Over the weekend, the Tigers were in a great position to make up even more ground on the Cleveland Indians in the AL Central & were able to gain 1 additional game, sitting just 2 back of the top of the division now.
However, on Saturday night, the Tigers lost Nick Castellanos for what looks like most of the remainder of the season due to a broken bone in his hand, after getting hit by a pitch.
2016 has been a very good year for the former top prospect, who struggled a bit in his first 2 full seasons to live up to expectations. Castellanos has been very good, a .351 wOBA, with 18 Home Runs & upgraded his defense at 3rd from “terrible” to “below average” and started to look like the prospect the Tigers fans have been hoping he would be.
Castellanos has cooled off quite a bit since a blistering start, including a woeful .214/.282/.343 slash line with just 1 HR since the All Star break, when the Tigers have been one of the best teams in baseball. But, his lost bat will be a hit the Tigers must overcome, even with his recent lack of production at the plate, he’s a streaky hitter, like many on this team & he will get hot again, perhaps when Miguel Cabrera or Justin Upton cool off, which helps balance the offense out.
To replace Castellanos at third base, the Tigers immediately recalled Casey McGehee from triple A Toledo, where he had been thriving. McGehee was getting on base at a .376 clip on the farm & if the Tigers are to keep winning, they need McGehee to keep that pace up.
In his latest full season in MLB, McGehee was a 102 wRC+ which is average, which is all the Tigers need. What they can’t afford to do is to play Mike Aviles at 3rd & have a black hole in the line up. They do not need McGehee to light the world on fire, they simply need him to provide replacement level 3rd base offense & improve on Castellanos’ defense at third & things could work out.
However, there are a few options out there if the Tigers were looking to make a move, they could make a waiver-wire trade for Danny Valencia of the Oakland A’s. The A’s were looking to trade him at the deadline & even considered cutting him outright, so he could be had for a mid-level prospect, sent after the season, much like the 2006 Sean Casey trade.
Valencia was a player, like Castellanos, who got off to a hot start but has since cooled, however, he could be brought in as an option over Mike Aviles as well as a potential replacement at 3rd if McGehee doesn’t work out. Valencia can play 3rd & the OF & provides much more upside potential that Aviles.
Whatever the Tigers decide to do, they must get offensive production at third base if they are to keep pushing for the division, either from McGehee, through a trade for Valencia or bringing up prospect JaCoby Jones, if they don’t, this team will most likely finish a few games back of the Wild Card & 5+ games back of Cleveland in the AL Central.
Moving on to the Lions, there was a report out of training camp on Saturday that Lions 3rd year Tight End, Eric Ebron tore his Achilles’ Tendon, effectively ending his season.
Since that report on Satruday night, there are mixed reports coming out that he had a scare but was able to avoid a serious injury & may not be lost.
If he is healthy, this should be a warning sign to GM Bob Quinn that the lack of depth at TE should be a major concern. After Ebron, the Lions have Brandon Pettigrew, who’s out for most of the season recovering from a torn knee ligament late last year & Tim Wright, who is also out of the season already.
Behind them, there is Rookie Free Agent signing Cole Wick, from tiny Incarnate Word college in Texas. He has had a lot of media hype around him after impressing in off season work outs, but is still a rookie TE from a Division 3 College & should not be expected to see any meaningful time this year.
There are a few veteran Tight End’s still looking for teams & it may be wise for Quinn to bring them in, even for training camp, to guard against an injury. Owen Daniels, Scott Chandler, Chase Coffman and John Phillips are all players that have seen better days, but could still contribute & know the NFL better than the crop of undrafted rookies the Lions have behind Ebron.
Eric Ebron has been a lightning rod for criticism in Detroit since being drafted in the 1st round, 10th overall in 2014 (ahead of NYG WR Odell Beckham & LA Rams DT, Aaron Donald) and has not lived up to the hype a 1st round Tight End was expected to receive.
Moving into his 3rd year, he was looking to build off of the improvement he saw late last year & be a big part of Jim Bob Cooter’s spread offense, so if any time is lost at all, it not only hurts the Lions offense, but could derail his career beyond this current year.
More news will be coming out in the upcoming days on the severity of Ebron’s Achilles, but for now, the Lions look to be very thin at TE and need to fix that immediately.