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About That Whole Ryan Raburn as an Everyday Player Thing


Kurt of Bless You Boys spent some time this morning discussing the Brennan Boesch situation. More accurately, discussing the idea that Jim Leyland will put the lineup out there that gives him the best chance to win each day, as Leyland has stated, and the idea that Ryan Raburn is, in fact, an everyday player.

All throughout the offseason we heard the same repetition that Raburn was the starting left fielder. Through four games this year, Raburn has started in two of them; one against a left hander, and one versus a righty. The other two games were started by Brennan Boesch, both against right handed pitching. Kurt’s post was in anticipation of seeing tonight’s lineup against a right hander in Baltimore’s Brad Bergesen.

Boesch has certainly gotten off to a good start and many, including myself, have wondered how he can fit into the lineup more often. And as we’ve seen in the past, Leyland’s declarations rarely last beyond a few moments of his uttering of the words, whether it be that Scott Sizemore would be the starter at second base or Carlos Guillen as a left fielder (or third baseman, or first baseman). Raburn himself as anointed a starter a season ago, right up until Johnny Damon signed with the Tigers. Now, it sure looks like the rug is being pulled out from under him again.

The Tigers released their lineup this afternoon and Raburn’s name is not in it. That marks two starts in five games for the “everyday” left fielder. As Kurt stated this morning:

"Not that there’s anything wrong with finding Boesch some playing time, mind you. It’s just that when the offseason is spent saying Raburn is your left fielder, it seems a bit early to add the words “part-time” to that designation, doesn’t it?"

I can see both sides of the Raburn/Boesch argument. Corey Ettinger of AL Central in Focus opined about Boesch recently, saying the following:

"I’m not of the belief that Boesch will be a great hitter like he was in the 1st half of 2010 ever again, but when deployed as he was last night against less-than-great right handed pitching he can still be a very useful player."

Certainly, a middling right hander like Bergesen qualifies as less-than-great right now. He is, after all, only starting tonight’s game due to an illness to scheduled starter Jeremy Guthrie, so adding a bat that can be as lethal as Boesch’s is a good move to make. On the other hand, why sit Raburn in order to do so when you have a guy like Alex Avila costing runs on offense and defense so far this year?

I suppose you could say that Avila was told he was the starting catcher and Leyland should at least give him some time to play his way into or out of that role, but why then does Leyland seem to be pulling the plug on Raburn’s job as the left fielder so quickly?

What it comes down to is that Boesch is not well-suited for a reserve role. He either needs to play close to full time in Detroit, or he needs to be demoted to Toledo. And with his play in the very early stages of the season, Boesch is making a push for more at bats. Those at bats must be taken away from someone in order to give them to Boesch, but I can’t shake the feeling that the lion’s share of those at bats should be taken from Avila and not Raburn.

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