Expectation High Entering Start of Grapefruit Play


Al at 2013 Spring Training

Al Kaline at Lakeland this week. I would take him over Boesch, even if he is in his 80s.

 

Expectations are high in our state for our Boys of Summer, as they should be.

The first game, against the Atlanta Braves, is tomorrow afternoon. Get out the radios, here’s the lineup:

1. Quintin Berry, CF
2. Omar Infante, 2B
3. Miguel Cabrera, 3B
4. Prince Fielder, 1B
5. Victor Martinez, DH
6. Jhonny Peralta, SS
7. Brayan Pena, C
8. Avisail Garcia, RF
9. Nick Castellanos, LF
SP: Rick Porcello

So we get to evaluate Porcello and see the outfield of the future, plus check out V-Mart because the Braves were gracious enough to allow us to have the DH in their park. We also get a look at Pena, a eight-year veteran, who was previously in and out of the minors with Atlanta and Kansas City. Personally, I can’t wait to see how the Berry/Garcia/Castellanos outfield works after Winter Ball. With Hunter only locked in for a two-year deal (and over 40), no solid left fielder (Dirks is mentioned as an Opening Day starter by Leyland), and Jackson in the final year of a deal, I can’t wait to see this. This will be our outfield in a couple years, because we all know, given the choice between Jackson and Verlander, Dombrowski will re-sign Verlander first if it’s a money issue. We have these three very talented outfielders waiting in the wings. It’s a no-brainer why we ignored Josh Hamilton at the Winter Meetings.

Jim Leyland also announced our Opening Day lineup, barring injury:

1. Austin Jackson, CF

2. Torii Hunter, RF

3. Miguel Cabrera, 3B

4. Prince Fielder, 1B

5. Victor Martinez, DH

6. Andy Dirks, LF

7. Jhonny Peralta, SS

8. Alex Avila, C

9. Omar Infante, 2B

SP: Justin Verlander

Leyland did say Dirks may not start if the opposing starter is a southpaw though. A bit of a shock there. Of his 15 career home runs, 10 are off right-handed pitching.  He batted .336 against RHP, but only .274 against LHP, which isn’t bad by any means, when you consider the last AL left-handed batting champ, Josh Hamilton, hit .271 vs. LHP when he won the batting crown in 2010 (he DID hit .401 vs. RHP that year). If I wasn’t the Swami, I wouldn’t say this, but expect to see Dirks on Opening Day either way.

Outlook: We look DAMN good. 95+ wins good? Possibly, if we stay healthy this year. Central champs? Definitely. AL champs? If the Blue Jays don’t just look good on paper, we will have our work cut out for us. By the way, Leyland should give Tim Wakefield (whose first manager was Leyland in Pittsburgh) a call, have him come down to teach the guys how to hit a knuckleball, now that R.A. Dickey is a Blue Jay.

World Series good? Well, let’s focus on the season first. If we get past the Blue Jays, most likely we will be there, hopefully with the Swami and Guru at Comerica for a game.

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