After the news that Victor Martinez tore his ACL, likely ending his 2012 season before it could even start, Governor Rick Snyder declared a state of emergency in all 83 counties in the State of Michigan. Women and children were seen weeping in the streets, many local businesses closed, and Jim Leyland was seen shaving his mustache.
…so this didn’t actually happen, but there is definitely some panic in the air amidst the Tigers fandom following the revelation that Martinez likely won’t play again until 2013. The Tigers are suddenly without a designated hitter and a designated protector for Miguel Cabrera, and their offense is definitely weaker for it.
One thing is clear – the Tigers have to do something. Their internal options are limited at best and, in reality, pretty much nonexistent. As such, the Tigers will probably have to go outside the organization. The DH types that are on the market – Carlos Pena, Vladimir Guerrero, Johnny Damon, and (gulp) Manny Ramirez – are a rather uninspiring group (and no, they’re not getting Prince Fielder, and I’m not even going to go into detail about that – it would be a gigantic waste of keystrokes). But there’s a solution to be found here – allow me to explain.
Here is where the Tigers’ lineup essentially stands:
- Alex Avila, C
- Miguel Cabrera, 1B
- Ryan Raburn/Ramon Santiago, 2B
- Jhonny Peralta, SS
- Brandon Inge/Don Kelly, 3B
- Delmon Young, LF
- Austin Jackson, CF
- Brennan Boesch, RF
- ????, DH
In my mind, Carlos Pena should be the Tigers’ target. I know he would prefer to play first base, but his options are drying up there rapidly, and he may have to settle for a primary DH role. Why would he be the perfect fit? Well, I’d put him in a platoon. Against right handed pitching, I’d slot Pena into the DH spot. Pena’s line last year vs. right handed pitching: .255/.388/.504, with 21 home runs in 373 ABs. It’s not Martinez, but it’s a pretty solid line. Pena is poor vs. left handed pitching, so instead, take him out of the lineup, put Delmon Young (who isn’t getting traded anymore, not after this) in the lineup at DH, start Santiago at second, and put Raburn in left field. Raburn and Santiago are both better against lefties, so both their bats are in the lineup, and Young is excellent at hitting left handed pitching as well (.301/.338/.421, and even better career numbers). If we combine Pena’s and Young’s lines against the type of pitching we’re starting them against, we have a DH with a .266/.368/.482 (.850 OPS) with 24 homers in 602 plate appearances. Is it Martinez? Not at all. Is it terrible? No, it’s reasonably decent. If Young can recover and get back to where his career numbers are against left handed pitching it will be a few points higher.
The Tigers’ options are limited, and not very great, but Pena is the lesser of all evils, if you ask me. The Martinez injury hurts – a lot. But as long as they get a passable DH option, the Tigers should be good enough to take the Central again. The playoffs may be more difficult, but getting there remains the goal.
Lastly, don’t go out and damage any property tonight.