Setting the Tigers' new infield

Jamie Squire

Shall we take yet one more trip down Memory Lane, and recall with pleasure the winter of 2011/2012? When the Detroit Tigers officialized their decision to devote a huge percentage of their payroll to three Designated Hitters? Sure, Victor Martinez wouldn't actually play in 2012. But instead of giving Martinez's job to Miguel Cabrera or Prince Fielder -- and to be fair, Martinez would return in 2013 -- the Tigers shifted Delmon Young to that slot, leaving Miggy and Prince afield.

Also in fairness, Delmon Young also didn't really deserve a place in the field. The Tigers entered the season with four DH's on the roster. I didn't count Young because he wasn't making a great deal of money. Now they have only two, though: Cabrera (who's signed through 2015) and Martinez (2014). Which means Cabrera can return to his next-best position:

I'm not sure, were I Beck, that I would be quite so hasty. Remember, a year ago Bruce Rondon was going to be the Tigers' closer; he finished 2013 with exactly one save in the majors. Granted, he might well have gotten more with a team that really believed in him, or wasn't trying real hard to reach the World Series. But when it comes to young players, a lot can happen between the first week in December and Opening Day.

Castellanos, who turns 22 during spring training, is an excellent prospect, certainly ticketed for regular duties in the majors. I would happily give him an every-day job right now. But there's probably a 50/50 chance the Tigers will need (or think they need) a Plan B, because Castellanos struggles in March or April. Which means there's a 50/50 chance we'll find out if Cabrera's really set at first base (again), or it's easier to find a stopgap first baseman than third baseman.

Life's more interesting with Miguel Cabrera at third base. But if you're the Tigers, you probably don't want it quite that interesting. Speaking of interesting, the Tigers' infield now is completely different than what they opened last season with. This is a team that was a step away from the World Series. That's interesting.

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