Boesch and Dirks’ Roles Unclear For 2013


We got a lot of little tidbits out of Dave Dombrowski’s press release today – in addition to the big news on who was and was not remaining with the team. (Leyland, Dotel, Peralta – Yes. Young and Valverde – No.)

Oct 18, 2012; Detroit, MI, USA; Detroit Tigers players

Brennan Boesch

(left) and

Ramon Santiago

(right) celebrate in the clubhouse after game four of the 2012 ALCS against the New York Yankees at Comerica Park. The Tigers won 8-1 to sweep the series and advance to the World Series. Mandatory Credit: Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports

One bit is that the Tigers do intend to make an offer to Brennan Boesch – so all those who expected him to be non-tendered after a 2012 well below replacement level look to have been mistaken. As I wrote yesterday – that is the decision I would have made as well. However, it’s early to say what they actually intend for Brennan Boesch. It was widely assumed when the Tigers made the exact same announcement concerning Delmon Young last offseason that they hoped to trade him away either before or after his arbitration hearing. In the end, they found no serious buyers and elected to keep him for themselves. It may well be that the Tigers intend to trade Boesch away rather than simply let him go – no one wants to tip their hand in potential trade negotiations by announcing that they will simply give him away if nobody makes a good offer.

It’s also possible that Boesch will be retained and find himself in the mix for a starting or reserve spot in the outfield in spring training. Given his 2012 – one would presume that he would need a good March in order to avoid an option to Toledo, but even if he does wind up safely stowed in AAA Dombrowski might consider him a worthwhile $2 million investment. It’s a little bit difficult to imagine him sticking on as a reserve – he has been notable for minimal L-R splits and mediocre defense. If he gets things together – he can be a decent regular. If he doesn’t he isn’t the kind of guy who can be “situationally” valuable like a Quintin Berry, an Avisail Garcia or a Don Kelly. Nonetheless – it could be the case that Boesch winds up making the team out of camp as one member of a crowded outfield if everyone has a great spring training.

We also got the word that – and this is something we heard a number of times during the season – that despite Andy Dirks breakthrough season in 2012 the organization still isn’t entirely sold on him as an everyday player. What that would have to mean – I would presume – is that they might see him as the strong-side of a platoon. It’s also possible if not probable that he’s going to have to fight for a starting job (with Boesch and Garcia, I presume) in spring training. Dirks had a big L-R split last year and though his numbers looked pretty good overall they came with a probably unsustainable .365 BABIP (like 2011 Avila). What we’d like to hope for from Dirks is a rough repeat of his career numbers rather than his amazing 2012. In 2011 and 2012 combined Dirks has a .795 OPS against right-handers and a .787 OPS against left-handers as well as plus defense in an outfield corner (at least according to DRS). What we have is a tacit admission that we shouldn’t be sure that we can count on him to do that.

The World Series (and the last couple of months of the season) may have dampened our enthusiasm for a Quintin Berry-led platoon in either left or right for 2013, but this is still an option. Berry will cost next to nothing to hold onto and while you’d have to figure that he’ll need to earn even a bench spot in March, he will certainly be given that opportunity. As a pinch-runner alone Berry could add a significant amount of value – the one problem being that the Tigers that need pinch-runners hardly ever get pinch-run for. For one thing, Berry does not play first, or third, or short. For another – you don’t take a triple crown winner out of the lineup in the 8th. You never know if he’s going to be coming up to the plate again. Don Kelly has been removed from the 40-man roster – as Will Rhymes was last year. It is possible that he winds up signing a minor league deal with Detroit, but now seems highly unlikely that he makes the team as a reserve next season.