As everyone already knew would be the case, Detroit Tigers shortstop Jhonny Peralta has been suspended by MLB for 50 games for PED violations. Initially, Peralta said reports of his involvement were not true and that anyone saying otherwise was “lying”.
Well, as usual, the joke was on us.
GM Dave Dombrowski saw the writing on the wall and acquired slick fielding shortstop Jose Iglesias to fill in/take over for Peralta. Iglesias will not hit at the level that the All-Star Peralta was but his fielding will be a substantial upgrade.
A 50-game suspension means that Peralta could in theory be back for the final 3-game series, oddly enough slated in Miami against the Marlines, if the Tigers choose to bring him back. And furthermore, he is eligible for postseason play.
Will he be too far removed for that to be a real possibility? Will he be black-balled by the Tigers organization for failing them by cheating the system? Is there any chance he could stay in game shape?
Lots of questions will be asked and hopefully all of them answered by Dombrowski as he has surely been anticipating this day for a long time now. Last year, the eventual World Series champion Giants elected not to reinstate Melky Cabrera in a very similar situation.
Aside from this obvious blip on the radar, Peralta has been nothing short of a model major leaguer. This is a huge blip no doubt, but are Tiger fans suddenly expected to hate Jhonny? Will their displeasure over this result taint their view of him so much that a postseason return would be unspeakable?
The current fear for the Tigers’ new look roster is who bats 6th? And also, can the bottom four in the order be productive as a unit.
To me, Iglesias is a 9-hole hitter at this point, bumping Omar Infante up to 8th if and when he ever returns. That leaves Alex Avila and a combination of Andy Dirks and Matt Tuiasosopo to claim the now vacated spot that Peralta so aptly hit from this season.
Could the rise of Nick Castellanos be approaching?
Those calling for Tui to get more regular at-bats would be wise to consider his recent slump that has so neatly coincided with more consistent playing time of late. He was a dynamo as a twice/week bat against lefty pitching. He has struggled since then as his average has fallen from .342 as recently as July 12th down to its current .286.
Castellanos is hitting .279 with 13 homers and 60 RBI’s for the Mud Hens as of this writing. The more logical call-up might have been Avisail Garcia, but he is a Tiger no more thanks to the Iglesias trade. The bottom line is that Detroit must have an impact, run-producing bat in the 6-hole.
Avila has driven in runs at a stellar rate since July but is bumping him to 6th feasible at this point? He is still hitting .198 after all. Dirks hasn’t shown much pop after his breakout 2012 season and is probably best suited for an already occupied spot lower in the lineup.
Whatever it was that Peralta did to cheat the game of baseball has critically wounded the back half of Jim Leyland’s lineup. It will be more than fun to watch Iglesias pick balls at short the rest of the way, but when the 6th spot rolls around in the order with 2 outs and the bases jammed, Jhonny will be nowhere to be found.
The knee-jerk reaction has to be that Peralta is forevermore done as a member of the Detroit Tigers. The big picture thought has to be: is that what is most likely to help the Tigers earn a World Series title in 2013?
This is relatively unchartered water. Jhonny is extremely well-liked by his teammates and management, at least up until now. Player reaction in the coming days and more information on Peralta’s wrongdoing rising to the surface might help dictate Dombrowski’s course of action here.
For now though, the Tigers are prepared to move on and into the AJ era. After Jhonny.
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