Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Tigers' To-Do List Grows Shorter With Addition Of Jacque Jones

My last memories of Jacque Jones are of him and his Minnesota Twins teammates terrorizing the Tigers, back in the pre-Jim Leyland days. I lost track of him when he went to the National League. Even a post-season appearance this year by Jones's Cubs didn't clear the fuzz; of course, three-and-out didn't help, either.

But I'll get my fill of Jones now, as the Tigers acquired him yesterday for utility man Omar Infante.

The move apparently means the often-rumored Geoff Jenkins-to-Detroit move will not happen, as Jones is a lefthanded-hitting corner outfielder. And bonus: Jones can play centerfield if necessary, spelling Curtis Granderson.

I like how the Tigers are addressing needs swiftly. They moved quickly to shore up their shortstop vacancy, trading for Edgar Renteria. They signed closer Todd Jones yesterday, ensuring he won't be testing the free agent waters. And now they've filled their need for a lefty stick, courtesy the Jacque Jones move.

Jacque Jones

Still on GM Dave Dombrowski's to-do list: a veteran starting pitcher and some bullpen help. And if the team can re-sign Kenny Rogers, then that will only leave the bullpen for off-season tinkering.

Another backup middle infielder might be needed with Infante's departure. But the Tigers might be content to go with Ramon Santiago for that role, which would be fine.

The lineup looks solid. Here's a potential batting order:

Curtis Granderson, CF
Placido Polanco, 2B
Gary Sheffield, DH
Magglio Ordonez, RF
Carlos Guillen, 1B
Edgar Renteria, SS
Ivan Rodriguez, C
Jacque Jones, LF
Brandon Inge, 3B

Not Murderer's Row, but solid. If everyone does their thing, and tries not to do too much, this lineup will be a nightmare for pitchers. A healthy Sheffield, obviously, is key. A bounce back year from Rodriguez would be nice, too -- if he has it in him. Inge could stand to improve at the plate, too.

One thing that hasn't been talked about too much is the expected return of backup catcher Vance Wilson. No disrespect to Mike Rabelo, but a healthy Wilson (he missed all of 2007 with an elbow injury) will help Rodriguez, and the Tigers, immensely. Wilson is better than Rabelo defensively, and is a more experienced, smarter hitter. It may not look like it if you compare the raw numbers, but I guarantee you that Wilson will give you more quality at-bats over the long haul than Rabelo at this stage of the youngster's career.

It's not even Thanksgiving, and the Tigers have addressed concerns admirably and smartly. It's another reason why, in Dombrowski and manager Jim Leyland, the Tigers have among the best front office and field boss tandems in the majors.


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