With Maggs Out, Time for Jim Leyland to Get Creative
By John Parent
No announcement has come yet of which player might be called upon to replace the injured Magglio Ordonez. That announcement will come soon, I’m sure, with the Tigers set to play Game Two this afternoon.
If it is deemed that Delmon Young might be healthy enough (or Brennan Boesch or Carlos Guillen) then the decision is a simple one. If none of those players are viable options, the Tigers manager, Jim Leyland, might have to dig deep into his bag of tricks.
Let’s assume that the player added to the roster will be either an infieldr like Will Rhymes or an outfielder who hasn’t sniffed the big leagues this year (Clete Thomas). What then to do with all these southpaw pitchers the Rangers are throwing? The obvious answer, and one most likely to happen, is that the club will run Ryan Raburn and Don Kelly out there in the corner spots. Raburn’s presence in the lineup is assured from here on out; I don’t think there is a question about that. Kelly, however, really doesn’t hit lefties at all and shouldn’t be used against them.
The problem is, there are no other obvious solutions, no quick fixes, no “no-brainer” decisions to be made.
At this point, with the situation desperate, the Tigers cannot focus on how “hot” or “cold” a player has been. They have no choice but to run their best possible lineup out there and hope for the best. Leyland has been willing to experiment with the idea of using Miguel Cabrera at third base should they make to the World Series, so obviously he’s at least got an open mind here.
To me, the best solution against Derek Holland today is to use Raburn is right field and Wilson Betemit in left. I know; I cringed when I wrote it just as much as you did when you read it.
Betemit hasn’t played anywhere but third base since coming to the Tigers and he is a bad defender there. Sadly, his defense at third is the best he offers at any position. But he does have outfield experience and though he hits much better from the left side, he offers a slightly better bat against lefties than Kelly does.
There are no good answers here. As bad as he’s looked at the plate lately, I’m not suggesting Betemit would be a good solution, but he might just be the best they can do.