With just a couple of weeks left in the season, the Tigers will utilize the coming days to evaluate what they have and what they need for 2006.
The club continues to take a long look at what Curtis Granderson has to offer in centerfield. Curtis has gotten the majority of the playing time in CF over Nook Logan the last three weeks. Logan remains an exciting option because of his breathtaking speed, but he has failed to develop into a consistent offensive threat. Speed means little offensively if you’re not on base. Granderson meanwhile has very little to prove in the minor leagues. He runs well, is a solid defender and hits for more power than Logan. If you could combine the two, you’d have a stud. Last time I checked though, morphing players is frowned upon.
First base offers and interesting dilemma. Chris Shelton has weathered the mini slump he was in and continues to show offensive skills beyond his major league experience. Carlos Pena has returned from a minor league stint and has put up some impressive numbers in a short period of time. To me though, the fact that Shelton continues to play first base when he is the lineup with Pena indicates that the Tigers have made their choice for next year. I think we’ll see Chris hold that position for years to come. He has played well defensively and I would venture to say much better that most envisioned. I believe he is a much better athlete that people give him credit for.
Is Brandon Inge next year’s thirdbaseman? Well, his power numbers don’t match up with the likes of Alex Rodriguez, Hank Blaylock or Eric Chavez, but only Blaylock has more at bats at the position this year than Inge. Brandon has been incredibly durable. His error total is high, but also somewhat misleading. Inge has made some incredibly athletic plays this year and keep in mind he had to learn the position at the highest level. Not an easy thing to do.
The staff may get an infusion of young talent next year. Unfortunately we won’t be able to see Joel Zumaya or Justin Verlander pitch with the big club in September. Tigers fans got a taste of Verlander earlier this year, but both have been shut down with Tired arms. The stats are dazzling! Zumaya: 199 strikeouts in 151.1 innings at AA and AAA. Verlander: 136 strikeouts in 118.2 minor league innings. It will be fun to watch them pitch next spring.