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 Tigers still don't see Santiago as a full-time shortstop

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PostSubject: Tigers still don't see Santiago as a full-time shortstop   Wed Nov 12, 2008 2:31 am

Wednesday, November 12, 2008
Tigers still don't see Santiago as a full-time shortstop
Lynn Henning / The Detroit News

DETROIT -- It could be argued a Tigers team trying to find a shortstop for next season already has one.

What exactly is the club's hangup with Ramon Santiago?

He's 29. He has a splendid glove and strong arm. He batted .282 in 58 games in 2008. He hit four home runs, including two in one game. He had an on-base percentage of .411 and a .460 slugging percentage, which as the Sabermetrics crowd knows, combines for an impressive .871 OPS (on-base plus slugging percentage).

Still, the Tigers are shopping for a shortstop, a reality not dismissed Tuesday by Dave Dombrowski, the Tigers president and GM who is trying to fill a number of holes this offseason.

It has been known for years the Tigers do not believe Santiago has the physical makeup to be entrusted with a regular infield job.

"We've said it many times," Dombrowski acknowledged. "We like him. But there's a difference between playing somebody every day. You're talking 150 games, and that's a lot of baseball at the major league level.

"Our gut instinct is that he would have a hard time handling that. You never know, but it's a gut instinct. I'm not saying that as we weigh our options that it might not be something that ends up happening. We have different spots we're trying to fill, and only so much (free-agent) cash involved."

He's come a long way

Santiago signed with the Tigers in 1998 as a teen from the Dominican Republic who four years later found himself in the majors. He was made the team's regular shortstop in 2003, Alan Trammell's first season, but hit only .225 in 141 games with a .292 OBP and a .284 slugging percentage.

In Santiago's defense, he began that season as a slight, 23-year-old infielder. He has since grown into an important reserve who can play three infield positions. His physique also has taken on greater bulk and muscle (he's listed at 5-foot-11, 175 pounds, 25 more than he carried five years ago).

"He's a good player," Tigers manager Jim Leyland said Tuesday. "But more than two or three games a week, I worry that he would wear down. And I worry what that would do to his offense.

"But," said Leyland, "you never know. We might have to go in that direction."

The Tigers believed after Santiago's 2003 audition that they had seen his potential on season-long display and traded him in January of 2004 to the Mariners as part of a deal that brought Carlos Guillen to the Tigers. Two years later, they signed him as a minor-league free agent. He instantly convinced then-new manager Jim Leyland he had the tools necessary to make it as a reserve.

And that has been his role the past three seasons.

Shopping list is lengthy

Dombrowski re-confirmed Tuesday the Tigers are continuing their hunt not only for a shortstop, but for bullpen help and for another catcher -- priority areas that had been established even before the end of a dismal season that saw Detroit finish last in the American League Central.

"We have a few needs we're trying to fill," Dombrowski said. "We've committed a lot of resources (payroll) already, although resources aren't a problem. We have one of the highest payrolls in Major League Baseball, and we need some of those guys who are being paid well to have good years and at the same time find some people who will make us better.

"We have to weigh some needs for a catcher, at shortstop, and in our bullpen. We've talked to a lot of clubs. A lot happens between now and the Christmas holidays, although it wouldn't surprise me if things (trades and free-agent signings) ran later.
"Big-name free agents usually take until the early part of the winter (to sign), so it slows down the market. But you never know."

Free agents can begin signing with new clubs Friday, although Dombrowski doesn't anticipate anything dramatic on the first day, either nationally or with respect to his club.

Don't rule out a mega-trade

The Tigers are almost certainly out of the free-agent sweepstakes for mega-million relievers such as Angels closer Francisco Rodriguez and Brian Fuentes of the Rockies. They either will sign a second-tier reliever who could perhaps function as a closer, or they will trade for relief help, which also could be their remedy at shortstop and at catcher.

The serious need for meaningful help at three places, beginning with the bullpen, makes it more likely that a trade for premier hitter Magglio Ordonez is inescapable. A limited free-agent budget likewise suggests the Tigers will consider a major trade as their answer at so many vital positions.

The equally limited number of trade-worthy Tigers points just as directly at Ordonez being the best of their bargaining chips.

Dombrowski did not get into specific names Tuesday, although he did say next month's winter meetings (Dec. 8-11 in Las Vegas) could be significant as they bump up against a Dec. 12 deadline for clubs to tender contracts to arbitration-eligible players they choose to bring back.

"I think there'll be a lot of trade conversations," said Dombrowski, not discounting his own team's potential to fill holes, one way or another, with three months to go before spring camp opens in Lakeland, Fla.

You can reach Lynn Henning at lynn.henning@detnews.com
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PostSubject: Re: Tigers still don't see Santiago as a full-time shortstop   Wed Nov 12, 2008 2:41 am

Keep Maggs


Play Santiago at short
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PostSubject: Re: Tigers still don't see Santiago as a full-time shortstop   Wed Nov 12, 2008 8:42 am

I wish Raburn played short.
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PostSubject: Re: Tigers still don't see Santiago as a full-time shortstop   Wed Nov 12, 2008 12:35 pm

When Santiago was forced to play everyday, his batting average took a major decline. He batted .211 in September. He's a great bench player but brutal as an everyday player.


bow Z. Miner
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PostSubject: Re: Tigers still don't see Santiago as a full-time shortstop   Wed Nov 12, 2008 12:51 pm

bobrob2004 wrote:
When Santiago was forced to play everyday, his batting average took a major decline. He batted .211 in September. He's a great bench player but brutal as an everyday player.

In 2003 he was an everyday player all year.....he was the AL Triple Crown Loser - he had the worst batting average, fewest HRs, and fewest RBI of any player with enough ABs to qualify. He is one of just 4 AL players ever to earn that honor.


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PostSubject: Re: Tigers still don't see Santiago as a full-time shortstop   Wed Nov 12, 2008 1:12 pm

catbox_9 wrote:
bobrob2004 wrote:
When Santiago was forced to play everyday, his batting average took a major decline. He batted .211 in September. He's a great bench player but brutal as an everyday player.

In 2003 he was an everyday player all year.....he was the AL Triple Crown Loser - he had the worst batting average, fewest HRs, and fewest RBI of any player with enough ABs to qualify. He is one of just 4 AL players ever to earn that honor.

Yeah, but that was 6 years ago. Who knows how good he would've been if he wasn't rushed. (I often think how good Bonderman would've been if he wasn't rushed too). I doubt he would be that bad if he were to play everyday next year, even though I don't want him too.


bow Z. Miner
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PostSubject: Re: Tigers still don't see Santiago as a full-time shortstop   Wed Nov 12, 2008 2:59 pm

I don't care what he hit 5 years ago


Or in Sept 2008



Still would rather see Santiago than Edgar " Show me the Money" Renteria at short.
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PostSubject: Re: Tigers still don't see Santiago as a full-time shortstop   Wed Nov 12, 2008 3:00 pm

Same goes for Miner


Rather see him be a full time starting pitcher than bring Kenny Rogers back
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PostSubject: Re: Tigers still don't see Santiago as a full-time shortstop   Wed Nov 12, 2008 9:24 pm

gs78 wrote:
Same goes for Miner


Rather see him be a full time starting pitcher than bring Kenny Rogers back

I agree, keep Miner as a starting pitcher!
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PostSubject: Re: Tigers still don't see Santiago as a full-time shortstop   Sun Dec 07, 2008 3:53 pm

Ramon is a little guy. I thought they called it shortstop because of the size of the players....ever see a 7-foot tall shortstop?

Aren't both Wilson AND Everett little twerps too??
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