Robbie Weinhardt, Clete Thomas Among Tigers Cuts


The Detroit Tigers announced this morning their second wave of roster cuts. Unlike those made during the first round, this list contains a few surprises.

Outfielder Clete Thomas, whom was granted an extra option year after missing the majority of the 2010 season, was optioned to AAA Toledo despite a very strong camp. Second baseman Scott Sizemore joined Thomas on the cut list and will also begin the year with the MudHens. Reliever Robbie Weinhardt, considered a favorite by many to win a spot in Detroit’s bullpen, was also optioned to Toledo.

Left hander Fu-Te Ni and catcher Max St. Pierre were both in camp as non-roster players and were both re-assigned to minor league camp. Both of those players will start the season with Toledo as well.

As Kurt points out this morning at Bless You Boys, this information tells us a great deal about the way the Opening Day roster is shaping up. Sizemore had been involved in the second base competition, along with Will Rhymes, Danny Worth, and Ramon Santiago. While Kurt likes Rhymes to win the job, I still think Worth may prove to be an everyday player this season, either at second base or by way of getting starts at short and third as well.

Santiago’s roster spot had appeared to be safe coming into camp, and it may very well be that way, but rumors have been swirling in the blogosphere about a possible trade of the veteran middle infielder. Worth’s strengths are his glove and his versatility, much the same as Santiago’s. While Santiago isn’t costly at all, his contract pays him about twice as much as Worth will make this year. I don’t expect that roughly half a million dollars would affect the Tigers plans, but when you have a younger, cheaper version on hand, the older player is often deemed expendable.

In the outfield, Casper Wells, Brennan Boesch, and Andy Dirks remain in a battle that will see two of those players going north with the club. The smart money is on Boesch and Wells. Dirks has had a huge camp and has definitely put his name into the mix, but Boesch possesses the power bat the Tigers would like off the bench. Wells, a right hander hitter, can effectively provide depth at all three outfield spots, which will keep the Tigers from using Don Kelly or Ryan Raburn in centerfield when Austin Jackson needs a breather.

The bullpen picture has come into significantly more focus with these cuts as well. There figured to be two open slots and Ni was, in my mind, pitching his way onto the team. He has struggled with walks at times this spring, but he’s been nearly unhittable in most of his outings. With the announcement that Phil Coke will begin the year in the bullpen before joining the rotation in the second week of April, manager Jim Leyland could be looking at four southpaws in the bullpen. Adam Wilk, Brad Thomas, and Daniel Schlereth are still in camp as well and you have to figure that Thomas and Schlereth are odds-on favorites to stay there. With Weinhardt gone, Enrique Gonzalez becomes the likely candidate to be the long man in Detroit’s bullpen.

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