Inbox: Odds improving on Damon?
Beat reporter Jason Beck answers fans' questions
What are the odds that the Tigers land Johnny Damon? He seems like he would fit well here. He could fill a spot in the top of the lineup so we don't have two rookies there. He may not have the best arm, but he is a proven left-handed bat that could help lift the Tigers back on top.
-- Andy E., Monroe, Mich.
I'd say they're fairly good now. Damon's interested in coming to Detroit, of course. Hey, he's even a fan of Steve Yzerman, apparently.
More important, Tigers officials are believed to be warming to the idea of bringing him in, if it's at the right price. The one obstacle in the equation is the contract, with agent Scott Boras clearly looking for a two-year deal. It's still something that could thwart a signing, but considering where both sides stand -- it's the most logical fit for Damon, and a logical leadoff option for Detroit -- there's a good opportunity to find a middle ground to get something done.
Instead of considering Damon -- and having to deal with Boras -- why couldn't Carlos Guillen fill the intended role? He could probably hit leadoff almost as well. And though he isn't a great left fielder, he's probably as good as Damon. He certainly throws better. And he is a switch-hitter. With more power. Where's the downside?
-- Joe B., Buffalo, N.Y.
I'm actually one of the few who think Guillen could handle batting leadoff. His walk rates the last couple of years have been by far the highest of his career, his pitches per plate appearance numbers are trending higher, and he's still one of the smartest baserunners the Tigers have. However, manager Jim Leyland has indicated he needs Guillen to bat in the middle of the order, probably after Miguel Cabrera. Without him, the choices for a No. 5 hitter drop off a bit.
Everyone I've asked says Damon is a better outfielder than Guillen, aside from the arm. He has a huge experience advantage, obviously, and he moves around the outfield much better.Daniel Schlereth had control problems last season when Arizona rushed him to the Majors. Will he stick with the Tigers out of Spring Training or start the season at Triple-A?
-- Kevin O., Milford, Mich.
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Why did the Tigers not go after Adam Kennedy as a possible second baseman to mentor Scott Sizemore and back up at third?
-- Lex K., Huntsville, Texas
The Nationals, Twins and Indians all had a second-base job to offer Kennedy. That wasn't going to happen in Detroit, where Sizemore is the starter if he's healthy. As for mentoring, that's something Adam Everett will most likely be doing as the double-play partner. It could be a neat chapter in the career of Everett, who had a chance to play alongside Craig Biggio coming up with the Astros but has never played alongside a regular rookie second baseman.
Why is there no talk of Casper Wells playing center field? Seems like he would be in the discussion after such a great Arizona Fall League showing. -- Darin A., Saint Johns, Mich.
The Tigers see Wells as more of a corner outfielder, maybe a part-time option in center. I expect Wells to come out in Spring Training and try to prove them wrong. He did a lot of training and speed work after the Arizona Fall League with the idea of gaining an extra half-step or so.
What do the Tigers plan to do when Ryan Strieby is ready for the Majors? They have Cabrera locked up for a long time and they both play first base. Would they move Cabrera to DH, move Strieby to another position, or trade one (probably Cabrera)?
-- Tony W., Purcellville, Va.
The Tigers moved Strieby to left field down the stretch last year at Double-A Erie and plan to work him out there this spring, precisely for that reason. If Strieby can hit in the big leagues, they'll find a way to get him in the lineup.
In hindsight, does the trade of Luke French for Jarrod Washburn ever come up in conversations? I really like French a lot. He looks like a durable, controlled lefty.
-- Matt W., West Palm Beach, Fla.
It does occasionally, but really, there's not much to discuss. The Tigers were aware Washburn had knee issues, but felt he could continue to pitch through them effectively, as he had for most of the season before the trade. They misjudged it, but so did a few other teams that were interested heading into the Trade Deadline last July.
If you feel that way about French, you won't feel any better if Mauricio Robles gets to the big leagues in a few years. A few folks who saw him pitch in Lakeland, Fla., over the summer -- including Guillen on his rehab assignment -- raved about him. That said, if Washburn had pitched anywhere near healthy, the price probably wouldn't be a story.
I've seen it hinted at that the Tigers might package Ryan Raburn and a pitcher (Bobby Seay) to get an everyday left fielder from a National League team. After looking over the options, I see only three outfielders who bat left-handed who may be available: Nyger Morgan, Chris Dickerson and Kosuke Fukudome. Do see any of these guys potentially being added via trade?
-- Charlie C., Grand Rapids, Mich.
I don't see Morgan going anywhere, and I'm not sure Dickerson doesn't end up as the left fielder in Cincinnati. Fukudome will make $26.5 million over the next two years, so he probably isn't leaving the Cubs.
That's the problem with expecting Spring Training trades to fill needs. It's easy to point at as a generality and hope for one, but in reality it's tougher to find a match. Remember, we all were wondering a year ago whether Marcus Thames or another extra hitter would be traded in a big deal, and the only swap was a Minor League pitcher for Josh Anderson. That doesn't mean a trade won't happen this spring, but the market at the end of Spring Training rarely looks the same as it does going in.
How about a little ink for Ramon Santiago, who played on the Caribbean Series champion, started and played EVERY game at shortstop and batted .316 for the Series?
-- Mark A., Vashon Island, Wash.
We don't really deal in ink here, but for the Ramon Santiago Fan Club, we can absolutely get him some pub. Seriously, the Caribbean Series is a huge deal in the Dominican, and it's great to see Santiago not only end up a champion, but end up playing such a big role to get Escogido back to the top.
Jason Beck is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.