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 What does 2008 hold for Tigers? - Gage and Henning

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PostSubject: What does 2008 hold for Tigers? - Gage and Henning   Thu Mar 20, 2008 11:09 am

Thursday, March 20, 2008
Tom Gage and Lynn Henning
What does 2008 hold for Tigers?
Season looks full of promise and playoff possibilities, with only a few points of concern.
Tom Gage and Lynn Henning / The Detroit News

The Tigers break camp next week. Spring training already is beginning to wind down, but has it been a good spring and will it be a good year?

Baseball writers Tom Gage and Lynn Henning analyze the Tigers pluses and minuses.


October, anyone?


T: You better not pull a Parker on me and start by saying how the Tigers aren't going to make the playoffs, but let's get right to it. How many games will the Tigers win and will they get to the postseason?

L: Ninety-five. And, yes, they make the playoffs.

T: Only 95? That surprises me. I say they get to the World Series against the Mets, and will win 103 games along the way. This is such a nonstop lineup that it can overcome almost any obstacle that comes its way.

Notice, though, that I'm not saying the Tigers will win the World Series. I saw it, but still can't believe they lost to the Cardinals so quickly two years ago.

L: Winning 95 games is tough. Winning 100 is really tough. I can see the case being made for 100-plus because the starting pitching and the lineup are about as good as a team can put together in any one year. But outscoring your competition two-thirds of the time is going to be rough, particularly when the bullpen has definite issues that won't quickly be resolved.

T: I absolutely agree about the bullpen. Next question, though: Other than Brandon Inge still being here, what's been the biggest surprise to you this spring?

To me, the biggest surprise isn't anything on the field. It's about how Francisco Cruceta still hasn't made an appearance. He could have made this team. Now, as Jim Leyland says, he still hasn't shaken hands with him.

L: The stunner has been there are no proven setup men in the bullpen. The Tigers thought they had girded themselves with Denny Bautista and Cruceta, and now they not only haven't seen Cruceta because of those incredible visa problems, but Fernando Rodney is gone (tendinitis). Add those casualties to Joel Zumaya and you have a bullpen that could be as taxed as the hitting and starting pitching is blessed.

Worries

T: Has there been a biggest disappointment?

L: I'm not sure about Jacque Jones. I suspect he'll be OK. Most guys don't hit terribly well during the spring. But I wonder if he'll be the answer the Tigers were looking for from the left side.

T: My biggest disappointment also will turn out to be Leyland's, meaning Ryan Raburn not making the team if Inge isn't traded. Raburn is a big league player with versatility. He does them no good at all at Triple A.

L: I think he'll take both and make Inge his backup catcher.

T: Rodney's health has been a disappointing development as well. The Tigers must be wondering if he's now entering a period of chronic problems.

As far as disappointments on the field, the caution flag has been raised about Tim Byrdak's performance. He's not had a good spring, but there's nothing he can't bounce back from.

Trophy time

T: You blogged this spring about the individual awards the Tigers might win this year. Which award do you think is the most likely? If you're thinking the Cy Young Award for Justin Verlander, we're on the same page.

L: If Verlander is Verlander, he has to be a Cy Young candidate. He could win 20 games this year. And if he wins 20, and this team makes the playoffs as it should, he's already top three, at least.

I have a different view on a possible most valuable player: Curtis Granderson. Most people are looking at Miguel Cabrera, but I think Granderson is going to cross up everyone and have a better year than he had in 2007.

T: It's obvious this team is going to score a lot of runs. How many .300 hitters do you think it will have? We'll probably come close to agreeing on this with Granderson, Placido Polanco, Magglio Ordonez, Cabrera and Carlos Guillen.

But how about Pudge Rodriguez, Gary Sheffield, Jacque Jones and Edgar Renteria? They all could hit .300.

L: Pitching is more an issue for me. I'm thinking that there will be five starting Tigers pitchers who win at least 15 games.

T: If the Tigers don't get to the World Series, will it be thought of as a bad year?

L: It's bad only if they don't make the playoffs. It's disappointing if they miss the World Series.

T: Agreed, but even now I think they consider themselves a World Series-caliber team. With the moves they've made and the money they've spent, I know of one person who'll think of it as a disappointing year: Mike Ilitch.

Quick questions

T: Todd Jones, what kind of year is he headed for?

L: 30-35 saves.

T: Pudge, does he come back next year or not?

L: I'm getting out of the Pudge forecasting business. He looks like he's closer to 30 than 40.

T: I think he'll have a good enough year, maybe even a great enough year to get more than one multi-year offer next winter, possibly even from the Tigers. But I think he'll go elsewhere.

You can reach Tom Gage at tom.gage@detnews.com and Lynn Henning at (313) 222-2472 or lynn.henning@detnews.com.


“It takes pitching, hitting and defense. Any two can win. All three make you unbeatable.”    
–Joe Garagiola
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PostSubject: Re: What does 2008 hold for Tigers? - Gage and Henning   Sat Mar 22, 2008 11:24 am

ashamed sure hope he's right so I can change my avatar to a Yay2
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