Paul Wezner, Executive Editor
The Tigers and manager Jim Leyland will have some tough decisions to make when Carlos Guillen and Marcus Thames are ready to return. We know that Curtis Granderson and Magglio Ordonez will remain in their spots, but after that, everyone is up in the air. Clete Thomas and Ryan Raburn can both be optioned down, but Thomas has clearly emerged as a Leyland favorite for his solid all-around play and doing the "little things" that managers covet. Raburn is likely the first to get sent down, but then the decision gets tougher. Josh Anderson is out of options and the Tigers won't want to lose him, leaving the only other alternative to send Jeff Larish back down. It would be a shame to have to lose Larish's pop from the lineup, but the organization also believes Larish is the type of player that needs to bat everyday, and with Thames and Guillen, he'll be battling for at-bats on a daily basis. Given that neither Thames or Guillen will have much if any trade value when coming off the DL, I expect to see Larish head back down to Toledo along with Raburn when the time comes.
Mark Anderson, Managing Editor
The Tigers are going to have an interesting dilemma when Guillen and Thames return. The team has been playing very, very well with Thomas and Anderson playing major roles in the outfield, and Ryan Raburn has begun to heat up at the plate which complicates matters even more. Marcus Thames -- despite less than stellar results in his first few games at Toledo -- seems reasonably close to a return, while Carlos Guillen may be further away given recent developments with his shoulder. When Thames returns, the Tigers will have the option of shipping three players out to make room for him; outfielders Clete Thomas and Ryan Raburn, or infielder Jeff Larish. Given Manager Jim Leyland's apparent love for Raburn, that might keep his spot safe. Larish provides the left-handed power that the team has been seeking, not to mention providing a nice backup option at first and third base. While Clete Thomas seems to be a favorite of the organization, his option status and similar skill set to Josh Anderson might make him expendable. I think he might be the casualty when Thames returns. Guillen's return, on the other hand, may be far enough off in the distance that the circumstances begin to sort themselves out.
Jason Avery, Associate Editor, Amateur Baseball
As of now, it appears the Tigers have a little bit of time to get things resolved. Carlos Guillen hasn't been cleared to throw and is doing just general workouts, so it would seem he is still several weeks away from returning. On the other hand, Thames has already begun his rehab assignment at Toledo, so the Tigers will have to make a roster move soon. I could see the Tigers optioning Ryan Raburn down to Toledo and keep Clete Thomas to keep an extra left-handed bat available. When Guillen returns, the Tigers could send Jeff Larish down to the minors, since their wouldn't be much of a chance for him to play in Detroit. However, the Tigers could just as easily send Thomas and Larish down to make sure they play on a regular basis and keep Raburn up. The Tigers could also work out a trade if they needed to, so this could go in a lot of different directions.
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