5 Detroit Tigers Players Who Need To Start Fresh In 2014
The Detroit Tigers Need A Handful Of Players To Turn The Page On Last Season
Despite possessing one of the best starting rotations and one of the most potent lineups in MLB, the Detroit Tigers simply could not get the job done in 2013. Sure, many baseball fans would have loved to have seen their team win their division for the third consecutive season and later advance to the ALCS, but the fact is that the Tigers once again fell short of the ultimate goal of winning their first World Series title since 1984.
Tigers fans have been aching for a championship ever since the Tigers fell to the St. Louis Cardinals in five games in the 2006 World Series but continue to be let down year after year.
Now, the Tigers are going to look a little different next season as a few key members of the 2013 Tigers, many of whom have been Tigers further back than that, have departed via free agency or trade such as Prince Fielder, Jhonny Peralta, Omar Infante, Brayan Pena, Joaquin Benoit, and Doug Fister.
Moreover, the Tigers also have a brand new manager in Brad Ausmus, and bench coach Gene Lamont and pitching coach Jeff Jones appear set to be the only two holdovers from the Jim Leyland regime. To put it as simply as possible, the Tigers are about to close the book on the past eight seasons and usher in a whole new era of baseball.
It could not be any clearer that the Tigers have been taking a different approach this offseason. The Tigers have only made two really big free-agent signings which would be Joe Nathan and Rajai Davis, and the Tigers only spent a collective $30 million on the two players. In previous offseasons, the Tigers signed big names such as Fielder, Anibal Sanchez, Torii Hunter, Victor Martinez, and so on and so forth. The Tigers passed on all of the big dollar free agents this offseason from Robinson Cano to Jacoby Ellsbury and Shin-Soo Choo.
The Tigers appear to be taking a page out of the defending World Champion Boston Red Sox' book by simply keeping their core intact, making a few key trades, injecting a little speed, and relying on a couple of homegrown players. Hopefully it pays off.
At any rate, fans should be excited for the next chapter of Tigers baseball to begin, but if the Tigers are finally going to get the job done in 2014, five different players who were on the 2013 roster need to completely forget about last season and start over with a blank slate by the time opening day rolls around.
5. Justin Verlander
Prior to the beginning of the 2013 season, Justin Verlander signed a contract that made him the highest paid pitcher in MLB history. However, Verlander, by his standards, only had an average season in 2013 as he was 13-12 with a 3.46 ERA. He did, however, make up for his mediocre season by pitching like the Verlander of old in the playoffs which was a welcome sight to say the very least. The Tigers are going to need their ace to return to 2011 and 2012 form in 2014 and pitch like he did in 2013 postseason all season long. Verlander and Max Scherzer should be the best 1-2 punch in all of baseball next season.
4. Austin Jackson
Since arriving in Detroit in 2010, Austin Jackson has seemingly had a good year followed by a bad year. He was great in his rookie season of 2010 and was the runner-up for the AL Rookie of the Year Award that year. However, he took a massive leap back in 2011, had the best season of his career in 2012, and then took another big step back again last year. If the trend continues it should mean that Jackson will have a big year in 2014, and the Tigers are going to need him to. The best thing for Jackson to do would be to forget about 2013, come to Spring Training with a blank slate, and have another great season on an even year.
3. Andy Dirks
After hitting an eye-popping .322 in 2012, Andy Dirks saw his batting average fall to just .256 in 2013. Dirks injured his knee in Spring Training of 2013 and never quite returned to 100 percent. However, the Tigers have not given up on him, and he is currently slated to platoon in left field next season with Davis. Hopefully, Dirks can get the rest he needs this offseason, forget about last season, come to Spring Training healthy and hit like he did in 2012. Dirks still has the talent and potential to once again be a force to be reckoned with; he just can't let the numbers he posted in 2013 impact his confidence.
2. Rick Porcello
This one may seem a little unfair as Rick Porcello was not particularly bad in 2013. After all, Porcello did have a winning record of 13-8 and he also posted the second best ERA of his career which was a respectable 4.32. However, the time has come for Porcello to finally take his game to the next level and begin a new chapter in his career.
2014 will already be Porcello's sixth season in the big leagues, and it is time for the once highly-touted prospect to figure it out once and for all. Dave Dombrowski showed a lot of faith and trust in Porcello by trading away Fister instead of him, which consequently made Porcello the new No. 4. It would be great if Porcello could pay it forward by winning 15 or more games and posting an ERA under 4.00 for the first time since 2009.
1. Phil Coke
With Drew Smyly moving back into the starting rotation, the Tigers are going to need Phil Coke to finally step up. Sure, it is true that the Tigers now have another solid lefty coming out of the pen in Ian Krol, who is expected to step right in to Smyly's previous role, but Coke finally needs to be the pitcher the Tigers thought they were getting when they acquired him in a three-way trade more than four years ago.
Many fans thought -- and probably hoped -- that 2013 would be Coke's last season in Detroit. He ended up posting an 0-5 record with a 5.40 ERA, and he was even sent down to Toledo for a spell in late August. However, the Tigers have not given up on him and have agreed to bring him back for the 2014 season. He has a chance to erase his last four seasons in Detroit if he simply goes out and pitches well in 2014. Coke needs to completely forget about the past, work hard this offseason, and come to Spring Training ready to rock.
The bullpen has been the Tigers' Achilles heel, and the Tigers have been trying really hard to shore it up this offseason by signing Nathan as well as Joba Chamberlain. But Coke needs to do his part as well. If Coke does not pitch well next season then it would probably be safe to say that 2014 will be his last season in Mo-Town.