Key Additions—Victor Martinez, Brad Penny
Key Losses—Johnny Damon, Jeremy Bonderman, Armando Galaragga
Lineup—With all of the troubles that Miguel Cabrera has had over the past month, I am hesitant to think that he will continue to carry this lineup. However, I do have some thoughts that if he able to kick his habit that maybe, just maybe he will be better. And that is what this lineup needs. Even with the addition of Martinez, I just don’t believe this lineup will be as good as advertised. Magglio Ordonez is still solid, but not nearly what he was. Carlos Guillen is aging, and they don’t have much punch on the left side of the infield. Unless Austin Jackson can live up to his potential, I just don’t see this lineup being good enough to consistently put up numbers.
Rotation—While Justin Verlander is an absolute stud at the front of this rotation, Max Scherzer and Rick Porcello have yet to prove that they can pitch consistently at the ML level. I felt at the time and continue to feel that Porcello was rushed to the majors. I do still believe in his ability, just not sure he can be the top end type of pitcher that they need. And I am not sure what they are thinking by trying to put Phil Coke in the rotation, as he hasn’t thrown more than 70 innings in any previous year. To think he is just going to become a solid starter doesn’t make a lot of sense to me. Penny showed flashes of old form last year, but he can not be relied on to stay healthy. Barring a big year from Verlander and one or both of their young guys emerging, this year is going to be a rough go for this rotation.
Bullpen—After coming over from Houston to start the 2010 season, Jose Valverde posted very solid numbers last year for this bullpen. However, he doesn’t have much help in this pen. They do have some power arms in the pen with Zumaya (if he can ever stay healthy) and guys like Joaquin Benoit and Daniel Schlereth. But none of those guys have proven that they can consistently get major league hitters out. If they can get to Valverde they will be fine, but I question their ability to do so.
Impact Rookie—Andy Oliver, LHP. The Oklahoma State product and 2009 draftee (2nd Round) already made 5 starts for Detroit last year. They weren’t good starts but as mentioned above, this rotation may need all the help they can get. Oliver has a live arm and a plus change up and with some refinement, he can develop into a front line starter. Now Detroit just needs to show patience with their prospect, which is something they’ve had trouble doing in the past.
Outlook—I know there are quite a few analysts that are really high on this team, considering their veteran leadership, but I just don’t buy some of their guys coming back and providing a huge impact. There are just too many question marks surrounding this team to think that each one of them is going to pan out, and in my opinion, they need to all pan out for this team to compete. Age has caught up to this team, and despite the arrival of Victor Martinez, they may not have the horses to compete as in previous years.
Brad Koesters, MLB Correspondent
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