Does injury to VMart spell doom for the Tigers?

Victor Martinez finished second in American League Most Valuable Player voting in 2014.

Victor Martinez finished second in American League Most Valuable Player voting in 2014.

I found this notice online this week—and also this anonymous response below it:


The life of the Detroit Tigers’ current team ended this past week with the news that Victor Martinez will have surgery to repair a torn meniscus in his left knee.

The demise ends the hope that owner Mike Ilitch will get a world championship ring in his lifetime.

Members of the Ilitch family and the Dave Dombrowski family went into mourning and had no comment on the death of all their hopes.
Funeral arrangements for the team were incomplete as yet.

Martinez was one of the lifelines of the team. The injury was to the same knee that was surgically repaired less than four years ago, causing him to miss all of the 2012 season.

Without VMart batting behind him, slugger Miguel Cabrera will have inadequate protection in the coming season. And Miggy himself is recovering from off-season surgery on his foot—he may not be ready to go by Opening Day, and he has not been 100 percent the last two seasons.

There is no fix to the lineup now, no real hope of replacing someone who is irreplaceable. Though brave supporters of the team put out the word that VMart will be out only six to eight weeks (possibly making him eligible to return before opening day, many observers say that, given the history, there is no reliable timetable for his return. It could take much of the season for Martinez to recover, if he does at all.

Most baseball commentators do not expect J.D. Martinez to have anywhere near to the season he had in 2013, yet the Tigers have no real option other than putting him behind Cabrera in the batting order. Few analysts think that rookie Stephen Moya (who has an unacceptably high percentage of swings and misses) can step up to the plate to fill the void.

It appears that the best scenario would be to bat Yoenis Cespedes behind Miggy, but while the Cuban acquired in trade over the off-season does have some power, he has shown inconsistency during his time in the big leagues so far.

Mourners had already begun to wail over the team’s condition even before Martinez’s injury. They note that newly acquired Anthony Gose has failed to prove that he can hit enough to be a credible regular center fielder. They question whether Jose Iglesias is fully recovered from the injury that sidelined him for 2014—and doubt his offensive production.

The grieving fans were already griping about how the starting rotation looks much worse with the replacement of Max Scherzer and Rick Porcello by the likes of Alfredo Simon and Shane Green. The bullpen is the same shambles as always, they say.

The team, facing increased competition in the coming season from the Chicago White Sox, is merely a shell of its former self. The farm system is depleted—and long-term financial commitments to Cabrera, Justin Verlander, and VMart, along with other contractual obligations (they still owe millions to the exiled Prince Fielder), already have many observers speculating that the future of the franchise in coming years is beginning to resemble the Philadelphia Phillies, who are deader than a doornail.


The reports of the death of the Detroit Tigers are premature.

Victor Martinez will recover from what is actually minor surgery—and be ready to contribute to the team by April. Miggy is set to go and be his old self. His problems with his legs and foot are over.

Justin Verlander, having put on weight and finally put his own physical problems behind him, will return to Cy Young form. Detroit has David Price, another ace, for the entire season. Anibal Sanchez is also healthy again and will be the best No. 3 starter in the game. Simon is coming off an All-Star season, Greene is promising, and don’t forget that Kyle Lobstein is another up-and-coming rotation option.

Bruce Rondon is finally ready to take over as closer if Joe Nathan falters again—and Blaine Hardy will blossom in the pen as well.
Iglesias is 100 percent, and the wizardry of his defense will help the pitching staff immensely. He and Ian Kinsler will be the best double-play combo in baseball. Alex Avila’s new helmet will keep him in the game with an improved defense. Gose will be a spectacular center fielder to keep the Tigers very strong up the middle.

Yoenis Cespedes is sure to blossom in this lineup, surrounded by other sluggers, and Nick Castellanos will contribute even more in his sophomore season. Those two, plus J.D. Martinez and Kinsler, will surround Miggy and VMart to produce a powerful offense, with Gose and Iglesias providing speed at the top and bottom of the order.

Far from being dead, the Tigers in 2015, to borrow an old lyric, are “World Series bound and pickin’ up steam”!

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