DH Discussion: Filling the Void Vs. Rotational Management


One of the many questions that remains this off-season is if the Tigers will fill the void at DH. Management has made it clear in the past that they are not worried about having one specific hitter in that role for 2010. With veteran players such as Magglio Ordonez and Carlos Guillen looking to play full time now, it makes a bit more sense to bring in a big bat to fill the DH role.

According to Fox Sports’ Ken Rosenthal that could ultimately be a possibility.

"The DH market is flooded — Guerrero, Jim Thome and Jermaine Dye are still available, among others.The Rangers figure to get one of the top three, though they only might be willing to spend $4.5 million to $5 million. The Tigers likely will land another."

Would any of those players be of value to Tigers fans? To me, Vladamir Guerrero is an interesting add for the right price. Rosenthal later quotes in the same article that the veteran’s bat speed hasn’t digressed as much as fans are led on to believe.

"One scout said of Guerrero, “His bat speed hasn’t regressed as much as the scouting world thinks. You have to remember he wasn’t at full strength all last season. Leg issues and shoulder issues took their toll.”"

Jermaine Dye continues to develop at the top level. Jim Thome has been a big threat in the past, but his best or even mediocre days are behind him. There are other options on the market that could spell infielders on defense, such as Miguel Tejada. If for some reason it were true the Tigers were going to add another bat, would any of these names make sense?

It would be hard to digest if the Tigers ignored the closer market, yet signed an aging hitter to fill the void at designated hitter? Could the Tigers finally be answering the call to one of the worst offenses in recent memory? I am not getting my hopes up, but it seems more possible than a one-year deal with Jose Valverde.

Jermaine Dye

Without a doubt, the 36 year old Jermaine Dye would add a spark to the offense. We have seen him kill Tigers pitching in the past, and last season was much more of the same. Dye drove in 81 in a lineup full of a bunch of inconsistent hitters last season. His 27 bombs would almost fill the long ball void from the Curtis Granderson trade. That is if he can even maintain his performance from 2009. Dye stumped horribly in the second half of the season. The outfield only hit seven homers, while driving in just 26 runs and hitting a lowly .179. With that being said, many still believe in his upside at the plate, and his ability to contribute to nearly any lineup daily.

While the Tigers could absolutely use the boost, this move would nearly lock up the DH position, much like it did for Gary Sheffield. Though Dye won a gold glove in his days with Kansas City, he is just not that type of outfielder anymore. Like Vlad, who I will get to in a bit, he still has a decent arm for the outfield. That is not going to be enough in the small county that is the Comerica Park outfield. Management will already be asking Austin Jackson to cover a lot of ground with Carlos Guillen in left, but adding Dye into any mix would be foolish. FanGraphs recently ranked Dye as the third worst defensive player from 2007-2009.  As much as it hurts to say, I rather see Ryan Raburn picking Dandelions or riding the bench as the fourth outfielder.

If the Tigers have yet again changed their stance on the DH position, then Dye could naturally become a good fit that would add some offense.

Miguel Tejada-

As much as I hate Tejada’s attitude he has shown in the past with the Athletics and Orioles, he could contribute both defensively and offensively to the Tigers in 2009. A former shortstop, Tejada would be a good fill in at times at third for Brandon Inge, as well as a DH and emergency fill-in at shortstop. The only thing I fall in love with is the price that the former Astro could be asking for. It has become public that he is searching for a one-year deal and for the right price he could become one of the better adds of the 2010 free agent season. His power production, run production, walks, and defensive ability have declined.

But he is still a cheap and solidified hitter the Tigers could target. One thing that Dave Dombrowski and company might find attractive is his increase in doubles power. Last year Tejada hit 46 doubles. Part of it you would think comes the juice box named Minute Maid Park. Tejada hit half of his doubles though on the road. Throw in a Great American Ballpark, Wrigley Field and PNC Park, and it starts to make a bit more sense. Even Miller Park is known as a great doubles park.

Overall, I would be indifferent with a Tejada signing, because he doesn’t bring anything to new to the table.

Jim Thome-

Thome is without a doubt on the decline and he is never coming back. If the Tigers even considered the left-handed slugger it would be ludicrous. According to numerous sources, Thome has been spotted in Detroit. What scares me (and a lot of Tigers fans) is that this is something that could actually happen. He still has the pop in his bat to be an everyday American League DH. One thing good that could come of this is no more teeing off on Justin Verlander. Maybe Thome just wants to finish his career just two teams shy of playing for everyone in the American League schedule. If he signs, he will be traded mid-season to the Twins and then signed next off-season by the Royals to top it off.

In all seriousness, I like this move if it happens from an offensive standpoint. I just hope Jim Leyland would be willing to sit him from time to time to give young players time and to give older players time off. I think that like most fans, I fear another Gary Sheffield situation all over again. That wouldn’t be an issue though with a one-year deal. This is a signing that makes the most sense to me.

Vladimir Guerrero-

Maybe it is because I grew to love watching Vladdy swing at the ground and hit laser doubles, but when the fan in that isn’t looking to win or build for the future sees this possibility, I get excited. In all reality though it has been a fast downhill fall for the one of baseball’s former faces. One thing that I would be worried in is a deal longer than one year. After coming off of an injury, nobody really knows what Guerrero is capable of. Guerrero, like Thome, is limited to just DH duties. After last season’s 50 RBI performance in 100 games, I rather honestly see Thome in this role if it has to be cast in 2010. Guerrero might still have two to three years left in the tank, but at this point Thome’s health is far more impressive. Last year he still hit 23 bombs.

As much as I want to see hair flop since it left the lineup in the middle of 2009 when Magglio chopped his hair, I do not see a deal where the Tigers and Vlad can come to terms. Guerrero isn’t in a completely uncontrollable situation where he has to sign a one year deal. Not just yet. A market has yet to develop for him, but rumors have swirled that teams are only looking to use him in part-time roles. This could be the biggest low risk/high reward signing of 2010. I just don’t think the Tigers have the leeway or trust to pull something off.