The Detroit Tigers have had an interesting year this year. Plagued by injury to key players as well as some under performing by others, have left the Tigers out of the Post-Season this year. There has however, been some bright spots for the Tigers. Let’s recap a little before focusing what needs to be addressed this off season.
Who would have thought that Magglio Ordonez would put up MVP numbers? Obviously Dave Dombrowski and Mike Illitch did after they gave Ordonez a hefty contract when no one else would. The big stick in the middle of the line up with the finishing line of .363/28/139 proved to be a huge lift for the team throughout the year. This helped the Tigers save face this year in their mediocre season.
Placido Polanco also had another magnificent year. His errorless streak continues. A slick fielding second baseman who bats .341 at a reasonable price, who wouldn’t want this guy.
Placido Polanco starts a rally in an April 27, 2007, game against the Chicago White Sox. (AP photo)
How bout a rookie pitcher that came out of no where. I follow the minor leagues pretty well. So I’m familiar with the hype of our minor league pitchers. We have Andrew Miller, Dallas Trahern, Virgil Vasquez, (now) Rick Porcello and last but not least, Jair Jurrjens. Last year, Justin Verlander and Joel Zumaya provided the much needed spark to help the team. This year, the spark was created by a multi-lingual pitcher known as “J-J”. And boy does he fit in. In August, he helped the team by throwing fifteen innings and had a very good 3.60 ERA. This kid is the real deal, and when trade talks came up this season before the deadline, teams were asking about him. Dombrowski stuck with this kid and now the dividends are paying off. He’ll be vying for the fifth starters spot primarily with Andrew Miller come the spring. Others may also be in contention.
How about one the youngest stars in the game patrolling centerfield, Curtis Granderson? This kid improved significantly. I’d even go as far as saying he’s the best centerfielder in the American league. Yes, better than Grady Sizemore. Granderson (Curtis Granderson [CuGr]) has improved greatly in almost every category; up 4 HR this year over last, up 6 RBI, up 26 OBP points, and up 42 BA points. Not including one of his greatest milestones, 23 triples this year.
CuGr is well on his way to becoming a star among the elites.
Black holes are a phenomenon in space that is so complex, that matter is dragged into them and disappears. That can be said about quite a few of the bats on the Tigers team this year.
Craig Monroe was the biggest and most obvious. When he came to the plate, you might as well just check an out on your scorecard. The Tigers got so fed up with him, they traded him to the Cubs for a PTBNL (a Single A infielder who pretty much ahs no future with the Tigers).
The Tigers third baseman also had a rough time at the plate.
Brandon even was quoted as saying, “They pitch to me like my name is Ted Williams.” Is it that, or just a hole in the swing? I’ll go with the latter part. The Tigers still have value in the third baseman for he has one of the largest range factors of any third basemen in the major leagues. He still gets to balls that many third basemen wouldn’t get to. This is a valuable asset and one that manager Jim Leyland’s loves to see. However, when you think of a third baseman, you usually think of a main thumper (e.g. Alex Rodriguez, Miguel Cabrera). After singing an extension before the year started, the Tigers hope he will rebound.
Although Jim Leyland likes slick defenders, one of his favorite players he called a “mistake” that was his fault. That mistake cost them their best catching prospect to the cubs in a trade for Neifi Perez. Thank goodness he’s gone. The Tigers easily replaced him with another slick fielding defender in Ramon Santiago. I must say thank you though to Perez for helping Justin Verlander preserve his no hitter. There was something good he did I guess.
And last but not least, the phenom Cameron Maybin. This kid was not ready for his stint in the big leagues. His highlight, no doubt a home run off of future Hall of Famer Roger Clemens.
Don’t get me wrong, this kid will be a star. His tools have scouts raving across the country. Most teams are inquiring about Maybin. He is one if not the most prized prospect in all of baseball. In a few years, mark my words. He will be a perennial all-star for a good portion of his career. Remember the hype of Ken Griffey Jr. when he came to the league? This kid draws those comparisons and for very good reasons. This is just the beginning for him.
The Off Season
The year was definitely a struggle for the Tigers this year and now that the players did their job to the best of their abilities, it’s time for Dombrowski to do his. Dombrowski is an artist and he’s about to paint his masterpiece. He’s got a lot of paint to produce his portrait. The Farm system is finally loaded enough that deals can be made.
What does every team want? Pitching. The Tigers have a lot of it, and young ones too. They have prized possessions in Jordan Tata, Dallas Trehern (after his breakout season), Virgil Vasquez, Burke Badenhop, Duane Below and many more. Not to mention, Nate Robertson could be on the trade market if the price is right.
So now you’re asking, what do the Tigers need? The answers are simple enough to identify; a left fielder, shortstop, and possibly a starting pitcher or relief pitcher depending on what happens with Todd Jones, and Kenny Rogers. And there are plenty of possibilities out there. The big question is who will the Tigers actually target?
We’ll stay away from the big names A-Rod, and Bonds.
Dombrowski is not the type of person I’d want to face in a poker game. He consistently keeps his cards close and doesn’t reveal them until it’s a shocker to everyone. This is going to be a busy time for him. I personally expect he will come out with a trade that will shock everyone.
There are quite a few players who I would love to see the Tigers go after in trades. The free agent market is not something I’d like to dabble with too much. Raul Ibanez is a name that has been mentioned a few times with the Tigers in the same reason. So has Edgar Renteria and Jack Wilson. Ibanez is however the only player I’d like to have out of the bunch (besides Adam Dunn if he were to become a free agent). He would be a solid pick up. Renteria had a miserable time in the American League and came out saying he is a national league player, and Jack Wilson had a career year this year. I doubt either one of them would live up to their hype.
I would love to see the Tigers go for some great talent that is young. Of course to do this, the Tigers will have to be willing to part with some of their more expensive chips. One thing I would look at would be seeing what the Florida Marlins want for Miguel Cabrera and Hanley Ramirez. Perhaps a package of Andrew Miller, Cameron Maybin, Brandon Inge and Scott Sizemore could be enough to pry the two young stars from
Florida, perhaps not.
The Tigers need to add a thumper and some more supporting cast to its Major League ranks. It will be interesting to see where they end up with their final additions this off season. Dombrowski has the large stack on the table heading into the off season. The question is however, is he going to play fairly conservative, or is he going to go all in and shock everyone? Only time will tell. Tiger fan’s lock your seat belts, this off season is going to be a ride for the ages!