On March 26 the Tigers made the final round of roster cuts to set their 25-man Opening Day roster. Here’s what those cuts mean for the Mud Hens in 2011.
OPTIONED TO TRIPLE-A TOLEDO: Detroit optioned to the Mud Hens SS Danny Worth.
REASSIGNED TO MINOR-LEAGUE CAMP: Detroit reassigned LHP Adam Wilk and OF Andy Dirks.
WHAT DOES IT MEAN? First, from the Tigers standpoint, is the obvious fact that the 25-man roster has been set. On the pitching side, that means RHPs Brayan Villareal and Enrique Gonzalez have made the roster, as have OFs Brennan Boesch and Casper Wells.
Gonzalez would have been a valuable veteran in the Mud Hens' rotation had he come to Toledo, and Villareal is a hard thrower who had a 3.47 ERA in 16 starts for Hi-A Lakeland last year, not to mention a 3.71 ERA in eight starts for Double-A Erie.
Both Boesch and Wells would have been experienced hitters for the Hens, and their further development may be delayed unless manager Jim Leyland can find consistent playing time for them. But we're picking nits here; both outfielders deserve the opportunity.
There is one more decision that needs to be made: how will the Tigers make room for Gonzalez on the 40-man roster? Their two choices are to put a player on the 60-day disabled list (Carlos Guillen? Joel Zumaya?), but that would delay the return of the DL'ed player to the active roster. The other is to remove a player from the 40-man roster, which would make that player available for waivers. The Tigers are expected to announce this decision early next week.
As for the players who were sent down, you have to feel for Worth: he played well enough to earn a spot on the Tigers' roster. But Will Rhymes played well in earning the job at second base, and Ramon Santiago is an experienced reserve infielder. The Tigers' loss is the Mud Hens' gain, at least until Worth is recalled to Detroit.
Dirks will start the season with the Hens, and since he has just 22 games of Triple-A experience, that move probably will help his development. The fact that he hit .375 in those 22 games here suggests that he will help the Mud Hens as well.
Wilk presents an interesting challenge: his entire career has been spent as a starter, but he nearly made the Tigers' roster as a reliever. Will he start or relieve for the Hens? If I had to guess, I would say he will start in the Mud Hens' rotation to stretch his arm (if he is recalled to Detroit, his role would probably be long relief) and to give him innings to aid his development.
If Wilk is in Toledo's rotation, that group will have a surprising lefty lean since the Hens also probably will start Andy Oliver and Charlie Furbush, two other southpaws.