Oh boy, it's going to be a cacophony of pronunciation gaffes when it comes to saying Rajai Davis' name. Yea, that from the notorious typo guy. I'm actually quite good with pronouncing abstract words, however.
Davis' lifetime OBP vs. LHP (as he's the other half of the Dirks platoon) is .354. That and his 268 steals on 79% success rate is all you need to know about Davis.
If Davis can replicate his 1.8 WAR from '13, and Dirks can recapture 2012's 2.3, the Tigers effectively have the potential to equal Shin Soo Choo's 2013 WAR of 4.2, for a third, or even a quarter of Choo will make in 2014. REREAD THAT.
The revised Tigers lineup parellels the St. Louis from my perspective. Outside of Cabrera batting third from 1 through 162, there are changeable parts everywhere else.
Davis, Kinsler, Cabrera, Martinez, Hunter, Jackson, Avila, Castellanos, Iglesias
Or...Iglesias, Kinsler, Cabrera, Hunter, Martinez, Jackson, Castellanos, Avila, Davis.
Or...Kinsler, Hunter, Cabrera, Martinez, Jackson, Castellanos, Davis, Avila, Iglesias.
Kinsler, Hunter, Cabrera, Martinez, Dirks, Jackson, Avila, Castellanos, Iglesias.
Of course, injuries, hot/cold streaks and matchups will dictate daily lineups. The point is, Cabrera's batting third and I think Ausmus should and will use pencil for every other Tiger who's expected to play regularly.
Also note that this team should be a mid-tier defensive unit. And that's light years better than what they've been.
You've also got speed which can 1. steal bases 2. score from first and 3. first to third and so many more positive residuals that comes from athletes on the bases.
While I'm pleased with the Davis signing, nothing's going to enhance the return for Doug Fister. So if I'm Dave Dombrowski, I'm crossing everything my anatomy will allow that Ian Krol becomes a weapon in the bullpen. To me, he's the linchpin to making the offseason's whole, greater than it's parts.
The Tigers have one final move that's necessary to complete the recalibration of their team. They need a Dotel-type for the bullpen. Someone proven, reliable and maybe beyond all, durable.
If the market for closers collapses I'm agreeable to a return of Joaquin Benoit at a reasonable rate.
The bullpen now stands this way.
Rondon (1/3 of a season of positive results)
Coke (has to thrive as a LOOGY or he's out of MLB)
Alburquerque (dominate or exasperating, there's seemingly no middle ground)
Those are about as close to locks as I can get.
I'd like Krol there, the veteran arm, then you've got any mix of Crosby, now a reliever, the Putkonen, Reed, Marte-types, etc...
If his shoulder is sound after being traded to and not pitching an inning for the Rays, Jesse Crain could be shrewd and economical addition.
Now that he's flamed out as a hyped prospect, Joba Chamberlain could get his siht together and become a force in someone's bullpen.
Remember, while they need this veteran arm, as unknown or unworthy as this addition may feel upon arrival, if stars align, it's feasible to stumble onto a resurrected Mark Melancon. Here's a list of 2013's top middle relievers based on holds. You don't know many of them. They often come from strange places; reformed failed starters, castoffs from other bullpens with no room, ones that fell off 40 man rosters, would-be closers than couldn't sustain that position, etc...
We're as close as we've been all offseason to having a glimpse of what the Opening Day 2014 Tigers will look like.