The Tigers Open the Season in KC

Over the weekend I began working on
a post that would outline my predictions for the 2010 Detroit Tigers.
While writing, I kept fighting with myself internally over many aspects
of this team.

There are too many variables that could change the complexion of the
season.

In the starting lineup there are two rookies – Austin Jackson and
Scott Sizemore. 

Jackson, touted as one of the brightest and
best, still hasn’t played in a major league baseball game.

Today will be his first.

The same is true for Sizemore, along with the additional wrinkle of
recent ankle surgery. Although he’s healthy and fully ready to begin
defending second base, he is still an unknown in a big league uniform.

I know what both players are capable of and I am excited to watch
them develop over the course of the year. But both make it difficult to
predict a season’s fortunes – or misfortunes.

I know what to expect from Johnny Damon, Miguel Cabrera, and Magglio
Ordonez. Each batter will produce a large number of runs. No doubt.

Carlos Guillen, as long as he is healthy, will give a good deal of
punch to the lineup. To remphasize – as long as he is healthy!

Brandon Inge, Adam Everett, and Gerald Laird will be terrific
defensively, as they always are, but won’t offer much offensively for
the Tigers, unless one decides to become a home run hitter, a la Inge
last year before the All-Star break.

The pitching staff is solid between Justin Verlander and Rick
Porcello. Max Scherzer most likely will be solid, too.

I just
can’t nail down the back end of the rotation. As much as I hope that
Willis will comeback and be the pitcher the Tigers picked up, he might
not be. The same goes for Bonderman.

See what I mean? Too many variables to definitively say how it is
going to be in 2010.

But here goes –

I like this team a lot. It will be competitive the entire season.
Expect that there will be adjustments along the way, but look for the
Tigers and White Sox to see-saw between the top spot in the Central. In
the end it will come down to pitching and whether the players stay
healthy.

I don’t foresee Cleveland placing higher than 4th. Even though Kansas
City is a better team this year, they will be only a thorn in Detroit’s
side, just as they always have.

The Twins have lost Joe Nathan and the Metrodome. That will make a
difference for them.

The Tigers have a good starting pitching staff, along with their
relievers. Jose Valverde is one of the best in a closer role. The bottom
third of the lineup doesn’t need to worry about “reaching the seats” in
every at bat. They need to get the timely hits to advance runners and
put them in scoring position. Jim Leyland has preached small ball to
them this spring. Let’s hope no one slept through the service.

TIGERS VS KANSAS CITY

The Detroit Tigers open the season today at Kauffman Stadium, in
Kansas City.

Justin Verlander (0-0) will face Zach Greinke (0-0).

(Photo Credit: Getty Images)

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