Round Up The Cougars, Clete Thomas Could Be Back


Along with the cancellation of game 2 today, out came the news that Magglio Ordonez is done for the season after re-breaking the same ankle that he did last year. The canceling of the game might actually help the Tigers for two reasons. First, it will give starting pitcher Max Scherzer another day of rest after pitching in relief against the Yankees on the Thursday night. Second, it gives the Tigers a little more time to mull over their options as they look to replace Magglio.

The question then becomes, who is it going to be? The answer might just come in the form of Clete Thomas.

Going through the list of options on the Tigers 40 man roster, the one guy with some major league experience that stands out is Thomas. The immediate drawback to putting Thomas on the playoff roster is that his season has been done since early September and he hasn’t seen any time in the big leagues in 2011. He is also left handed, and with the Rangers starting 3 lefties against the Tigers, Thomas realistically isn’t going to contribute with the bat and come in and start.

Still the quality options are limited, and I have Thomas as the leader going into the clubhouse on this one.

One option the Tigers have is placing Delmon Young back on the roster and hoping he heals quickly, though I don’t think that is the answer. How good can he possibly be with an oblique injury that isn’t healed properly? It would only bother every swing of the bat that Young takes.

Also on the 40 man roster sits Ryan Strieby, who is a right handed hitter, but he like Thomas hasn’t played since early September. Strieby is also limited by his defense in the outfield as it’s atrocious, but heck, who isn’t in that Detroit outfield not named Austin Jackson? Strieby does have a powerful bat, but the likelihood he makes his big league debut in the ALCS is really really tiny.

Carlos Guillen? Any idea that places the gimpy Guillen in the outfield is a recipe for disaster. Plus, I am not sure we can’t get more offense from the guys we already have on our bench, and we certainly could get better defense.

Process of elimination leaves Clete Thomas. I’m sure many of you are familiar with Thomas, as he has spent some time with the Tigers in the two previous seasons. He has even had some good games and some clutch hits, but what Thomas would really provide is a 2nd defender out in the outfield in the late innings that Jim Leyland can count on. That can’t be pushed aside, and it would actually provide a value that others on the team can’t provide.

I like Thomas as a player…….well at least as a reserve. He puts it all out there on the field. He runs well, throws well, and is pretty good with his glove. His main issue is with his bat. He strikes out a ton. In fact, he might even give Austin Jackson a run for his money in that department. In Toledo this season Thomas struck out in roughly 35% of his at-bats while hitting .251. Thomas did steal 20 of 23 bases and had 12 homers in 367 at-bats, missing some time this season with injury. In 391 career at-bats with the Tigers, Thomas has hit .253 with 8 homers and 48 RBI.

With all the left-handed pitchers the Rangers are going to throw at the Tigers, they do have the option of just playing Andy Dirks in RF, and letting him hit against the lefties. In a small sample, Dirks does have 10 hits in 31 at-bats against lefties this season and hangs in well against them. Clete Thomas’ career batting average is also better against left-handed pitchers as well.

Using the current roster and thinking outside the box a little bit, there is yet another option. Brandon Inge has played some LF before, and played it rather well at the time. If getting right-handed hitters into the lineup is a priority to the Tigers (not sure it is), you could use Inge in LF, Raburn in RF, and the switch-hitting Wilson Betemit at 3rd base. Match-ups aren’t everything though, because you would be making room for a couple of bats that haven’t been that good anyway. I would rather roll the dice with Andy Dirks getting the nod.

No matter what the Tigers do lineup wise, the roster move that makes the most sense is to call up Thomas and put him on the roster. He can contribute defensively and could pinch run in the late innings as well. It may not be a lot, but it is something. The other options on the 40 man roster just don’t make sense.

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Tags: ALCS Andy Dirks Brandon Inge Clete Thomas Detroit Tigers Magglio Ordonez Ryan Raburn Wilson Betemit

  • spartynation1

    You and Chris have both made the most important point very clearly. There just are not any good options out there. Whoever they toss him to take the spot vacated by Maggs will be less than. More Dirks is a strong possibility, though he has been a ghost since Delmon was signed. Dragging a Mud Hen up and actually using him seems a bit desperate, but with injuries mounting I think the Tigers are at that point. Whether its Clete(who at least has a pile of major league ABs)or they take a flier on a greener talent, this one is going to sting a bit.

    • MCBjohnverburg

      @spartynation1 I think with Clete there is at least some utility there. The other options, not so sure. I just don’t see the Tigers taking a guy with zero big league at bats and throwing him into an ALCS.

      • ChrisHannum

        @MCBjohnverburg@spartynation1 If Clete gets the call – who could you even use to pinch hit for Kelly against a LOOGY? Danny Worth? And who is Clete going to be a defensive sub for? The two turkeys are hurt.

        • MCBjohnverburg

          @ChrisHannum@spartynation1 If it’s just pinch hitting you are worried about then you are just going to see Delmon Young activated. Are you going to seriously pinch hit Strieby or Guez? It’s not going to happen. Clete Thomas would be the 2nd best defensive outfielder on that roster, it would be close with Kelly so I guess that is debatable, but he is better than Dirks, and he is better than Raburn certainly. There is room for both him and Kelly late on each side of Jackson. He can also run, if you want to put a guy in for Martinez at the end of a game or someone else, assuming Dirks is already used.

          So I guess the direct answer is Dirks or Raburn defensively.

        • ChrisHannum

          @MCBjohnverburg@spartynation1 Dirks and Raburn are both slightly above average as corner outfielders defensively. Thomas is probably better, but not by such a wide margin that it would be game-changing. Personally, I would love to see Strieby’s first major league hit be a 3-run pinch hit homer in the ALCS. What I have to assume is going to actually happen is that Don Kelly is going to start and play 9 innings for the rest of the series. Leyland wants his veterans.

        • spartynation1

          @ChrisHannum@MCBjohnverburg Being able to run with a consistent lineup every game, that can actually produce, is what I am most worried about. I agree that Kelly will most likely be in for the rest of the way. I also am assuming that Raburn will be the other corner outfielder. Between Jackson, Raburn, Kelly, and Inge….wow. So that means the other 5 better do a lot of hitting. We all better hope Avila pulls out of his slump soon.


    I still think it’s Delmon Young. Either the injury isn’t as serious as they thought or perhaps #Elmon can simply live on the bench til’ he’s ready to pinch hit.

    • ChrisHannum

      @JAYRC_MCB It’s not as though he can’t run, so if he can hit (which I kind of doubt) with that oblique injury he might as well DH against lefties. Avila has not looked good in the playoffs (though not as bad as Wilson Betemit) – maybe teams have been digging through the film on him.