The Things That Still Matter to Us

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2.    Who’s the lefty in the bullpen?  This one is a puzzle.  I’ve been trying to figure out exactly what the plan is (and thank God it isn’t a ‘process’) but I don’t think I’m getting any closer.  We’ve heard Coke is leaving the bullpen, which means a gaping hole.  Brad Thomas and Daniel Schlereth are with the team, but they had terrible peripherals last year despite decent ERAs.  Thomas doesn’t strike anyone out.  Schlereth can’t throw strikes.  Fu-Te Ni is still under team control, as far as I know, but he was so bad in 2010 that he can’t possibly be counted on.  Bobby Seay could wind up healthy in Lakeland and able to fill the role he did before, but that is doubtful.  In contrast to the crop of starters, lefty relievers were deep this year.  There are still some decent ones on the market, though the Benoit deal seems to be a benchmark for everyone – driving up the size of the deals they are signing.  Dombrowski hasn’t shown any interest.  He’s stated comfort he can’t possibly feel in going forward with Thomas and Schlereth.  What’s going on???  The only answer I can think of (and maybe you can think of something better) is that Coke is a placeholder in the rotation.  Dombrowski may want one lefty in the rotation and be planning to move Coke back to the ‘pen if he should find it.  If he can’t, he’ll make do with whatever relief options are available at that point – and by the end of spring training someone from the Tigers group of lefty unknowns might be looking like a much better option than they do right now.  Again, if it’s a move he might not make then we won’t hear anything about it.
3.    Who’s going to play second?  This is a spring training question, I’m afraid, and not a hotstove question.  The problem isn’t a lack of possibles, it’s too many.  Will Rhymes, Ramon Santiago, Scott Sizemore and Carlos Guillen all look to be competing for playing time (and roster spots).  There aren’t going to be many starts to spare for Guillen at DH this year, though his health is still a concern, so if he’s going to be doing anything to earn his salary in 2011 it will be at second base.  Any of the guys who aren’t going to start could be traded or cut, even Ramon Santiago since Will Rhymes could easily fill his utility role, so though we may have to wait ‘til March this figures to be a hotspot.