It”s the second week of the baseball season, meaning it”s time to take a look at the Tigers and rue our fortunes for another year. But wait. Detroit is 3-3 so far. Guess the negativity will have to wait another few days.
Since the weather was so splendid last week, I took the opportunity to do nothing except stay inside and watch baseball on TV.
Lo and behold, some of our former Tiger friends are having great success so far in 2001 namely Hideo Nomo.
Nomo, who could never get out of the sixth inning with Detroit last year, is now apparently able to escape the seventh, eighth and ninth innings this year. He threw a no-hitter with the Boston Red Sox last week.
This is not completely the fault of the Tigers front office. Players just seem to have great years once they leave town. It”s a mystifying phenomenon.
Nevertheless, it got me to thinking: What if the Tigers could dump their current roster and construct their team with active players that once made their home in Detroit? We could field quite a ballclub, maybe one that could compete for the division title.
The lineup could go something like this:
1. Luis Gonzalez, outfielder. Currently with Arizona.
After leaving Detroit following the 1998 season, Gonzalez has hit over .300 each of the past two seasons and drove in more than 110 runs.
2. Phil Nevin, designated hitter. Currently with San Diego.
His 2000 season consisted of batting .303 with 31 homeruns and 107 runs batted in. He”s cheap, too a seemingly perfect choice for Tigers management.
3. Gabe Kapler, outfielder. Currently with Texas.
How wise of Randy Smith to include Kapler in the Juan Gonzalez deal. This team needed a solid centerfielder. Oh, and Kapler hit .302 with just 57 strikeouts in 444 at-bats last season. And he”s getting better.
4. Juan Gonzalez, outfielder. Currently with Cleveland.
Possibly the shortest end of any stick the Detroit baseball club has ever received. He has three homers in five games this year, after hitting 22 all of last season with Detroit.
5. Joe Randa, third baseman. Currently with Kansas City.
He has hit over .300 in four of the past five seasons. The only year in which he didn”t? 1998, his solitary season with the Tigers. Of course.
6. Travis Fryman, shortstop. Currently with Cleveland.
Yes, Fryman is now a third-sacker, but he first played shortstop when he came up through the Tigers organization. So as the manager of this team, I”m moving him to short. Fryman hit .321 last season and drove in 106 runs.
7. Rico Brogna, first baseman. Currently with Atlanta.
Brogna had the unfortunate circumstance of playing in Toledo when Cecil Fielder and Tony Clark were manning first base. Brogna spent most of last season injured, but in the two years before that he hit 20 homeruns and had 100 runs batted in.
8. Brad Ausmus, catcher.
Currently with Houston. The Tigers dumped Ausmus this past winter, thus depriving them of a guy who threw out 47.5 percent of all basestealers last season. Ausmus was durable, too. He played in 150 games.
9. Unfortunately, there”s no second baseman on this team. After Lou Whitaker retired, Smith acquired Damion Easley in a crafty move. Easley has been more than solid at second every since.
So we are short one player. My work here is unfinished. But I”m sure there will be someone else that escapes Detroit and has a career year elsewhere, and we”ll be able to plug him in at second. It”s just a matter of time.
Chris Duprey can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.