Thursday, February 28, 2013

2013 Preseason Prediction #1 - Miguel Cabrera

What do you predict for someone who just won the Triple Crown? Another one? While Miguel Cabrera has been one of the most consistently great hitters over the past few years, there were some things that he did differently in 2012. Cabrera has always had home run power, but he turned it up in 2012, having his highest HR rate and HR/FB ratio (courtesy of FanGraphs) of his career:

2008 - 5.4% HR% | 18.9% HR/FB
2009 - 5.0% HR% | 18.3% HR/FB
2010 - 5.9% HR% | 19.8% HR/FB
2011 - 4.4% HR% | 18.2% HR/FB
2012 - 6.3% HR% | 23.0% HR/FB

This resulted in Cabrera hitting 40 HR for the first time in his career.

Cabrera also displayed less patience in 2012:

2008 - 7.3% Non-IBB% | 6 IBB
2009 - 7.9% Non-IBB% | 14 IBB
2010 - 8.8% Non-IBB% | 32 IBB
2011 - 12.5% Non-IBB% | 22 IBB
2012 - 7.0% Non-IBB% | 17 IBB

A theory could be that this is a direct result in having Prince Fielder bat behind him. The theory goes, pitchers weren't pitching around Cabrera and by getting more hittable pitches, he was hitting more HR. However, before 2010, Cabrera's non-IBB rate was between 7-8%, so he could just be reverting back to his normal level. In fact, 2011 looks like an anomaly. In 2008 and 2009, Cabrera mainly had Carlos Guillen bat behind him. In 2010, Brennan Boesch got the majority of the AB behind Cabrera and in 2011 it was Victor Martinez . None of those hitters are of the caliber of Prince Fielder. It makes me wonder if Cabrera didn't have a different approach altogether in 2011-2012. According to Pitch f/x, Cabrera did swing less in 2010-11:

2008 - 49.6% Swing%
2009 - 49.5% Swing%
2010 - 46.4% Swing%
2011 - 46.8% Swing%
2012 - 48.5% Swing%

And swung less out of the strike zone:

2008 - 36.2% O-Swing%
2009 - 33.0% O-Swing%
2010 - 28.7% O-Swing%
2011 - 27.5% O-Swing%
2012 - 30.9% O-Swing%

It could also be argued that Cabrera had his best years in 2010 and 2011:

2008 - .376 wOBA | 129 wRC+
2009 - .402 wOBA | 143 wRC+
2010 - .431 wOBA | 171 wRC+
2011 - .437 wOBA | 177 wRC+
2012 - .417 wOBA | 166 wRC+

Going forward, I would expect Cabrera's non-IBB rate to be around the 7-8% again with a lower HR total to match his 18-19% HR/FB ratio that he had before 2012. At 30 years old, he's still in the middle of his prime, so there's no reason for a huge drop-off.

Experts' Predictions/Projections :

Bill James
CBS Sports
FanGraphs' Fans (70)
Update: 4/1

My Prediction:

2012 Prediction
2012 Actual
2013 Prediction

Fantasy impact : Cabrera has been one of the 1st 3 players taken overall, along with Mike Trout and Ryan Braun . Although Cabrera won't get you stolen bases like Trout and Braun, he will hit for more power and at a more premium position. Because 3B is a thinner position than the OF, I would rather have Cabrera and therefore I have Cabrera at #1 overall.

Monday, February 25, 2013

Ben Guez – The Next Quintin Berry?

Last off-season the Tigers signed Quintin Berry to a minor league deal.  Little was known about Berry at the time except that he was a career minor leaguer and that he can run really, really fast.  It was a depth move; the idea was the Berry would be replacing the likes of Timo Perez in AAA and be insurance in case there was an injury to the major league outfield.  Berry was never really considered a prospect for the Phillies, Padres or Reds and was hardly ever on the prospect radar or considered to contribute much at the ML level.

As it would happen, the Tigers did suffer injuries in their outfield, so much so that Matt Young was called up for a few games (remember him?).  But when Austin Jackson got injured, the Tigers needed a natural centerfielder.  Enter Quintin Berry.  Berry brought excitment to the team, hitting .337/.409/.434/.842 in his first 94 PA.  Then he hit only .226/.299/.322/.621 in his remaining 236 PA and showing why he was a career minor leaguer and fighting for a roster spot in Spring Training this year.  The big excitement was his 21/21 in stolen bases and the thunderous clap. 

Like Quintin Berry, Ben Guez is a career minor leaguer and has never been on the prospect radar.  Like Berry, he’s never been discussed in contributing at the ML level, not even as a bench player or as insurance as an emergency call-up.  At 26 years old, he’s one year younger than Berry was when he made his major league debut last year.   Unlike Berry, Guez has moved up the minor league ranks faster and has significant playing time at AAA, hitting .284/.379/.455/.834 in 82 games with Toledo.  According to Minor League Central, Guez doesn’t show much of a platoon split, hitting .307/.388/.475/.863 against lefies and .287/.416/.464/.880 against righties between AA and AAA last year.  Defensively, Guez has the ability to play all 3 outfield positions, but LF is probably his best position.

If the Tigers experience injuries to the outfield this year, Ben Guez might just get the call-up this time, especially if they need a right-handed bat.  Andy Dirks, Brennan Boesch and Quintin Berry are all left-handed hitters, so Guez provides something different, especially if Jeff Kobernus doesn't make the team.  The overall lack of depth in the Tigers minor leagues is also a major contribution.  If the Tigers had a deeper system, Quintin Berry probably never plays in the majors last year.  The Tigers top two position player prospects are both outfielders, Nick Castellanos and Avisail Garcia, but both aren’t considered quite ready for the majors yet.  Therefore, Guez could find himself next in line for the majors.  

Friday, February 15, 2013

2013 Top 20 Detroit Tigers Prospects

First of all, I’m not an expert on prospects.  Therefore, I have to rely on scouting reports and other lists to come up with my own list.  So below I’m going to link to the lists that I’m using for reference and then I’ll make sort of a compilation list while also adding my own gut feeling. 

           1.    Nick Castellanos, OF/3B
2012 stats:
(A+) - 234 PA | .405/.461/.553/1.014 | 3 HR | 3 SB | 17.3% K% | 9.1% BB% | .459 wOBA | 188 wRC+
(AA) – 341 PA | .264/.296/.382/.678 | 7 HR | 5 SB | 22.3% K% | 4.1% BB% | .305 wOBA | 84 wRC+

The unanimous selection for the Tigers #1 prospect, Castellanos busted out in High-A, but cooled off in AA.  He hasn’t shown much HR power, but as he develops, his doubles should turn into homers.  The big news is the move to the OF.  While he’s not horrible at 3B, he can potentially reach the majors sooner by being an outfielder.  He should start the year again in AA, but going straight to AAA isn’t out of the question. 

Bless You Boys' Scouting Report.

            2.    Bruce Rondon, RP
2012 stats:
(A+) - 23 1/3 IP | 1.93 ERA | 0.94 WHIP | 37.0% K% | 10.9% BB% | 2.26 FIP
(AA) – 21 2/3 IP | 0.83 ERA | 1.11 WHIP | 25.6% K% | 10.0 BB% | 3.48 FIP
(AAA) – 8 IP | 2.25 ERA | 1.50 WHIP | 24.3% K% | 18.9% BB% | 5.20 FIP

As of right now, Rondon is the Tigers closer.  The Tigers organization thinks that highly of him, even though he has never thrown a pitch at the big league level.  He routinely hits triple digits with his fastball with good command.  His slider has also improved to the point that it’s now considered an above average pitch.  The only issue is with control, which results in a high walk rate.  Better coaching and development could help with that, though.  Even if he doesn’t win the closer’s job, he’s likely to make the team out of ST as a late inning reliever.

Bless You Boys' Scouting Report.

            3.    Avisail Garcia, OF
2012 stats:
(A+) - 287 PA | .289/.324/.447/.771 | 8 HR | 14 SB | 19.9% K% | 3.8% BB% | .348 wOBA | 115 wRC+
(AA) – 226 PA | .312/.345/.465/.810 | 6 HR | 9 SB | 16.8% K% | 3.1% BB% | .364 wOBA | 124 wRC+
(MLB) – 51 PA | .319/.373/.319/.692 | 0 HR | 0 SB | 19.6% K% | 5.9% BB% | .307 wOBA | 91 wRC+

This is where my opinion differs with the experts.  Most ‘perts have Garcia at #2 and Rondon as #3.  My reasoning for switching them has mostly to do with Major League readiness.  Despite spending some time at the major league level in 2012, including the post-season roster, most people would agree that Garcia is not ready to contribute full-time for the Tigers, like Rondon is. Even though he only had 1 ML extra-base hit for the Tigers (a double in the playoffs), Garcia is expected to develop some power as he matures.  His patience is also worrisome with the low walk rate.  Time in the minors will help in both areas.  He has surprisingly good base stealing numbers and is above average defensively.  Garcia is expected to start the year in AAA, but will be the first one called up in case of an injury to the outfield.

Bless You Boys' Scouting Report.

           4.    Jake Thompson, SP
2012 stats:
(R) – 28 1/3 IP | 1.91 ERA | 0.85 WHIP | 29.3% K% | 9.4% BB% | 2.64 FIP

The Tigers top draft pick of 2012 (91ST overall), Thompson has a low 90s fastball that’s expected to be an above average pitch.  His slider is also projected to be above average and could end up being his best pitch.  He also has a work-in-process changeup.  He’s projected to be a #2 or #3 starting pitcher in the future.  Thompson is expected to start the year in West Michigan.
            5.    Danry Vasquez, OF
2012 stats:
(A-) – 310 PA | .311/.341/.401/.742 | 2 HR | 6 SB | 14.5% K% | 4.2% BB% | .347 wOBA | 120 wRC+
            (A)  – 112 PA | .162/.218/.222/.440 | 1 HR | 0 SB | 17.9% K% | 6.3% BB% | .204 wOBA | 22 wRC+

Most experts agree that his promotion to West Michigan was premature, given his young age (soon to be 19) and was promptly demoted to Low-A where his tools finally translated into production.  He’s often described as a “toolsy” player, making solid contact but lacking plate discipline.  Like Garcia, he’s expected to gain some power as he matures, but probably not as much.  He’s expected to contribute at the big league level in some capacity someday, but is likely 3-4 years away.  Vasquez is expected to spend a full season at West Michigan in 2013.

Bless You Boys' Scouting Report.
            6.    Casey Crosby, SP
2012 stats:
(AAA) – 125 2/3 IP | 4.01 ERA | 1.41 WHIP | 20.8% K% | 12.1% BB% | 4.21 FIP
(MLB) – 12 1/3 IP | 9.49 ERA | 2.11 WHIP | 15.3 K% | 18.6% BB% | 6.42 FIP | 5.50 xFIP

Crosby has a low 90s fastball, a curveball and a changeup that can all potentially be above average.  The big issue with Crosby is his control, which leads to a high walk rate and WHIP.  Being 24 years old, time is running out for Crosby to put everything together.  His ceiling is a #3 or #4 starter, but he may have to settle in a relief role in order to stick in the majors.  The Tigers lack starting pitching depth, so Crosby will remain in the rotation in AAA for the time being and be the first one called up in case of an injury. 

Bless You Boys' Scouting Report.

            7.    Austin Schotts, OF
2012 stats:
(R) – 177 PA | .310/.360/.452/.812 | 3 HR | 15 SB | 23.2% K% | 6.8% BB% | .381 wOBA | 141 wRC+
(A+) – 4 PA | .333/.333/.333/.667 | 0 HR | 1 SB | 25.0% K% | 0.0% BB% | .310 wOA | 90 wRC+

Originally a shortstop, the Tigers moved Schotts to CF because of his poor arm.  His above average speed will likely help him be an above average defender.  He’s another one that’s described as “toolsy” when it comes to his bat.  He’s projected to hit for a high average and could potentially gain some power.  He has all the tools to be a leadoff hitter.  Schotts will likely spend the entire 2013 season in West Michigan. 

Bless You Boys' Scouting Report.

            8.    Eugenio Suarez, SS
2012 stats:
            (A)  – 603 PA | .288/.380/.409/.789 | 6 HR | 21 SB | 19.2% K% | 10.8% BB% | .364 wOBA | 126 wRC+

A personal favorite of mine, Suarez is a rare middle infielder in the Tigers organization that has shown both offense and defense skills.  He has a nice approach at the plate and can hit for average and get on base.  Main issues are, he doesn’t hit for a lot of power (but has shown gap power) and has a high strikeout rate.  He’s projected to be a major league utility player.  He’ll likely start the year in Lakeland.  

Bless You Boys' Scouting Report.

            9.    Tyler Collins, OF
2012 stats:
(A+) – 542 PA | .290/.371/.429/.800 | 7 HR | 20 SB | 11.8% K% | 10.7% BB% | .368 wOBA | 129 wRC+

Collins is one of the prospects that doesn’t get the “toolsy” label, but all he’s done is produce.  He hits for average, gets on base and can even steal a little.  His main weakness is his defense, so that makes LF the best fit for him.  However, he isn’t projected to hit well enough to play there everyday at the major league level, making him a 4th OF at best.  Collins is expected to start the year at AA. 

Bless You Boys' Scouting Report.

           10.  Jeff Kobernus, 2B
2012 stats:
(AA) – 366 PA | .279/.322/.330/.652 | 1 HR | 41 SB | 15.6% K% | 5.2% BB% | .301 wOBA | 81 wRC+

There’s question whether or not Kobernus even qualifies as a prospect given his rule 5 status.  However, I consider him a prospect since he still has rookie eligibility and is currently in the Tigers system.  I went over Kobernus in depth in this post.

Bless You Boys Player Preview.

            11.  Brenny Paulino, SP
2011 stats:
(R) – 45 2/3 IP | 2.36 ERA | 1.14 WHIP | 23.6% K% | 9.4% BB% | 2.96 FIP
(A+) – 5 1/3 IP | 21.94 ERA | 3.38 WHIP | 18.4% K% | 23.7% BB% | 7.33 FIP

Paulino missed the entire 2012 season due to injury but experts still view him as a decent prospect due to his natural raw talent.  He has good movement on his fastball but still needs work on his secondary pitches.  He’s still only 19 years old, so he has plenty of time to figure it out.  He’ll likely start the year in rookie ball. 

Bless You Boys' Scouting Report.

           12.  Steven Moya, OF
2012 stats:
            (A)  – 258 PA | .288/.319/.481/.801 | 9 HR | 5 SB | 22.9% K% | 4.3% BB% | .356 wOBA | 120 wRC+

Moya has been an injury risk (last year he had Tommy John surgery), but when he’s healthy he has shown improvement over the last 3 seasons, but plate discipline is still an issue.  He stands at 6’7”, so most experts project him to hit for lots of power.  Some say he has all-star potential.  Moya could either start at West Michigan or move to Lakeland to start 2013.

Bless You Boys' Scouting Report.

           13.  Harold Castro, 2B
2012 stats:
(R) – 216 PA | .311/.343/.420/.763 | 1 HR | 15 SB | 11.6% K% | 4.6% BB% | .356 wOBA | 125 wRC+

Castro has done nothing but hit since the Tigers signed him.  He’s projected to hit for average, have doubles power and can even steal some bases.  He doesn’t strike out, but doesn’t walk either.  Defensively he has shown above average range at 2B, but only an average arm.  Bless You Boys think that he can be good enough to play regularly at 2B at the major league level.  Castro is expected to start the year in West Michigan in 2013. 

Bless You Boys' Scouting Report.

            14.  Joe Rogers, RP/SP
2012 stats:
(A-) – 22 2/3 IP | 2.38 ERA | 1.37 WHIP | 26.0% K% | 11.0% BB% | 2.49 FIP

Joe Rogers was a relief pitcher in college but it’s rumored that the Tigers might try him as a starter.  He has a low-90s fastball, a curve and a changeup, that have all been described as above average or the potential to be above average, although not “outstanding.”  His success in relief makes me believe that’s his only path to the majors.  If he does become a starter, he’ll likely start in West Michigan, but if he stays a reliever, he’ll likely go to Lakeland. 

Bless You Boys' Scouting Report.

            15.  Ramon Cabrera, C
2012 stats:
(AA) – 428 PA | .273/.340/.365/.704 | 3 HR | 0 SB | 10.3% K% | 9.1% BB% | .324 wOBA | 97 wOBA
(AAA) – 5 PA | .400/.400/.600/1.000 | 0 HR | 0 SB | 0.0% K% | 0.0% BB% | .443 wOBA | 180 wRC+

The Tigers traded Andy Oliver for Ramon Cabrera during the off-season.  Cabrera is at least an average defender that has the potential to be solid.  The switch hitter can hit for a high average, has moderate gap power, but not much HR power.  He has good plate discipline with an above average walk rate and a low strikeout rate.  Given the scarcity of good catchers in the majors, he can probably stick as at least as a backup, but he’s expected to start the year in AAA. 

            16.  Dean Green, 1B/DH
2012 stats:
(R) – 37 PA | .094/.189/.094/.283 | 0 HR | 0 SB | 13.5% K% | 10.8% BB% | .157 wOBA | -3 wRC+
(A) – 253 PA | .306/.381/.502/.883 | 9 HR | 0 SB | 15.4% K% | 9.1% BB% | .395 wOBA
 145 wRC+
(A+) – 156 PA | .348/.410/.518/.928 | 3 HR | 2 SB | 16.0% K% | 4.5% BB% | .423 wOBA | 164 wRC+

Green stands in at 6’4” and 255 lbs, but despite his physical appearance, he hasn’t hit for much power, yet.  He’s projected to hit as much as 25-30 HR.  In the two years he’s been in the Tigers organization, he’s hit in almost every level and improving as he advances.  He hits for average, has a decent strikeout rate and an above average walk rate.  Defensively, he isn’t all that athletic, so the only place he can play is 1B and some scouts don’t even think he do that, making him a long-term DH.  Currently, he’s blocked by the Tigers, so that makes him trade bait at the deadline if he continues to hit.  He’s expected to go to AA to start 2013. 

Bless You Boys' Scouting Report.

           17.  Devon Travis, 2B
2012 stats:
(A-) – 107 PA | .280/.352/.441/.793 | 3 HR | 3 SB | 9.3% K% | 7.5% BB% | .372 wOBA | 136 wRC+

Devon Travis is someone that does everything well but nothing outstanding.  He’s just average, and sometimes that’s okay since he has no glaring weaknesses.  The only thing that can be described as below average is his speed.  Defensively he’s solid to above average.  Travis is expected to start the year at West Michigan but could end up in Lakeland by the end of the year.

Bless You Boys' Scouting Report.

           18.  James McCann, C
2012 stats:
(A+) – 177 PA | .288/.345/.350/.695 | 0 HR | 3 SB | 16.4% K% | 5.6% BB% | .324 wOBA | 100 wRC+
(AA) – 230 PA | .200/.227/.282/.509 | 2 HR | 2 SB | 19.1% K% | 3.5% BB% | .232 wOBA | 34 wRC+

James McCann’s best asset is his defense.  All of his defensive skills are rated above average to great and he handles the pitching staff really well and has leadership qualities.  His ceiling is an average starting catcher, but he’ll have to improve his hitting.  He’s good defensively enough to at least be a backup at the major league level.  McCann is expected to go back to AA in 2013. 

Bless You Boys' Scouting Report.

           19.  Daniel Fields
2012 stats:
(A+) – 267 PA | .266/.318/.357/.675 | 1 HR | 14 SB | 20.6% K% | 7.1% BB% | .311 wOBA | 91 wRC+
(AA) – 122 PA | .264/.352/.358/.711 | 2 HR | 9 SB | 17.2% K% | 10.7% BB% | .331 wOBA | 102 wRC+

When Fields was drafted, scouts were amazed by his 5-tool potential.  While he has shown good defense skills, his bat has yet to translate into production and he’s fallen out of favor.  He has raw speed, but poor base running skills.  He finally showed enough promise with the bat to advance to AA in 2012, so there is some hope, but nowhere when he was first drafted.  He’s gone from an above average starter potential to a 4th OF at best.  Fields is expected to start the year in AA in 2013. 

Bless You Boys' Scouting Report.

            20.  Logan Ehlers, SP
2012 stats:
(R) – 16 1/3 IP | 1.10 ERA | 0.73 WHIP | 26.7% K% | 5.0% BB% | 2.16 FIP

Ehlers throws a low-90s fastball, a slider and a changeup.  All of his pitches have the potential to be above-average or better, especially his breaking ball.  His ceiling is a #3 or #4 starter, although he may have to settle as a reliever.  He’s expected to start the year in West Michigan, but could get promoted to Lakeland by the end of the year.  

Bless You Boys' Scouting Report.

Saturday, February 2, 2013

Tigers payroll looking ahead: 2014 and beyond

If the Tigers wish to contend beyond their "win now" window of 2011 through 2014, they need to make some moves that sell high on some key players and bring in some major league ready prospect replacements at key positions.

Regardless of the outcome of Max Scherzer's arbitration decision this spring, the Tigers will look to open 2013 with a payroll slightly over $150 million. In my last article, I reviewed the Tigers approximated payroll sustainability and determined that the break even payroll for 2013 would be about $143 million. This means that, Mr Illitch is likely taking a hit this year to win it all, again. Obviously as long as the city of Detroit's most loved billionaire keeps writing the checks, payroll deficit is not an issue. But as much as everyone doesn't want to think about it, there may come a time when the books MUST be balanced. On the Tiger's current revenue, the sustainable payroll level is projected to be around $165 million in 2014 and going forward, thanks to a new TV deal kicking in league wide in 2014. If the Tigers want to retain the services of the best hitter and the best pitcher in the game beyond 2014, as well as many of the other key parts of the team, such as Austin Jackson, Alex Avila, and Doug Fister, they are going to need to find some cheap long term solutions to fill out the rest of the lineup starting around 2014 or 2015, and they should look to deal Max Scherzer and Rick Porcello to accomplish it. Here is how it breaks down. 

First, lets start with the big two, Miguel Cabrera and Justin Verlander. Let's assume the Tigers will offer each an extension going into the final year of their contract. Recent comments from Justin indicate he wants to remain a Tiger for life. To do this, it will likely require an extension in the range of 8 years and $205 million. For the sake of this analysis, I'll assume the contract is fairly evenly distributed, but slightly front loaded. That works out to a tad over $25 million per year. Cabrera will likely require a deal equal to or above what Albert Pujols received, I'll say around 10 years and $264 million. I'm going to front load this deal, starting at 2 years of $30M in 2015 and dropping $1 million each year after. The Tigers would be wise to do this as well. To make this all work, it will require some creativity from the Tigers in order to stay competitive beyond 2014 in regards to the rest of the roster. 

In addition to those two, Austin Jackson, Alex Avila, and Doug Fister all would become free agents in 2016. Lets say the Tigers would want to keep all three. First the easy two. Doug Fister can probably look to get a deal very similar to what Anibal Sanchez just received, 5 years and $75 million. Avila is harder to project as what he could earn will depend on how he performs in the next year or two. If he hits like he did in 2011, he could easily get a deal similar to the deal Miguel Montero just received, 6 years/ $65.9 million.  If he hits closer to what he did in 2012, he likely will only get a 2 or 3 year deal in the $15-$21 million range. I'll choose the former for this example and say he gets the 6/$66MM deal. Now that brings us to Austin Jackson.

Jackson is a Scott Boras client. He won't come cheap, and the Tigers would have to lock him up soon (start of 2014) if they hope to avoid free agency. To do that, I'm thinking he will require a deal like the one Adam Jones signed, 7 years/ $91.65 million. But, with Boras as his agent, and a lack 5.0 WAR center fielders in the game, outside of LA, he could easily get more than that (think Jayson Werth here), or he might be headed to free agency. I'll go with slightly more than the Jones estimate for this analysis, 7yrs/$93M.

This means the key members of the team who will be under control through 2016 are:
Justin Verlander
Doug Fister
Anibal Sanchez
Drew Smyly

Bruce Rondon
Al Albuqureque
Brayan Villarreal

Miguel Cabrera
Prince Fielder
Austin Jackson
Alex Avila
Andy Dirks

For the analysis, I am figuring that the players who have received extensions in the above scenarios received contracts structured closely to the the actual player contracts I compered them to. Players currently on the roster but still under team control beyond 2016, receive arbitration raises modeled after current raises given to similar players over the past few years.

I'm going to assume the Tigers keep Nick Castellanos and Avsail Garcia and they become our eventual everyday 3B and RF respectively around 2015 or so. The logic here is that when Torii Hunter and Victor Martinez depart after 2014, Garcia takes over in RF, Castellanos takes 3B, Cabrera moves to 1B, and shares turns there with Prince at DH.

This obviously leaves some holes on the roster and some guys out of the future picture, namely Max Scherzer, Rick Porcello, Phil Coke, and Brennan Boesch. Everyone else is either a guy still under control until 2017 or beyond, or a prospect that hasn't arrived, or been acquired yet. The bullpen can, for the most part, be filled out by 3 or 4 really good guys, and either a vet signed for a few million each year, or some up and coming prospects. Same with the bench. This leaves 3 key holes. Second base, shortstop, and a 5th starter. 

The Tigers will need to find a way to either internally develop, or deal Scherzer, Porcello, Coke and Boesch for top prospects at shortstop, second base, and starting pitching, who are nearly major league ready. I think that it should be easy to acquire at least two of these needs though trades, and maybe take a chance on the third either by getting a more marginal prospect, or drafting a well developed player and hoping they move quickly. If they cannot accomplish either of these, they will have to look to fill the voids with cheap stop-gap veterans, until they do, which will of course, cost more to bring in.

So, now for the projected payroll totals.

2013 - $151,220,000
2014 - $142,110,000
2015 - $136,450,000 
2016 - $157,940,000
2017 - $170,975,000

A link to the full spreadsheet containing all the values can be found here:

As can be seen, initially, things aren't so bad, and there is room to bring in solutions on short contracts in 2014 and 2015 while waiting for talent to develop. The Tigers may choose to just resign Omar Infante and Jhonny Peralta to two more years, and bring in a veteran 5th starter, or use whomever is hot in the minors that year and wait on the future solution up the middle and in the rotation. But by 2016, that talent MUST be here, or things will get ugly fast, as all the prospects and younger people currently on the roster start to go through arbitration, and key parts will have to be shed to balance the budget. 

Another thing to consider in all of this is that by 2017, the Tigers will be near the end of their TV deal with FOX Sports, and will be looking to renegotiate  Judging by current rates, they stand to at least double their current revenue. That will push sustainable payroll up to around $190 million, easily covering expenses. 

But, as one can never anticipate with the possibility of new owner ship, is just how much and owner is willing to contribute from his own paycheck. Should the ownership of the team change over this time, the team may see payroll be cut, drastically.

What is clear though, there isn't much room to keep everyone AND Scherzer or Rick. And certifiably  baring a huge boot to payroll, add an outside superstar. Not without sacrificing Cabrera and/or Verlander, or another key piece.