Detroit Tigers shortstop carousel whirls on

Here’s what we know about the Detroit Tigers and their recent activity when it comes to the shortstop position:

  • Andrew Romine was brought in last week via trade for Jose Alvarez
  • Alex Gonzalez was just brought in via trade for Steve Lombardozzi
  • Andrew Romine is 28-years old and could be a decent platoon guy
  • Alex Gonzalez is old (37 to be exact) and hasn’t been good in a long time, his glove is ok, but his bat won’t play (sounds a lot like Danny Worth doesn’t it?) – oh, and his range is likely gone, making him a suspect play at short (not the same as Worth)
  • None of these guys are really any good, from Romine to Lombo to Gonzo to Worth, Hernan Perez, and Eugenio Suarez
  • They obviously REALLY don’t want to sign Stephen Drew, and if all of these moves are a means to guaranteeing that end then I’m good with all of them
Alex  Gonzalez

Alex Gonzalez

Shortstop is a vital position to a team’s fortunes. When Jose Iglesias was penciled in, all appeared to be just fine. His shin injuries have sent the Tigers into a frenzy of uninteresting moves. Fans will find a way to hate the trades, and already have, but the reality is these moves don’t increase or decrease the Tigers’ chances of winning the AL Central by any notable margin. That happened the moment Iglesias left the lineup.

First, GM Dave Dombrowski said the Tigers would fill Iglesias’ vacancy internally. This meant Worth, Perez, and Suarez would all be in the mix. And then Dombrowski assessed the options and pulled two trades in the blink of an eye. Nothing like a vote of confidence!

Some suggest that neither Romine nor Gonzalez would have made their respective teams out of camp and both might have been released. The Tigers, clearly, didn’t want to risk another team grabbing up these ‘diamonds ‘in the rough. Instead they shipped Alvarez and Lombo out to bring these two fellas in. No big loss on either account, right?

Gonzalez is 37 and has played just 27 games at short over the past two seasons. He was once a top defensive shortstop with a passable bat, but have I mentioned that he’s old and he stinks? He managed 113 at-bats with Milwaukee in ’13 and hit .177. At least with Lombardozzi, there was youth (25 years old), which breeds hope.

But Lombo isn’t a shortstop and Dombrowski wanted to stockpile some.

Romine, 28, has decent minor league numbers but hasn’t latched on in parts of four big league seasons, which likely marked the end of his run with the Angels. He will apparently be the left-handed hitting part of the shortstop platoon. And now, it seems that Gonzalez will be the right-handed option. And somewhere in Florida, Danny Worth is shaking his head once again.

After missing the roster out of camp last spring it was looking more and more likely that Worth would break 2014’s spring with the 25-man unit. One would assume that shipping Lombardozzi off for Gonzalez means that Gonzales gets a roster spot. And Worth gets left carrying his own bags…again. At least for now that is. The Tigers can try out Gonzalez and when he proves he can’t do it, which he will, then pull Worth in as the next man up.

To make matters more dramatic, shipping Lombo off has the fans who hated the Doug Fister trade up in arms once again. Now the return isn’t a potential starter, a lefty reliever, and a young utility infielder. Swap the last component out for an end-of-the-road shortstop that will be lucky to stick with the team for half the season and now you have the official Fister return. It was never pretty, but now it’s even uglier.

This offseason has seen more head-scratching moves made by Dombrowski than probably the last five combined. Usually the moves made were clear. Acquire Prince Fielder, plug him in here. Acquire Torii Hunter, plug him in here and expect x, y, and z along the way. Now? Who knows?

As we sit one week from Opening Day, with a team that should still win the AL Central, times are a bit more uncomfortable than we’ve grown accustomed to in Tiger Town. One aspect that is coming into focus however is the 25-man roster.

Offensively, it should be:

Catcher/DH – Alex Avila, Bryan Holaday, and Victor Martinez

Infield – Miguel Cabrera, Ian Kinsler, Nick Castellanos, Andrew Romine, and Alex Gonzalez

Outfield – Rajai Davis, Austin Jackson, Torii Hunter, Don Kelly, and Tyler Collins

Moving Lombardozzi out probably opens the door for Collins to make the club. But at this point, it’s anybody’s guess as to what happens next.

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  • Steve Nichols

    First off Dumbasski kept Lamont, who is a Leyland clone an we know how Leyland choked but Dumbasski is so far up leyland’s a** well…2nd, Dumbasski is living off fame from the past (Marlins) & hasn’t been nearly successful since. Problem is in which is also why Red Wings are failing badly, owner is old, way too loyal to people who are failing afraid to make changes.

  • Grappa

    Why does Detroit need three head coaches? Maybe they could buy a decent ss for money saved.

  • Robert White

    I do not think they upgraded the short stop position over internal candidates, Should have stayed put.

  • burrwick

    What does it mean? DD and the rest of the Tiger brass has lost its collective mind.

    • Joe White

      I get the confusion and frustration but fail to see how losing Lombo really messes up any grand plans.

      • burrwick

        Losing Lombo doesn’t mess up any grand plan but it’s an admittance that he wasn’t very good and somewhat like Scott Sizemore DD must have convinced himself he had no real future in Detroit. He was limited defensively and had zero pop offensively. You just don’t trade 25 year old players with versatility and great value off your bench for washed up 37 year old shortstops, unless of course if that’s not what Lombo was.

        I suspect Romine made Lombo expendable but the return seems pointless. Makes the Fister trade, as you pointed out, look even worse.

        So the grand scheme is to play Gonzalez against lefties and Romine against righties and hope that gets the job done until better options present themselves? Who knows, maybe it will work fabulously, just don’t bet the rent money on it.

      • Vince in MN

        In the end, there is a pretty good chance that DD just gave away Lombardozzi for nothing. The question then is “what plan?”.