It looks like Jim Leyland has pretty much solidified his starting lineup to open the 2010 season:
- Austin Jackson, CF
- Johnny Damon, LF
- Magglio Ordonez, RF
- Miguel Cabrera, 1B
- Carlos Guillen, DH
- Brandon Inge, 3B
- Gerald Laird, C
- Scott Sizemore, 2B
- Adam Everett, SS
In my opinion, there are no real surprises here.
Relieved that Austin Jackson appears poised to pan out as a solid center fielder with the potential to get on base more often than Curtis Granderson did. I'm already warming up to the nickname "A-Jax". That's a keeper.
This means more ducks on the pond for Damon, Ordonez, and Cabrera.
And if Maglio continues where he left off in the latter days of 2009, and Cabrera steps up his clutch hitting with runners in scoring position – we have a strong front loaded offense.
Toss in Carlos Guillen for good measure.
Don't get me wrong. Inge has been known to step it up a notch in clutch situations. But a career .240 average always finds it's level.
Or not. Time and Scott Sizemore will have to play this one out.
Defensively I think we are not as weak up the middle as we thought we thought earlier that we would be.
Laird is an excellent catcher. Hate his bat all you want, but this guy is good at the plate, a very good receiver who can holds runners, and getting them when they go.
But Austin Jackson has impressed defensively in Lakeland. Perhaps not a Granderson … yet. But who's to say he won't be someday ... now that we have seen him.
Again time will tell.
Piching - it looks like the rotation is pretty much set too – except for that fifth spot.
- Willis or Robertson
The wise old manager sage in Jim Leyland seems to know how to milk a bull pen for all it's worth.
Seay is out with a torn Rotator Cup. Miner also starts the season on the DL.
The Skip might need to keep his stool and bucket set up to massage the utters of this bullpen.
And now we have Valverde to close. This year our closer should be a welcome treat. Hopefully the ninth innings with a lead will not be the rollercoaster thrill ride of recent years under Jones and Rodney.
So as the boys of the old English D arrive back up North to open (Kansas City is still north of Lakeland) to open the 2010 campaign for the AL Central division – once again I feel comfortable with our offense, our defense and our starting pitching.
But the bottom of our order is weaker, and our bullpen is again in question.
There is a good side to this. We open against the Royals. And then we open at home against the Indians.
So we have a pretty good shot at starting the season on a winning roll.
But I don't want to invoke the hex of the 2008 seven game losing streak to open the year.
So lets just say it looks pretty good ... for now. Maybe a little weaker – but maybe not.
It's up to the Rookies Jackson and Sizemore and the bullpen.