What next for Detroit?

Tigers vs. Twins

On the heels of an unbelievable play-in game to determine who got to chase the World Series title, the Detroit Tigers are left wondering what they have to do next to make it back to the postseason.

The Tigers were considered a vaunted team going into 2008, and we all know what happened. 2009 saw a greater emphasis on pitching and defense, and they improved as a result. Obviously, it wasn’t good enough. What are their three biggest weaknesses heading into the offseason? What do they have to address to get into the October dance?

ACQUIRE A HITTER

Easier said than done. Detroit finished 2009 with a .747 OPS, ranking 16th in the majors (10th in the AL, which is awful). Their 738 runs scored also ranked 16th. They’ve got to boost this number up without compromising their increased emphasis on defense. Where could they improve? Some names they could replace: Placido Polanco (picture, left), Adam Everett, Gerald Laird, Brandon Inge, Carlos Guillen (picture, right), Aubrey Huff.

SUGGESTION: Trade for J.J. Hardy, sign Jason Giambi to DH.

FIND A NEW CLOSER

Fernando Rodney had by all accounts a solid season. The problem is, he was the closer. The number one guy in the bullpen. And this number one guy finished with a 4.40 ERA, 1.43 WHIP and 4.14 FIP. You can’t have these numbers and expect to go deep into the postseason.

Fortunately, the Tigers have about $43 million coming off the books this offseason (pre-arbitration). If you factor in Hardy and Giambi, they’ll have around $36 million to spend. They’ve got to put a chunk of that towards a closer and slot Rodney into the eighth inning. Trust me on this, Mr. Dombrowski. Set the money aside.

SUGGESTION: Sign Mike Gonzalez. Despite being two years older than Jose Valverde, I think Gonzalez is the better buy here. He’s left-handed, throws gas like Valverde and will come at a cheaper price for what may amount to the same production.

CONTINUE THEIR AGGRESSIVE DRAFTING

A big reason Detroit got as far as they did is because of 20-year old Rick Porcello, who posted a 4.04 ERA in 30 starts. At. 20. Years. Old. This guy will be a monster, and he was drafted with the 27th pick in 2007. He dropped so low because of his signing demands. A four-year, $7.825 pact later, and he’s looking mighty fine. Would the other 26 clubs care for a do-over?

Detroit kept this trend up by selecting Jacob Turner with the ninth pick in 2009, signing for four-years and $5.5 million. Again, Turner fell due to signability concerns. Turner has tremendous upside and will help the Tigers sooner rather than later. If Detroit keeps snapping up highly-talented players who expect to be paid like one, their minor league pipeline will never dry up.

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Comments

  1. tbliggins said...

    RE: Rodney

    If you take a closer look at the stats, you will see that he performed at a pretty high level in save situations.  Only 1 blown save, 1.241 WHIP, 8.4 K/9, 2.79 ERA in save situations.  His performance in nonsave situations skewed his numbers – 1.703 WHIP, 6.1 K/9, 6.08 ERA.  Is he the long-term solution as their closer?  Probably not, but he is not the reason they are not in the playoffs.

  2. Evan Brunell said...

    I should have been clearer about Giambi. I’m not advocating you hand him a spot. I would like to see him brought in and compete in ST for a spot, and then go from there.

  3. nu46 said...

    Detroit played a hell of a last game, they were just overmatched within the series. They need to regroup and start from scratch. Go back to the fundamentals and work their way back up again. http://www.eftchicago.com Go to training facilities in thier area of places like EFT Sports Performance, to attempt to become stronger, faster, more powerful, more explosive and an overall better athlete

  4. joltinjoe said...

    WE don’t have to start from scratch.  We are solid in many respects.  Our hitting let us down in way too many games this year.  A single or 2 with MISP would have clinched the division in the middle of September.  Laird is almost an automatic out.  Avila should have been his late inning replacement much more often. I know he led the majors in throwing out runners, but we missed out on 50 runs this year because he was at the plate.  Starting pitching is fine.  Robertson should be gone.  We need a left handed starter and one left handed relief pitcher.  If Zumaya and Bonderman can return next year our staff is as good as any.  Everett, can be replaced by a decent shortstop who can hit 50 points better. Is ther one out there?  I love Polonco but I hear he may be gone.  I hope that he can be replaced from the farm.  I like Rayburn too, but he has to practice playing left field.  Great arm but will he catch the ball?  If he plays everyday, he’ll do fine. Cabrera made the most improved fielder award easily at first.  His hitting is unquestioned.  Ordonez hit over 300 and is decent in right.  Clete Thomas is way over rated.  Cannot his because he has a long swing.  Major league pitching beats long swing with very few exceptions.  He is not one of them.  So, Detroit should make slight adjustments and not “start from scratch”.  One game from the post season doesn’t suggest a complete overhaul.  Now you know.

  5. Evan Brunell said...

    Give me a break. I did not “suggest a complete overhaul.” If you think a “complete overhaul” is a new shortstop, (maybe) a new DH and a new closer, then you must have thought the Tigers completely blew things up last year.

  6. Joltinjoe said...

    Jason Giambi? Surely you jest.  He is a washed up one dimentional player who is as fragile as a teacup on the high seas.  If he is available it is because nobody wants him.  The Tigers need a singles hitter who doesn’t try to pull the ball on every swing.  We have enough low average long ball hitters.  As for Rodney, you won’t get any argument from me.  He had a fine closer record but my stress level while he pitches is a medical wonder.  The lack of clutch hitting, just a little single please, caused the loss of way too many games and thus the season.  Now you know.

  7. Detroit Michael said...

    Jason Giambi had a 725 in his age 38 season, which is less than the Tigers averaged at as a team and is incapable of playing a defensive position really.  I can’t see that he’d be an upgrade.  It makes more sense to keep the DH slot open for fragile and defensively challenged Carlos Guillen.

  8. umpty said...

    the tigers need offense.  they’ve needed offense for a couple years, now.

    really?  the team that was projected to score a thousand runs last year needed offense?

    yup. objectively, anyone looking at that team, let alone the one we ran out there this year, had to see that offense was going to be lacking…unless you were wishcasting.

    jj hardy is a good start, and i imagine there’s a doable deal there.

    at the same time…that won’t be quite enough, unless you wishcast magglio to return from the dead as anything more than a .300 hitting singles hitter who doesn’t walk much.

    do you project clete thomas or ryan rayburn as quality major league bats?

    i don’t.

    how can the team acquire jj hardy *and* a quality bat for the outfield?  illitch will have to be willing to pay, or overpay, to pick up someone like….gads…milton bradley.  the free agent market just isnt going to offer all that much…and with DD having blown the load acquiring cabrera, and renteria the last couple of years…there’s not all that much precious that the tigers have to offer in trade.

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