TigsTown Roundtable: Damon Roster Fallout

Ready to talk Tigers? Want to hear the opinion of the TigsTown staff? Welcome to the TigsTown Roundtable! This week's question: How will the Johnny Damon signing affect things among the position players that hope to go north with the big league club when camp breaks?

Paul Wezner, Executive Editor
The Johnny Damon signing will obviously shake things up amongst the outfielders, but could have an impact elsewhere around the diamond as well. Carlos Guillen, Magglio Ordonez and Ryan Raburn are all guaranteed spots barring injury, and unless he falls flat on his face this spring, every indication is that Austin Jackson will be the team's center fielder on Opening Day. Adding Damon to the mix means you already have five players taking up outfield slots, and adequate backup coverage around the outfield that no one else would be needed to cover defensively. This shifts Clete Thomas likely from a role of being the fifth outfielder to potentially competing for the final roster spot, with others like Jeff Larish, Don Kelly and potentially even Kory Casto. The wild card becomes the health of Brandon Inge's knee. If his knees heading into Opening Day are questionable, it's likely whoever snags that last spot will have to be able to play third semi-regularly, which highlights Casto and Kelly. On the flip side, if he's healthy, the concern will likely be around getting a bat with some punch off the bench, likely leaving Jeff Larish in the best position to win the final spot. Either way, it would appear that Thomas is now on the outside looking in. But as is always the case with spring training, things can change.

Mark Anderson, Managing Editor
I think the signing of Damon impacts more than just the outfield situation, which makes this a very complex and fluid circumstance. The simplest explanation is that this puts Clete Thomas' Opening Day roster spot in jeopardy. Unless Austin Jackson tanks during spring training, there doesn't appear to be much room for Thomas on the roster at this point, despite his speed and defensive abilities. In addition to the potential movement of Thomas to Toledo, the signing of Damon could also bring an end to Don Kelly's spot on the 40-man roster. Though there are some other options that could well be removed, such as Dontrelle Willis, Brad Thomas, and maybe even someone like Brent Dlugach, they all possess their own reasons for occupying (and keeping) their spot. Kelly had increasingly been transitioning to the outfield last year, and that may crowd him from the 40-man roster. In the end, two moves are likely to result from the Damon signing, and I think they involve Clete Thomas and Don Kelly in different fashions.

Jason Avery, Associate Editor, Amateur Baseball
It will cause some upheaval, because there will be one less roster spot to contend with. With Damon likely penciled in left, that would leave Austin Jackson and Magglio Ordonez as the other starters in center and right respectively, as well as Carlos Guillen getting the majority of at-bats as the designated hitter. Damon's signing likely means that Clete Thomas would head to Toledo, although the Tigers could always try and move Ryan Raburn should they want Thomas on the team for his defense. Should the Tigers remove Don Kelly from the 40-man roster, that would leave the Tigers with only Ramon Santiago as a backup infielder, and he could be playing a lot early on should Scott Sizemore need more time to heal, so it will be very interesting to see what the Tigers do once Damon's deal becomes finalized.

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