Yesterday I tweeted the following upon hearing about Victor Martinez's demise for 2012 (by the way, Sorry Victor. That sucks):
Here's why. The Indians were awful at first base last year whenever Carlos Santana wasn't there, and it was mostly Matt LaPorta's fault. In 107 games, LaPorta was worth -0.8 fWAR. That's tough to do, but being a below average hitter, fielder, and baserunner while playing the game's easiest position is a good way to do it. Several first base options have been discussed, such as Derrek Lee, Casey Kotchman, and Carlos Peña. Lee is 106 years old and not all that good any more. Even his defense has diminished. Kotchman has always been a good defender and finally had a good year with the bat, catching some of that Tampa magic. I don't want him because he's been a full-time first baseman for five years and had two good seasons. In the last five years, Peña has had four good seasons, including a 2007 season that was MVP-worthy.
Please don't come at me with ages and batting average. Yes, Peña will be 34 in May, but we're only signing him for a year. Age matters with Lee because he's no longer a good player. Carlos Peña can still hit baseballs a very long way. Yes, Peña hit .220 over the last three seasons, and despite that is STILL a better hitter than Kotchman. LaPorta, at this point, has to prove he deserves another chance in Columbus. He's very much in danger of earning the dreaded AAAA tag at this point.
But more importantly, these two or three wins just became more important. Looking at the division, the Twins are going to be awful. The Royals got better and have more help coming. The days of laughing at the Royals are coming to a very quick end. The White Sox seem to be in some kind of in-between twilight zone that seems like some kind of tortuous hell.
The Tigers weren't exactly a juggernaut last season until mid-August when they pulled away from the Indians. They re-signed Gerald Laird, picked up Octavio Dotel, and traded for Colin Balester. Meanwhile, they've lost their DH, and a very viable replacement for him is CARLOS PEÑA. This is potentially a five or six win swing. Of course, the Tigers wouldn't lose all of Victor's production just like the Indians wouldn't lose all of Peña's hypothetical production. They'd each get someone half as good and it would be a two or three win difference. But in 2012, that might be more than enough to decide a division title.