Monday, November 18, 2013

Detroit Tigers position by position review: second base

The second base spot on the Detroit Tigers roster has been in flux for some time. Ever since the team let Placido Polanco walk out of town without so much as on a offer following the 2009 season. It got so bad that the team had to add Omar Infante back to the roster last year at the trading deadline. That sort of made up for the rather poor decision to trade away Infante in the first palce for Jacque Jones a move that helped lead to the disaster that was 2008. Jacque would only last on the Tigers till May of 2008 and we can argue that the Tigers could have used Infante at short if not at second nearly all of that time. Granted the team had an aging Carlos Guillen, Polanco as well as Ramon Santiago on the roster so there was a surplus of infielders but I think the team would have done better to keep Infante.

Granted none of that is here nor there, and the Infante for Jones deal is hardly the only trade Dave Dombrowski made that backfired. Now the Infante is on the open market, and due a pretty big raise based on his performance for the Tigers the second base situation once again is in flux. It seems to me the first name to sign a contract this off season will be Max Scherzer and no other commitments will be made till that is done.

Infante hit .318 with 10 home runs and 51 RBI and was a nice fit in the bottom third of the Tigers batting order. However, his defensive skills are his value to the Tigers with Prince Fielder at first and Miguel Cabrera at third the Tigers need middle infielderd with range. They had that with Infante and with Jose Iglesias at short. Now they either resign Infante who made 4 million in 2013 or they go with the youngster Hernan Perez at second and save some money to address other needs. The only way I support doing so is if the Tigers go out and upgrade the catching situation. Alex Avila does not have enough offensive production to justify having him hit every day along with the light bats of Iglesias and Perez.

The preferable option is to bring back Infante, but economics might decide that. How much can the Tigers afford to pay him is not known but there seems to be a big fall off from the top free agent 2nd baseman, Robinson Cano, to Infante to the rest of the free agent field at this position. The crazy option, and Mr Illitch has been know to go this route from time to time, would be to sign Cano to a huge deal and get a second baseman and a lead off guy this roster so desperately needs.

I do not think the Tigers can afford to pay Infante anything more than 6 million dollars or so. I also happen to think there is a team out there that will offer him more. That means you take the savings where you can, and play Perez here and look to upgrade the situation at Catcher to help improve the bottom of the order. Good teams, winning teams have a good mix of high priced free agent acquisitions and younger kids that can play adequately and who have good defense. I think Hernan Perez is the likely 2014 starter at second.

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