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 Cespedes to work out for Tigers, Dombrowski

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PostSubject: Cespedes to work out for Tigers, Dombrowski   Thu Dec 01, 2011 11:51 pm

Cespedes to work out for Tigers, Dombrowski
BECK'S BLOG
Posted on November 30, 2011 at 10:11 pm

The Tigers have been among the many teams scouting Cuban five-tool outfielder and recent YouTube sensation Yoenis Cespedes, and they haven’t made a secret that they’ve watched him. Now, even team president/general manager Dave Dombrowski is apparently going to get a first-hand look at the man who appears set to surpass Aroldis Chapman as the most hotly-pursued Cuban talent.

An industry source confirmed Dombrowski will watch Cespedes work out in the Dominican Republic, which has been Cespedes’ home since defecting from Cuba earlier this year. Credit Danny Knobler of CBSSports.com with the first report on Dombrowski, who was out of pocket on Wednesday when the Tigers announced their two-year contract to bring back free agent infielder Ramon Santiago.

Tigers interest in a Cuban prospect is not unusual. They scouted Chapman a couple years ago and were interested before the bidding escalated. But Dombrowski’s trip to watch him is rare. Usually, international operations director Tom Moore handles those duties, with vice president Al Avila and special assistant Dick Egan making scouting trips to Latin America. Avila told the Detroit Free Press two weeks ago that they’ve scouted Cespedes several times. Special assistant David Chadd watched a Cespedes workout earlier this month.

That level of observation suggests the Tigers are serious in their interest. With the level of bidding expected, it makes sense for the man in charge to want a look. Cespedes has been working out for teams since the start of November, including private workouts reportedly for the Nationals and Yankees among others.


“It takes pitching, hitting and defense. Any two can win. All three make you unbeatable.”    
–Joe Garagiola
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PostSubject: Re: Cespedes to work out for Tigers, Dombrowski   Tue Dec 06, 2011 7:18 pm

Austin Jackson center of off-season talk
Interest grows in Cuban free agent Cespedes

1:10 AM, Dec. 6, 2011
By John Lowe
Detroit Free Press Sports Writer

DALLAS -- Why are the Tigers interested in signing Cuban free-agent outfielder Yoenis Cespedes? Why did Tigers president and general manager Dave Dombrowski travel to the Dominican Republic last week to evaluate Cespedes?

One reason might be that Cespedes could replace Austin Jackson in the leadoff spot.

Another reason might have surfaced last week in a report from ESPN's Jerry Crasnick. Crasnick wrote that one baseball executive compared Cespedes to Cameron Maybin. And Maybin is the player Dombrowski once compared to ... no one.

The Tigers brought Maybin to the majors in August 2007 as a 20-year-old who had played one week above the low minors. They thrust him into the lineup and into the playoff race. On the day Maybin debuted in the majors, here's what Dombrowski said about him:

"I've said it and I mean it: He is the best young positional player I've ever had in an organization."

Two months later, the Tigers put Maybin in the trade for the player who is doubtless the best positional player Dombrowski has had of any age: first baseman Miguel Cabrera.

If Dombrowski is anywhere near as excited about Cespedes as he was about Maybin, that could fully explain the Tigers' interest.

Cespedes, 26, defected from Cuba this year. He's working out for teams in the Dominican Republic while he waits for the paperwork to be done that will make him a free agent.

As Dombrowski met with Tigers beat reporters Monday at the winter meetings in Dallas, he confirmed he was in the Dominican Republic last week to see Cespedes.

"He's in better shape than anybody in this room," Dombrowski said in his hotel suite, which at that moment was occupied by front-office members and reporters. "He has a tremendous body, and he does a lot of things well. I really don't want to say much more about him." Dombrowski said he didn't want to "tip my hand" about Cespedes.

Cespedes has drawn interest from many teams. Several have watched him work out. There is speculation it will take at least $60 million to sign him. For that money, a team might expect Cespedes to jump to the big leagues immediately.

Cespedes is a centerfielder. Suppose he is on the Tigers next year. Would he replace Jackson in center? Or would he share time with Jackson and rightfielder Brennan Boesch and replace Jackson at leadoff?

Jackson struck out 181 times this past season -- 11 more than in his rookie season. For his two-year career, that's 351 strikeouts. According to research done on Baseball-Reference.com, only three players have struck out more often than Jackson over the past two seasons, and none is a speedster like Jackson.

Every time Jackson strikes out, he deprives himself of the chance to use his speed to beat out a hit. There's perhaps no place where strikeouts are more penalizing than at leadoff -- especially when the leadoff man has the speed to beat out hits and steal bases, as Jackson does.

On Monday, manager Jim Leyland gave his diagnosis of why Jackson hit 44 points lower than in 2010:

"I believe that he got caught in between a few things," Leyland said: 'Am I a leadoff hitter? Am I supposed to hit home runs? Am I supposed to get on base? Am I supposed to walk? I've got to make this adjustment and that adjustment.'

"I hope that's the answer. I'm not down on Austin Jackson. I know everybody is making a big deal about the leadoff spot. We all know that's a thing he'd like to get better at if he stays in that position."

The Tigers don't have a visible alternative at leadoff. Perhaps they thirst for Cespedes to fill that role. He is said to have plenty of speed.

But what was true of Maybin and Jackson also will be true of Cespedes: No matter how much talent a player appears to have, no one can be sure what kind of major leaguer he'll be until he plays in the majors.


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