Well I figured I'd check in, if only for the benefit of those Asian spammers who will have a new comment section to terrorize. Not sure how regular the posting will be as the season starts as the weekends are the only real time I have more than 15 spare minutes to post. We'll see how it goes. As for that soon to be starting season, here's my take on all things Tiger.
Austin Jackson, Scott Sizemore and...Jimmy Howard?
To update the non-hockey fans, Jimmy Howard is the rookie goalie who has literally saved the Red Wings playoff hopes. Though, at 26 he's not a fresh off the farm newbie. The same can be said of Jackson and Sizemore who, like Howard, were biding their time in the minors while the logjam of talent in front of them (Chris Osgood, Dominik Hasek, Placido Polanco, and the Millionaires Club that is the Yankee outfield) cleared out. The slight difference being, unlike Howard, Jackson and Sizemore are asked to start from the get go. My point? Well, after being thrown in after Osgood struggled to open the year, Howard took over. After a few shaky starts he found his rhythm and is one of the favorites to win rookie of the year. I think a large part of that was the fact he wasn't 20 year old thrown to the wolves. He had talent and a veteran team in front of him, that let him do his thing. I think Jackson and Sizemore have the same type of opportunity with the Tigers.
Miguel Cabrera, Detroit's Superman
Like Superman, he had an issue with alcohol that served as kryptonite over the final series of last season. 0 for 11 and a ride in a Police car over that weekend, brought Miguel's off-field behavior into question. This offseason he vowed not to put him self in that kind of situation, and swore off the sauce. Will this make a more focused Miguel in 2010? I think so, and pitchers in the Al Central should be more than a little scared.
The Dontrelle Leap Of Faith
Actually its a bit more than a leap. Its a Evel Knievel rocketcar over Snake River Canyon kind of leap. The back-up plan is now wearing a Marlin uniform, so it's sink or swim for Dontrelle. A bit of hyperbole for a guy that's only supposed to be the 5th starter, perhaps? Maybe, but the D-Train's Tiger history is full of derailments. His spring that earned him the 5th spot, is a little hard to read. Yes he had 13 K's, but he walked 12. He's had 4 scoreless outings, but gave up 5 in 4 innings in his last outing. I really don't know what we'll see out of Dontrelle, i want him to do well but history shows that may be asking for to much.
Dave Dombrowski's Wild, Wacky, Offseason
The roster is finally set, thanks to the aforementioned trade of Nate Robertson. It was an offseason that left many a Tiger fan (including myself) scratching their heads. It saw veteran fan favorites leave in favor for youth, only to have other veterans brought in. Players were let go due to cost, then free agents were brought in with big paydays. Are the Tigers a better team than the 2009 version? I'm not sure. Are they worse? That I really don't know either. Talk has been about the money the Tigers will have off the books after this year, but if the Tigers aren't contenders this year, the 2009 Winter of Discontent will come back to haunt DD.
What I'm Thinking
Coming into Spring Training, I still thought the Twins were the team to beat. Joe Nathan's injury leveled the playing field a little. This Tiger team is a team of "ifs". If Jeremy Bonderman and Dontrelle Willis don't implode...If Austin Jackson and Scott Sizemore don't play like rookies...if Magglio hits the whole year like he hit in September...if the bullpen can reproduce results like the 2006 bullpen...if the team can avoid a rash of injuries...then maybe the Tigers will win their first division title since 1987