Paul Wezner, Executive Editor
The Tigers group of Arizona Fall League players has been a fluid situation, with injuries and the like altering who would be representing the team. Jeff Larish will most assuredly continue to hit the ball, as he's done at every level he's played - but with the third base experiment under way, I expect Larish's offensive numbers to drop a bit as he focuses on his defense. So, I'm looking for a strong performance out of reliever Casey Fien. Fien, who was being mentioned at times as a possibility for the Tigers' bullpen this past summer, is close to being big-league ready, posting a sub-three ERA in both Erie and Toledo. With a strong fastball and impressive slider, Fien has the repertoire to be a late inning reliever, and he is well aware that a strong showing in Arizona will likely give him the inside track on a bullpen slot in Detroit come February.
Mark Anderson, Managing Editor
Though I'm not hugely optimistic about the Jeff Larish experiment at third base, it's worth a try to add that left-handed pop to the lineup and find out whether or not we have a use for him going forward. If he can even be passable there, his offense should be enough to carry the position. The AFL is more about getting extra reps on the defensive side of the ball, but it could be just as important for his bat. He wasn't always dominant at Toledo, or in Detroit, so a strong showing in the AFL would mean a lot heading to 2009. The AFL is usually a hitter's paradise, and I expect Larish to thrive there this fall. Look for him to be among the league leaders in walks, home runs, and slugging.
Jason Avery, Associate Editor, Amateur Baseball
I'll go with Jeff Larish. He is the most polished player of the Tigers' representatives going to the AFL, and he has also seen major-league pitching, so he should be well-equipped to handle the quality stuff that all the hitters will see in Arizona. The trip to the AFL is a bit of a homecoming for Larish, who starred at Arizona State before signing with the Tigers as a fifth-round pick in 2005. Although he hit 23 homers and drove in 80 runs between Toledo and Detroit, Larish struck out 142 times, so curbing that total will be on his to-do list.
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!