ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. – The Detroit Tigers’ inexperience was evident on Monday night, from Nicholas Castellanos taking his eye off the baseball underneath a dome to Ronny Rodriguez not playing in close enough at third base against Carlos Gomez.
The inexperience will remain evident throughout the season, as players learn the intricacies of their secondary positions.
Castellanos’ misplay opened up a big first inning. Rodriguez taking a few steps back allowed Gomez to drop down a go-ahead safety squeeze in the seventh. Niko Goodrum is still learning second base. At first base, John Hicks is a catcher. Jim Adduci is an outfielder.
“We have young guys out there playing all over the place,” manager Ron Gardenhire said after the Tigers’ 10-9 loss to the Rays. “So it’s gonna happen.”
It will continue to be a battle. Miguel Cabrera isn’t walking onto that field again this season. More injuries will pile up. And Gardenhire — like his players — is sick of losing ballgames. But there isn’t much they can do it about it.To the mailbag …
I wouldn’t say it’s safe to assume anything with regards to the Tigers’ trade deadline plans, which are very much fluid at the moment. It’s safe to assume they’d like to trade a couple of players, especially expiring contracts like Jose Iglesias, Francisco Liriano and Mike Fiers, but whether or not they’re able to move those players remains to be seen. Liriano’s struggles aren’t helping. I suspect they will be able to move at least one of the starting pitchers, perhaps Fiers, but I think it’s going to come down to the final days, when a contending team decides they need some veteran depth. Injuries will happen between now and then but they will also happen after the July 31 non-waiver trade deadline, and that’s where guys like Fiers and Liriano will pay dividends for a team that sustains an injury later in the season.
The Tigers would trade Michael Fulmer because they might receive an offer they can’t refuse. He’s an impact player, the kind of guy who will step into the front end of a contender’s rotation and really separate them from the pack. Of the interested teams, Fulmer could pair with Luis Severino on the Yankees or Clayton Kershaw on the Dodgers. He could sit atop the Braves rotation and would be a nice complement to Aaron Nola with the Phillies. They are looking for an impact prospect bat, and though it remains to be seen if one will be available, there are certain teams who can put together packages to get Fulmer. And there’s also the injury concerns of the past and the future. No, his right elbow surgery last season was not serious, but there is a general uneasiness about Fulmer’s health going forward, given his violent delivery. There’s also the belief that Fulmer probably isn’t going to be around the next time the Tigers are good, and he’s going to be getting more expensive in arbitration soon.
Hello again, Scot! It is a buyer’s market and outside of Fulmer, the Tigers don’t have any extremely attractive commodities. My gut says they’ll be able to move one of their two veteran starting pitchers in Fiers or Liriano. Maybe both, if Liriano starts pitching better. There are so many relievers available, I’m not sure the timing is right to trade Shane Greene, who has team control remaining after this season. Though an interesting thought would be to package Greene with Fulmer to a team with both needs. With the way he’s playing, if another shortstop injury hits, they could move Jose Iglesias, but I’m not holding my breath. So I say one starting pitcher.
It wouldn’t be a surprise to see both Burrows and Funkhouser at Triple-A Toledo by the end of the year. In fact, I’ve been told a Funkhouser promotion is in the near future, perhaps early in the second half of the Mud Hens’ season. The Tigers are pleased with the progress of both pitchers but Funkhouser is likely to arrive in Toledo first. In 17 starts at Double-A Erie, he has posted a 3.74 ERA with a strikeout per inning. There are some in the organization who believe Funkhouser can be the best Tigers’ pitching prospect of them all. And for being 21 years old, the Tigers are thrilled with Burrows’ advanced development: He’s really holding his own at Erie.
The rebuild is going to end in four years. The season is going to end on Sept. 30. The game ended way too late last night. The mailbag is ending now.
Contact Anthony Fenech: [email protected] Follow him on Twitter @anthonyfenech.