The arrival of the New Year is an encouraging milepost in the baseball off season. I consider it the midpoint. Just got to get through January and February now that November and December are in the rear view mirror. Then we have Grapefruit League. With or without Max Scherzer.
The Tigers are status quo at the start of the New Year 2015, since the Yoenis Cespedes and Alfredo Simon trades at the winter meetings.
They remain a difficult team to assess and will be until Scherzer either signs on or joins another ball club. Given the fact that Max is not signed and Scott Boras is his agent, don’t sit by the TV, radio, or your PC anticipating a speedy resolution.
One thing that I absolutely am distressed over is the inability or unwillingness that the team has shown in addressing what remains a woeful bullpen. Joe Nathan’s best days are gone and he had very few of them pitching for the Tigers.
Given that, the Tigers must hope (pray?) that Bruce Rondon rounds into a closer sometime this season. It will not occur immediately, with him coming off surgery but it needs to come. With Phil Coke
unsigned (and by-and large ineffective anyway…) the only real hope for left-handed help lies with Blaine Hardy. Blaine appeared in 38 games for Detroit last year. He pitched respectably, going 2-1 with an ERA of 2.54. His WHIP needs to improve from 1.385 and the culprit mainly was walks. 20 bases on balls in 39 innings will simply not work for a late-inning reliever. He’s 27 years old, so it is time for him to bloom if he is ever going to.
Al Alburquerque is the only other possible contributor. He needs to cut down on his penchant for gopher balls. 7HR allowed in 57 innings is high and in addition these HRs seem to always come with men on base. He throws hard enough and still strikes out over a batter per inning pitched on average. Other than Rondon, Hardy and Al, the pen is a toxic waste dump. That includes Joakim Soria. Dude’s got a lot to prove following last year’s meltdown.
Please Dave Dombrowski, please sign a reliever or two. The White Sox were the only team in the league with a worse pen than yours. They signed former Yankees’ closer David Robertson, and lefty specialist Zach Duke. Your move…