The Tigers have a great many holes to be filled before Opening Day. They need to identify starters and reserves alike, they need a find a closer, a lead-off hitter, and possibly another starting pitcher. What they also need is a left handed bat that can play both corner infield spots, and possibly fill-in in the outfield. They need Eric Hinske.
Now, anyone who has even glanced at this blog over the past six months knows that I have been banging my drum for Hinske for quite some time. Last season, the Tigers failed to pounce when Hinske was made available by Pittsburgh, and watched as Hinske and the Yankees won the World Series. Hinske has been a member of each of the last three AL Champions, you know. Instead of Hinske, the Tigers dealt for Aubrey Huff. Huff, theoretically at least, is similar to Hinske in that both have experience at all four corner spots, and both bat from the left side. It didn’t work out so well for Huff and the Tigers as Jim Leyland refused to play him at all in the field, and Brandon Inge’s bad knees got no rest, despite what had been said by Dave Dombrowski at the presser announcing the trade.
So here we are in early January and the Tigers again have a need for a player that fits with Hinske’s skill set. And once again, Dombrowski whiffed. CBS Sports’ Scott Miller reported yesterday that Hinske has reached a deal with the Braves to play a reserve role and pinch-hit. It is a one-year deal, and finacial terms have not been disclosed, but I’m sure it can’t be much. It was a contract the Tigers could certainly have offered, anyway.
I’m not suggesting that Hinske would have been the missing piece, the cure-all for a team that figures to struggle offensively, but he is a guy that has a lifetime OPS of .774 and has shown above average defense at almost every position he has played. He would have fit quite nicely backing up Inge and Cabrera, while also getting some at bats in the outfield and DH. Sound like a guy the Tigers could’ve used?