By Spencer Impellizzeri @Spence_I on April 17, 2014
The Detroit Tigers are entering a new era. There is a lot of turnover from last year's team, as manager Jim Leyland, shortstop Jhonny Peralta, second baseman Omar Infante, first baseman Prince Fielder and starting pitcher Doug Fister are all gone. Brad Ausmus has stepped in to the manager role, but it has not been smooth sailing. Injuries and poor performances have plagued the team. Here's a look at five overreactions from those struggles.
After an All-Star season in 2011, Alex Avila has struggled. Avila hit .295 in that season, but followed it up by hitting .247 and .227 respectively in the two seasons since then. He is hitting just .192 on the early season, but there is no reason for the Tigers to overreact and bench him. Avila had a double in last night's game and also has a .323 on base percentage. Those numbers are very encouraging for Avila as the season progresses.
Brad Ausmus is in his first manager job this season. He has tough shoes to fill in replacing Jim Leyland. Early on this season, Ausmus has experienced his share of troubles, as the Tigers are 6-5. The bullpen has been inconsistent, there is not a clear-cut starter at shortstop and the weather has been uncooperative. With that being said, nine games is way too small of a sample for Ausmus to be judged on.
Drew Smyly was moved to the starting rotation this season, but he has yet to appear in that role. With the weather not cooperating early, Smyly has been working out of the bullpen and has been outstanding. He is 1-0 with a 1.56 ERA and six strikeouts in six innings pitched. Keeping him in the bullpen would not be smart, though. A starter in the minors, Smyly would give the Tigers a diversity as it would add a left-hander to the rotation.
The trading of Prince Fielder this offseason left a hole in the cleanup spot this season, but thinking that the Tigers miss him is an overreaction. Victor Martinez has stepped into the cleanup role and done well, hitting .316 with two home runs and five RBIs. Fielder's departure has also opened a spot for star prospect Nick Castellanos. Castellanos had a great Spring Training and looks to be on the path to becoming a star.
Different season, same old story. Even with the addition of Joe Nathan the bullpen has struggled. Nathan is experiencing "dead-arm", Phil Coke has been terrible and Bruce Rondon is out for the season with Tommy John surgery. Even with that, the Tigers shouldn't overreact. The Tigers have won with a subpar bullpen for the last two seasons so why can't they now? The issues are concerning, but more than nine games are needed to determine a verdict.
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