Credit: Robert Deutsch-USA TODAY Sports
Believe it or not, Tigers’ Alex Avila a bargain — and could be poised for a bounceback – Kurt Mensching, Detroit News
"Let’s just state the obvious here: 2013 was among the worst seasons of Avila’s career. There’s no hiding that. He didn’t hit well, and he didn’t throw runners out as often as expected. Compared to? Well, Avila. Baseball statisticians like to talk about returning (or regression) to the mean, which essentially says a player’s results will likely correct to be closer to his true abilities. This sounds like a bad thing, especially if your favorite player just came off the best year in his career. For a player like Avila, it’s a good thing. Why should we believe a 27-year-old, above-average player will continue to struggle? Two reliable projection systems, Dan Szymborski’s ZiPS and the Steamer system, both expect Avila to bounce back to those 2012 levels."
I’ve been a bit down on Alex the last couple of seasons, but having him healthy and productive cannot be understated. His career year was 2011 (both offensively and defensively), but I’d be happy with a return to his 2012 numbers. If his offense can’t fully return it wouldn’t be a big deal if his defensive skills came back. He toppled to 17 percent in preventing stolen bases in 2013 after throwing out 30 percent in 2012.
Detroit Tigers’ Rajai Davis Is Not An Everyday Player – Brad Faber, Rant Sports
"As a result of Dirks’ struggles at the plate in 2013, some fans are even wondering if Davis may be able to beat him out for the starting job in left field this spring. Davis may possess the rare type of blazing speed that makes pitchers have nightmares about putting him on the basepaths, but he should absolutely not be the Tigers’ everyday left fielder in 2014. Davis did not hit higher than .260 overall during his past three seasons with the Toronto Blue Jays. He even stooped to as low as .238 back in 2011. He did hit for a higher average back when he was playing with the Oakland Athletics from 2008-10, but those days appear to be in the history books. It is also relevant to note that Davis struck out 102 times in just 447 at-bats in 2012, and he has never once cracked double-digits in the home run category in his eight-year career. It is hard to imagine Davis setting a career-high in home runs while playing his home games in spacious Comerica Park."
Fans have been divided in two camps when it comes to Nelson Cruz and the Tigers. Some want him if he comes at a reasonable price (though many don’t realize that reasonable price would include having to surrender a first-round draft pick). Others think Davis and Dirks will be fine in their platoon, although both have some history of not being fine. Nonetheless, it seems likely the Tigers will try out their left fielders and at least see how they’re doing in Lakeland before making any rash trades or signings.
Detroit Tigers’ Dave Dombrowski talks injuries, Max Scherzer contract on MLB radio – James Jahnke, Detroit Free Press
"■ On free agents-to-be Victor Martinez and Torii Hunter: “They’re both key players to our organization. We’re in a spot where we really haven’t even discussed their situation thoroughly. You would hope that they’ll be part of your landscape, but we’ll just have to wait and see what ends up taking place, over performancewise of the season and how our club performs.” ■On presumed new starting pitcher Drew Smyly: “We think he’s ready to be a solid, MLB starter. With depth at top of the rotation, we can break him in.”"
I selected these two passages because at this point in the off-season, we’re abundantly clear on Justin Verlander‘s health (ahead of schedule in rehab at this point) and Max Scherzer (pending contract crisis). So it’s nice to get a window into other topics. With V-Mart, Hunter, Max and the various arbitration deals coming up at the end of the season, the 2015 off-season figures to be even more interesting than the eventful one we have been experiencing in 2014.
As a rookie manager, Detroit Tigers’ Brad Ausmus not walking into conventional gig – Motor City Bengals special for the Free Press
"Of the five skippers between Sparky and Leyland, four were rookies (Buddy Bell, Larry Parrish, Luis Pujols and Alan Trammell). Perhaps a better comparison to Ausmus would be Mike Matheny. The former catcher took over a Cardinals team that had just won the World Series in 2011. He took them within a game of going back there in 2012 as a rookie manager. So while we don’t really know what we’re getting with Brad Ausmus, one thing we do know is that he has much better tools to succeed than previous rookie Tigers’ managers."