With Spring Training winding down and Opening Day looming right around the corner, it's almost the time when the final cuts are made and the official 25-man roster is formed. So far some semi-interesting decisions have already been made (Jacob Turner and Quintin Berry are gone) but, as expected, the major question marks still linger. Will Brandon Inge or Ryan Raburn get the nod at second base? Will Inge be on the team at all? Will Miguel Cabrera really be ready for Opening Day? Will Andy Dirks or Clete Thomas get the fourth-outfielder spot? And, most intriguingly, which young gun will get the fifth starter job?
First things first. Brandon Inge has long been a topic of conversation on this little blog, not to mention all of Tiger Universe, so we know we're kind of beating a dead horse when we bring him up. We don't think he should start. Period. His fielding at the 2nd base position has been decent, but his hitting has been poor as usual, hitting a whopping .174 with very little power.
That's been the problem with Inge his whole career. His spectacular defense used to make up for his hitting, but that has diminished as he's gotten older. In our minds, there is no question that Raburn should start at second, given his massive RBI production and power this Spring. The defense hasn't been horrific either, so that's a plus! The question that Leyland and the Tigers face now is to keep Inge on the team at all. Want to know our opinion? Bench player. But we'll see what the coaching staff thinks…
In good, happy news, it looks as if our poor Miguel Cabrera will be ready for Opening Day! He was cleared by the doctors this morning and his eye is de-puffed, and as usual he's hungry to get playing. We had to admit, the image of Miguel all bloodied and badass with his teammates and coaches frantically swarming him made us incredibly worried, but it seems like everything's all good. We'll meet you in Comerica, big fella!
But who else will we meet in Comerica? Clete Thomas or Andy Dirks? People (read: Jim Leyland) keep making this sound like an actual freaking debate, but we don't think it is. Andy Dirks all the way, baby. He's younger, faster, has a bigger learning curve, and is just plain better offensively. Andy is raking up the hits, while Clete is playing at his same lukewarm pace. Look. We love our selves some Clete Thomas (who doesn't?), but it would be absolutely ridiculous for him to be chosen over Andy "Forrest" Dirks.
The final, big, most interesting question of who should get the starting spot? We have no idea. Three young, attractive guys are neck and neck. No problems here. Sure, we think it would be great if Drew Smyly got a chance, since Andy Oliver is stumbling a little recently. But Duane Below, dark horse that he is, looks pretty decent too, though he might be better suited for the bullpen at this point. Smyly has that 1.13 ERA, after all. And there ain't nothin wrong with that.
This Spring Training isn't really that cut-and-dry. But that's what makes it so exciting. Whatever Leyland chooses to do with Inge, Dirks, Smyly and the rest, the 25 men we will have in Comerica Park in less than 10 days is going to be a great group.