In his last four games before Saturday, Alex Avila was hitting .538 with six RBIs and a home run. (John T. Greilick/The Detroit News)
Flipping through the Tigers notebook ahead of a week in Canada's wilds:
But they have to weigh the marketplace, as well as any realistic chances they'll be able to keep the Twins within sight into September. And that will be clearer once they've wrapped up a road trip against the Mets, Braves and Twins.
The Tigers need to be careful. If they sacrifice an important prospect in July that they needn't forfeit during the offseason -- baseball's autumn/winter market is vastly different, and generally more affordable, than the July shopping season -- it can hurt a team that likely isn't good enough to catch the Twins, anyway, in 2010.
But again, that picture should be much clearer 10 days from now.
Avila's defense and catching savvy have been on the rise, as well, so say hello to the Tigers' next long-term starting catcher. What's clear on Father's Day is that he all but has the everyday job. That crisp, clean batting stroke carries considerable sock and has now made him the man behind the plate for the Tigers.
Laird is excellent insurance. But you have to believe he's not happy, which is probably why a free-agent-to-be could be on the prowl this autumn in search of a new employer.
Boesch's two constants are the most important a hitter can have: bat speed and the ability to make contact. No question, it took him a while to put things together -- not until 2009 at Double-A Erie did Boesch brand himself as a real prospect, after being drafted in 2006.
Now, what you see emerging is a 25-year-old left-handed hitter with power, with the ability to recognize and hit different pitches, and with more and more discernment at the plate.
No one figured Boesch could lay off bad pitches. But he can. In fact, he said it during spring camp as matter-of-factly as you would tell your spouse you're going to the grocery store.
He said he absolutely could be more picky. But he seemed to sense exactly what Tigers manager Jim Leyland loves about him. He thrives on being aggressive. Not recklessly aggressive, but firm in trusting his swing and his eye and what he can do with a baseball if he gets his bat on it.
Sometimes, players develop to the march of their own drummer. This kid's been listening to Gene Krupa.
He had a bad bit of luck with his serious arterial surgery of 2008, but the patience, and persistence in building back his body and arm, have restored to the Tigers a potent starter who is only 27 years old.
That spells big bucks for Bonderman this off-season. Of course, the Tigers could decide to trade him at the July deadline. But, to repeat some earlier words, that will only happen if the team is 10 games behind the Twins with no serious shot at overtaking them.
June felt more like July the past week or so. And, maybe not coincidentally, Inge's hitting picked up dramatically.
Actually, it's no surprise. He's back where he was during the first half of last season. The difference is that he has two working knees, or at least knees that can bend without the restriction and aches that become a consequence of chilly spring weather.
If it plays out that way -- hotter temperatures and a hotter bat by the third baseman -- Inge suddenly can team with Avila to provide two-thirds more punch at the bottom of Leyland's batting order.
More Lynn Henning
- Jose Valverde has likely thrown away his second chance with the Tigers
- Alex Avila's slump a major mess, but Tigers can't replace him right now
- Like it or not, Jose Valverde is Tigers' best closing option
- Tigers might need Nick Castellanos' bat to help secure playoff spot
- Tigers closer Jose Valverde proves he’s still got it
- Alex Avila’s protracted slump creates dilemma for Tigers’ brass
- Justin Verlander can't be the Tigers' ace all the time