There’s a interesting question floating around the Tigersphere these days. When Carlos Guillen is activated from the disabled list, which could happen by the time I hit “publish” on this post, whom should be the player removed from the active roster?
You can toss around all the names you’d like, but my gut (in all its ample-ness) tells me neither Don Kelly nor Ryan Raburn are getting the ax. The obvious answer is Danny Worth, as he was just here to keep the seat warm for Guillen, anyway.
What’s that you say? What about Adam Everett? Well, let’s take a look at the two and see what we can find.
It’s no secret that Everett is a bad hitter. He has always been a bad hitter, but never more so than this season. Everett is so bad at batting that Jim Leyland seems to have finally relented and given Ramon Santiago the lion’s share of playing time this month, as Santiago has nearly twice as many May at bats as Everett. Score one for the good guys.
While Everett’s defense has recovered from a shaky start to the year enough to rank him in the top group of defenders at short, his bat makes him a below-replacement level player. In 69 at bats this year, Everett is hitting just .203 and has an OPS of .508.
But it gets worse.
Everett’s play versus right handed pitchers is making one wonder if the Tigers should just DH for him and allow their pitcher to bat. When facing a righty, Everett has hit .184 (9-for-49) with zero walks, zero RBI, and 10 strikeouts. His OPS is a ghastly .429. Even with this information handy, Leyland has still run him out there against righties time and time again.
(more after the jump)
By contrast, Worth has hit well since his recall, batting .333 (8-for-24) this season overall. If you look deeper into the numbers however, you see that won’t hold.
Not only are all eight of Worth’s hits this year singles, but he has never shown any ability to drive the ball in the minors either. Worth has played in over 280 minor league games, netting over 1000 at bats, roughly the equivalent of two full major league seasons. In that span, Worth has exactly nine home runs and just 55 doubles which would average out to 4.5 homers and 22.5 doubles a year. His career OPS in the minor leagues is just .659.
Granted, a terrible 2009 season has forced those numbers down. In his first two seasons with the organization, Worth played much better, offering an OPS of better than .720 in each of those years (2007 and 2008). Last season, he was had an Everett-esque .589 OPS. Before his call-up, Worth had shown improvement, coming in at .665.
While Worth was a very good hitter at Pepperdine, he has never fared well average-wise as a pro. His career minor league average is just .249 and the .274 he was hitting at Toledo this season represents a career best.
So what you have with Worth is a good defender who can play second and short very well, but has little ability to drive the ball as a hitter. You also have a young player whom the Tigers think has a higher ceiling than he probably does, based on his college career. I’m not saying that he won’t improve, he’s still just 24 years old, so it could very well be happening right before our eyes.
And what you have with Everett is a plus defensive shortstop who couldn’t hit his way through a wet newspaper.
If you were judging things based solely on this information, you probably think keeping Worth (and releasing Everett) is the way to go. After all, Worth’s glove is very solid, there wouldn’t be much of a drop-off from Everett, even if Worth moved to short, and Worth at least has the potential to be a better hitter than Everett is right now, or ever will be.
But you also must factor in the balance of the $1.5MM contract Everett is owed, and the fact that releasing Everett is an irreversible decision.
Now, the money isn’t all that much, I don’t think Mike Ilitch would lose any sleep about that one, but the issue of cutting a player when you don’t have an obvious upgrade is just not a good idea. Unless of course he’s a clubhouse cancer, which Everett certainly is not.
As much as I have campaigned for Everett’s benching (and release) this season, even I wouldn’t cut him in favor of keeping Worth, not yet at least. But I do think what they should do is to send Worth back to Toledo and put him back at shortstop. Let him show you he can play the position, they’ve already seen he can handle second. If he keeps hitting and starts driving the ball a bit more, you can bring him back and make your decision on Everett at that time.
I still think that Everett is a waste of a roster spot. His only value is defensively, which will come in handy with late-inning substitutions for Guillen. Surely Worth could also be used in that way. But Worth needs at bats to develop as a hitter, he won’t get them with the Tigers.
Everett is what he is, and right now at least, that should be enough to keep him employed.