A Look at re-upping Delmon Young – inspired by Keith Law


In my quest to find different modes of thought relating to what the Tigers should try to accomplish this off-season, I turned to my new internet buddy Keith Law, the baseball insider over at espn.com.  In my last post here on the site, I was intrigued by the idea of the Tigers getting faster.  However, Keith wanted to make sure this wasn’t my primary concern for the Tigers.

“…don’t see getting faster as being the primary goal for the team.  Getting better on D, sure, but not getting faster for its own sake,” he said.

My immediate response to this came in the form of a question – should the Tigers let Delmon Young walk?

Holy God the Tigers greatly benefited from Delmon’s offensive production down the stretch this past season.  He had some big knocks over the fence in the playoffs, but his inability to track the ball in left field is an issue the Tigers’ big whigs have to be taking into consideration.

Dave Dombrowski has already said he expects to bring Young back on a one-year deal, which isn’t that shocking.  When you put his bat ahead of Miguel Cabrera and Victor Martinez, it’s a perfect fit.  Opposing pitchers need to pitch to Young with Detroit’s two biggest bats lurking close behind, which usually means Delmon will see a lot of fastballs.  We the fans of Detroit learned quickly that Delmon Young is more than capable of annihilating fastballs.

But lets jump back to Keith’s point that the Tigers need to get better defensively.  How do they go about doing that when so many spots are spoken for?  The Tigers in the field have four realistic openings; second and third base, and maybe the corner outfield spots.

When listening to Dave Dombrowski’s talk the other day, you got the feeling he was happy with the Brandon Inge/Don Kelly platoon.  Brennan Boesch has more than likely done enough to hold down a spot in the outfield.  Second base will have to be addressed, especially if Ramon Santiago splits, as I get the feeling he will.  (I hold the opinion he deserves the chance at being an everyday player but Dombroski insists its not happening here which is fine.)  That essentially leaves second base and Delmon’s spot as potential places for defensive improvement.

Now I’m going to save the issue of second base for another day.  I’m also not worried about offering up any ideas in terms of potential replacements in left field.  Not yet anyway.  I’m concentrating on one question: if you’re the Detroit Tigers do you bring Delmon back in 2012?

It really boils down to a simple choice.  Would you rather have a reliable left fielder, or a small extra dose of power with the bat?  Keep in mind, Delmon only hit 12 homers last year.  Out of the 62 MLB outfielders with at least 500 Abs, only 16 hit fewer than Delmon Young.  Now, do take into consideration my earlier point about how Young will likely see more fastballs if he hits in front of Miggy and V-Mart, thus possibly resulting in more long balls.

I’m going to wind this post down not by drawing a conclusion, but by leaving you with a couple different thoughts.  For one, despite what Keith Law says, I think the Tigers need to slowly mold a team together that fits their home ball park.  In other words, I’m a little agitated Detroit is still essentially fielding a softball team at Comerica, a park which we all know is very difficult to homer in.  You don’t see the Yankees stocking up on ping hitters for Yankee Stadium.  So I’d really like to see more of an emphasis on defense as well as team speed.  The Tigers should some day have outfielders to compliment Austin Jackson who run like gazelles and can cover a lot of ground quickly.

Second, I grew very agitated as the ALCS wore on watching all the different ways the Texas Rangers could make big plays.  It’s not just that the Rangers were superior to the Tigers, it’s that they had so much more balance.  The Tigers showed in the playoffs they had a great offense and some great starting pitching.  Well the Rangers showed quite a bit more then that.  They had equal starting pitching, but an even better offense.  In addition to that they had a deeper bullpen, rock solid defense and a lot more speed.

If I’m Dave Dombrowski I am trying to close the gap between my team and Texas.  To do that I think he needs to examine the balance of his team.  After the season ended I thought re-upping Delmon for a year was a no-brainer, but now that I’ve thought about it, I’m not quite as sure.  If you’re the Tigers, do you sacrifice a little extra offense for a reliable left fielder?  Keep in mind the team offense was ranked fairly high before Delmon Young’s arrival.

One last thing.  Keith isn’t a big fan of Delmon Young.