TigsTown MLN: The Studs in the 'D'

It was an exciting weekend for fans of the future, as not only did the Tigers take three of five from Minnesota, but two of the top prospects in the organization both made appearances in Detroit. But is either destined to stay? Plus, might a bad shoulder save the Tigers a lot of money in 2006?

After again making it clear that he could hit, Curtis Granderson finally got the call he was hoping for, as he was promoted to Detroit. It was long thought to be a possibility that the Tigers would bring up Granderson should they move outfielder Rondell White, and while White remains with the club, his recently-diagnosed chronic shoulder likely means he's done playing the field for the year.

That opened the door for Granderson, who was hitting .297/.361/.520 at the time of his call-up. Power-wise, Granderson has always been more of a second half hitter (whether that's because he has needed time to adjust to the pitching or simply because of the weather is unknown), so this is likely the perfect time to bring up Granderson, with his bat heating up.

Is the promotion for good? Most likely. With the Tigers now essentially having two designated hitters, Magglio Ordonez, Nook Logan and Craig Monroe are the only remaining players capable of playing the outfield on an everyday basis. With Logan predictably cooling off, there's no reason for Granderson to not get the at bats in Detroit.

And while on the subject, who would have known the bad shoulder could end up saving the Tigers $8 million next year. Dmitri Young has an $8 million option for the 2006 season, but it's not a player or team option, but rather a vested one. Should Young reach 500 plate appearances in 2005 (or 1000 combined between '04 and '05), the option automatically kicks in.

Because of his broken ankle last year, he only had 431 plate appearances, so the 1000 combined is irrelevant, as he'd need well over 500 this year to accomplish that. Currently, Young has 355 plate appearances, meaning he'll need another 145 to reach the target. But unless he's able to play the field, he'll be forced to get those 145 out of the 250 or so plate appearances left available for the remainder of the year at the designated hitter spot. This is a situation to watch down the stretch, as it could be an issue if it's going to be close and Young continues to hit at the sub-standard rate that he is.

As for Justin Verlander, he doesn't have the same future in store for him as Granderson, as he'll be returning to the minors on Monday while the rest of the team heads out west for their six games on the left coast with Seattle and Oakland.

Verlander's start on Saturday certainly wasn't too impressive, but it wasn't expected to be. There certainly were better alternatives to start the second game of the doubleheader (see: Kenny Baugh), but the Tigers wanted to reward Verlander, and get him some more publicity, especially considering the negative remarks that have been made about the farm system as of late.

Verlander still needs to refine his pitching abilities and lock down his control, two things that could be accomplished against big league hitters, but are better off done at the minor league level, working with Erie pitching coach Mike Caldwell.

Verlander currently is in much the same situation as Jeremy Bonderman was in 2003, when the Tigers made him a big league starter at just 20 years of age. He has the pure stuff that he can be serviceable in the majors right now, but realistically he still needs some more time. Again, spring of 2006 appears to be the target time for Verlander.


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