SportsPickle is previewing each MLB team in the lead up to Opening Day 2010. Today: Detroit Tigers (2009: 86-77, 2nd in AL Central)
STARTING PITCHING Detroit's rotation is good at the top with Justin Verlander and Rick Porcello, but bad at the bottom with Jeremy Bonderman and Nate Robertson. The success of the rotation may come down to a player Detroit acquired from Arizona: No. 3 starter Max Scherzer. Good luck with that. A guy named Max Scherzer is clearly an Austrian existential philosopher. Baseball means nothing to him. If baseball even exists.
LINEUP The Tigers dealt Curtis Granderson, but they added Johnny Damon. Damon can hit just as well, or better, than Granderson, but he is older and a big drop-off in the field. Worst of all, he has far inferior personal hygiene. The success of Detroit's offense may hinge on how well Miguel Cabrera rebounds from his late-season personal problems. Cabrera says he has stopped drinking. Unfortunately, he means alcohol, not milkshakes.
BULLPEN Jose Valverde, lefty. Phil Coke, lefty. Bobby Seay, lefty. Fu-Te Ni, lefty. Dontrelle Willis, lefty. Detroit's bullpen is packed with left-handed pitchers. If opposing teams would do the Tigers the courtesy of only batting lefties late in the game, Jim Leyland will clean up his cigarette butts from the dugout floor at the end of every game. Deal? Deal.
BENCH Who cares about the other guys Detroit has someone named Clete Thomas on their bench. Clete freaking Thomas! I know nothing about him, but let's assume he looks like this guy:
OVERALL: The Tigers have their flaws, but there's no reason they can't compete in the AL Central. So the key to their season, then, is avoiding a catastrophic earthquake that dramatically shifts the Earth's crust and forces the Tigers to play in the far superior AL East or AL West. I think we can all root for that.
(Photo above: Johnny Damon tries to hide his disappointment that the Tigers jersey is not designed by Ed Hardy.)