TigsTown MLN: Surging Offense Leaving Town?

Having lost some a few of their top hitters over the past couple months for various reasons, Erie's offense may finally be looking up. But who exactly is entering the fold to help out the team, and who else might be on the way? Plus, might the SeaWolves be on the move in the coming years?

Just two days ago, the TigsTown Minor League Notebook told you that David Espinosa, while having the numbers to warrant a promotion to AAA Toledo, wasn't receiving playing time with the Mud Hens because players such as Dewayne Wise and Alexis Gomez possess greater tools than he does.

While this is likely true, it nonetheless meant that a talented player in Espinosa was rotting away on the bench. The organization made a move to fix that though, as they returned Espinosa to Erie, where he'll likely get the chance to resume playing on an everyday basis, good news for him. It's just unfortunate that he won't be able to get that playing time at a more advanced level where he can be challenged. What's more unfortunate could be the attitude that Espinosa takes, as it seems as if he's assuming the organization doesn't have much faith in him or his future as a ballplayer. Time will tell if that attitude will change.

The move does reflect an obvious organizational directive though, and that is that while some teams have moved towards a statistics oriented scouting approach, the Tigers have very much remained in the ‘tools' camp, giving playing time to more ‘toolsy' players like Gomez and Wise over the more productive Espinosa. There is no full proof evidence that one philosophy works better than the other, just the direction the Tigers seem to be taking.

Another source of production has been Juan Tejeda, who after seemingly sleep-walking through the first half of the season, he appears to have re-focused himself at the plate, and looks like the hitter of old. The 23-year old power hitter has raised his numbers all the way up to .294/.361/.458, a welcome sign from the youngster.

Tejeda may be back to producing, but he may have some competition in the coming weeks. The Tigers fifth round selection, Jeff Larish, is still quite far apart with the Tigers on a contract, as it appears as if he's asking for even more than he did last year, when he couldn't come to terms with the Dodgers.

A possible bargaining chip though that has been thrown out is that the Tigers would send Larish directly to AA Erie, where Larish could get a head start on his career (and while sacrificing the signing bonus money he and agent Scott Boras feel he deserves, make his rise to the majors much quicker). Whether or not the Tigers actually go for such an offer remains to be seen as he'd be much better off starting his career at a more appropriate level.

Finally, while they are the Erie SeaWolves now, that may change in the next couple of years. Holyoke, Massachusetts is putting together a $110 million plan that would include a brand new 6,500-seat state-of-the-art ballpark as well as surrounding shopping, apartments and hotels. While the city of Erie would love to compete, at this point in time it doesn't appear as if they have the financial resources as a struggling Midwestern industrial city to keep the team.

No decision has been made yet, and any move would still require approval from a half dozen groups (including the Eastern League and Major League Baseball). But the owner of the ball club (Mandalay Sports Entertainment) is looking for a package much like the one that is being offered in western Massachusetts, and they wouldn't hesitate to make the move, no matter how much the city of Erie adores its ‘Wolves.

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