DETROIT - Since the Tigers last missed the playoffs in 2010, general manager Dave Dombrowski has been one of the best in baseball at filling the team's holes through signings and trades.
When the Tigers needed a big bat behind Miguel Cabrera in 2011 he signed veteran Victor Martinez to a four-year contract. During the following year he traded for Anibal Sanchez and Omar Infante at the trade deadline to lift Detroit to the World Series. He even signed 39-year-old closer Joe Nathan this offseason in an attempt to shore up a weak Tiger bullpen.
Dombrowski certainly isn't afraid to deal players and spend money, but sometimes the best option is a player who's already within the system.
The Mud Hens have already made a significant contribution to the Major League roster this season, preparing outfielder J.D. Martinez for a red-hot start in 2014. Now, with the Tigers mired in an awful 10-20 stretch, they need another spark from the Triple-A team.
J.D. Martinez: .300 average, 9 2B, 6 HR, 22 RBI
But this time Detroit needs more than a productive player, it needs someone to bring a new wave of energy to a squad that's simply going through the motions in mid-June.
When the Tigers signed Ezequiel Carrera to a minor-league contract on January 9, they took a flier on a player with less than a full season's worth of MLB games under his belt. But the former Indian has been well worth the deal, tearing up Triple-A and pressing the Tigers to give him another shot in the big leagues.
Carrera's greatest strength fits the mold of a Tigers team that used speed and aggressive base running to jump out to a 27-12 start this season. The 27-year-old has stolen 31 bases in 59 games this season with an 82 percent success rate.
The speedy outfielder has proven that he can do more than just run. He's hitting .317 in Toledo with 10 doubles, three triples and three home runs. Carrera has knocked in 25 runs out of the leadoff spot and has a tendency to pick up clutch hits.
While Detroit suffered through month-long struggles, Carerra showcased skills that never slump: Energy and speed. He has the potential to wear the old English D and provide the Tigers with a boost similar to one they got in 2012 from outfielder Quintin Berry.
Berry joined the Tigers in mid-May two seasons ago and earned 291 at-bats in the Majors. His energy and athleticism not only improved the Tigers on offense and defense, he re-energized the group with hustle plays and emphatic celebrations.
Carerra deserves a real chance to show off his own athletic ability with the Tigers. The team is reeling after a series loss at home to the Royals knocked it out of first place in the AL Central, but a high-effort player like Carerra could revitalize the World Series favorites.
Who could the Tigers demote to make room for Carerra? The bench offers a couple of options for manager Brad Ausmus.
Holding on to both Andrew Romine and Don Kelly does little to improve the current roster. Romine has not only struggled at the plate, but his defense is suspect at the shortstop position. Eugenio Suarez locked down the starting job with a hot start at the plate, and Ausmus appears much more comfortable with the rookie in the lineup.
If the Tigers designate Romine for assignment, Kelly would become the backup shortstop behind Suarez. Kelly's value comes with his versatility, but if Carerra is called up then the outfield depth will leave the lefty battling with Romine for the utility infield position.
Kelly's overall numbers are better than Romine's, but his .111 average in June has contributed to the offensive struggles of the entire roster. Romine, on the other hand, has benefited from playing a part-time role, batting .400 (4/10) with only one strikeout since Suarez's first game.
Don Kelly: .232 average, 2 2B, 0 HR, 3 RBI
Andrew Romine: .216 average, 3 2B, 1 HR, 5 RBI
Ausmus is clearly reluctant to part with either player, but the Tigers already have 13 offensive players on the roster, so the addition of Carerra would have to push somebody out.
Regardless of the cuts that have to be made, the Tigers need a lift to stop their steep slide; and if they decide to promote from within the organization, then Carerra deserves a shot.
Copyright 2014 by ClickOnDetroit.com. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.