The Tigers have some clear issues on their 2012 squad, as I think we all know by now. Among them are rotation inconsistency, back end bullpen troubles, and a lack of hitting from the bottom half of the order. Chief among the concerns has been the recent play of RF Brennan Boesch. Some, including Jim Leyland, don’t really have an answer to what the Tigers should, and are going to do with Boesch at this point. He hasn’t provided the type of pop you expect from a corner outfielder, and he certainly doesn’t provide any help defensively.
The Tigers showed some confidence in Boesch, placing him 5th in the order to support Prince Fielder a few weeks ago. And while he has had a couple of decent games, for the most part, Boesch has continued to look lost in 2012, swinging at just about everything thrown at him. Things have gotten so bad, that some, including myself have suggested that Boesch return to Toledo for awhile, and see if the Tigers can get a little more production elsewhere.
Enter the other issue. Do the Tigers have someone in their farm system that could produce more?
This certainly isn’t a definite. About a month ago, Tiger nation was lit on fire by the news that Nick Castellanos would begin getting repetitions in the outfield. The news caused a little premature excitement to those who made the leap that the Tigers were prepping Castellanos for a call up in the near future. That may or may not happen still, however, it doesn’t mean it is the right thing.
Castellanos has been playing RF for the Erie Seawolves pretty regularly the past couple weeks, however, reports are that it isn’t going swimmingly by any stretch. At least defensively. Offensively, Castellanos continues to hit for a good average, but there are concerns there as well. The strikeout to walk rate is an issue. Before tonight’s game, it sat at 55/6. Not exactly what you are looking for from a top hitting prospect. Things would get uglier at the major league level without a doubt, and the Tigers would be better served leaving him in the minors. Plus, Castellanos isn’t on the 40 man roster either, so if they decided to bring him up they would have to remove someone; however, this wouldn’t be the most difficult thing for the Tigers.
Another option is outfielder Ben Guez, who is performing quite well in Toledo. I even wrote about him as a possibility in June, as a right handed option before the trade deadline here. My assumption at the time was the Guez could provide a similar role to that of a previous part-time outfielder in Casper Wells. While not as good defensively, he would be an upgrade defensively to Boesch, and if used in part as a platoon against left-handers, he might be rather effective. Of course the platoon at the time was with Boesch, and this idea might have gone out the window with the acquisition of Jeff Baker. Guez has the 40 man roster issue like Castellanos as well.
But again, my scenario is that Boesch goes down to Toledo, so a platoon right handed outfielder would work just fine. They could platoon with Quintin Berry. Essentially, I would have Berry and Baker platoon in left field, while Andy Dirks manned RF regularly, and then give up a few at-bats against lefties to…you guessed it from the title…Avisail Garcia!
Garcia has a few things going for him. One, he is one of the hotter Tigers minor leaguers that is playing in AA and above. For a guy that has had contact issues in the past, he has cut down on the strikeouts this season quite a bit, and his seen a reduction in his K rate since he jumped to AA Erie. In fact, in his last 10 games, Garcia has only struck out 3 times in 37 at-bats while hitting .378. His power numbers, and K/BB ratio are better than Castellanos, and he does something that Castellanos certainly can’t at this point, and that is defend the RF position at an above average level. Another thing Garcia has going for him is that he is on the 40 man roster already. No roster cut needs to be made here.
I’m not suggesting that Garcia is necessarily ready for a big league job. He still has many things to work on. Just because his BB/K rate is better than Castellanos’ at this point, still doesn’t make it good. He has only walked 6 times in around 155 plate appearances or so. He would likely have some really ugly at-bats in the big leagues, and wouldn’t provide much offensively. However, if used correctly, like playing against selected left handed pitchers, and used as a defensive guy, Garcia/Dirks, Berry/Baker, I think would provide easily what Boesch has given the Tigers.
And what Boesch has given the Tigers is one of the worst every day players according to fWAR. His defense has been that bad, the Tigers would be almost better off with anyone else in the lineup.
If the Tigers go the route of giving Boesch some time in Toledo, however unlikely that scenario is, the help might come from one of the other top position prospects, and not Nick Castellanos.
Garcia is certainly playing like he wants to get a call.