The sight of Miguel Cabrera taking ground balls at first base is a normal vision around Comerica Park. The fact that he was taking ground balls at THIRD base, means that playoff time is almost here. Not in decades have the Tigers been able to relax and focus on baseball as much as they have this season, and Jim Leyland is making sure that every possible situation has been explored. If that means Cabrera at third, then the Tigers will be ready for whatever comes in their direction.
While Cabrera moving back to third base could only last a few games in a National League park, it resorts back to Leyland’s focus that being in the playoffs is not enough. Remembering back to the errors that plagued the young Tigers in 2006 in the World Series, if Leyland has his way this won’t be happening again… and it all begins with the 25 men he brings with him into battle.
It begins with the roster, where Brad Penny’s last performance could jeopardize his positioning on the postseason roster. In a playoff series like the AL Divisional Series, a team needs all its big guns, and Penny’s listless performance against Kansas City did not exactly inspire confidence in the fans or the manager. The greatest benefactor would be the dynamic, and frequently injured, Al Albuquerque. If he isn’t at 100% it would be hard for the Tigers not to justify bringing along Penny based on previous postseason performances in relief.
Here are the individuals that I consider the locks to be on the 25-man roster:
Pitchers (10) – Verlander, Fister, Porcello, Scherzer, Valverde, Benoit, Coke, Schlereth, Pauley, Perry
Infielders (6) – Cabrera, Santiago, Peralta, Betemit, Inge, Raburn
Catcher (1) – Avila
DH (1) – Martinez
Outfield (5) – Jackson, Young, Ordonez, Dirks, Kelly
Wild Cards (2 of 3) – Guillen, Penny (my guess for being left off), Albuquerque