Paul Wezner, Senior Editor
Personally, I don't see how anyone wouldn't be concnerned. The man that gets the majority of the playing time at first base, Sean Casey, has an OPS hovering around .600 (it dropped to .594 after Tuesday night's game). That's not acceptable production for a defensive whiz shortstop, let alone first base, where defense isn't at a premium and you are expected to receive legit production. Marcus Thames has been getting spot appearances there against lefty pitchers, but even Thames isn't hitting that well. The plan for the Tigers was likely to let Sean Casey (with the help of Thames or Chris Shelton) carry the load this season, then hope Jeff Larish was ready by next spring. Unfortunately, if the Tigers are serious about competing this season, they might not have the luxury of waiting, and might have to make a move to upgrade the spot before the trade deadline comes.
Mark Anderson, Associate Editor, Minor Leagues
Let's see here; am I concerned with the lack of production at first base? Absolutely! I was concered about it the minute the organization decided to resign the venerable Sean Casey! I understand there was a need for a left-handed bat in the lineup, but do you have to insert a left-handed bat at the expense of even average production from the position? Sean Casey has been in a blatant decline the last few years -- both offensively and defensively. He's still the amiable clubhouse guy he's always been, and I'm sure he's still fun to talk to over at first base, but he's just not a reasonably productive part of an everyday lineup. If we were talking about a player that provided spectacular defense at first base, or routinely contributed something on the field, I probably wouldn't be as critical; but other than some of those wonderful intangibles (which I admit carry some modicum of value), he's just not helping this team very much. Unless guys like Sheffield, Ordonez, Guillen, and Granderson continue to provide substantial pop in the lineup day-in and day-out, the Tigers are going to need to find a more profitable solution at first, than Sean Casey -- or even Marcus Thames.
Jason Avery, Associate Editor, Amateur Baseball
I'm concerned about it, but the struggles of Sean Casey were semi-expected, although I didn't think he would be this dreadful. That being said, I'm more concerned about the struggles of Pudge Rodriguez. Pudge has only one walk and has a .629 OPS for the season, and that simply won't cut for someone who hits in the middle of the order. Pudge has yet to drive in a run in May and is hitting just .191. Brandon Inge is also struggling at .222 for the year, but has a .348 average in May, so he's at least showing good signs of turning it around. The Tigers badly need Pudge to turn things around, because it's going to put a lot of pressure on Magglio Ordonez and Carlos Guillen to keep driving in runs, so Pudge's situation bears close watching. With Casey, I'm concerned, but he's more of a complimentary player than being a focal point of the offense, so if Casey starts to warm up, it's more of a bonus to have improved production at the bottom of the order.
Have your own opinion on the issue? Ready to talk about it? State your opinion on the Detroit Tigers Open Message Board and go head to head with the experts!