I really liked Eric Munson, but the more I saw, the more I figured it was time to let him move on. He actually made some strides at third base, going from a below average fielder to an average fielder. Unfortunately, his bat took a step back. Munson seemed to have a ton of potential, and you’d see this in brief flashes, like his monster home run into the deepest part of Comerica Park last year. But a .212 average and a .289 OBP doesn’t quite cut it for a guy who just turned 27. I wish him the best of luck wherever he ends up.
Which leads us to our new starting third basemen, Brandon Inge. Oh what a weird path some people travel. Brandon was left for dead after the Tigers signed Ivan Rodriguez, but he bounced back nicely in 2004, playing the role of utility man. With an OPS+ of 108, he sported his first season where he was above the 65 mark. Even if Brandon regresses a little to say .270/.325/.435, you still have a fine commodity in a guy who plays a good third base and catcher.
Alex Sanchez is the most frustrating of the moves. I’ve never cared for him, and he seems to make base running mistake after baserunning mistake (just from watching the games). The only thing good you can say about him is he hit .320. A very hollow .320. He stole 19 bases, but was caught 13 times, hurting his team more then helping them in those 32 attempts. His equivalent average was a poor .248, and his OPS+ was only 91 (actually a career high). Throw in the fact he’s not very good out in the field, and it makes me yearn for the signing of J.D. Drew.
If the Tigers want to make a big splash, throw 10 years and $210 million at Carlos Beltran. Mike Illitch proved he’d put good money out for a top notch player back when they were pursuing Juan Gonzelez, and he did it again for Pudge.
But all in all, none of this was unexpected. Nook Logan isn’t quite ready to play every day, so Sanchez was the cheap alternative for one more year. In the next couple of weeks, we’ll really start to see the 2005 Tigers team take shape, and it’s looking more and more like it did in 2004 then I’d like.
I’m feeling better, and I’m really trying to get back into the swing of things. It was interesting to see D.C. finally resolve all of their issues, and I’m hoping to have the second and final installment of that narrative done here soon. I’ll probably check in one more time before then, but if you’re checking out, have a safe and happy holiday.