By Jeff Riger
The Tigers have just what the doctor ordered … at least for now — a shot of energy from a journeyman minor leaguer. The 27-year-old Quintin Berry has given Detroit more than anyone could have thought and was very integral in Detroit’s weekend sweep of the Twins as well. Berry, playing for the first time at the Big League level is hitting .381 in 5 games with 8 hits, 3 walks, 6 runs scored and 3 stolen bases. Plus he made possibly the catch of the year in the bottom of the 8th inning off the bat of Jamie Carrol in Sundays game to save a run. Berry followed the catch by leading off the top of the 9th inning only to get a single, steal second base and than have Miguel Cabrera hit him home on what turned out to be a game winning two run homer. Nobody could have thought that Berry would contribute like this.
Now before people read the first paragraph and think that I’m getting carried away, I can assure you that I’m not. I realize that it has only been five games for Berry and I also fully realize that when Austin Jackson comes back off the DL that he and not Berry will be the everyday centerfielder. However I think Berry should remain on the team.
It has been a while since the Tigers had a base stealing threat that could actually, well get on base. And, yes I know it’s early, but if Berry can continue to do what he has already done, there is no debate, he can help this team.
But who goes down when Jackson comes back?
That is the question that Tigers management will have to figure out, but I figured I would share my feeling in the meantime…
The way I see it, Detroit has 4 options.
What I think will happen is that Danny Worth, a minor leaguer that just can’t seem to get a chance at the Big League level will be sent down again. Worth has bounced from the minors to the show numerous times this season and it seems like he will always be the first option to go back down. The only thing that might save Worth in this situation is his ability to play every infield spot except first base. Berry is an outfielder, and if Detroit sends an infielder down, that means they have one less guy to be a defensive replacement or get a start at 2nd or shortstop on a given night. I believe Worth will be sent down to allow Berry to stay, but I could be wrong.
Detroit could also decide to send out Don Kelly, a guy that like Worth specializes in playing a lot of defensive positions. From the outfield to first to third, Kelly can do it all. The only problem is that he lacks the ability to hit. Kelly was given the chance to become the everyday centerfielder in Jacksons absence before Berry was brought in and he could not get the job done. I understand it’s not fair to expect him to do what Berry or Jackson has done, but Kelly was not able to help his the team at all offensively. Detroit also could afford to lose Kelly considering Ryan Raburn could play 1st in a pinch if needed and Worth can play 3rd and Berry and others will take care of the outfield duties. Kelly could be an option. Although, Jim Leyland usually likes what he brings to the table, which could keep him at the big league level for now.
It seems like a lot of Tiger fans would love to see Raburn not only get sent down to the minors but also sent out of the organization as well. I don’t think it will happen. Raburn has struggled at the plate and while he has gotten better at 2nd base, it has not been enough to get fans to forget about his lack of hitting. Raburn is another guy that Leyland likes playing everyday because of his ability to hit doubles and homers, the only problem is that those type of hits are not coming around enough at all. Detroit could decide to send Raburn down to get his confidence and swing back, however the other 2nd base options left on the big team will not be much better. Detroit seems to have made it pretty obvious that they don’t believe Ramon Santiago can be an everyday infielder and they are also not ready to allow Worth to play everyday. This is why Raburn should remain on the Tigers for the foreseeable future.
This one is a long shot, but Delmon Young could be an option to make room for Berry. Right now Young is struggling at the plate and he is also in the last season of his contract. It seems very doubtful that Detroit would bring back Young next season so parting ways now could make sense. Of course the incident in Manhattan and the reported Anti Semitic rant did not help Young either. It seems like the only thing Delmon has going for him is that he has been willing to DH since his suspension ended and that is a position that Leyland has been searching to find a batter to take on. I think Young being let go or traded at this juncture is unlikely, but he is a slight option that I had to mention.
If I ran things I would part ways with Kelly and give Berry a chance to play everyday. Berry is a better fielder than Brennan Boesch allowing Boesch to give the DH spot a try. I’m not convinced that he would flourish in such a position however it’s worth a shot to get Berry in the lineup and on the field. Boesch could split time with Young and Andy Dirks at DH allowing Berry to be given a chance to prove himself. If he does, continue to let him play and the DH position becomes a great problem to have. If he doesn’t, then everything goes back to the way that it is right now and the Tigers set their focus on a trade deadline acquisition.
I’m not saying that Berry is the answer, however I believe that he deserves a chance to prove it either way.