However, that doesn't mean they'll be satisfied with the roster. In fact, all it means is fans can now start looking for the next reason why the team isn't doing well.
As the Tigers have evolved over the last few seasons, fans have constantly been on the lookout for someone to blame for all the Tigers' problems. Whether it was Todd Jones, Brandon Inge or Ryan Raburn, fans love to single out one player they can pile on when the team struggles. It's what we do, and there is nothing wrong with that. For many, the idea of being able to blame one guy is therapeutic and helps them cope when their team loses.
With Valverde on his way out the proverbial door, the question now becomes: Who's next?
The most likely choice is catcher Alex Avila, who has struggled mightily this season. Currently on the disabled list, Avila has hit just .172 this season with little to no power and an on-base percentage of .271. In fact, last week I wrote about the need to send him to Triple-A Toledo but only to work things out.
Avila is a talent; he's shown that in the past. But something just isn't right with him. The injury to his left forearm came at a perfect time and will allow him to work on his swing for a couple weeks as he rehabs the injury. Once he returns, however, if he continues to bat below the Mendoza line, expect the boo birds to pile on Avila at Comerica Park.
Coming off an injury that caused him to miss the entire 2012 season, Victor Martinez has yet to recapture the form made him an immediate favorite in Detroit two seasons ago. With a .226 average and only 33 RBIs, Martinez hasn't provided the support to sluggers Miguel Cabrera and Prince Fielder that he was expected to. Coupled with the fact that he is making more than $10 million this season, fans have all the ammunition they need to starting taking shots at V-Mart.
Believe it or not I've actually seen and heard comments from some fans that Fielder needs to be sent packing. This is absolutely nuts. Still in his prime, Fielder is hitting .282 with 12 home runs and 54 RBIs and an OBP nearing .400. If Fielder is not in the lineup, Cabrera doesn't put up nearly the numbers he has over the last two seasons.
Other names that could surface are Phil Coke, Andy Dirks and Don Kelly. Having given up 13 earned runs in just 21 innings, Coke has been brutal out of the bullpen this season. Luckily, for Coke, he doesn't pitch in enough clutch situations to have that standout moment fans can point to like Valverde did.
Dirks has been a bit of a disappointment thus far, but continues to get on base at a near .300 clip. Plus, it's hard to pile on a guy in a platoon role who usually hits in the bottom third of the order. Targeted before by fans, Kelly is clearly the utilityman on the roster and shouldn't hear it too much if others who play every day continue to struggle.
Whether one or more of these men become the next "guy who has to go," one thing is for certain: It won't be long before fans have a new public enemy No. 1.
Matt Durr is a reporter from Michigan who has followed the Detroit Tigers his entire life. He has covered University of Michigan and Eastern Michigan University athletics for Annarbor.com. Follow him on twitter @mdurr84.
- Sports & Recreation
- Jose Valverde
- Prince Fielder