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Written by Matt Snyder | 14 March 2012

RyanRaburnRyan Raburn is off to a blistering start with the bat this spring. He has pounded six extra base hits (four of them home runs) in his 17 plate appearances and now posts a ridiculous 1.937 OPS. His hot start at the plate has some fans hoping that he’ll skip his annual first half swoon this season, and just pound the ball from the get-go.

Unfortunately for Ryan (and the rest of us), his career spring training stats have been a terrible indicator for how he has hit in the season’s first half. Here's a look at his splits over the past four seasons (spring, first half, second half).

 

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Written by Matt Snyder | 07 March 2012

NickCastellanosWide

Yesterday morning, as I was surfing around for Tigers chatter, the following tweet came across my timeline from Mark Anderson of TigsTown.com:

I was actually floored that there are folks out there who are clamoring for Castellanos to move positions right away! It’s true that Castellanos is in Major League camp right now, but, as Anderson points out, he’s still likely to spend two full seasons in the minor leagues before joining the Tigers. Being “blocked” by Cabrera shouldn’t factor into an organizational decision at this point in time.

Scouts have wondered all along whether or not Castellanos would be able to handle third base defensively at the major league level (and the jury is still out on this). If the answer ends up as a ‘no’, then the likely move would be to a corner outfield spot. So, the idea of Nick switching positions isn’t a new one, but the Tigers organization should hold out as long as possible before deciding to make that switch official. Five reasons:

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Written by Matt Snyder | 06 March 2012

DonKellyJim Leyland loves versatile players, and he’s probably right to feel that way. Depending on how a team’s roster plays out, a Don Kelly-type player (someone that’s average or above at six or seven defensive positions) could save a club a roster spot, allowing them to carry an extra specialist on the big club (perhaps that’s a pinch hitter, a Rule 5 player, an extra reliever, or whatever).

But, as currently constructed, the Tigers roster doesn’t look that way. They’ll likely end up with reserves that field as well or better than Kelly and hit as well or better at every position. This fact is highlighted by the Tigers Official (and probably rather unreliable) depth chart. Donnie Ballgame is listed no higher than third at any position.

Andy Dirks should prove to be a plus defender in the corner outfield, and he’ll outhit Kelly every day of the week. You could make the argument that Kelly plays a better center field than Dirks does, and I’d listen to you there, but Austin Jackson has missed only 20 games in two years (less than 1.5 games per month), so you don’t necessarily need a plus defender to fill his shoes, just someone good enough to get the job done. Between Jackson, Delmon Young, Brennan Boesch, Ryan Raburn, and Dirks, the Tigers have five outfield options that are superior to Kelly.

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Written by Matt Snyder | 03 March 2012

AndyOliverRoadThe standard spring training caveat obviously applies here, plus the additional fact that this exhibition game was played against an NCAA Division II team. You really can't try to look too deeply into any stats in particular, and we certainly can't form any conclusions yet, but starting pitcher Andy Oliver showed exactly what the team wanted to see. Here was his line:

IP H BB SO ER
Andy Oliver    3.0  
   1  
   1  
   6  
   0  

Oliver's career as one of the top prospects in the Tigers' farm system has been plagued by control issues. His career walk rate in the minor leagues has been 4.2 BB/9. Oliver is a high strikeout guy, so he can get by with a walk rate that's a little bit elevated, but he probably won't see sustained success until he can get that rate into the low threes.

Again, it's way too early to declare Andy Oliver the frontrunner for the fifth starter spot or anything like that, but let's take this first outing for what it is. It was a small positive sign that, perhaps, Oliver will start putting it all together.

Obviously we will reserve full and final judgement until much later in the spring once we've seen him face actual MLB caliber hitters.

Matt Snyder is the editor of The Tigers Den. He can be reached on Twitter @snyder_matthew.

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Written by Matt Snyder | 02 March 2012


I really don't know if there's going to be any MLB Gameday play-by-play, but if not, you can follow along with Florida Southern's Live Stats. I don't believe there will be a radio broadcast of the game, which is scheduled to begin at 1:05 PM.

LIVE STATS (via fsmocs.com)

 

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Written by Matt Snyder | 02 March 2012

RickPorcelloAnthemThe Tigers' main early-season storylines have been hashed, and re-hashed, hundreds of times around the Internet this offseason. We all know what's getting the attention -- Prince Fielder, Miguel Cabrera at third base, the fifth starter spot, Brandon Inge (always), and general defensive deficiencies -- but I think there are still some interesting storylines to follow and question marks that exists with players that will be returning to the exact same role that they held a year ago.

Rick Porcello's Strikeout Numbers
Kid Rick made a small stride in this department in 2011 by bumping his strikeout rate up slightly from 4.65 K/9 in 2010 to 5.14 K/9 in 2012. That's not a huge jump, and 5.14 is still quite low, but it was nice to see him take a positive step after spending his first two season in the mid 4's in strikeouts per nine innings. Many argue -- and I'm one of them -- that Rick probably needs to see that rate jump up into at least the low-to-mid 6's if he's going to reach the type of ceiling that was once projected of him. Porcello is still just 23 years old, so he has 'plenty of time' left to develop, but 2012 will be his fourth year in the big leagues, and if we don't see vast improvement after this year, you'd have to seriously doubt we ever will.

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Written by Matt Snyder | 01 March 2012

JimLeylandLineupCardTigers fans are already in midseason form when it come to nitpicking Jim Leyland’s lineups. The skipper released his lineup card for Friday’s exhibition game with the Florida Southern Mocs, and internet comment forms are already filled with “OMG what is he thinking?” type comments. Here’s the lineup:

1. Austin Jackson, CF
2. Brennan Boesch, RF
3. Miguel Cabrera, 3B
4. Prince Fielder, 1B
5. Delmon Young, LF
6. Alex Avila, C
7. Jhonny Peralta, SS
8. Andy Dirks, DH
9. Ryan Raburn, 2B

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