Thursday, December 12, 2013

Detroit Tigers position by position review: Third Base

Third base wound up being a huge issue for the Detroit Tigers late in 2013 and certainly in the playoffs. Miguel Cabrera played an adequate third while healthy, after suffering a late season injury that was certainly not the case. And before everyone goes crazy and says average or whatever the trade off in what Miggy can do at third is in his offensive production. given his health and age it is time to move him back to first where he is a far better defender than Prince Fielder. So the Tigers get a boost in defense there, they get what they had or a small boost in defense at second, they get the defensive wizard Jose Iglesias at short, and they get Nick Castellanos at third who will play slightly better defense than Cabrera did. The Tigers are hoping his offensive production pick up significantly and that sooner rather than later Nick is a middle of the order kind of hitter.

It may be a little soon to give Nick an everyday job with the big club. He was likely going to make the team in 2014 anyway and I would rather see what he has in April and May then have him go back down to Toledo. This is a big risk he might flame out and not get adjusted to hitting major league pitching. He may not be able to handle the everyday job of manning third base. However with Omar Vizquel as his infield coach I think Castallnos could be an above average defender at third. He has the skills to be a big bat in the lineup as well but I am not as sure about him being able to produce at this level. We shall see on that one.

It is time to get use to a new brand of baseball here in Detroit. The new lineup is not built to win it all, it is not built to swing for the fences, it is a balanced attack built more around speed and an offense that might fit spacious Comerica Park better than than the all or nothing beer league softball roster we have seen the past few seasons.

I think the goal for this team is to win the division first and then see what happens in the post season. Instead of the get to the World Series mentality we have seen the last four years or so. It is a radical change but remember this every player that has been added for 2014 has speed, certainly more speed that anyone the Tigers had in 2013. It is little wonder the team that was thrid in the American League in stolen bases won the World Series. The Tigers were dead last and speed in the ball park they play in was a piece they desperately needed. It is not a traditional AL offense, but built more around the Atlanta Braves model and we should see this team play more small ball, run more, and hopefully a lot less innings that end with a Tiger runner stranded in scoring position.

If Nick can play everyday, and if he can contribute in a meaningful way offensively I like this move. If not I would expect his stay in Detroit to be short and for Dave Dombrowski to make a trade at the deadline to fix a spot that right now looks ok but feels sort of risky.

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