If Ryan Raburn at Second, Why Not Scott Sizemore?

Before giving Ryan Raburn his second start at second base yesterday, Tigers manager Jim Leyland said he was looking to add “a little thump” to the lineup. Will Rhymes has been struggling at the plate and Raburn’s versatility provided the opportunity to get a better stick into the lineup while also creating a solution to the outfield logjam.

To a point, Leyland’s decision to start Raburn at second base paid off. Raburn got the Tigers on the board in the first inning with a solo homer and walked and scored a second run later in the contest. On the other hand, starting a defender as challenged as Raburn is at a position so vital to the defense is a serious gamble and one that could have easily cost the club a win yesterday.

Rick Porcello is a ground ball specialist and yesterday in Seattle he was working his magic. In the bottom of the fourth, the Tigers lead 2-1. Porcello allowed a single through the hole between Raburn and first baseman Miguel Cabrera to start the inning. After falling behind to Jack Cust, Porcello induced another ground ball that wound up getting through Raburn and the Mariners were in business. Porcello worked out of the jam and escaped with the lead intact, but the fact that he was able to wiggle free doesn’t make Raburn’s defensive play acceptable.

The ball that Cust hit is a play that a good second baseman would have turned into a double play. At the very least, an adequate second baseman would have knocked it down and gotten an out at first. Raburn misplayed a ball that could have been a double play and instead of having bases empty and two outs, Porcello was faced with a two on and no out situation. Now, obviously it’s no guarantee that had Rhymes (or Ramon Santiago for that matter) been in the game at that time that a play would have been made, but the chances would have been increased greatly.

Unfortunately, it looks like we’ll be seeing more of Raburn at second base, at least against left handed pitchers. Rhymes just isn’t hitting at all and Raburn’s bat is a significant upgrade to that of Rhymes. But with the injury to Victor Martinez freeing up the DH role, the outfield crunch is already alleviated. Brennan Boesch will get everyday at bats in one of the three spots (LF, RF, of DH), Magglio Ordonez will play as much as his ankle will allow and Raburn can see everyday time as well. Given that Ordonez’s physical ailments are limiting him to less-than-everyday duty, Casper Wells can even see some time in the outfield. And all of this can be accomplished without using Raburn at second, at least for the next two weeks until VMart is eligible to return.

You may have already guessed where all this is going by now, but if you haven’t here’s a clue: it’s headed south on I-75.

I’m not sure what more Scott Sizemore needs to have happen before he gets another shot at the starting second base job. He needed to put up good numbers in Toledo; so far he’s hitting .389/.463/.556/1.019 in 41 plate appearances. He needed Rhymes to struggle; Rhymes is hitting .208/.283/.208/.491 in 54 plate appearances. He needed at bats to be available; VMart’s injury takes care of that problem for a while at least. Now all he needs is to get the call.

The Tigers are off today and I can guess (and hope) that Dave Dombrowski and Jim Leyland have already had this discussion. While it might not have made a ton of sense to make a non-injury-related roster move while on the left coast, it certainly is much easier to do while back at home.

If Rhymes isn’t playing everyday, he doesn’t bring much value to the club. The fact is that he’s not a great defensive player at second (though light years better than Raburn), and even when he is hitting, he’s not an extra-base threat, certainly not the way Sizemore is.

If the Tigers are willing to go with a weaker defender (and again, Raburn is pretty much the worst option they have at second base) in order to add extra-base thump to the order, then it just doesn’t make sense for Sizemore not to be getting called up.

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Topics: Detroit Tigers, Ryan Raburn, Scott Sizemore, Will Rhymes

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  • http://sidelionreport.com/ Zac Snyder

    FREE SIZEMORE!

  • http://www.motorcitybengals.com Matt Snyder

    Exactly. Sizemore will hit better than Rhymes and field better than Raburn. If Rhymes isn’t going to play everyday, then he doesn’t really carry much value for the team. He then becomes a non-switch hitting Ramon Santiago that can’t play shortstop (and isn’t as good at second).

    • http://motorcitybengals.com John Parent

      If he’s not hitting, Rhymes carries no value to the team at all. Santiago is a better defender and has the varsatility that Rhymes lacks. Rhymes wouldn’t even be the first choice to pinch-run given Wells and Kelly are both also on the bench. He’s a nice guy, but at the very least the Tigers are wasting time not using the hot bat of Sizemore in detroit. Rhymes can go get a tune-up with the Bull in Toledo for a while.

      • Bryan

        I agree – Jimmy L just doesn’t seem to be managing like his career is on the line. Maybe he doesn’t want an extension. Sizemore proved he could slow the game down when he came back to the show last year. He is crushing the ball in Toledo. I do think he could at worst put up the same numbers at Raburn while playing a better 2nd base. He also could lead off for a little while until A-jax gets going since thats what he has been doing in Toledo.

        • http://www.motorcitybengals.com Matt Snyder

          To be fair, is calling up Sizemore Jim’s decision?

          • http://motorcitybengals.com John Parent

            perhaps not entirely, but I do believe he has a great deal of say in the matter. Leyland and his staff will usually decide what player they want (with input from DD of course) when a player gets hurt, so I don’t see why this type of situation would be different. Dombrowski will make the final call of course, as GM, but yes, Leyland does have a great deal of input based upon the past five years of evidence.

          • http://www.motorcitybengals.com Matt Snyder

            John, sure he does, but it’s not his decision alone. That’s more my point. I think that being out on the west coast could have delayed a move. We may still see a move before tomorrow’s game.

  • sportz

    The most tired ignorant lament of Tiger fans…

    Scott Sizemore can hit..yeah he can hit in AAA, but its a totally different thing hitting in the show.

    Fact is, Rhymes has hit better than Sizemore in the show.

    Scott Sizemore barely fields better than Raburn and hits a ton worse..Raburn is an 800+ OPS player..Sizemore struggles to ..650

    When will people learn that AAA stats dont always translate to major league production..See Mike Hessman..see Mike Rivera..

    Command, breaking balls, swing holes..it’s a vastly different level of play..the gap between AAA and the major leagues is considerably larger than the gap between A and AAA..

    So believe what you all may..Sizemore is likely not the answer at 2B..

    At least when I was in Lakeland this spring I sure didn’t think so..

    • http://motorcitybengals.com John Parent

      Sportz- It’s not like Sizemore is a 30-year old who has spent five years being shuttled back and forth to the minors like Hessman was. Sizemore was given a 30-game window to seize the job last year. He didn’t do it, no question about that. But There are a whole lot of people who are much smarter than I that think that Sizemore can and will be a major league hitter and also believe that he is better than Rhymes right now.

      Yes, Rhymes has hit better in the majors than Sizemore has, but we aren’t talking about a guy who had a great minor league track record or who has had more than even 300 big league plate appearances, so using Rhymes success last season as a reason to keep Sizemore in the minors is a joke.

      My point was not Raburn vs Sizemore (since Martinez is hurt they can both be in the lineup) it was Rhymes vs Sizemore. If Rhymes isn’t hitting, and he’s not, he has zero value to the club. Sizemore at least gives you the threat of finding a gap of clearing a fence. You don’t get that with Rhymes.

    • Bryan

      Since we are ignorant….

      What is your thought? Instead of stating things that we all know. I don’t anyone has said it is easier to hit in the MLB or that AAA ststs translate to the show. However he has only been given 1 fair chance for the job. Many good players come up and then go back down only to come back up and put up good numbers.

      So what would you do? be complacent and do nothing and let Raburn and Rymes man 2B? Raburn will not be able to make up the runs on the offensive side as he will allow on the defensive side. If Rymes could at least get on base for the big hitters I wouldn’t be wanting to make a change.

  • Chris Hannum

    Rhymes is not, was not and will not be the answer. Starting Raburn is a sign of desperation – if the management team had ANY faith in his ability to field the position, it would have been his all along. His range is bad and he’s sloppy, based on Raburn’s past performance at 2B he’s a -2.0 dWAR guy.

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