A rival scout sizes up the TIGERS
I think JUSTIN VERLANDER's struggles early last year were due to his pitching through injuries that he didn't let anyone know about. The last two months of the season he and MAX SCHERZER were the best in the business.... Scherzer's delivery was more consistent and his fastball command improved, plus he has one of the best changeups in baseball and added a curveball to go with his slider.... ANIBAL SANCHEZ is the most underappreciated pitcher in the game. He's very efficient and can invent pitches at times. To mess with hitters' timing, he'll flip a slower curveball than advance reports say he has.... They traded Doug Fister to make a rotation spot for DREW SMYLY. You're always concerned about a young kid in his first full year as a starter, but Smyly added 20 pounds of muscle. He's not overpowering, but he knows how to pitch.... MIGUEL CABRERA is the best on the planet. Why is he so good? Because God likes baseball. You can't teach what Cabrera does....NICK CASTELLANOS's bat is ahead of his glove because he hasn't played third base in a year and a half. The speed of the ball coming off a big league bat is different than in the minors.... AUSTIN JACKSON is one of the better defensive centerfielders in the game. His swing gets long, and he swung and missed a lot late last year, but if he can find consistency, he'll be an All-Star.... VICTOR MARTINEZ is a great hitter. He stays consistent, gets the head of the bat to the ball.... JOE NATHAN is a veteran who knows how to prepare, but he's 39 years old—will he be healthy? So far he has been.
2014 Projected Statistics and Run Totals by ROTOWIRE.COM
PROJECTED RUNS SCORED
AL AVERAGE 694
PROJECTED RUNS ALLOWED
AL AVERAGE 707
Having reshuffled their infield by trading for IAN KINSLER, the Tigers have returned prospect NICK CASTELLANOS, who played leftfield at Triple A last year, to his original position, third base. Castellanos is a strong hitting prospect (.303/.359/.445 in the minors) whose defense was suspect even before he spent a year in the outfield. The Tigers, who continue to pour money into pursuing a championship for owner Mike Ilitch, could be better off making Castellanos the key piece in a trade for the Padres' third baseman, Chase Headley. The switch-hitter would give the Tigers some much-needed OBP (.350 career) and balance a lineup that is heavily righthanded. He also would bolster an infield defense that has been much improved over the past year. San Diego is unlikely to reach a long-term agreement with Headley, and Castellanos would provide better return than hoping for a draft pick when Headley leaves in free agency sometime around 2019.
ANDREW HANCOCK FOR SPORTS ILLUSTRATED (SCHERZER)
CHUCK SOLOMON FOR SPORTS ILLUSTRATED (KINSLER)