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by Scott Bolohan

The Tiger’s first half surpassed pretty much everyone’s expectation (I mean seriously, who would have ever guessed Brandon Inge would be in the Home Run Derby in his life?) but there is still a whole other half left to play.

So I decided (mostly because All-Star break is the least exciting part of the year and hardest to write about) that I’d take the easy way out and give some predictions for the second half of the year.

1. The Tigers will be active at the deadline – I can’t think of the last big acquisition the Tigers made at the trading deadline. Sean Casey was a nice addition, but not really a star or anything. And before that, I can only think of trading away players, like the Cecil Fielder/Chad Curtis deals in the infamous year of 1996 (infamous mostly because Chad Curtis was my favorite player and I cried all week).

But this year I think the Tigers will make a splash. Roy Halladay isn’t coming to the team unless they want to part with Rick Porcello and Cale Iorg minimally (not likely) but there is one name out there I see as a great fit. Aubrey Huff is a left-handed bat making decent money for a miserable O’s team. Rumors have been they’ll trade him for a fringe prospect assuming the team will pick up the salary. And all indications from Illitch are that he’s willing to add salary. Make this happen, Dombrowski.

2. The so-called in-house trades will not work out – Carlos Guillen has been my favorite Tiger for years. He was one of the only guys on the team I expected to put up a good at-bat nearly every time at the plate and he had a little spunk to him. He also had knees and shoulders at the time. Not so much anymore. I’d expect him to make it back to the majors, but what is his upside? Maybe .280 with 10 homers? More realistically, .270 with five homers? His on-base would be welcomed to the team, but that’s about all he brings at this point.

Which leads me to Magglio Ordonez. He’s done. His approach at the plate is completely wrong for someone whose power and ability to turn on pitches is gone. I really can’t see anyway that the Tigers let him get enough at-bats to let his option kick in. It’s sad to see him end his time with the team like this, but it would be even worse to see him waste away over the next two years for $18 million each year.

3. Luke French sticks in the rotation – The guy barely breaks 90, but he can pitch. I was thoroughly impressed with him at his last start before the break and I don’t see him (completely) blowing up. If he can provide some innings and a mid-fours ERA, it would be a major victory for the club desperately in need of a starter.

I see Justin Verlander and Edwin Jackson continuing their brilliance. Their stuff is just too good. Rick Porcello will continue to pitch well, but I’d expect an ERA closer to four than three as the innings pile up. As for Armando Galaragga, I don’t expect him to be as awful as he was the first half, nor as good as last season. He’s not a bad pitcher, and probably will be capable of holding down the four spot in the rotation.

4. The Tigers will finish with 91 wins and win the AL Central – As I’ve mentioned before, there’s a lot not to like about this team. But there’s even more not to like about the AL Central. The White Sox could get a boost with Carlos Quentin returning and Minnesota gets a boost every time they don’t place on grass, but neither team is as complete as the Tigers. They have two dominant starters and another that will get wins most of the time out. The offense isn’t where it should be, but Miguel Cabrera is the best hitter in the division and the Tigers have just enough parts to get by. Relying on pitching and defense is the old school way of winning, but it’s the way the Tigers are forced to go. Aubrey Huff would make a big difference, but you can’t assume he’s on the team yet. Even if they don’t go out and get my desired Huff, I have a hard time believing they won’t add some sort of bat. And just about any outfield bat would be an upgrade.

As for the playoffs, it’s a crapshoot. And with Verlander, Jackson, Porcello up front, that can take them places.


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