Three Designated Hitters: A Tigers’ Roster Crunch

The Tigers made a big splash by signing Prince Fielder to a long-term deal. Fielder’s bat has always been a boon, and the lineup will appreciate his help.

It’s the other side of the game that will take a hit with the addition — Fielder is not known for his glove, and neither is incumbent Miguel Cabrera. How will the roster settle this season? And what will it look like in the future, when there are three players in Detroit that might best be put at Designated Hitter?

This season, the answer seems easy, even with Jon Heyman’s belief that Fielder is the first baseman and Cabrera will be moving. Cabrera is a year older and has only once been above scratch with his glove at first base. Moving him further down the defensive spectrum would make sense. Having him share the DH position with Fielder might even make more sense, as the team could keep their two sluggers healthy and still get value from their bats.

Except there are rumblings that this is not the plan.

Danny Knobler expects the team to move Cabrera to third base, and Heyman reported that Cabrera wouldn’t mind moving. Huh.

Cabrera last played third regularly in 2007. Defensive metrics pegged him as one of the worst third baseman in the league (16th out of 21 qualified third basemen by UZR/150), and the embigenning Cabrera didn’t pass the eye test either. There was little surprise about him moving to first base — prognosticators had been predicting the move throughout his career. It was a natural progression down the defensive spectrum. Players are high school stars in center field and at shortstop, and as they age, fill out and go up against the other former high school stars, they usually move their way down the spectrum towards first base if their bat allows them to continue playing.

How rare would this move in the other direction be? How rare is it for a bad full-time first baseman to move against the stream?

Almost unprecedented, that’s how rare. First basemen have qualified for the batting title 721 times since 1980. In 202 of those seasons, the first baseman put up a fielding runs total worse or equal to Cabrera’s -3.8 last year. If Mark Reynolds goes back to third base this year, he will be the worst-fielding first baseman to ever try to swim upstream, but even Reynolds played third as recently as last year. Shea Hillenbrand was a bad first and third baseman with the glove, but he played more first base as he aged. Conor Jackson played 29.2 innings at third base last year, but that doesn’t seem like an experiment that will likely continue, and he was a decent defensive first baseman once upon a time. Jorge Cantu played twice as many innings at third than he played at first in 2010, and this came after he’d played mostly at first base in 2009 — but he’s been a scratch first baseman with the glove for most of his career. Ty Wigginton played more third than first for the first time since 2008 last season, but he’s played both positions with an iron glove his whole career. Aubrey Huff spent one year at third for the Astros after he was a poor defensive first baseman (and part time third baseman) with the Rays, but that experiment ended right there (with a -6.2 run defensive year at third).

So, basically, since 1980 there hasn’t been a poor defensive first baseman at least one year removed from playing third base, who went back to the position for more than one season. There is no comparison for this. It hasn’t been done.

Of course, if the six-foot-four, 240-pound Cabrera can handle third base, even to a minus-five level of proficiency, his bat will make him a valuable player, and the roster crunch will be solved this year and for the foreseeable future. Victor Martinez can DH, Fielder can play first, and Cabrera will muff the occasional ball at third base for a while. And even if Cabrera’s glove can’t last more than three years at third, by that time Martinez’ deal will be done. The team won’t win any gold gloves on the infield, but they’ll have plenty of power.

But what if Cabrera can’t hack it at third any more? Then the Tigers will have two part-time DHs, with a third on the way. Other teams will be well aware of the roster crunch, and the Tigers will be forced to eat a large portion of that contract they just gave Martinez in order to get any return for their DH. In that case, at least some of the big dollars the Tigers spent on their three biggest bats will be a sunk cost with no return.




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Graphs: Baseball, Roto, Beer, brats (OK, no graphs for that...yet), repeat. Follow him on Twitter @enosarris.


149 Responses to “Three Designated Hitters: A Tigers’ Roster Crunch”

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  1. Jesse says:

    This team has lost money three years in a row according to Forbes.

    This guy just likes baseball. Too bad he didn’t try and sign pujols, would have given them a much better shot at the ring.

    Still, i’m pretty sure this one is going down as one of the worst of all time from a business perspective.

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    • Jesse says:

      Also its not appropriate to call this debacle a sunk cost. Today they sank it

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      • Yirmiyahu says:

        Sure, but now that the contracts are already signed and can’t be undone, let’s think about what they should do going forward… You could keep all 3 if you could make V-Mart a full-time catcher. But when he returns, he’ll be 34 years old, coming off a year lost to injury, and was a borderline catcher in the first place. So you’ll have to trade someone.

        Trading Prince’s contract after 1 year isn’t a possibility. And V-Mart won’t have any trade value. Assuming he has a typical year at the plate, I don’t think Cabrera’s remaining $65M/3 would look bad. He might even boost his trade value a bit if he doesn’t embarrass himself at 3B this year.

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    • JG says:

      Really? Ryan Howard or Vernon Wells ring a bell? At least Fielder is reasonably expected to put up 5 or 6 wins. (And he’s making as much per year as Howard is right now to be a below-average-and-still-declining player until 2016.) Perspective, please.

      I don’t know if Cabrera moving down the spectrum is as bad as it sounds. He gets a lot of flak for being overweight, but he’s more mobile than people give him credit. In fact, part of his problem at 1st has actually been that he often ranges farther than he should (see the crucial play in Galarraga’s “perfect game”) as if he was still playing the Hot Corner. He’ll be worse at 3rd, there’s no doubt. But it probably isn’t going to be as big of a difference as an error-prone stone wall like Reynolds moving back to 3rd would be. Maybe another 3 runs lost per year (and that’s made up for in positional scarcity).

      At any rate, Cabrera could be the worst defensive third baseman of all time and he will still be leaps and bounds better than the production the Tigers got there last year.

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      • Phrozen says:

        Ok, Howard’s declining, sure, and his contract is bad, but “below average?”

        He put up 2.7 bWAR last year and 2.0 the year before. He’s certainly not “below average.”

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      • Detroit Michael says:

        Howard isn’t below average, but he’s getting close. According to baseball-reference.com’s version of WAR, he was 0.3 Wins Above Average in 2010 and 0.8 Wins Above Average in 2011. The post above quote Wins Above Replacement.

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      • JG says:

        Phrozen: I was using fWAR, where he is indeed below average if you take average to be the commonly cited benchmark of around 2 wins – I should have checked BR before throwing that out there, but he’s average according to the most optimistic value metric, while Fielder is a close to elite player making less money than Howard per year in this contract. My main point is that this is not even in the same galaxy as the worst contract in baseball.

        If he’s not below average now, he’s damn close.

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      • Steve says:

        Fielder has bounced around a bit over the last few years, and is generally a 4 win player, not 5-6. And Cabrera moving down the spectrum is as a bad as it sounds. I have no idea where in the world you think it’s only 3 runs lost per year. He projected at -40 runs in his last go-round at 3rd base. And at -40 runs, he’s no longer a star player, but I will give you that he’d be worth more than what the Tigers previously had at 3rd.

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    • Well-Beered Englishman says:

      And Pujols plays third base, too!

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    • Chone says:

      Weren’t they one of the teams who’s financial records got exposed and they were actually making money? Even if they weren’t, I’m sure they’re still making positive gains anyway.

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      • Ian says:

        No…the Tigers lost the most money in the league in 2010…I heard they’d be close to break-even in 2011 – haven’t seen anything yet.

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    • Brian says:

      They’ll continue to lose money, but one would think this deal gives them a good deal at a fat new TV contract when their current deal expires to help them somewhat offset the financial losses. I cannot imagine they’ll be short on sponsorship offers either. Either way, I have to respect Ilitch for treating his life and club like a philanthropist and realizing he cannot take it with him, so he might as well go for it and spend to win before he dies.

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      • Baltar says:

        I’m stupid enough to have actually thought considerably about questions like, “If I were incredibly rich, would I be willing to lose tons of money on a baseball team as a philanthropic project?”
        The answer to that one is, “No!”
        There are too many other choices that would do more good and could even be more fun.

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    • AA says:

      Ilich sells tons of cheap pizza and his wife owns a massive casino. They don’t need to make money on the Tigers. Plus, I think they make significant money on the Red Wings.

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  2. hernandez17 says:

    They need to win like 8 WS for a realistic ROI.

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    • ronniesandel says:

      8 world series to get roi? the yankees would have to win every year then right? as well as the bosox right? gabrera is under contract for 3 more years and vmart 3 also. jerseys beer and tix plus in 2 years a new tv contract will cover all these contracts. rangers just spent 60 mill on a guy thats never pitched in the mlb. pujols will be 41 when his 264 mill contract is over. the tigers and leyland will make this work guaranteed. why is it a problem to have the best offense in baseball? still not the worse d.

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      • hernandez17 says:

        Jerseys and beer — seriously? It was an exaggeration you douchenozzle. Of course they don’t need to win EIGHT effing World Series to make it a worthwhile contract. “Pujols will be 41 when his 264 mil contract is over.” And you’re touting this as a wise precedent? Just because other teams are handing out ridiculous contracts with huge money and terms doesn’t make it a good idea for Detroit to do it. They really needed to spend $200 mil to win that bullshit division? The point of my 8 WS comment is that there is no way the delta in wins Fielder gets you is worth that. Or the delta in “jerseys and beer” sales, unless the beer is being sold to Fielder.

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  3. Slartibartfast says:

    Fattest infield ever.

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  4. Chone Figgins MVP says:

    Tigers need to trade for my buddy Adam Dunn.

    The new moneyball idea – overpay for fat DH.

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  5. Chone Figgins MVP says:

    I declare Prince & Cecil the fattest Father/Son combo in professional sports history.

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  6. fergie348 says:

    Heck of a softball team they’re building up there in the motor city..

    BOOM!

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  7. Yirmiyahu says:

    You say that Cabrera “has only once offered value with his glove,” but what you really mean is that only once has his defense been above-average. That doesn’t mean that his defense is so atrocious that he’d be better off at DH. Over his career, he’s produced about 12 runs/season more value than if he had been paying at DH. If he’s going to be at 3B, he’d need to be about a -23 defender in order to produce less value than he would at DH. That’s unlikely.

    Of course, its rare to find a guy whose defense is so atrocious that he gains value by moving to DH (see Adam Dunn), but someone has to play DH. And Fielder’s defense has actually been a bit worse than Cabrera’s each of the last 6 seasons.

    I don’t know what the solution is. Probably not to sign 3 friggin’ DH’s.

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  8. Randy says:

    Except there is no roster crunch if you don’t have Victor Martinez. For now you have a 1B and DH, probably the best such duo in the league. I’m not sure why they’d consider Cabrera at 3B, but for now I wouldn’t worry about 2013. Win a World Series right now and worry about VMart if and when he comes back next season.

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  9. Ed Nelson says:

    I seriously doubt they’re keeping all three guys. Martinez’s contract is movable but Cabrera’s drinking problem leads me to believe that he’s the one moving out of town. This last arrest was his second arrest involving alcohol and violence and despite the public’s short memory I get the feeling the Tigers haven’t forgotten.

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  10. walt526 says:

    Any idea how Martinez would like at 3B? He had the footwork and the arm to play a passable catcher, so why not 3B?

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  11. beconstructive says:

    The ridiculous thing is that Miggy was ~40 runs better in the batters box than the 2nd best 3rd baseman last year, Evan Longoria. So even if he’s a brutal -30 UZR at 3B, he’ll still be one of the best in the majors.

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  12. dudley says:

    i’m less worried about Miggy booting the occasional ball at 3B, and more concerned about him shredding his groin stumbling after a bunt.

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    • Antonio Bananas says:

      I agree, the defensive value lost isn’t much because his bat is so insane at a position that doesn’t have many elite bats. If he starts missing 40 games a year, then that’s when it hurts.

      I don’t watch many Tigers games. Any chance Miggy could be moved to a corner outfield spot? Be nice if this is a ridiculous idea. I didn’t do any homework before asking. Just saying, if teams trot Manny Ramirez out there, why not Cabrera?

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      • Richie says:

        Manny never had Miggy’s weight issues, and got to play half his games in a ridiculously cozy left field. And health-wise, I think I’d feel a bit safer with Miggy at least in the infield rather than cutting off balls in the outfield.

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      • Ian says:

        Cabrera is actually fairly rangy and is comfortable throwing off balance. I’d think his skill set suits 3B much more than LF – he is probably even slower than Delmon Young, somehow.

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      • JG says:

        Richie: When Manny was in Cleveland, maybe. But in Boston and after, he got a bit chunky.

        Even if Cabrera is about 20 pounds heavier than what he’s listed at here, Manny had a higher BMI than Cabrera. BMI isn’t a perfect scale for measuring the general population, but when comparing two people who are both extremely muscular, it’s a fair method.

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      • Will says:

        Manny was only the worst defender in baseball since UZR has begun recording its data in 2002. -115 runs below average, and -20.8 UZR/150, and that was mostly in Fenway, which has an extremely small LF.

        I think there’s a flaw in your reasoning when your comp is THE WORST DEFENDER OF THE LAST DECADE. So perhaps you’re right, if Manny can do it, I’m sure Cabrera can give it a shot of being the worst defender ever.

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      • bstar says:

        Cabrera actually did spend most of 2003 and 2004 with the Marlins in left field. He posted ~(-1) defensive WAR those two seasons, not too far off from his fielding everywhere else. But that was 8 years and many cheeseburgers ago.

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  13. Schu says:

    Miggy’s fantasy value just exploded to #.0000000000001 (you’d be retarded to not take him first).

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  14. Cleetus says:

    Any reason the Tigers won’t just use Martinez back at catcher if there is a jam? Are they worried about a dip in production there or just his health?

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  15. Theo says:

    With Verlander, Fister, Scherzer, Porcello, and Turner, the Tigers really don’t need much defense. Porcello is the only ground ball pitcher of the group.

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    • Josh says:

      Of course, the outfield includes Delmon Young and Brennan Boesch, so maybe giving up fly balls isn’t a great strategy either.

      +12 Vote -1 Vote +1

      • JG says:

        If the Miggy to 3rd business comes to pass, Delmon is the DH in 2012 and is likely replaced in the outfield by Andy Dirks, who is quite good in either corner spot. Boesch is below average, but only a shade below average in left. Meanwhile Austin Jackson is superb according to UZR, which is the metric that likes him the least (2nd in baseball in DRS since he debuted, for example).

        The Tigers’ OF defense isn’t nearly as big of a weakness as the infield defense, and if Delmon is indeed the DH next season (which will probably be his last in Detroit unless he inexplicably starts raking), it’s a minor strength.

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      • Nathan Nathan says:

        At JG (and anyone else who knows) why would Delmon Young be the DH?

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      • JG says:

        Nathan: I don’t know if he would be, but it certainly makes more sense to put him at DH than let him continue to be a butcher. If he hits like he did in 2010 (not unreasonable with the amount of fastballs he’s going to get), that’s VMart-ish production from the DH.

        I think everyone who watches him (including his mother) knows that he’s a poor left fielder.

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      • Eminor3rd says:

        I don’t think JG read the article.

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      • JG says:

        Eminor: That was all based on the assumption that Cabrera is playing 3rd base this year, as has been reported. That is what I am going on.

        If that is true, the Tigers actually do not have a DH this year (in case you hadn’t heard, Victor Martinez is out for the season), and Delmon Young is probably even better suited for it than Cabrera (being that LF and 1B are about the same on the spectrum and Young’s UZR is much, much worse. Guess what? Delmon Young is not under contract past this year!

        Maybe you should actually read the first nine words of my post instead of assuming I didn’t read the article.

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    • Richie says:

      Bear in mind the bullpen gets, what, 40% of the innings?

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    • Scott Tubbesing says:

      Umm Doug Fister, also.

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  16. Cleetus says:

    Actually, scratch that… forgot about Avila.

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  17. reillocity says:

    Delmon Young would stand to be offended that you think so little of him as a player that you don’t even acknowledge him as the Tigers’ 4th DH. My hunch is that the Tigers would gladly pay Victor Martinez to go play somewhere else before the 3-way logjam for two spots (1B and DH) comes to fruition (probably no sooner than 2013 given a reasonable outcome for healing of an ACL repair).

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  18. Eric says:

    Youkilis!

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  19. Kernel says:

    If we’re talking about first basemen getting slotted over to DH/3B because of high-paid new acquisitions, Mark Trumbo comes to mind as well. They already tried him at third in the minors until the trainers giggled until they threw up and let him play first. Now he’s got to find a way into a lineup that could have Kendrys Morales at DH and an underrated Alberto Callaspo at 3B. The only regular he outplays at the plate is Vernon Wells, and even there the competition, Mike Trout, is better. But who knows.

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  20. Matty Brown says:

    I can’t imagine him being any better than -15 at 3rd, and the Positional Adjustment difference is 15 runs in that transition.

    If he is a -20 at 3rd then that would only be a half of a win loss. Although, obviously playing 3rd will cause more wear and tear and he will also be Dh’ing and playing 1st for 30-40 games I would hope.

    Should be interesting. They could potentially have 10-12 WAR from just their Infield corners next season.

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    • JG says:

      Half a win lost from Miggy last year = 6-7 win gain from Detroit’s 3B last year, with only slightly worse production at 1B and DH.

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  21. westcoast hero says:

    Cabrera as a -5 3B is nothing short of wildly optimistic. He would likely run away with MVP.

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  22. Cidron says:

    Tigers will lose every game that the opposing team drops bunts down the 3b line until Fielder lives up to his name. Tell me why a well coached team cant jus drop those bunts all game long? (stress – well coached, not “its all about me, hackers, and ego freaks”)

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    • JG says:

      Because most players don’t practice bunting unless it’s a key part of their everyday strategy (e.g. Erick Aybar, Ichiro, etc.). Also, no team used this strategy when Mark Reynolds (a far worse 3B than the most pessimistic projections for Miggy) was manning the Hot Corner.

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      • ValueArb says:

        Cabrera’s career 3B defense is -4.5, Reynolds is -10.5. But Cabrera hasn’t played significant 3B in 5 years and has gained a lot of weight since. It’s hard to imagine his defense is any better than Reynolds today.

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      • AA says:

        Actually, Cabrera has lost weight compared to a few years ago.

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      • JG says:

        ValueArb: The fact that nobody tried that strategy with Reynolds still holds up.

        I strongly doubt that Cabrera is a worse 3B than Reynolds, as well. Cabrera has better range than people give him credit for – he isn’t Ryan Zimmerman or even average, but he definitely shows enough mobility to not be eye-gougingly horrible at third base if his arm (which was never a problem in Miami) hasn’t abruptly turned around on him.

        He’s probably -15 to -20 or so, which would make him more valuable than Evan Longoria, 2011′s leading full-time 3B overall. Much ado about absolutely nothing.

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  23. Andrew says:

    There are many amazing things about this, but I think the most amazing is that the Tigers have barely improved themselves in the short term.

    -6 Vote -1 Vote +1

    • JG says:

      Signing a 5 win player is barely improving? Pretty hard to argue this is a model long-term deal, but it’s clearly good to great in the short-term, which is when the Tigers’ core players are in their primes.

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      • Andrew says:

        Right, because signing a 5 WAR player (assumption on your part, btw) means you win 5 more games.

        Did you forget that he’s essentially replacing a guy who’s almost as good? Verlander will regress. Outside of Miggy the rest of their lineup is pathetic. I will grant you that they play in a terrible division. So yeah, I guess giving him 9/214 on the chance he incrementally improves your playoff chances over the next couple years is solid thinking.

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      • Theo says:

        @ andrew – The Tigers had 5 of the best position players in the AL in their every day line-up. C- Avila, 1B- Cabrera, SS- Peralta, DH VMart, RF/LF Boesch. All 5 deserved to make the All-Star team.

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      • 20389438 says:

        You _really_ think Peralta will repeat last year? He hasn’t hit like that since 2005. And Boesch is average _at best_. He is not one of the best position players in the AL.

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      • Eminor3rd says:

        Replacing VMart with Fielder nets approx.2 wins. Avila is a PRIME regression candidate, and Peralta was positive on defense for (I believe) the only time in his career. If those two regress, it could actually be a wash.

        Also remember that while Verlander will undoubtedly be very good, he is unlikely to be as good as he was last year.

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      • JG says:

        Andrew: If Cabrera moves to 3rd, Fielder is essentially replacing Brandon Inge (who was… umm, -0.4 WAR) in the lineup.

        And as far as the rest of their lineup being pathetic, they were 5th in baseball in wRC+ last year. Maybe some of them will regress (maybe some players on every team will regress – ever think of that? Think “fleet-footed” Adrian Gonzalez is good for a .380 BABIP every year?) On that same token, maybe the Tigers will get a full year of Brennan Boesch and maybe Ryan Raburn will hit more like he has in the rest of his career. Additionally, Magglio Ordonez (one of the worst players in baseball last year) will no longer be getting ABs for the Tigers.

        As far as Avila turning into a pumpkin as some predict, Bill James has him losing like .016 wOBA. His word isn’t gospel by any means, but you’d think that if there was something blatantly unsustainable about his production across the board, he would pick up on it. Avila’s average will take a hit because of the BABIP, but his walk rate is very good and he has good power (personally, I think his HR/FB could have some serious positive regression). I’d be shocked if he got less than four wins, barring injury.

        But no, just point out the players that are set to regress, while ignoring the players who underperformed this year (like Scherzer, Porcello, and Raburn). Because players who didn’t do well never rebound and players who do well always come back to earth unless they have a five year long pedigree of not regressing when they’re supposed to.

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      • JG says:

        Oh wait, unless they play for a sacred cow team with a history of sabermetric front offices. I’m sure everyone expects Jacoby Ellsbury to replicate his 9.4 WAR season.

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  24. Colin says:

    Miggy was actually not putrid at 3b when he played there before. He was slightly thinner then, but he has shown the ability to come into the season in shape. I believe as recently as 10′ Miggy came into the year in fantastic shape. This year not so much. But maybe this will motivate him to get fit.

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  25. JimNYC says:

    This statement is untrue: “there hasn’t ever been a poor defensive first baseman at least one year removed from playing third base, who went back to the position for more than one season.”

    Deacon White played all of 2 games at 3B hrough his age 32 season, splitting most of his time between 1B and RF. He’d go on to play nearly twice as many games at 3B as any other position.
    Bob Bailey.
    Joe Stripp.
    Todd Zeille.
    Dewey Evans.
    Pete Rose (LF instead of 1B, but still).

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    • Eno Sarris says:

      LF is about the same as 1B on the defensive spectrum so I didn’t count OF ones, was specifically looking at third base. The numbers we have say Todd Zeile was a good 1B and that’s how I remember him. Darrell Evans played before the cutoff I used and generally moved towards first base as his career progressed.

      I’ll add in the ‘since 1980′ that was my cutoff and that handles the rest.

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  26. timmyt says:

    aaah shea hillenbrand…those were the days

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  27. Portwinelad says:

    Actually, Lance Berkman made a nice transition from 1B to OF last year for St. Louis with a body like Cabrera’s, and longer in the tooth. I would split DH duties this year Cabrera/Fielder/Young. Then in 2013, VMart is DH and Cabrera goes to LF.

    I do not think Cabrera at 3B is a good idea. I remember 2008 too well. I think his defense at 1B is actually not as bad as the stats show.

    Hitters will find a spot in the lineup, and the Tigers have some serious hitters, plus starters (actually see them make a run for a veteran for #5 starter now, Oswalt) .

    Most importantly, Mike Illitch wants to win NOW. Baseball fan, wants a ring now.

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    • ben says:

      Meh. If my team won a ring next season, I probably wouldnt care if they were hamstrung 5 or 6 years down the line.

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    • Theo says:

      Cabrera only played a handful of games at 3B in 2008 before he was moved to 1B. The greatest reason for the move was that Carlos Guillen was terrible at 1B. Cabrera looked like a natural at 1B though, so they wisely switched Guillen to 3B and Cabrera to 1st.

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  28. Chuck N Chino says:

    Can someon at Fan Graphs run a comparison of the WORST Fielding infield of all time — how would the 2012 Tigers compare: Fielder/Rayburn/Peralta/Miggy.

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  29. TexPantego says:

    Their owner is 82…. I think win now is his aim.

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  30. Sivart says:

    The position problem was the very first thing I thought about. I can’t believe any artical can not start with the “wtf are they going to do with 3 DHs?” question.

    Thank you Eno for focusing on the real astounding part of this signing, I’m sure it’ll provide years of tragic wonder for us all to watch.

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  31. Theo says:

    The Tigers basically had 7 DH type players this season, in Carlos Guillen, Magglio Ordonez, Wilson Betemit, Delmon Young, Brennan Boesch, Victor Martinez, and Miguel Cabrera. Prince Fielder just replaces Guillen, Ordonez, and Betemit. The world will still go round for the Tigers, only better.

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  32. JT says:

    The funniest thing to me is that for 2012, you guessed it, they still need a DH. And they could conceivably play……………………Brandon Inge there. HAHAHAHAHA.

    Why wouldn’t Manny/Vladdy/etc on a one year rental have worked?

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    • Colin says:

      Inge still has ok defensive value. If he plays at all it will be at 3b.

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      • JT says:

        That’s what’s so funny!

        If Miggy now wants to play 3B and neither he nor Fielder wants to DH, they still need a DH. Sure, there are several low cost options for a single year deal, but currently, in house, they could conceivably turn to………………Inge, who can’t hit but does have defensive value.

        HAHAHAHAHAHA.

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    • Eminor3rd says:

      How do you figure? Miggy won’t go to 3B this year, it’ll be next.

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      • JT says:

        Did Fielder sign to be a DH? Cabrera’s already saying 3B for this year, and he doesn’t want to DH either.

        Cabrera to 3B in 2012 is a reality.

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  33. Joey B says:

    For all the talk about how much value is gained by moving Miggy to 3B, because the hitting outweighs the loss of defense, if it was such a good move, why didn’t they do that last year when Inge couldn’t hit anything?

    As a RS fan, as good as Gonzo was, I didn’t think the move was an over-the-top type of acquisition, simply because of the dangers of moving Youk to 3B. I’d have been perfectly happy with a far less costly acquisition of Headley and leaving Youk at 1st.

    I just don’t see this working out. Miggy is younger, but at least Youk saw regular action at 3B over the years.

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    • Colin says:

      In fairness, Miggy has seen more action at 3b over the course of his major league career than Youk.

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      • Joey B says:

        But virtually nothing since 2007. I’m not a Tigers’ fan, so maybe there are circumstances that I’m not aware of.

        But it looks like the Tigers took a look at Miggy, decided that he couldn’t handle 3B, so moved him to 1st. Now, almost 5 years later, they’re moving him back.

        How many fielders will be worse? How many will be worse then Fielder? Peralta? Who’s the 2B next year? Is it possible that it will be the worst fielding IF in BB?

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      • Colin says:

        Well Joey, there are circumstances you were not aware of. They did the move because Guillen was getting killed at first base. He had already suffered some minor collisions over there because he kept catching the ball in the base path. They made the move to try to prevent Guillen from going to the DL.

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    • hernandez17 says:

      The only possible conclusion is that it was a panic move, induced by V-Mart injury and incredible salesmanship by Boras. They did not need to commit to 9 years 200 mil to win the division and compete in the playoffs. They have the best pitching in the division, and now the staff will fare worse as a result of this deal. Assuming Miggy does move to 3B.

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    • Theo says:

      Last season, Cabrera was going to play 3B in the World Series if the Tigers beat the Rangers. So it’s not like they weren’t thinking about it.

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  34. AA says:

    Miggy has all the tools to play 3B, as he was originally a SS. Agility and a ridiculously strong arm that basically saved him in LF. Remember the Galarraga/Joyce game? He ranged really well to make that play. Its more a question of whether he wants to work for it at 3B.

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    • hernandez17 says:

      There’s also the question of will he resent getting dislodged by Fielder. Hard to quantify but Miggy seems like the kind of player who would let a perceived slight impact his play on the field. It’s so outrageous that someone with Fielder’s physique can tell an AL team “I won’t DH.” Unreal.

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    • Joey B says:

      Well, if he has all the tools to play 3B, he must be a really good 1B as well.

      But Fangraphs ranks him 16th of 21 they listed last year. And 13th of 16 listed from 2008-2011.

      If he is a bad 1B, is it reasonable to think he won’t be a bad 3B?

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    • KJOK says:

      Dmitri Young was also originally a SS. Then played 3B coming up through the minors…. :>)

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  35. Super Shredder says:

    Pretty sure I just wet my pants at the thought of Miguel Cabrera with third base eligibility.

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  36. Mr. Thell says:

    A noble spirit embiggens the smallest man.

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  37. hernandez17 says:

    The real story here is indeed Miggy’s 3B eligibility. Evan who?

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  38. Awesome says:

    Imagine

    C Avila
    1B Miggy
    2B Rayburn
    3B Peralta
    SS Reyes
    RF Beltran
    CF Austin
    LF Boesch
    DH Pena

    SP Verlander
    SP CJ WIlson
    SP Scherzer
    SP Fister
    SP Turner
    RP Alburquerque RP Coke
    RP Dotel
    RP Benoit
    RP Schlereth
    CL Madson

    All it would take was finding salary dumps for Young, Porcello and Valverde and it is about the same 2012 payroll

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    • Eric Cioe says:

      CJ Wilson wasn’t going to pitch in Detroit. He left money on the table from Florida because he wanted to pitch near his home. For all we know, Reyes and the others felt the same way. You can’t just assume that a player will go anywhere because of money. $100 million in a town you like is more valuable than $120 million in a town you don’t.

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  39. Eric Cioe says:

    As far as money goes, I’d much rather have an owner who pulls in $2.5 billion from his other endeavors and likes baseball so much he’s willing to lose a fraction of his income on it than the greedy sons of bitches in Minnesota, Oakland, etc, who won’t pay to field a competitive team. So in that sense I’m very fortunate to be a Detroit fan. There might be dumb contracts from time to time, and they might look bad, but it never seems to hamper the team from signing who they want.

    Cabrera’s defensive numbers at first never made sense to me. If anything it seemed like he ranged too far on many plays. He’s got a strong arm.

    Detroit fans remember that in 2008 it wasn’t Miguel being brutal at third that wholly necessitated his moving to first, but Guillen’s awful, injury-waiting-to-happen style of first base, too. Cabrera will not be a good third baseman, but when the alternative this year is Brandon Inge (who is no longer good enough defensively to justify his Mendoza bat that also no longer has any power) and Don Kelly (…), I’ll take a -20 run hit there and roll the dice on offense.

    People who say Cabrera is immoble have no idea what they’re talking about. He might not be a great first baseman, but lack of range is not the issue with him.

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