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Victor Martinez has had a tremendous impact on his teammates.
_ With the stunning news that Victor Martinez is likely done for the 2012 season, the Tigers have had to make a U-turn in their off season strategy leading up to spring training.  Victor's bat was a major reason why the Tigers won 95 games in 2011 and nearly made a trip to the World Series.  A solid run producer, Martinez knocked in 103 runs and hit a robust .330 last year, but it was his impact on the rest of the lineup that may have been more important.

The arrival of Martinez immediately provided the Tigers with solid option for the fifth spot in the lineup.  An important position considering the bat sitting in front of him in the four hole, Miguel Cabrera.  Opposing pitchers avoided Cabrera like the plague in 2010, intentionally walking him 32 times.  With Martinez lurking behind him in 2011, Cabrera's intentional walks dropped by ten to 22.  Martinez also boasted a .380 on base percentage last year, often extending innings and creating scoring opportunities.

So, we know what the Tigers will be missing next year, the question is how do you replace him?  Almost immediately, the name Prince Fielder surfaced.  Signing Prince would give the Tigers three $20 million/year players.  Not a prudent use of payroll.  Aside from the money, the fact that Prince won't DH, nor will Cabrera, he's a perfect fit.

The more practical solution is for the Tigers to sign a more moderately priced free agent or to make a deal.  The good news is that the Tigers have time on their side.  Plenty of unsigned veterans remain on the market and Dave Dombrowski indicated that the solution the Tigers are are pursuing is short term.  Is Vlad Guerrero the answer?  He hit only 13 homers last year and will be 37 next month.  Johnny Damon?  I'm not sure that he would keep opposing managers from walking Cabrera.  If the Tigers sign Yoenis Cespedes, that could free up Delmon Young to DH.  Huge "if" with lots of competition.

Whatever the solution, there is still plenty of time to decide how to proceed.  the Tigers should still be considered the favorite in the A.L. Central, but last season proved how important the fifth spot in the lineup can be.

 


Comments

Joe Halsteadf
01/19/2012 13:36

Let's just hope that DD doesn't listen to the suggestions to put Clete Thomas in left field, as a means of putting D. Young in the DH spot.

The mere mention of Clete Thomas says to me, "Hey, it's okay if we're mediocre this year."

Well, it's NOT okay.

I would sooner promote Thomas to the 25 man roster as a backup so that Raburn can play left field every day, and Delmon Young can be the DH. Raburn is due to have a complete season at the plate. That would be a cash-neutral move to make, and frankly, I could see Dombrowski doing this.

The other decent solution would be to bring back Magglio Ordonez, stick him in left field, and again, put Delmon Young at DH. Magglio, before injuring himself most recently, was swinging the bat really well. His ability to throw the ball would compare well with other LFers around the league, as well. He didn't get enough credit for the throws he could make from the RF corner all the way to the edge of the grass, right on the cut-off man's chest.

One thing that we forget, in terms of the impact on Miguel Cabrera, is that we can also put Jhonny Peralta behind him. Peralta doesn't switch hit, but he's a proven hitter. The DH doesn't have to go behind Cabrera.

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