Infante (FA)
Ramon Santiago (FA)
Don Kelly (FA)
Octavio Dotel (FA)
Jhonny Peralta (FA)

During the Press Conference announcing Ausmus as Manager, Dombrowski took time to address some concerns regarding the roster and basically admitted that the Tigers have little interest in re-signing SS/OF (?) Jhonny Peralta.  Despite his playing 9 games in Left Field for Detroit, after returning from his PED-related suspension, the Tigers view him as a shortstop only, and that position is filled by Jose Iglesias, whom the Tigers expect to have as their starting Shortstop for the next few years.

Dombrowski also admitted that the Tigers have interest in retaining the services of Benoit, but they will be searching for a proven closer, the role Benoit inherited during Leyland’s final season.  There are five Free Agent pitchers who have had success in the closer role in the past.  Benoit might end up with the Tigers, but not necessarily reprising his role from 2013.

From the list above of FA/AE players expect that at a bare minimum, Dotel, Peralta, Santiago, Bonderman, Pena, Veras, and Coke to depart. 

My guess also is that the Tigers re-sign Kelly, Infante, Dirks, Avila, Alburquerque, Fister, Scherzer, and Benoit. Fister and Scherzer are expected to receive big raises through the arbitration process.  Porcello will get an increase, of some value, but not to the degree of Fister and Scherzer.  

Austin Jackson, and either Porcello or Fister might be offered as trade-bait to fill holes, but of the trio of Fister, Scherzer and Porcello, I fully expect the Tigers to bring back two of them at a minimum. 

By my count, the Tigers “should” have 19 roster spots locked up as they prep their roster for the start of Spring Training, but Owner Mike Illitch has proven to have a “spend now to win now” mentality, so there could be a surprise in-store this off-season. 

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