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 Adam Dunn, Rod Barajas, Pedro Feliciano would fill needs for Tigers

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PostSubject: Adam Dunn, Rod Barajas, Pedro Feliciano would fill needs for Tigers   Tue Oct 19, 2010 7:33 pm

Last Updated: October 19. 2010 1:00AM
Adam Dunn, Rod Barajas, Pedro Feliciano would fill needs for Tigers
Tom Gage / The Detroit News

Detroit — Adam Dunn, Rod Barajas and Pedro Feliciano?

No, it's never too soon to be thinking about the Tigers and free agency.

Therefore, it's never too soon to write about it — especially when the true offseason is only three weeks away.

Dunn (a productive DH-type), Barajas (a right-handed hitting catcher with power) and Feliciano (a left-handed reliever the Tigers once released, but who's had several good years with the Mets) would fit their needs for next season.

And if all three turn out to be Type B free agents, which they could, the Tigers would not have to give up a draft choice for them, as they had to for Jose Valverde.

So they could have that going for them as well.

In any case, Hot Stove time is almost here.

The on-but-offseason for baseball is October, when the playoffs are underway, but there's no player movement.

Other than deciding a champion, nothing much happens in October. Managers are fired and hired, but players don't get traded.

For instance, the Tigers have made just one trade since 1985 in the first four weeks of October — and that was a minor deal in 1990 with the Los Angeles Dodgers for left-handed reliever Mike Munoz.

There's occasional "option" news, such as the seemingly weekly stories that the Tigers aren't picking up Magglio Ordonez's option, but that neither he nor they have closed the door on the possibility of him returning.

But even those have probably subsided for a while.

That's not to say teams go to sleep in October. For the most part, what they do is plan their offseason, identifying their needs, and how to go about meeting them.

Then suddenly it's November — and before you can say "trick or treat," it will be.

There'll be an urgency to early November this year, though. That's because free agency begins 10 days earlier than it used to — courtesy of the 15-day period between the World Series and the opening of Signing Season being reduced to five days.

It made sense to do so.

Players didn't need 15 days to file for free agency. Most of them, rather the agents for most of them, filed in the first three days they were eligible.

So instead of only half of November being a time of player movement, most of November will be.

And with the Tigers feeling a need to be "nimble on our feet," according to general manager Dave Dombrowski — which gives you the impression that they'd like to strike quickly — it could be an active time.

When asked if the likely free-agent crop will be able to fill the Tigers' needs, Dombrowski said he thinks it can.

"I don't know that it will," he said, "but it can. There are other clubs that will be pursuing what we're pursuing, though, so only time will tell.

"But I think we can get some help out there." The Tigers have identified a middle-of-the-lineup bat as their primary need, even if it's someone suited to be a designated hitter more than a position player.

Production will be more important than position.

They'd prefer it to be a left-handed hitter, but would settle for a right-handed hitter if they feel he'd help.

They also need a backup catcher and bullpen depth.

The scarcity of catchers could mean the Tigers will have to trade for a catcher. There will be plenty of relief pitchers available, but also plenty of clubs looking for them.

As for the impact bat, Dunn appears to be their primary target, according to departing Johnny Damon, who identified Dunn in comments to the New York Post as the kind of player the Tigers told him they'll be targeting.

Carl Crawford will probably get the most attention of any free-agent outfielder, but even with the money that's coming off the Tigers' books, he'll probably be too high-priced for them.

The Tigers better have a list deeper than Dunn, though, as the Washington Nationals could make a strong push to keep him.

So here's a look at the top three likely free agents at all the positions this winter.

Catcher

1. Victor Martinez

2. Ramon Hernandez

3. John Buck Comment: Buck would probably require more playing time than Barajas. Therefore, Barajas is a better fit to complement Alex Avila.

First base

1. Paul Konerko

2. Adam Dunn

3. Carlos Pena/Aubrey Huff Comment: Dunn hitting behind Miguel Cabrera appeals to the Tigers. Another player to keep your eye on, however, if his option is declined by the Yankees, is switch-hitting Lance Berkman, who might be worth a look at the right price.

Second base

1. Orlando Hudson

2. David Eckstein

3. Several with undecided options Comment: Thin crop at second. Tigers will go with what they have (Will Rhymes/Scott Sizemore).

Shortstop

1. Derek Jeter

2. Juan Uribe

3. Several with undecided options Comment: Jeter leaving? Not a chance.

Third base

1. Adrian Beltre

2. Ty Wigginton

3. Miguel Tejada Comment: Brandon Inge's likely return cancels any would-be Tigers' interest in this position

Left field

1. Carl Crawford

2. Manny Ramirez

3. Pat Burrell Comment: No, no, and no. Tigers won't get into a bidding war for Crawford.

Center field

1. Nothing worth discussing Comment: But that's O.K. The Tigers are set with Austin Jackson.

Right field

1. Jayson Werth

2. Resigning Magglio Ordonez

3. No other viable alternative Comment: And since Werth could be a Type A free agent, retaining Ordonez is much more likely.

Designated hitter

1. Manny Ramirez

2. Hideki Matsui

3. Jim Thome Comment: If he doesn't return to the Twins, and still wants to play, why not give Thome a try? Twenty-five home runs in fewer than 300 at-bats? Plus a .412 on-base percentage? Why not, indeed.

Starting pitchers

1. Cliff Lee

2. Carl Pavano

3. Jorge De La Rosa Comment: With four starters in place, now with Phil Coke being moved to the rotation, the Tigers probably won't sign a free-agent starter. Not a high-priced one, anyway.

Relief pitchers

1. Mariano Rivera

2. Rafael Soriano

3. Matt Guerrier Comment: Obviously no to Rivera, also to Soriano, and probably to Guerrier, as well, if he's a Type A. But Guerrier is one of several Minnesota relief pitchers who'll be eligible for free agency — Brian Fuentes, Jon Rauch and Jesse Crain being the others. The Twins won't retain them all. It wouldn't be surprising if the Tigers show interest in Rauch and/or Crain, weakening the Twins in the process. Lefty Randy Choate (Tampa Bay) might also be a fit. As for Feliciano, he won't come cheaply, but for the Mets, he's had an ERA above 3.30 just once in the last five years. With Coke going to the rotation, he's the type of dependable lefty the bullpen will need.


From The Detroit News: http://detnews.com/article/20101019/SPORTS0104/10190303#ixzz12qTJ0SdU


“It takes pitching, hitting and defense. Any two can win. All three make you unbeatable.”    
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