The Tigers have an interesting decision to make with regards to their outfield makeup coming up in a few days. For about the past month, centerfielder Austin Jackson has been on the disabled list with a bum hamstring.
Over the past few days, he has been able to resume “baseball duties,” whatever that is, and should head down to Toledo this coming week for three or four games of shaking the cob webs off. In the meantime, Avisail Garcia has done a nice job of replacing Jackson, hitting .291with a pair of home runs and doubles as well as 10 runs batted in. To my untrained eye, he looks like he is ready for a full-time gig in Detroit.
Until the past few games, left field seemed like it might become his new home. Andy Dirks, who is one of my favorite Tigers, has been in a hitting fun for some time. But he has had two nice games in a row against Cleveland, shot his average back up over .250 and probably done enough to keep his job.
Aside from Garcia, top prospect and Toledo left fielder Nick Castellanos is officially ripping the cover off the baseball. He is hitting .356 over his last 30 games and overall is at .295 with 10 home runs and 34 RBI. Very good numbers, especially when you consider Nick is the ripe old age of 21.
In most other towns, it would be enough to get him called up and given an everyday job. In Detroit under Jim Leyland? Not so much. The same can be said for Garcia. He almost assuredly will be the odd man out when Jackson returns, heading back to Toledo even if he deserves to stay.
Garcia or Castellanos, in my opinion, should be in Detroit over Don Kelly, who is batting a massive .190 with two home runs. He’s a bench player, so you could argue that his offensive numbers aren’t ultra important. Kelly does, in fact, play excellent defense at any of the outfield spots and can certainly hold his own at third base and first base.
For me, it’s not enough.
The Tigers offense is good and can be spectacular at times, especially when Victor Martinez is hitting. But they’ve also been shut out six times this year because of their heavy reliance on Miguel Cabrera and Prince Fielder. If one of them isn’t hitting a two-run bomb, Detroit struggles.
The point is, Garcia or Castellanos give the Tigers another decent bat. If you’re a little creative with the lineup, one of them could play three to four games per week. That would mean sitting Dirks against lefties, resting Hunter with days off or at DH. It could work.
As I said though, knowing Mr. Leyland, he won’t do any of that and the Mud Hens will have two-third of a Major League outfield. Meanwhile, Kelly will continue to receive Big League paychecks he doesn’t deserve.