Guillen is Key for Tigers’ 2011 AL Central Crown

In the midst of a crazy finish that spelled the Tigers’ 49th victory in their last before the All-Star break, the starting lineup could not have been more Jekyll and Hyde. On one end of the spectrum, there were All-Stars like Peralta, Martinez and Cabrera all hitting over .300. The lower side of the spectrum had Inge at .180, Raburn at sub-.220, and the trio of Austin Jackson, Don Kelly and Magglio Ordonez all hitting below .250. While the San Francisco Giants showed us last year that pitching will always defeat a team of hitters, this Tigers team is not deep enough or timely enough to withstand such a scratchy game plan – this is why the Tigers badly need Carlos Guillen to become a threat again.

Yes, for you fans that watched Sunday’s Tigers-White Sox game, that was the real Carlos Guillen wearing the Carlos Guillen uniform. The same player that had been moved across the infield, then to the outfield, was turning plays from second base and getting the winning single from the right side. Having not seen 100 games since 2008, the latest Guillen experiment can best be described as a last-ditch effort to see what the Tigers will need at the deadline. If the Tigers are going to mortgage their future for a run this season, they can’t continue to have a guessing game up the middle of the infield.

In fact, for the first half of this season, the Tigers have put together an infield that looks like a fantasy camp where the players get to play alongside Miguel Cabrera. Brandon Inge looks as shaky as ever in all facets of his game, and there still has not been a good replacement at second base for Placido Polanco. The active roster has essentially seven outfielders on it right now, since it is waiting to figure out a fifth starter and Guillen’s future. If the Tigers are to have any chance to win the AL Central this season, they will need a patched together Carlos Guillen to take them to their first AL Central title. Otherwise, this team needs to quickly decide what their infield looks like for August and beyond.