Detroit Tiger Sharks Season 29 Preview

Felipe Villa grimaced and exhaled into the reporter’s face. He was asked for the hundredth time if he regretted re-signing with the Detroit Tiger Sharks after nine seasons away. Villa left Detroit after winning a World Championship in season 19 and won another with the Hosers after he signed a big-money contract with the Ottawa franchise. He’s not used to losing and he doesn’t like to talk about it. “I have no regrets coming back to Detroit- I really don’t” Villa said…but then he reached forward and whispered “…but I really don’t know if management knows what direction to take”.
Villa is not alone in questioning GM Feamster’s attempts to bring a title back to Detroit. While Montreal and Philadelphia made big off-season moves, Detroit could only show the signing of Oleg Bako as an improvement over last season.
The Tiger Sharks are in flux. As in most seasons, they are good enough to be competitive but not bad enough to improve through the draft. The future lies in the hands of C.C. Lary and Pete Connor, but the two heralded outfielders are several seasons away. A third big-time prospect, Philip Jackson, was recently promoted to take over CF duties, which means that former all-star Sammy Durham will be riding the pine before he gets traded. Bako takes over in LF and fan-favorite Ryan Miller returns as the right fielder. Miller may have the best arm of any right-fielder in the league.
Pitching will once again be a relative strong spot with a rotation headed by Luis Candelaria. Candelaria was once a can’t miss prospect, but his development has leveled off, and the 26 year old Mexican would be a number two or three starter on a good team. Zip Priest follows Villa in the rotation and is a serviceable number three starter. Ed Neal and Eduardo Cruz round out the five starters. Rule V pick Hal Lennon could force his way into the rotation with any kind of injury or poor performance from the aging starters.
The infield is strong up the middle with Delmon Grimsley and a combination of Josh Baker and Carlos Palmeiro at second. Palmeiro looks to have won the starting nod, but Baker has some better offensive potential. First and third are question marks, and are being help down by cast-offs from other teams. Dicky Gleason and his very unfriendly contract of 8.4 million is expected to see most of the action at first- which is good for Gleason, but bad for the Tiger Sharks. The hot corner is weak with 32 year old Albert Smart making the roster. Detroit is desperate for power and if Smart can tally 20 round trippers, he will have met his modest expectations.
Yorvit Gonzalez is back at catcher. Several seasons ago Detroit had an abundance of riches with two big time catching prospects. A decision to trade Zephyr Miles for Candelaria has not been worth the cost to the franchise and is another example of the second-guessing that is heard all through camp. Will Felipe Villa ever belong to another championship team? When asked that very question, the future hall of famer frowned, took the cigarette from his mouth- and gave a heavy sigh. “I don’t know- I’m 42 –er I mean I’m 38 years old- I don’t know how much is left in the tank”. Villa could very well earn another ring- but with another club. Word around the clubhouse is if Detroit sputters in the early going, Villa could be peddled for a pitching prospect. And to the people of Detroit that would only give more reasons to question the ability of Feamster to bring a title back to Motor City.

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