Lakeland, Fla. – Come on, just do it, it’ll be fun.
Nah, there’s still too much time left before the regular season starts. We’re just now getting to the midpoint of training camp. Too many things can and probably will still happen. Injuries – like the Drew VerHagen scare on Wednesday – guys getting unsuspectingly hot or cold. Doesn’t make sense to predict the roster now.
Oh, come on. Everybody’s doing it. It’s not like it’s binding. It’s not like anybody is going to hold it against you on Twitter if it’s wrong.
Don’t be so sensitive. It’ll get a lot of clicks.
OK, but only because I don’t have anything more substantial on the docket right now. I will give it a shot. Here is how, on March 8, with almost three weeks of spring training left, knowing that general manager Al Avila, his staff and manager Ron Gardenhire and the coaching staff haven’t even come close to sorting any of this out yet.
Would you stop hemming-and-hawing, get on with it already.
Here’s my roster prediction:
Starters (5): Jordan Zimmermann, Michael Fulmer, Matthew Boyd, Tyson Ross, Matt Moore.
Next up: Daniel Norris, Spencer Turnbull, Ryan Carpenter, Kyle Funkhouser, Matt Hall.
Comment: The Tigers are going to give Moore at least a handful of starts in the regular season, regardless of how he pitches this spring. Although their financial commitment is minimal ($2.5 million), he is still a veteran with a track record. So, they are going to give him every opportunity, just as they did with Mike Fiers when he scuffled through last spring. The leash is longer with Ross, who they signed for $5.75 million. Turnbull and Norris, for sure, will be up at some point this season. Norris needs the opportunity to string about 10 to 15 starts together uninterrupted by injury to figure out the kind of pitcher he needs to be, regardless of his velocity. By August at the latest, expect Turnbull and Funkhouser, assuming good health, to be in the rotation.
Bullpen (8): Shane Greene (closer), Joe Jimenez (set-up), Drew VerHagen (set-up), Blaine Hardy (lefty, long or situational), Victor Alcantara (middle), Daniel Stumpf (lefty), Buck Farmer, Reed Garrett (Rule 5).
Next up: Jose Fernandez (lefty), Zac Reininger, Louis Coleman, Sandy Baez.
Comment: The Tigers start the season playing eight games in eight days, so it’s likely they will carry the extra reliever out of the gate. Farmer still has a minor-league option left (a fourth-year minor-league option), so he could bounce back and forth if the Tigers feel they need a third left-hander. They do like Fernandez a lot, if he can command the zone – mid-90s fastball and a devastating slider. VerHagen’s health is suddenly a concern, too.
Grayson Greiner, John Hicks.
Next up: Bobby Wilson, Hector Sanchez.
Comment: There is a scenario where the Tigers keep a third catcher, though it is less likely out of the gate if there is an extra reliever in the bullpen. But if the Tigers feel like Hicks will be frequently used at first base and designated hitter, or if they feel the need for a more veteran presence behind the plate, it would open the door for Wilson or Sanchez.
1B – Miguel Cabrera
2B – Josh Harrison
SS – Jordy Mercer
3B – Jeimer Candelario
UT – Niko Goodrum
UT – Ronny Rodriquez
Next up: Brandon Dixon, Pete Kozma, Gordon Beckham, Harold Castro, Kody Eaves.
Comment: It’s a tough call for the last utility spot. Harrison is going to be 32 in July, Mercer 33 in August. Harrison has played more than 130 games once in the last four years; Mercer typically plays between 130-140. So, the Tigers need to cover themselves there, which is why I give the nod to Rodriguez over Dixon. If there was a long-term injury to Mercer, Kozma is the insurance policy. There is a good chance Beckham will not remain in the organization if he doesn’t make the 25-man roster.
LF – Christian Stewart
CF – JaCoby Jones
RF – Nick Castellanos
OF – Mikie Mahtook
Next up: Dustin Peterson, Victor Reyes, Danny Woodrow, Jacob Robson.
Comment: At this point, it seems counter-intuitive (re: stupid) to leave Peterson off the roster. He’s been raking since he put on a Tigers uniform. A case could be made for letting him get the majority of the non-Cabrera DH at-bats, especially if he stays hot all the way through camp. But to carry a fifth outfielder seems unnecessary, especially because Goodrum, Rodriguez and even Harrison can play out there. If Peterson batted left-handed, there wouldn’t be a hesitation. And also, if the Tigers didn’t take the extra reliever, then Peterson or Dixon would be going north. Either way, they will both likely be up sooner than later.
There it is. My best guess as to what the Tigers may look like when they come north in a few weeks. Talk amongst yourselves, please.